Midwinter Miracle by E.M. Swift-Hook is a Fortune’s Fools short story. Tegwyth used to receive gifts at Midwinter, until she became one herself. Alone in the snow, she will do anything to survive because of the one thing that matters most to her…
The loaf was within reach now. But so was the coat and it was that Tegwyth slid carefully from the stool first, looping it around her and under her cloak out of sight. Then she reached out again for the bread.
“I really wouldn’t do that if I was you.”
It was the bearded man. He had moved away from the fire, perhaps so the other two could get to know each other – or perhaps, feeling simply not wanted there anymore. Either way, he now stood on the far side of the table. His face hard, although his voice sounded more as if he were offering her friendly advice than any threat. But she had just become a thief – she had stolen his coat, its warmth so good around her, the warmth of life in the bitter cold of winter. And the price of theft, even if she had been free and not hunted as an escaped slave, was death.
For a moment she thought to run. To flee. Break away. Rush for the door and out into the snow. But as if he could read her thoughts, the bearded man had taken a step to the side so she would have to pass him to be able to leave. His hand curled on a strange looking item clipped onto his belt. But as he moved and light fell on her face, his expression changed. It seemed to soften, as the warmth of the sun softens the hard packed ice. His hand moved away from his belt and he shook his head.
“Sweet truth and dare, you’re only a bloody child,” he said. And reaching past her he picked up the loaf. Tegwyth wondered when he would notice she had taken his coat, maybe he would see the flash of brilliant colour through one of the holes in her cloak, maybe he –
“Here, you hungry? Eat this and I’ll get you some hot soup to go with it.”
Her hands closed over the bread. It felt soft and smelled of yeast and grain – and life.
A Midwinter Miracle is available on Audible, as an ebook and paperback and can be purchased from Amazon, Kobo, iTunes and Googleplay. This special edition has typographic art and cover design by Zora Marie.