Wednesday was Mail Day in the Fruit Basket.
The residents of the Fruit Basket were gathered in the throne room, with the exception of Rauða who was out fetching the mail. Eva and Immi were stood by the mirror, sharing makeup tips and admiring how good they looked together. Mæja and Gedda were sat next to each other on blocks. Gedda was reminiscing about how she used to live in the Vegetable Storage before she moved to the Fruit Basket, and told Mæja all about the fun adventures she had had there.
“I’m actually expecting a letter from my family in the Vegetable Storage.” Gedda remembered, “Rauða should be here with the letters any minute.”
“What’s it like in the Vegetable Storage?” Mæja asked.
“It is one of the most beautiful places in the Fruit Realm!” Gedda declared proudly.
“You know, I think it’d be really nice if we visited it together.” Mæja said, “Maybe I could meet your family?”
“I’d love for you to meet them!” Gedda giggled, “They’re so nice, and welcoming, and accepting. I’m sure they’d love you!”
“You really think so?”
Rauða entered the throne room, wheeling along a heavy bag of letters and packages. She stopped in the middle of the room, opened the bag, and began to remove the contents of the bag and arrange them into a pile.
“Oh, Rauða!” Eva exclaimed, “Is there a package for me?”
“There could be.” Rauða responded, “But it seems to be mostly letters.”
“Did someone say letters?” Gedda asked excitedly as she leapt up off the block and ran towards the pile. She was quickly joined by Mæja and the pears.
Soon, Rauða found herself surrounded by the entire population of the Fruit Basket, swarming her with questions about the content of the packages and reaching out to grab the letters. Palla and Poddi had grabbed a package and were fighting over its contents - a new jump rope. They stopped fighting when they looked in the box and saw that there was another one. However, Rauða was still being bombarded with questions.
“Is there anything for me?” Mæja asked.
“I don’t know.” Rauða replied.
“Have my new mirror lights arrived?” Eva inquired.
“I don’t know.” Rauða replied, getting impatient.
“Is there anything from the Vegetable Storage?” Gedda asked.
“I JUST DON’T KNOW!!!!” Rauða yelled, causing Immi to instinctively square up.
Rauða breathed in and out deeply, trying to calm herself down. The others stared at her, feeling both shocked and guilty. Immi sheepishly went over to the pile of letters and began to look through them. He noticed that there was one letter made out to him. He picked it up and went over to the throne, where he sat down and began to read it.
To Immanuel Aðalsteinn,
We couldn’t help but notice that you were absent from the last family reunion. You missed a very enjoyable evening. We realise that you are still upset over what happened at the reunion before that, but we don’t see why that would be reason enough for you to miss this one. It was very awkward for us to explain to the rest of the family why you weren’t there. Hopefully you will be able to attend the next one.
From, Mother and Father.
Immi angrily scrunched up the letter and tossed it to the floor. He leapt up from the throne and stormed out into the play room, slamming the door and startling the other fruits, who were reading their letters. Eva dropped one of her new mirror lights, and frantically went to pick it up and check it hadn’t smashed. The Fruit Basket residents looked at each other nervously, wondering if they should go after him. Eventually, Gedda made her way towards the door, noticing the letter on the floor and picking it up.
Gedda entered the play room, closing the door behind her, and was greeted by the sight of Immi bouncing morosely on a space hopper.
“What’s wrong, Immi minn?” Gedda asked, uncrumpling the letter and starting to read it.
Immi stopped bouncing, “You shouldn’t read mail that isn’t addressed to you.”
“Did the letter upset you?”
“You could say that, Gedda mín.”
Gedda noticed another space hopper near the door. She got on it and bounced up to Immi, who was on the far side of the room.
“What are you doing?” Immi confusedly inquired.
“I’m bouncing, just like you!” Gedda exclaimed, “See? We are the same!”
Immi sighed, “I’m not in the mood for another one of your equality lectures.”
“This isn’t a lecture!” Gedda explained, “What I am trying to say is that since we are the same, you don’t have to be afraid to tell me what’s upsetting you!”
“I cannot judge you, because we are the same!”
Immi stared at Gedda, utterly confused and somewhat exhausted. He was debating whether or not to open up to her. She was smiling at him sympathetically, still bouncing on the space hopper. Immi wondered how one person could have so much energy and was almost getting second-hand tiredness from watching her.
