Children of Christmas | Teen Ink

Children of Christmas

December 8, 2014
By totalbooknerd11 BRONZE, San Jose, California
totalbooknerd11 BRONZE, San Jose, California
4 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one."
-Spock, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn

*One Year Ago*
I stand with the elves, smiling as the words in my song spread out across the white plain.  As they reach the border of our lands, the golden letters turn into a blast of snow and disappear into the world beyond.  The elves hug my legs and join me as I start the next song.

Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon Virgin Mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Saviour is born
Christ, the Saviour is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

The same happens with the words on this one, and my job for the year is finished.  Surrounded by elves, I head back inside to inform Chris that he can start his journey.
Chris is inside the factory, directing the working elves in their toy making.  He smiles as he sees me, his giant white beard lifting up and his dimples showing.  "Ah, Stella.  I trust you have filled the world with our spirit."
"As always," I tell him.  "The world is ready for your flight.  I gave Prancer some bananas as well, since he's been feeling a little weak lately."
"You are always ahead of everything.  What would I do without you?"
"You would do everything you already do.  You managed before I came along, remember?"
"But I had your mother, Eve at that time.  And before her was her mother, Christina.  Before Christina there was Noel.  You are the fourth Christmas Girl, and you show even more of the holiday spirit than I do.  Yet I cannot help but feel concerned.”
“Your mother had your father, Balthasar, as Christmas Boy years before she was your age.  You will be turning eighteen next year.”
“Chris, I don’t need to find a boy to help me.  I am perfectly capable of doing this on my own.”
“I know you are, Stella, but it can’t hurt to have a little help.”
“Please stop worrying about me, Chris.  Now, you should start your trip before you get behind.”  Chris nods and heads over to the door to the stables, grabbing his hat of the hook as he goes.  I shake my head at him and head to my room, waiting at the window to see him take off.
The sleigh elves waste no time in getting him up in the air.  In less than five minutes, a blinking red light comes out of the stables, followed by a brown body with huge antlers.  Rudolph leads the other reindeer out and they run, getting higher in the air with every stride.  “Ho, ho, ho!” Chris calls, making all the elves cheer.  I smile to myself and head to my bed.  One year of work is done.  Another year starts next week, after the New Year’s Boy and Girl have their fun.

*Present Day*
“Stella, you must find your boy before this year,” Valentine says. 
I roll my eyes at him.  “I know I’m turning eighteen and all, but I don’t need a guy.  I don’t need the extra stress of teaching him what to do.”
“You need a successor once you get too old for the job,” Patrick puts in.  “And you can’t make one by yourself.”
“I can just find a successor.  She doesn’t have to be related to me.”
“It makes it stronger if she is.  You are the only one in the history of Holiday Children who has refused to find a partner.  Besides, what happens if Jack captures you?  You won’t be able to complete the job and Christmas will be forgotten about forever.”
“Why are you guys all ganging up on me?” I say to no one in particular.  I glance around the table, looking at the main Holiday Children.  There’s Valentine and his girl, Juliet, for Valentine’s Day; Patrick and Darcy for St. Patrick’s Day; Newman and Dawn for New Year’s; Henry and Faith for Thanksgiving; Damian and Beatrix for Halloween; and lastly Peter and Anastasia for Easter.  All of them are staring at the empty seat next to me, the seat with holly leaves carved into it.
“We are trying to help you,” Juliet says.  “Love is a beautiful thing and you need to find it.  You’ll thank us when you find him.”
“Guys, I understand that you think I need to find someone, but I really don’t.  I will handle this all on my own.  Besides, I need to be here.  It’s only ten days until Christmas Eve, ten days until my birthday.  I can’t abandon Chris now.  So if you’ll excuse me, I have to prepare my songs.”
They all roll their eyes, but permit me to leave the meeting hall.  I nod my head and open the door behind me to the Christmas land.  Every door in the hall leads to a holiday land, but only the boy and girl from that land can use their own door.
I slam the door shut and lean back against my “closet door.”  First Chris and now the other Holiday Children.  Why is everyone putting pressure on me to find my boy?  I don’t need this.  I have to concentrate.
I walk out of the workshop and into the stables.  The reindeer always calm me down.  I sit on a stool, stroking Vixen’s nose.  He leans into me and brushes his nose on my dress, feeling my stress.  I shiver as a cold breeze enters the stables.  Wait a minute.  I never get cold.  I live in a world of snow and I wear a short red dress.  I stand up and face the stable door, which is now open.  A man stands there.  His face is a pale blue, covered with ice and snow.  I shudder.  Jack Frost.
“What do you want?” I ask him, getting prepared to run.
“Dear Stella, I thought we were on better terms.”
“You tried to kill me three years ago.”
“And I’m past that now.  I have other plans.”
“What are you talking about?”
He laughs.  It sounds like ice cracking on a lake’s surface.  “Have a good time on Earth, Christmas Girl.  You won’t be back in time for your little performance.”  He brings a fist to his face and blows, creating a small blizzard around me.  I scream as it lifts me off the ground and spins me around.  Jack snaps his fingers, which sounds like an icicle breaking, and I fall unconscious, my vision completely white.

