4. Found

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CHAPTER FOUR

FOUND


The snow died down by the time Freddie entered the village. Signs pointed down the open road, signalling the way to the centre, though signs were not needed. The monument of Santa Clause towered over everything. The tree complimented its companion, and both provided welcome guidance to where the boy needed to be.

Freddie passed several wooden houses on his journey. Each one, though covered in snow, proudly boasted their Christmas decorations and ornaments. Artificial lights flashed, mechanical snowmen and reindeer moved around the white lawns, tinsel and holly smothered every surface.

As he examined more and more houses, he noticed there were no cars residing amongst any of the properties. And as he looked into the bright windows of each house, he realised he could see no people.

But that melody he heard upon encountering the village – that warm, uplifting Christmas carol – remained in the background, gaining volume as Freddie neared the village centre. Trumpets and drums paraded a familiar tune, and despite his shaking, he found an unexpected warmth inspired by the song.

Silent Night. Holy Night. All is calm. All is bright.

'Walt?' Freddie called as he approached a lonesome bench. The entire field within the park was empty. He repeated Walt's name.

Freddie worried that he was in the wrong place, but the bench was where they had their first kiss late one night in January. Their lips were so cold, yet when they touched, a certain magic filled their hearts with heat that warmed their entire bodies.

Freddie smiled at the memory as his hand brushed the snow from the length of the bench. It was then that he heard his name being called, and he spun around, soon meeting the embrace of Walt.

'You made it,' he said as he took Freddie in his arms. They were much bigger than Freddie's own head; he could have easily overpowered him if he wanted to. But his hold was tender and Freddie longed for the moment to last.

They broke apart, and Freddie finally managed to respond. 'I would never let you down, silly snowflake.'

'Hey! That's what I call you! Being called a snowflake defeats my masculinity, obviously.' Walt chuckled. They held hands as Walt led Freddie down the path.

'Oh, obviously,' Freddie joked. 'I know you never ruin the surprise, but can you please tell me what we are doing at Rose Park at this time of night... please?'

They turned down a narrow path encased in bare trees. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

'Then you know me too well,' Walt replied coyly. 'All you need to know is that it's safe. Well – as long as I'm holding your hand. You'll be back home before midnight.'

As they walked further down the path, small firefly fairy lights appeared. They wove between the spaces of the lowly bushes, brightening the otherwise dark night. The further they walked, the more frequent they became.

'Walt...'

And suddenly, at the end of the path, Freddie was met with the most wonderful vision. A gazebo in the middle of a frozen lake beamed with hundreds of the fairy lights. They gleamed and danced and drew all attention towards it. More lights circled the lake.

'I can't... Walt... I can't believe it...' Freddie said. Somehow his vocabulary became limited.

Walt couldn't keep his eyes off Freddie's face, grinning at the awe that emerged from it. He laughed through his perfectly white smile. 'Does this top your birthday surprise?'

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