“You can tell me!” Gedda insisted, each word punctuated with a bounce.
“Only if you stop bouncing.” Immi bluntly replied.
Gedda reluctantly stopped bouncing. Immi sighed deeply before explaining himself.
“My parents are annoyed at me because I missed the annual Ananas family reunion-”
“Oh no!” Gedda interrupted, “That’s awful!”
“It’s really... not.” Immi replied.
Immi laughed, “You haven’t met my family. They’re some of the most despicable people in the entire Fruit Realm! They’re rude, they’re prejudiced, and they’ve been picking on me for years!”
Gedda stared at Immi, internally giggling at the irony of his statement.
“I would rather live in the Rotting Hole then spend another minute around those people!” Immi declared, starting to bounce.
There was about thirty seconds of silence, during which Immi and Gedda both awkwardly bounced around the room. Gedda tried to think of what to say to Immi. Surely there was some way to-
Suddenly, Gedda had an idea.
“I know!” Gedda loudly announced, startling Immi so much that he fell off the space hopper, “We’ll hold another family reunion!”
Immi, still on the floor, glared at Gedda like she had just insulted him.
“Ó nei!” Immi answered, appalled. He got back on the space hopper and angrily hopped past Gedda and towards the door to the throne room.
Gedda bounced after him, “Hey, where are you going?”
“Somewhere where people have smart ideas.”
Gedda saw that Immi was almost at the door. She got off her space hopper and ran towards him, tackling him from behind. She pulled him down to the floor, making sure not to hurt him, and threw his space hopper to the other side of the room so he couldn’t get back on it. Gedda sat down next to Immi, who was very confused and annoyed, and smiled at him smugly.
“What did you do that for?” Immi demanded as he sat up.
“I had to stop you from leaving!”
“Well, I can see that, Gedda min!”
“Think about it, Immi! This reunion could be exactly what your family needs to make everything better! After all, they’re your family!”
“They’re barely family.” Immi scoffed.
“Aw, Immi, you don’t understand!” Gedda happily explained, “I’ve always believed that family are the friends you’re born with. Every family has its problems, even mine! But we always figure it out because we love each other, and isn’t that what families do?”
Immi stared at Gedda for a moment before bursting into laughter. Gedda sat there confused as Immi rolled around on the floor, practically howling with laughter. He did this for a whole minute, and when he was eventually able to compose himself, Immi got up and quickly moved towards the door. Gedda anticipated this and leapt up, dashing towards the doorway and blocking Immi’s exit.
“Not so fast!” Gedda triumphantly exclaimed.
“Get out of the way!” Immi whined, trying to find a way around her.
“I’m only trying to help you, Immi.” Gedda insisted, “Why won’t you listen to my idea?”
“Because it’s a terrible idea!” Immi responded.
Immi pushed past Gedda and into the throne room. Before Gedda could stop him, he had managed to reach the other fruits and had quickly changed the subject. Gedda looked at him indignantly.
“This family reunion is going to happen,” Gedda muttered to herself, “Whether Immi likes it or not!”
Later, Gedda gathered the other fruits to tell them about her plans. They were all sat in a circle on chairs that Gedda planned to use at the reunion. This was the only time she believed it was right to exclude people, as she had deliberately not told Immi about the meeting.
“Gedda mín, I beg you not to take offence to this,” Eva pleaded, “But an Ananas family reunion? It’s a horrible idea! Have you met his family? They’re loud, rude, and extremely judgemental!”
“Well, so was Immi!” Gedda pointed out.
“Eva’s right, though!” Mæja interjected.
“See?” Eva said, “I know you mean well, but please, this is only going to cause trouble.”
“It might not!” Gedda protested, “This could be exactly what Immi needs to-”
“And how, pray tell, do you know what Immi needs?”
Eva and Gedda stared at each other for a few moments, neither of them willing to compromise on their position. Mæja looked between them nervously, hoping the tension would end. Meanwhile, the pears had left the conversation and were stood in the corner, competing to see who could T-pose the longest.
“Maybe you could be the host, Eva?” Mæja suggested.
“Absolutely not!” Eva replied, breaking eye contact with Gedda and turning towards Mæja, “This is one party I do not want to host.”
“Well, then, I’ll be the host!” Gedda announced, trying to smile.