I wake up in another set of stables, this one filled with horses.  I’m lying on a pile of sacks.  Well, at least Jack had the decency to land me nicely.  As I stand up, the horses start to whiny, freaking out.  I sing a few words, making them calm down when the gold letters reach them.  Suddenly, a light comes from the door and I hide behind one of the stalls, peeking out at the intruder.
It’s a boy about my age, carrying a bail of hay.  He walks over to the horse next to me.  “Eiffel, what is it boy?  Why were you freaking out?”  The horse’s thoughts come into my head.  It’s a girl!  She’s right next to me!  She’s some sort of weird thing!  Her voice makes us calm!  Then he kicks the wall of his stall, making me fall out in front of the boy, who stares at me in confusion.
“Thanks a lot,” I say to the horse.  He gives me a sort of smile.
“Who are you and what are you doing here?” the boy asks.
“My name is Stella and I was sent here by…” I falter as I start to tell him.  He won’t believe me if I tell him Jack Frost sent me here from a magical land because I keep Christmas alive each year.
“Who sent you here?”
“You won’t believe me.”
He puts the hay bail down and motions for me to sit down next to him.  “Try me.  Besides, you should sit down.  You look like you need some rest.”
I accept his offer and take a seat.  “I was sent here by Jack Frost.  He wants everyone to forget about Christmas so that he will be the only one in control during the winter.”
“What does that have to do with you?”
“Well, every holiday has a boy and a girl who keep it’s spirit alive every year.  I’m the girl for Christmas.  If I’m not back to my world by Christmas Eve, then Christmas will be forgotten forever and I’ll be trapped here.”
“Okay, I take back what I said.  You are crazy.”
“I can prove it.”
“Go ahead.”
I begin to sing.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten,
and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white

