A/N: I've wanted to write this ever since Last Specter came out, but it's taken until now to come up with both the storyline and time to write. Well, it's finally here, so without further ado...
Disclaimer: I do not own Professor Layton, but if I did...that would be nice.
Taffy knew that she was her parent's last hope. She wasn't sure what had first clued her in to that fact, but she assumed it had been her name. After all, her parents had to have been pretty desperate to continue the family business of candy making, or else they wouldn't have named their daughter after their bestselling item. Her brothers Mido and Clarence had pretty normal names, but they had gone off the sugar paved path their parents had laid out for them and onto different careers. Taffy's oldest brother, Clarence, had a knack for photography, particularly photography of women. He was usually able to set up a photo shoot by pursuing women and pretending he couldn't hear them unless they agreed to let him photograph them. Surprisingly, this had landed him quite a few gigs, and a rather steady income. Mido the Middle Menace (a name Taffy liked to call him due to the nice alliteration it created) adored green things, and so he had gone into the landscaping industry and created a rather successful newspaper dedicated to botany. Taffy wondered if her parents blamed their name choices on the outcome of their first two children. Even if that wasn't the case, the heartbreak of losing two sons to professions other than candy making had left Taffy's parents with a pile of dreams and one last child to place them on.
While other children would have probably revolted against having their future being decided for them, Taffy didn't mind. In fact, she really did have a passion for candy making. She loved to think that when she grew older, she would be able to create new treats for all ages to enjoy. So, as other children developed "normally", Taffy passed her own gumdrop milestones.
At age six, Taffy was the only child she knew who was able to recite the four steps of making the perfect chocolate bar: temper, texture, taste, and snap. She was also the only child she knew who would complain that the last step ruined the perfectly good alliteration that was being created. In fact, she was the only child she knew who understood what an alliteration was. At age nine, Taffy was the only little girl she knew who would rather paint faces on her father's marzipan animals than take ballet lessons after school. She claimed that it taught her the same focus any ballerina learned from doing pirouettes, and she didn't even break a sweat. At age fourteen, Taffy seemed to be the only young woman she knew who had learned the harsh reality that nothing was ever as it seemed.
The exact date she had learned this had been the Easter Sunday of her fourteenth year. Easter was Taffy's favorite holiday, because it produced the most colorful candies. She had already made hundreds of yellow marshmallow chicks, bundles of marzipan tulips, bunches of bunnies with a variety of bowtie colors, and tons of little jelly beans. Her fingertips had been stained a rainbow of colors from all the dyes and sugar coating she had to apply, and her fingernails had their own personal polish of glaze. Her brothers had come home from their universities to visit for the holiday, bringing back many stories. Clarence talked about all his women, Mido raved about his collection of orchids and bonsai trees (he had been going through an exotic plant phase at the time), and Taffy and her mother listened and laughed while they put the hard candy shells on their chocolate eggs. Taffy snuck a taste of the shell glaze every now and again, giggling as the hot sugar made her tongue tingle. Her mother simply smiled at her as she did this, never joining Taffy in her indulgence. Taffy wished she could have such a strong will.
Taffy loved and admired her parents very much, partly because of their extraordinary skills, but mostly because of their self-control. Never in her life had Taffy seen her parents eat one of their creations, and the irony of candy makers who never ate candy delighted her to no end. She hoped she too one day would be able to have enough restraint to enjoy her work for what it was without eating it the second she had finished it, but first she wanted to enjoy her childhood. Soon, Taffy thought as she once again stole a small bit of glaze and pretended to look guilty as her mother gave her a "disapproving" look, soon I'll eat my last piece of candy. Then I can give it to others to enjoy, and the satisfaction of doing that will be sweet enough for me.
Taffy and her mother worked for another hour or so before deciding to finish up for the evening. Clarence and Mido had gone to help their father set up for dinner, leaving the two women alone.