“A carrot hosting a pineapple reunion? AHAHAHAHAHA!” Rauða interrupted. She promptly stopped laughing when Gedda shot her a dirty look.
“Fine, then.” Gedda said through gritted teeth, “You can be the host.”
“Ég?” Rauða exclaimed.
“Unless anyone else wants to do it?” Gedda inquired, looking around the circle. The other fruits deliberately avoided eye contact as nobody actually wanted to host what they were sure would be a disaster-filled evening.
Rauða sighed, “Fine, I’ll be the host!”
“Great!” Gedda giggled, skipping over to Rauða and handing her a clipboard with multiple pages on it, “This is for you!”
“It’s a list of everyone I’ve invited to the reunion!”
“You... already invited people?” Mæja asked, looking at the others nervously.
“Did you ask Immi who he wanted to invite?”
“Well, no, but-”
“Permission to ask a question?” Guffi said, raising his hand.
“Yes, Guffi?” Gedda replied as Guffi lowered his hand.
“Will... Hinrik Ananas be there?” Guffi asked, blushing slightly and looking at Rauða.
Rauða checked the list and nodded affirmatively. Guffi smiled, thinking of the tall, handsome Hinrik Ananas. Hinrik was big and strong, with golden hair like Immi’s. He would always wear traditional pineapple clothing, but wore dark lipstick to add his own touch to it. He would often put green body paint on his arms, which was apparently fashionable for pineapples to do. Guffi sighed happily and seemed to be daydreaming for a moment before promptly snapping back to reality. A couple of the other fruits giggled, but Eva was still not impressed. She stood up and calmly walked towards Gedda, putting her hand on her shoulder.
“Listen, Gedda mín,” She said, “I wish Immi had a good relationship with his family just as much as you do. Goodness knows how much grief it would have saved him, but it’s just not possible! Some people just don’t want to change.”
“But... but they can change!” Gedda argued, “If Immi can change, so can they!”
Eva sighed, “Gedda mín...”
Suddenly Eva noticed Immi standing in the doorway, watching them.
“Immi!” Eva exclaimed in shock.
“What is going on here?” Immi demanded, storming over to the others. He glared at each of them individually, waiting for an explanation. The others stood there, nobody wanting to say anything. Finally, Gedda spoke.
“We’re arranging your family reunion, just like we talked about!” Gedda explained.
“Ha?!” Immi shouted, “I never agreed to this!”
“Immi, I told you it would help-”
“And I told you it won’t! You just won’t listen, will you?”
Immi looked around at the other fruits.
“And you’re all going along with it!” He cried.
“I thought we were planning a surprise birthday party.” Græni said.
Immi stared at him, “Græni, my birthday isn’t for months.”
“I thought that was the surprise!”
Guffi looked at Græni with so much tiredness in his eyes that it was almost as if he hadn’t slept in years, and sighed deeply before putting his face in his hands and letting out a pained, muffled scream.
“Elskan mín,” Eva said, making her way over to Immi and affectionately stroking his cheek, “I’ve tried to tell her, I really have...”
“I can’t do it.” Immi responded quietly, trying not to cry.
“You see?” Eva declared, turning towards Gedda, “We can’t go through with the reunion.”
“Well, what am I supposed to tell his family?” Gedda asked, “I’ve already sent out the invites!”
“Please, please, tell me you haven’t done that!” he pleaded, grabbing Gedda by the shoulders, “Tell me this isn’t actually happening!”
“Let go, you’re hurting me!” Gedda commanded. Immi realised what he was doing and let go, but still looked at her, terrified.
“Gedda Gulrót, tell me right now that you haven’t sent out invitations!” Immi demanded, his eyes filling with tears.
“Yes, Immi, I have. Don’t worry, it’ll be fine-”
“Ó NEI!” Immi cried, flinging his hands up and stomping to the other side of the room, where he proceeded to aggressively kick a block, slump down on the floor and sulk with his back turned to the others.
“Do you feel better now?” Gedda quipped.
“Nei.” Immi growled, still pouting.
Gedda slowly walked over to Immi and knelt down beside him, placing her hand on his shoulder. Immi crossed his arms and looked away. The other fruits, including the pears, watched anxiously as Gedda tried to comfort Immi, who was desperately attempting to repress his sobs.