As I finish, I notice the boy staring at the gold letters coming from my mouth, turning into holly leaves when they reach the ceiling.  “How did you…?”
“Whenever I sing, those letters come out.  They become Christmas spirit in my world and pass into yours.  You normally see it only snow or lights or something like that, but it comes across in it’s true form when it originates in this world.  It’s how I keep the Christmas spirit alive.  I need to get back to my world to save it.”
“But you said there was a boy and a girl for every holiday.  Can’t your boy do it himself?”
“I actually don’t have a boy.  I’m supposed to, but I thought I would be alright without one.”  I start to cry.  “Oh, why didn’t I listen to the others?  Now Christmas will be gone and it will be all my fault!”
The boy pulls me to my feet, wiping away the tears.  “No, it won’t.  And by the way, your powers are actually kind of cool.”
I blush and turn to the horses.  “I can also hear the thoughts of animals used for transportation.  Like horses.  Speaking of which, Eiffel is a real jerk.”
The boy laughs.  “Yeah, well he’s the best to ride out of all of them, so we keep him.”
“Who’s we?”
“The orphanage that owns this stables.  We keep horses here for the kids to ride.  We also make money giving carriage rides to people during the holidays.  Oh, I just realized that I never told you my name.  It’s Christian.”
“Christian.  That’s Latin for follower of Christ.”
“Is it really?”
“Yes.  It was actually created in my world, but it passed onto yours.”
“Well, Stella.  Come with me.  I’m going to help you get back to your world.”
“Really?  You don’t think I’m crazy?”
“I just saw gold letters come out of your mouth and turn into holly.  So no, I don’t think you’re crazy.  I’ll help you find this boy and get back so you can save Christmas.  But first we need to get you some clothes.”
“Why?  What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?”
“Most girls don’t wear short dresses like that in the middle of winter.”
“But I’m going to be hot in literally anything else you put me in.”
“Do you know what being hot is like?”
“Um, no.”
“Then it’s time for you to learn.”  He grabs my hand and pulls me out of the stables and through the snow outside to the back of a large house.  “We’re going to have to climb up,” he tells me.  “Let me give you a hand.”  He crouches down in the snow and holds his hands on his knee.  I lightly step into them and he pushes me up, allowing me to grab the side of the building.  I pull myself up and hold out my hand to his, but he shakes his head and jumps, reaching the ledge I’m on with ease, like he’s done this a hundred times.
As we climb, he starts to ask me questions.
“So how do you get back to your world?”
“I can only get back if I have my boy with me and he has his powers.  But he doesn’t because I never found him and gave them to him!”
“Then we need to find him.  Do you know why you ended up here?”
“Because this is where Jack sent me, I’m guessing.”
“Does he have enough power to control where you land in this world?”
“Now that I think about it, no.  He would have no control over it.”
“Then you must have come here because your boy is here.  You have magic, right?”  I nod.  “So whatever magic you have must have guided you here when it realized you were in danger.”
“I guess that’s possible.”
“Do you know how to tell who he is?”
“His voice will be good, but the only way to make sure is to kiss him.”
“How do you know about his voice?”
“The way to keep Christmas spirit alive is singing.  So his voice will be excellent, like mine.”
“Well, it’s too bad this town if full of great singers.  Is there any other way to know right away?”
“I don’t think so.  I was never really told about this.  Whenever a new Holiday Child is born, their parents lose their powers.  If they’re old enough, like my parents were, they die right away.”
“Then why do they have children?”
“Because powers also weaken over time.  No one can hold theirs forever, except for maybe Chris.”
“Chris?  As in Chris Cringle?”
“Yes.  I work for him, actually.”
“So the world famous Santa Claus is actually real?”
“Yes.  But he’s more secretive than you think.  When he drops off presents, he makes the parents of children think they bought them.  He’s trying not to be recognized as a real thing.  Makes the job easier.”
“Oh, go in through here,” Christian tell me, pointing to a window just above me.  “That’s where all the girls your age are.  They’ll help you get some clothes.”
“How do you know?”
“Because one of them is my sister.”
“Well, that explains it.”
I grab the windowsill and wait for him to reach me, which he quickly does.  He taps on the window, and a girl runs over.  She opens it and Christian swings his legs up and in, grabbing my hand and pulling me through once he’s inside.
“Hey Danielle,” he says.  “This is Stella.  She needs some help to um… get back to her family.  Can you get her some clothes please?”
“Christian, what are you up to?  You can’t just barge in like this without any explanation.”
I look around at the dull room.  It’s all grey, just grey.  And it’s all the same shade.  “How can you guys live here?” I ask.  “There’s no color anywhere!”
“We’ve gotten used to it,” Danielle says coolly.  “It’s not like there’s much we can do about it.”
“I’m not so sure about that.”  I open my mouth to sing, but Christian covers it.
“Please just help her, Danielle.  She’s not exactly used to customs here either.”  He removes his hand and I glare at him.  I can’t survive in a place like this.  There has to be decorations, especially this close to Christmas.
“Alright,” Danielle says.  “But you owe me one.”
“She sounds like Jack,” I mutter before Christian can stop me.
“Who’s Jack?”
“No one.  Stella’s just being a little weird.  She’s been out in the snow for a while in that dress.”
“But I’m not cold!” I protest.  “I’m perfectly fine in this!”
Christian shakes his head at me and leaves through the bedroom door.  Danielle stares at me.  “So what is my brother up to?” she asks.
“I want to know why he is asking me to give you clothes.  And why he covered your mouth when you were about to speak.”
“I wasn’t going to speak.”
“Then why was your mouth open?”
“I was going to sing.  And he doesn’t want me doing that.”
“Why not?”
“Promise not to freak out or tell anyone?”
She waves her hand.  “Sure.”
My voice comes out clearly as I sing.

