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Backwards in Time | Forwards in Time

Title: Generous
Abhorsen Trilogy
Characters: Lirael, the Disreputable Dog
Prompt: # 06 - Liberality
Word Count: 990
“Sometimes you give too much, Mistress.”
All rights belong to Garth Nix and his publishers. I own nothing.
Author's Notes: No 6 in my 7 Heavenly Virtues Series



Lirael contemplated her empty plate in front of her and allowed a small, sad sigh to escape her lips.

Once again, she had stolen for one, and eaten none of it. As was nearly always the case, these days.

Her rationed mealtimes were being cut shorter and shorter, her appetite slowly disintegrating away into nothingness as the Disreputable Dog continued to grow. It was a peculiar thing: Dog didn’t need to eat, and yet Lirael was the one going without.

Not that she minded, of course.

No, she didn’t mind at all. She was just happy that Dog was happy, even if that meant almost-certain death by malnutrition on her part …


Lirael blinked and looked up, eyes regaining their lost focus in time to see her companion lick her lips contentedly, but stare at the girl as though she had two heads.

“What is it?” she asked, frowning, eyes raking over the spotless plate, before she shuffled hurriedly to her feet and scooped it up, turning to place it on the desk behind her.

The Disreputable Dog - resting on her haunches as she licked absentmindedly at a claw on her left paw – considered Lirael thoughtfully. After a moment’s silence, during which Lirael squirmed most uncomfortably, her eyes flickered over towards the plate.

“You did it again,” she said simply, at last, shaking her head.

Lirael bristled and turned away, running a hand delicately down her tunic to dispel the dust that had gathered there after sitting on the floor; feigning complete ignorance as to what the Dog was referring to.

“I’m afraid I don’t quite know what you are talking about, Dog,” she replied airily, but the stiffness of her posture spoke otherwise.

The Dog snorted derisively and straightened up, stretching her limbs before padding good-naturedly over to her Mistress’ side.

“Well let me refresh your memory, then,” she replied, sitting down directly in Lirael’s path, seemingly enlarging her body to ensure her concerned gaze filled all of the girl’s sight. Lirael rolled her eyes, but said nothing. Hesitating for a second, Dog glanced at the plate once more, before continuing. “You returned from the kitchens with one plate of food. You managed to eat all of three mouthfuls of said food before saying I could have the rest. This seems rather a strange notion, to one who does not really need to eat, yet as you are one’s Mistress, one had to obey.”

Lirael restrained a second eye-roll with difficulty.

“You know, that posh accent of yours is kind of irritating,” she responded bluntly, an eyebrow raised. Dog growled, eyes narrowing slightly.

“Quit changing the subject,” she replied firmly, tilting her head to one side so as better to consider Lirael’s face. “Now, as I was saying … If adding today’s repeat performance to the thirty-two other meals of similar order that preceded it, one can safely assume that liberality is a trait you possess in abundance.”

Lirael blinked.

“Liber-what-now?” she asked innocently, trying and failing to catch Dog off guard.

It didn’t work, of course. Dog simply nudged her firmly on the leg with her snout. “Call it generosity, then, if you will, but I’m simply trying to say that sometimes, you give too much, Mistress. That food would have been of more help to you than it is to me, and yet you chose to give me more. Why is that?”

Lirael shrugged nonchalantly.

“Not hungry?” she replied bluntly. The Disreputable Dog shook her head, and though the presence of a snout made it very hard for Lirael to be sure, she had a strong inkling that the Dog would have been beaming at her, if she could.

“Not quite,” Dog replied wryly. She paused, uncertain of what to say, then allowed her tail to sway slightly as a mute sign of her gratitude. “You have a good heart, Mistress Lirael. I feel generosity has long since been in your nature.”

Lirael blushed and turned to busy herself with cleaning up.

“Yeah,” she murmured with as little conviction as she could muster.

But as she reached out for the empty plate, she couldn’t cover up a small smile of happiness. Nor could she disguise the low rumble from her lower midriff. Blushing scarlet, she cleared her throat quickly and turned towards the doorway. “Yeah, well, I suppose I can just grab something else for myself while I’m down there,” she admitted finally, avoiding the Dog’s knowing gaze. “Now, if you’ll just wait here until I get back, I need to return the plate to the kitchens before they realise it’s missing.”

The Dog grinned at her, nodding as she stepped aside, leaving room for Lirael to pass by.

“Just as long as whatever you bring back with you doesn’t find itself in my digestive system, too,” she warned playfully.

Lirael shrugged, but shot the Dog a grateful smile nonetheless, turning away quickly as she felt the heat rising in her cheeks.

And without another word, nor a backwards glance – which would have shown to the Dog that her assumptions were one hundred per cent correct – she swept quickly and quietly from the room, letting the door swing softly shut behind her.

Silence fell in Lirael’s study, and not for the first time, the Disreputable Dog found herself mulling over the retreating back of her Mistress with nothing short of amazement.

That girl truly was remarkable.

“I just hope her generosity doesn’t kill her,” she murmured to herself, shaking her head a fraction. As she settled down in front of the desk, absently licking at a matt of sticky fur on her paw, she closed her eyes and whispered to no-one in particular, “her survival of the tasks laid out before her may well depend on her sense of liberality. But dying because she saved me two too many Chinese ribs would be far too ironic an occurrence for even me to contemplate.”


7 Heavenly Virtues Table

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