“Immi minn, please give the reunion a chance.” Gedda begged, “If it goes really badly, you don’t have to stay.”
Immi thought for a moment, then sighed deeply in resignation.
“Fine.” Immi muttered, “We’ll have the reunion.”
Gedda leapt up and cheered. She grabbed Immi’s hand and pulled him up, dragging him to the others to announce the decision. Once Gedda had run off to pick out decorations, the other fruits looked at each other apprehensively; nobody was convinced that the reunion could possibly go well.
Three days later, tensions were high as the Ananas family reunion was beginning soon, and Gedda appeared to be the only one who wasn’t dreading it. Immi sat on the throne, almost shaking with anxiety and constantly jiggling his leg. Eva had tried to comfort him, but it was no use. Gedda was calmly going around the room, adding the finishing touches to the decorations. Immi stood up and went over to her, hoping she hadn’t invited the worst of his family members.
“So, Gedda, who’s coming?” Immi inquired.
“Oh, I can’t possibly remember everyone’s names!” Gedda replied, her joyful tone not even remotely reassuring to Immi, “But I tried to invite as many people as I could!”
“Gedda, I don’t think this is a good-”
“Trust me, Immi, you’ll be fine! Plus, people are arriving so it’s way too late to cancel.”
Gedda patted Immi on the shoulder then promptly left to go to the play room as she saw Immi’s family begin to arrive.
Immi stood at the door, greeting his family members as they entered the Fruit Basket. He knew some of them quite well, others he barely recognised, and even some he hadn’t spoken to in years. Five of Immi’s brothers arrived at once. There was Helgi, Kristjan, Hrafn, and the twins Gabríel and Gísli, all of them older than Immi. Árni, his oldest brother, was notably absent. Immi hoped he would arrive soon as he was the only member of the family likely to stand up for him. Members of the Ananas family filled the Fruit Basket, leaving only the garden and the play room empty.
Immi saw Rauða at the back of the room, checking the guest list, and made his way over to her.
“Hey, Rauða, are we expecting anyone else?” Immi asked, hoping Árni would show up soon.
Rauða looked at the guest list, “Five out of six brothers are here, Árni couldn’t make it. Your parents couldn’t make it either. We have about forty cousins, five uncles and aunts on your mother’s side, seven uncles on your father’s side, various grandparents and great uncles and great aunts, which just leaves one uncle and eight cousins, let’s see... Sveinn?”
Immi began to panic. His muscles tensed up, his heart rate increased and he was finding it harder to breathe. No, no this couldn’t be happening. He looked at the guest list, hoping Rauða had simply read it wrong, but she hadn’t.
Gedda had invited Uncle Sveinn.
“Ah, look, here he is now!” Rauða said.
Immi could almost feel the air get colder and the sky darken as Uncle Sveinn made his entrance. Sveinn was very tall and intimidating, with huge muscles and a cold, unforgiving glare. He was flanked on either side by his eight adult children. On his left were Ari, Hinrik, Svala, and Mjölnir, and on his right were Helga, Bergur, Benedikt, and Lína, all standing in two straight lines as if they were in a military formation. Upon seeing them, Palla and Poddi ran and hid behind a pile of blocks. Guffi had noticed Hinrik, and they waved subtly to each other. Immi stood there nervously, unable to speak. He didn’t even have Árni to back him up now.
“Well?” Sveinn bellowed, “Are you just going to stand there in silence?”
“N-no Uncle Sveinn,” Immi stuttered, “W-welcome to the Fruit Basket...”
“This place is a mess!” Helga exclaimed, looking around the basket in horror.
“Yes, yes it is.” Sveinn agreed, “So you think this is an appropriate state to have your house in when guests are over?”
“It... doesn’t look dirty to me, Uncle Sveinn, we cleaned it this morning!”
“Well, clearly it needs cleaning again.”
Sveinn suddenly noticed Mæja sitting on a block on the other side of the throne room. He stormed over to her and grabbed her wrist, lifting her up and looking at her angrily, causing her to shriek.
“You! Little strawberry maid!” Sveinn shouted, “Tell me, why is the throne room such a dump?”
“I’m... I’m not the maid.” Mæja whimpered, tears falling from her eyes.