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

In Bethlehem, in Israel,
This blessed Babe was born
And laid within a manger
Upon this blessed morn
The which His Mother Mary
Did nothing take in scorn
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

From God our Heavenly Father
A blessed Angel came;
And unto certain Shepherds
Brought tidings of the same:
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by Name.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

"Fear not then," said the Angel,
"Let nothing you affright,
This day is born a Saviour
Of a pure Virgin bright,
To free all those who trust in Him
From Satan's power and might."
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

The shepherds at those tidings
Rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding
In tempest, storm and wind:
And went to Bethlehem straightway
The Son of God to find.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

And when they came to Bethlehem
Where our dear Saviour lay,
They found Him in a manger,
Where oxen feed on hay;
His Mother Mary kneeling down,
Unto the Lord did pray.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth deface.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

My words float up and become a string of lights, shining and casting colorful shadows on the walls.
“What the heck?” Danielle says, nearly jumping out of her skin.  “How did you do that?”
“Um, it’s a kind of magic that I have.  Stuff like that happens whenever I sing any songs related to Christmas.  You normally don’t see the actual letters, since it comes from another world.  I was banished here so that everyone will forget about Christmas.”
“How could that happen?  How could anyone forget Christmas?”
“If I don’t get back to my world in time to perform the ceremony, Christmas will be lost forever.  Your brother is trying to help me.”
Danielle turns to a small dresser beside one of the beds and takes out a set of clothes.  “Take these.  I’ll do whatever I can to help.”
“Why?  I thought you hated me.”
“No.  It’s just that most people my brother gets involved with mean trouble, so I’m always cautious.  Besides, I love Christmas.  So do the rest of the kids here.  It’s the only time we feel we really have family.  I couldn’t bear it if that was taken from us.”
I nod and take the clothes.  “Thank you for all your help.  Now, just let me slip these on.”
“The closet’s right over there.”
“Oh, don’t worry.  They’ll be no need for that.”  I smile and start to sing again.

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath'ring winter fuel

"Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know'st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes' fountain."

"Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither."
Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind's wild lament
And the bitter weather

"Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer."
"Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly."

In his master's steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing

I twirl as I finish and the clothes she gave me are now on, but the dull grey blouse has changed to a pretty red color and the pants are now a dark green.  Danielle smiles as she realizes that her clothes are now similar colors.  “This is amazing, Stella!  I wish you could stay with us longer!”
I smile.  “So do I.  But unfortunately only two can cross the border.”
"So are you taking Christian with you, then?"
"I don't know.  It depends on if he's the one I need to take with me."
"What do you mean?"
"Christmas isn't the only holiday that depends on someone to keep it alive.  All the others do too.  Each one has a boy and a girl, except for Christmas.  It's just me.  I still haven't found my boy, which is why Jack came after me.  It's easier to stop one than two.  Luckily, my magic brought me here, where my boy must be.  When I find him, I can return to my world."
"When do you have to be back?"
"Christmas Eve."
"That's ten days!  We've got to hurry!  Come on!  We'll go out right now.  What can you tell me about this boy?"
"Not much.  All I know is that he has a good singing voice and I'll know it's him as soon as we kiss.  That's how it works with all of us."
"Well, good thing I know how to find some singers.  I know where they all hang out.  We can go there and see them.  The only problem is getting them to kiss you.  But they're my friends so I think I can figure something out."
I smile.  "Great.  Let's go."
Danielle grabs my hand and pulls me out the bedroom door, practically running down the stairs and outside.  Once we're out in the snow, she sighs, her breath fogging up in the cold air.  "You have no idea how glad I am to get out of there," she tells me.  I laugh, and she stares at me.
"What is it?"
"Your breath.  I can't see it."
I breathe out an look down.  Sure enough, it looks as though nothing comes out.  "I guess I'm just used to colder temperatures.  My breath doesn't show up here.  Speaking of temperature, it's hot here."
"How can you think it's hot?" she exclaims.  "I'm freezing!  This isn't even the coldest day we've had this winter!"
"This is nothing compared to my world.  I live in conditions similar to your North Pole, and the only thing I wear is that dress you first saw me in."
"You're crazy," she mutters, rubbing her hands together.  "So my friends will probably be in the back of the library.  It's not busy, and the music brings in more customers, so the librarian lets them stay.  Plus, it's warm."  I stare at her the entire way to the library.  If the library is warm for her, what will it be for me?
As we pass a few stores, I hear Christmas music playing.  I smile, but immediately get worried.  "Danielle, we've got to get out of here," I say quickly before putting a hand over my mouth.
She turns and looks back at me, noticing the hand.  "Is it the music?"
I nod.  "Whenever I hear it, I can hardly hold myself back from singing."
"Okay, then let's run.  The library is only a couple blocks from here."  She grabs my hand and we run down the street, my hand clasped over my mouth.
When we finally get inside the library, I uncover my mouth and sigh.  "Thank Christ we got through that."
"Danielle, is that you?" a voice says from behind the desk.  I look up to see a middle aged woman peering down at us through her glasses.
"Yeah.  It's me.  Hey, can you tell me where the guys are?  I need to introduce them to my new friend."
"Well, then you're in luck.  They're all in the back today.  Something about a Christmas music showdown.  Oh, I think your brother is there as well.  He came in a few minutes ago."
"Thanks, Daphne.  Oh, this is Stella, by the way.  She visiting for a little while."
"Stella, meaning star.  Any meaning in that name?"
"Um, yes actually.  My parents chose it because I was born on Christmas Eve.  They wanted it to be related to the holiday.”
“That’s nice.  Oh, but I shouldn’t keep you much longer.  I’m sure you’ll like Danielle’s friends, if you can stand her.”  Danielle rolls her eyes and pulls me to the back room.  I gasp as I hear the music drifting from the room.  Danielle gives me a sympathetic look as I start to sing with the music inside.

