Not long ago he would have told himself that he didn't deserve this. After all the things he had done, all the time he had wasted, why should he be happy? But he had told his story. He had given away the very last of his seeds. He had taken that final step, and trusted the young and curious boy who had sought him out for someone else but returned for his own reasons. He had trusted him with what he had treasured and saved for all those years.
Still, the boy had come back.
The Truffula seed was sprouting cheerfully in town. Hundreds more were peeping out from the dry dirt around his Lurkim. Even the sky was clearing again. Everywhere the Once-ler went hope was rising to stare him in the face. He was sometimes astonished that he had survived to see it, to share in the glorious feeling that awoke in him every time he stepped out his door. He still felt that he didn't deserve it, but somewhere in the back of his mind was a small, gruff voice that asked him why. Why did he still feel that way? It had been years, surely he had paid his penance?
The voice was stronger whenever they came to visit. Ted and Audrey. The boy who took the seed and the girl who wanted the trees. They had gotten what they'd set out for, and they still visited him at every opportunity. Sometimes Ted's mother and grammy also came. They would bring lunch or dinner with them, and the Once-ler felt for a short time as if he was a part of their family. The lively conversation and warmth was like nothing he had ever experienced, even as a young man.
The morning had been misty, and the warm sunlight was drying the last curling wisps of fog as Once-ler watched the car approaching from his window. They were bringing breakfast, perhaps a picnic in the new, soft grass that was slowly sprouting all around. They were coming to see him, because they wanted to. They would gain nothing from it, and they wanted nothing. It was enough to spend time together. It was wonderful. He didn't think he would ever get used to it, and truth be told he didn't really want to. A short meal with these wonderful people would leave him cheerful and smiling for days. It would hold him over until their next visit, which he would eagerly await. It would be worth the wait, had been worth the wait for all these years.
They were worth it.
Somehow, he was beginning to feel that he was worth it, too.
I like to think that the Wiggins and Audrey began including Once-ler in some of the things they did, because I hate to think that he went on being lonely and unhappy until the end of his days. I hope this wraps things up nicely for everyone. ^_^
I had so much fun writing this that I'm a little sad to see it end. I've already dragged it out for two more chapters, though, so I suppose it's time. Oh well, that just frees me up to work more on the next fic. Hopefully its first chapter will be posted within the week.
Thanks you for reading, everybody, whether you left reviews or not. I hope everyone enjoyed this fic!