“Ugh!” Sveinn cried, letting go of Mæja, who fell to the ground sobbing. Eva ran to comfort her and guide her towards the play room, but not before shooting a dirty look at the Ananas family.
Sveinn marched over to the throne and slumped down grumpily. His children, with the exception of Hinrik, had sat down on the other chairs. Hinrik had made his way over to Guffi, and they had gone to talk in another room. Immi glanced around nervously, realising that his supply of people who could support him was slowly dwindling. Gedda skipped into the room to check on the reunion. The Ananas family saw her and all simultaneously gasped in horror, staring at her in disgust.
“G-GULRÓT!” Bergur screamed, “There’s a GRÆNMETI in the FRUIT BASKET!”
Sveinn leapt up and angrily went over to Gedda.
“WHO are you, and WHAT are you doing in the Fruit Basket?” He demanded.
“My name is Gedda, I am a carrot, and I live here.” Gedda replied calmly.
Sveinn turned to Immi, “Immanúel Aðalsteinn Ananas, how could you let this THING into your Basket?”
Immi stood there, frozen, while Sveinn glared at him. Immi looked at Gedda, his eyes pleading for help.
“...If you’ll excuse me, I’ll be on my way.” Gedda said, turning and calmly going into the play room.
Gedda entered the play room and immediately saw Mæja sat on the floor, crying and being comforted by Eva. She ran over to Mæja and sat down next to her, giving her a quick kiss on the forehead. Mæja looked at Gedda with tears in her eyes.
“What’s wrong, elsku Mæja mín?” Gedda asked.
Mæja sniffed loudly and wiped the tears from her eyes as she spoke, “Immi’s family are so horrible. His uncle yelled at me and grabbed my wrist.”
“The family reunion was a terrible idea, Gedda.” Eva remarked, “I don’t know why Immi let you talk him into it.”
“They’re his family!” Gedda exclaimed, “They may not like us, but they MUST like each other!”
Eva laughed, “No, Gedda mín, they really don’t.”
“I’ve known his family for years, and believe me, there is no way they’re ever going to reconcile.”
“No, Eva, that can’t be true! There has to be a way!”
“If you find a way, you’re a genius.”
“They really are mean to him!” Mæja interjected, “Immi told me all about it!”
Gedda was about to respond when she suddenly heard a loud crash. There was a loud ruckus coming from the throne room. They could hear shouting and screaming and fighting.
“Gedda,” Eva said calmly yet secretly seething with anger, “Did you invite Immi’s uncle Sveinn?”
“We don’t know that it’s Sveinn!” Gedda pointed out, “It could be anyone!”
There was another loud crash.
“It’s Sveinn.” Eva declared, “Now go sort it out.”
Gedda stood up and dashed towards the room and slowly opened the door to go in. She had barely stepped one foot in the throne room when she saw a chair being thrown in her direction by a very angry Sveinn Ananas.
“You stupid boy!”
The chair narrowly missed Gedda’s head. Gedda saw that the family reunion had descended into chaos, with various family members shouting and swearing and throwing things at each other. Rauða, Græni, and the pears had fled, leaving Immi alone. Gedda looked around, trying to find Immi amongst the mess. Seeing another chair on its way towards her, she ducked down quickly, and saw Immi crouched behind the throne, hiding from his uncle. Gedda quietly crawled over to him.
“Immi?!” She whispered, “What’s going on?”
“What does it look like is going on, Gedda mín?” Immi snapped quietly, “Just your average Ananas family reunion!”
“Why did your uncle throw a CHAIR AT ME?”
“Actually, it was at me-”
“Whatever! How did this happen?”
Their conversation was interrupted by Sveinn throwing another chair, along with various expletives, at the throne. Ari and Svala grabbed Sveinn, holding him back and trying to calm him down. Immi nervously glanced around the throne to check it was all clear.
“Now’s our chance!” he said to Gedda, grabbing her wrist and pulling her towards the door, “Let’s get out of here!”
Gedda didn’t have time to respond as she was dragged out of the throne room and into the garden. Once they reached the garden, Immi flopped down on the bench and breathed a sigh of relief. Gedda stood and stared at him. After a few moments, Gedda finally spoke.
“Immi!” She exclaimed, “What was that about?”
“I don’t even know anymore, it just sort of... blew up.” Immi replied, laughing a little and gesturing an explosion, complete with noises.