"Run along and wash your hands, sweetie," Taffy's mother instructed, "You don't want to be all sticky when we go to eat dinner." Taffy nodded obediently and ran off to the sink in the washroom next to the coating station. Once at the sink, she inspected her hands: a burn mark here and there from a few carless mistakes, but all in all not too much damage. She had been making progress in her practice with hard coated candy. She had been burning herself less and less, and her coatings had steadily become more even. Taffy smiled at herself in the mirror, giggling a little at the delight she got from knowing she was slowly getting to the point where she would be able to start making candy on her own, without her parent's supervision. She turned on the taps and lathered her hands for a minute, making sure to scrub hard enough to remove any sugar that had cooled on her skin. When her hands where as clean as they would get, she swiped them across a towel and went back to her mother.
"Mom, I'm done!" Taffy walked back to the coating station and saw her mother balancing two basketfuls of the chocolate eggs in her arms. When she heard Taffy's voice, she jumped a bit and spun around, 5 or 6 eggs flying out of the basket as she did so.
Her eyes were wide while she stammered, "Taffy, I-I—"
Taffy rolled her eyes playfully, "Mom, why didn't you just wait 'till I was done washing my hands? I can help you with the eggs."
Her mother paused for a moment, and then smiled, "Oh, thanks hon. I wasn't sure how long you were going to take so I decided to start bringing the candy up myself."
"Sorry I took a little longer than usual, I was just thinking about some things." She took a basket from her mother, and they began to walk to their house. The candy making areas were located in a building right next to Taffy's home, and all her friends thought it was "so cool!" that Taffy could simply walk over and make candy whenever she felt like it. Her parents were usually somewhere around the building, and their only rule was that they had to be close by whenever Taffy was making something. This had never been a problem, but Taffy had begun to feel that she had been making enough progress to start creating candy on her own without close supervision. She cleared her throat, then looked at her mother.
"Mom, about what I was thinking of in the bathroom," Her mother nodded to show she was listening, "Well, I've been making a lot of progress recently, and I've gotten better about burning myself when dealing with sugar and melting. I mean you've seen me, what do you think?"
"I completely agree, sweetie."
"I mean I've never really had trouble with the 'predicament provoking proceedings' that dad always talks about, for the most part I've been safe." Her mother nodded. "So with that, I wanted to ask you: do you think I could begin making candy on my own?"
Taffy's mother tilting her head in thought, "My baby at the stations all by herself without her mother and father?"
Taffy shrugged, "I mean obviously it wouldn't matter if you or dad were there, but just in case you weren't, would you feel comfortable with me going over and working alone?"
Her mother kept her head tilted as she began to hum, a little thing she often did when thinking carefully about something. "I don't know, Taffy, you've definitely been improving and that makes me happier than you could imagine….but I'm just not sure if I'm comfortable with you being around the delicate equipment without proper supervision. You can never be too careful."
Taffy's heart sank. She had obviously realized that her mother possibly wouldn't agree with her, but she had still hoped that she would say yes. "Okay, mom, I was just wondering."
Her mother stopped walking and held out her free arm to envelope Taffy in a hug. "I trust you, hon, but I just think you need a little more time to train. I'll keep an eye on you though, and let you know when I think you're ready."
Taffy hugged her mother back, a new determination stirring inside her.
Easter dinner consisted of a roast, homemade goodies, and lots of family conversation, all of which Taffy thoroughly enjoyed. After dinner was over and the plates had been cleared, it was time for Easter gifts. From Mido she received a lovely bouquet of what a card alliterated to be "pretty pink petunias", and from Clarence she received a calendar he had made. On each page, Taffy found lovely photos of different candies set up in creative ways. She thanked her brothers, and then re-thanked her parents. They had given Taffy her gift this morning: an Easter basket filled with all of her favorite treats, which is what they gave her every year. She had already stored it away in her candy stash located on the top shelf of the pantry. In the past she had stashed her gift in her room only to find half of it gone when she woke up in the morning. She was pretty sure it was one of her brothers who was stealing, so she reminded herself to keep a close eye on them for the duration of their stay. After Taffy had finished thanking her family, she went and got the gifts she had made for them. She had crafted chocolate bunnies with a feature that was unique to each family member: Clarence's bunny was holding a camera, Mido's a flower, her mother's a book, and her father's wore a pair of glasses. Each person's face lit up as they received their personalized bunny, and Taffy beamed when Mido complimented her work. She looked at her mother, who gave her an approving nod. She hoped that this would serve as proof that Taffy was getting ready to start working on her own.
