Her hands trembled uncontrollably and she felt moments away from being sick. Still though, she approached the door, scuffing closer as only a nine-year-old can. She promised Ben she'd come visit, but she never expected his house to be so spooky! Spooky or not, she had walked all the way here from town, through the woods, and over the old stone bridge, and she didn't want to make the whole trip without at least saying hello.
"H-hello?" she squeaked at the door, standing eight feet back. She waited a moment for a response before making her next move.
The child, wrapped tight against the winter chill, approached the door, pounded twice, then gave it a slight shove. The door yawned open. Feeling the warmth inside, she shouldered her way in, not daring to open the door any wider. Once inside, she twisted to close the door and was subsequently assaulted with a room full of fur and wood and metal ornamentation reflecting the light of the fire that burned in the hewn stone fireplace opposite the door.
"My dear!" a great voice bellowed. "Did you honestly come out on a cold night like this?" A great figure of hair and furs and rosy cheeks appeared from another doorway.
"Ben!" the little one squealed as she rushed to hug the imposing man. She just about disappeared in the big man's furs. He reciprocated with a great squeeze.
Having overcome her fear and now feeling safe, the little one shed her cowl and coat and scarf and shoes and goaded Ben into various "games" of her devising, most involving her triumph by edict. Ben didn't mind though; he was just glad for the company.
Eventually the little one ran out of steam. As she started to nod off, Ben wrapped her back up for the cold and trudged back to the village. He mostly kept to the shadows, as he knew what happened to his kind, but braved the open to deposit the girl on her parent's doorstep.
After a crashing knock sure to wake the family, Ben made his way back home, alone, but aglow.
[written November 2016, inspired by a picture by DH]