“This isn’t funny, Immi.” Gedda scolded, “Why couldn’t you just try and get along with them?”
Immi sat up and looked at Gedda with a mixture of anger and confusion.
“You think this is my fault?” He asked.
“I just- I just don’t understand why you can’t at least try to get along with your family.” Gedda remarked, “I mean, they’re your family!”
Immi stared at her for a few moments in disbelief, which soon turned to disgust and anger. He had thought that Gedda Gulrót, of all people, would be able to sympathise with him, but no. She was just like everyone else who refused to even try and understand.
“No, Gedda mín, you don’t understand!” Immi scoffed, “You don’t understand that, just because they’re my family, I don’t have to care about them. Let me tell you this, Gedda Gulrót, they certainly didn’t care about me. Why should I have to waste my time on these people? Go on, tell me.”
Gedda didn’t know how to respond.
Immi continued, getting closer to tears, “Those people are not my family, and I don’t care what you have to say about it. Just because the Gulrót family are all happy, smiley, jafnrétti og bræðralag, fandalagga-freaking-hoj doesn’t mean every family is going to be like that. My family are cruel, Gedda mín. The teasing, the insults, the threats. My own family kicked me out! I had to leave my home, my friends... I had to leave Eva, the girl I loved, all because of those people. So if you think one silly family reunion is going to fix years of hurt, forget it, because I can’t put myself through that again.”
There was a pause.
“I’m... I’m sorry, Immi. Forgive me.” Gedda pleaded.
Immi sighed and buried his face in his hands, sobbing. Gedda sat down next to Immi and gently patted his shoulder to comfort him.
“I wish I could be like you, Gedda.” Immi sobbed, “I wish I could be all happy and forgiving like you were with us. I know I don’t deserve your forgiveness.”
“But I chose to forgive you!” Gedda interjected.
“Loads of people have terrible families and they turn out just fine!” Immi continued, “But look at me, I’m just a mess. A big, angry, screaming mess!”
“Don’t say that!” Gedda said, “I chose to forgive you because you seemed willing to change and be a better person.”
‘And have I become a better person?”
“Yes, Immi minn, I believe you really have.”
Immi looked at Gedda, “I don’t understand how you do it.”
“The whole happy forgiveness... thing.”
Gedda giggled, “Well, it’s easy!”
With that, Gedda stood up and jumped forward, stretching out her arms and smiling.
“FANDALAGGAHOJ!” She shouted.
Immi stood up and copied Gedda, except more awkwardly.
Gedda looked at Immi, smiling, and threw her arms around him in a tight hug. Immi stood there in total bewilderment, but eventually gave in. The hug lasted for a few seconds before they both sat back down on the bench.
“That was fun, Gedda min, but I don’t see how some nursery rhyme is going to fix my family.” Immi said.
“It won’t!” Gedda replied, giggling.
“Then why did we do it?”
“Because, Immi, whenever I’m feeling angry or stressed I just jump around and shout FANDALAGGAHOJ and it always makes me feel better! That’s how I managed to stay calm even when you guys were bullying me.”
“Really? And it worked?”
Immi sighed, “I don’t think I can ever forgive Uncle Sveinn...”
“I get that.” Gedda said, “I wouldn’t want to forgive him either. I mean, you saw how he treated Mæja!”
“So you don’t think I have to forgive my family?” Immi asked.
“It’s not up to me, is it Immi?” Gedda answered, “It’s up to you. It’s hard for me to say because I don’t know what it’s like to have a family like yours. Mine has always been so kind, and loving, and supportive...”
“Alright, no need to rub it in.”
“What I’m trying to say is, I just can’t imagine how a person’s family could be so cruel to them. I guess I thought that we would be able to help them become better just like we helped you, but I was wrong. I forced you into a miserable situation because I didn’t understand, and I’m sorry.”
“It’s... alright, Gedda mín.”
They hugged quickly, and when they pulled away Immi saw his cousin Hinrik standing in the doorway, looking at him.
“Alli!” Hinrik exclaimed.
“My father’s just stormed out so we’re leaving now.”
“Oh. Okay. Bye, Hinrik.”
“We’re going to finish the reunion somewhere else.”
“That’s fine. Goodbye.”
Hinrik turned to leave, but stopped and walked over to Immi, hugging him briefly. Immi stared at him, unable to process what had just happened.
