The Little Match Girl is the titular protagonist of an 1845 short story, concerning a dying child's hallucinations.
On New Year's Eve, a poor girl attempts to sell matches in the street. She is freezing and has few customers. But is afraid to return empty-handed at home, where her father will surely beat her. She has nothing to cover her head and has ended up barefoot. She lost one of her slippers and a boy stole the other one. She takes shelter in the corner between two houses and lights her own matches, trying to keep warm.
In the light of the matches, the girl starts seeing lovely visions of everything she has been missing. Great iron stoves providing warmth, a holiday fest, a Christmas tree. She sees but can not touch them. Each match burns away and the visions end. She then has to lit another. Looking skyward she sees a shooting star, figuring that someone is dying.
She remembers her dead grandmother telling her that "when a star fell down a soul went up to God". The next vision she sees is her dead grandmother, remembered as the only person to have treated the girl with love and kindness. It is the final vision. The child dies and grandmother takes her soul to heaven. The following day, the people on the street discover the corpse. With rosy red cheeks and a strange smile on her face.
One of Hope's paladins and the caretaker of Hope Deferred. Rose Red meets the little girl on Christmas Eve in the Fables story "All in a Single Night", where Rose is taken "worlds away", in a Fables takes on A Christmas Carol. The Little Match Girl is still making a living selling matches. Rose asks her to get out of the cold, or else she'll die. The girl answers that she has no home and many matchstick bundles yet to sell. Rose says to her that she will die tonight, as in the fairy tale, but the girl answers that no one knows what will be and that she is young and can stand the cold. She speaks of her hopes for the future, and hopes that her (future) children will have a better life than her. Rose is heartbroken, because she knows that the girl will freeze to death, with all her hopes unfulfilled.