After the gifts, her father announced it was time for bed, and Taffy realized just how tired she was. After sleepily telling everyone goodnight, she got ready for bed and dove beneath her candy cane striped covers. Just as she was about to turn off her light, there was a faint knock on her door.
The door opened to reveal Taffy's mother. "Hey, hon, I just wanted to thank you again for the bunny. You did such a good job!" Taffy blushed in response, and her mother walked over to her bedside. After kissing her on her forehead, she looked Taffy in the eye and said, "I'm proud of you."
"Thanks, mom." Her mother gave her one last nod, and left the room. Taffy fell asleep with a smile on her face.
It was 5:00 in the morning when Taffy woke up. She still had another hour before she had to get up for school, but Taffy was rarely able to fall back to sleep once she'd woken up. Since I'm up early, I can sneak a little bit of my Easter candy before breakfast. This thought was all it took to make her pull back her covers and scamper to the cupboard. She took a detour to the kitchen so she could grab a napkin to hold her selections on, and as she took one from the package, she heard a rustling coming from the direction of the pantry.
Taffy's eyes grew wide. "It's got to be Mido or Clarence," she whispered to herself, and she began to sneak towards the source of the noise as quietly as possible. Sure enough, there was a figure standing in front of the open pantry doors, groping around the top shelf and unwrapping anything it got its hands on. There was only one thing that was wrong with the picture: the figure wasn't one of her brothers.
It took Taffy a second to realize who was standing at the pantry door, and once she did, she was almost too shocked to say anything. Eventually she managed to stammer the name of the perpetrator.
Her mother immediately stopped what she was doing, turned around slowly, and swallowed the mouthful of candy she had been chewing. Her eyes were full of shock and guilt. "Sweetie—"
Taffy suddenly realized that she had seen her mother look this way before. "You looked surprised when I came out of the bathroom yesterday. You were sneaking some of the candy while I was in there. Also, and this is just me putting two and two together, you've been stealing my candy these past Easters as well." Her mother said nothing, confirming the accusations. Taffy shook her head, "You know I actually admired you for your self-control when it came to candy. I thought that the reason you never ate what you made was because the satisfaction of giving to others was enough for you. I guess I was mistaken."
There was silence. Her mother wiped her hands on her pajamas, closed the cabinet doors, and began to walk away. As she passed Taffy she muttered, "You can use the candy stations whenever you want without supervision."
It was in that moment Taffy realized that adults were greedy and didn't know how precious candy really was. While children took the time to enjoy their sugary treats, adults ate them just for the sake of eating something tasty. She tried to stop and tell herself to calm down. Maybe she was overreacting, but even if he was, her mother shouldn't have lied to her for so long. Candy was supposed to be something you experienced, not something you secretly binged on. At that very moment, Taffy made her final career decision: she would still become a candy maker, that was something she would never change her mind on. Who she gave her candy to well...that was another story.
On her twenty first birthday, Taffy ate her last piece of candy and moved to the small town of Misthallery so he could be closer to her brothers. Once settled in, she set up a candy cart outside of the local market, and has stayed there ever since. She has never once sold to an adult.
Well, maybe just once... but that had been to Mido. And he had been annoying her. Any adult who could be that annoying about one piece of candy didn't deserve to be thought of as any older than a child. So there.
A/N: Let it be known that stress is a great motivator when it comes to writing. I'm pretty happy with how this came out, and the story's longer than I expected so yay! I've been really fond of alliterations lately, so I decided to add them in for my amusement. As for the ending...well, I felt like I had to somehow incorporate that one episode between Mido and Taffy *cough*Iwasdesperatelytryingtobefunny*cough*.
As always, reviews are more than welcome. I'd love to hear what you guys think!
Until next time you magical starfish,