“Sorry about my father, Alli.” Hinrik mumbled before leaving.
“What just happened?” Gedda exclaimed after a few moments of silence.
“I think Hinrik was being... nice to me.” Immi responded, still bewildered.
“I guess Hinrik must be one of the good ones?”
“I don’t know, I still haven’t forgiven him for that one time he was flirting with Guffi.”
There was another pause.
“Is he... is he out?” Gedda inquired nervously.
“Out to Sveinn? Are you kidding?” Immi replied, “I’m not even out to my family, and look at me! If they couldn’t even accept me for having a different body shape YEARS AGO, do you think they’d accept Hinrik if he came out? Or Pete? Or me?”
Gedda sighed, “It’s a shame. He and Guffi would make a really cute couple.”
Immi gasped, “They would not!”
Gedda playfully shoved Immi and laughed.
“I mean it, Gedda!” Immi insisted, “It’s weird! Guffi’s my best friend and Hinrik is my cousin!”
“Your cousin Sóley is pretty cute...” Gedda teased.
“I’m telling Mæja you said that!”
“I’m just kidding! Besides, Mæja’s all the cute I need.”
Gedda heard a giggle coming from behind her. She turned around to see Mæja and Eva standing in the doorway, Mæja blushing heavily. Gedda leapt up and they started running towards each other. When they met in the middle, Gedda picked Mæja up and spun her around playfully.
“You really think I’m that cute?” Mæja asked nervously.
“Of course, Mæja min.” Gedda whispered softly before kissing Mæja on the cheek. They giggled and, not wanting to make things awkward with Immi and Eva around, made their way to the throne room, hand in hand.
Eva laughed and sighed happily, before calmly walking over to the bench and sitting down next to Immi. Immi put his arm around her and pulled her close.
“Ah, new love.” Eva remarked, “Reminds me of us when we were teenagers.”
“Except now we can be together for more than a day.”
“It’s been a rough day, Eva.” Immi sighed, “Still, it’s not the worst family reunion I’ve had. Remember the one you went to?”
“Yes, I remember!” Eva replied, “It was awful! Just awful!”
“Uncle Sveinn read my diary out to EVERYONE...”
“And then you stormed out and had that terrible fight with your parents...”
“And then I ran away, tripped on the pavement and landed in that puddle... but you found me and let me stay at your house for the night.”
Eva looked into Immi’s eyes, “Then everything was okay.”
“Já, ástin mín.”
Immi smiled and affectionately stroked Eva’s cheek. Suddenly, Eva pulled Immi into a passionate kiss. Eva ran her fingers through Immi’s soft hair as he lowered his hands to her waist, pulling her even closer. After about ten seconds, they pulled away and touched their foreheads together for a few moments. Eva gently caressed Immi’s jawline, causing him to giggle. They soon returned to cuddling, Eva’s head resting on Immi’s shoulder. After a few moments of silence, Immi spoke.
“Did I ever tell you what happened the day after?”
“You remember how my father stormed in to bring me back home in the morning?”
“Já, the Ananas family temper.”
“Well, speaking of that, he was so angry when we got home! He seemed to be under the impression that you and I had...” Immi explained, gesturing awkwardly.
“Oh my!” Eva exclaimed.
“...Heh, so you can imagine his reaction when he found out we were back together!”
There was a very brief pause.
“But it doesn’t matter what he thinks,” Immi declared, “I don’t care what anyone has to say about us anymore.”
“Still, best not to tell Sveinn.” Eva pointed out.
Immi laughed, “I’m with you on that one!”
Eva gave Immi a quick kiss on the cheek. They cuddled for a few more minutes before heading back inside together.
That night, the residents of the Fruit Basket had a party. They played music, sang songs, told stories, and danced. Guffi showed off the new march that he had choreographed, and Mæja demonstrated her ribbon twirling skills while Gedda cheered her on.
Immi looked around at the others, and smiled. Suddenly it occurred to him that his family were not the people who always fought with each other, who threw chairs and teased him and were shouting all the time. His real family was here in the Fruit Basket, singing and dancing and being happy together. His real family was an orange, two bananas, an apple, two pears, a strawberry, and a carrot, and they all loved each other.
Wow, Immi thought, I couldn’t have asked for a better family.