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Suddenly, the gold letters drifting from my mouth become silver.  I stare at them in shock as they turn into snow and shower us.  This must mean that whoever was singing inside is my boy.  I exchange looks with Danielle and nod.
“Hey guys,” she yells, throwing the door open.  “I’m here!”  I sigh as I see that there are three guys on the small stage.  Well, at least my choices are slightly diminished.
“Danielle!” a bunch of guys say cheerfully, running up and hugging her.
She pushes them away.  “Okay, okay.  Who was it that was just singing?”
“That would be Gabriel, Nick, and I,” Christian says, not yet noticing me.  “Why?”
“Just that Stella thought your voices were lovely.  I was wondering who it was.”
“You brought Stella with you?”
“Why wouldn’t I?”
“Wait,” one of the guys says, clearing his throat.  “Who’s Stella?”
“That would be me,” I say, stepping out from behind Danielle.
“Nice to meet you, Stella.  I’m Gabriel.  Thanks for the comment on my voice.”  I blush and look down at my feet.
“Hey, Stella,” a voice from behind me sang.  Literally sang.  “Do you sing?”
“Um, yes.  Why?”
“Great!” I turned to see the third boy from the stage behind me.  Nick.  Why did all three of them have to have Christmas related names?  It would have made it so much easier if I could just single one out.  “Can you sing us something?  Only one guideline.  Has to be Christmas related.”
“Um, I’d rather not.”
Gabriel pokes me in the side.  “Come on.  A girl like you has got to have a pretty voice!  Why don’t you show us?”
I glance at Christian, sending him a frightened look.  “Guys, don’t push her.  She’s shy.  Stella, you don’t have to sing if you don’t want to.”
I mouth a thank you to him and take a seat beside Danielle, who smiles at me.  “We’ll go out with Gabriel and Nick after this,” she whispers.  “Then maybe you’ll be able to tell which one it is.”
“Thank you so much for helping me.”
“No problem.  I want you to save Christmas, remember?”
I nod and turn forward, listening to the next boy give a song.  Surprisingly, I don’t burst out into song.  Maybe it’s because my boy is in this room.

After the show, Danielle grabs Nick and Gabriel, leading them out of the library.  “Hey, do you guys want to hang out with us some more?” she asks them.
“Sure,” both reply.  I catch Nick’s eye and he winks.  I smile at him and laugh a little as Gabriel steps on his foot.
We head to a cafe, where Nick and Gabriel order and buy hot chocolates for everyone.  Nick keeps catching my eye and winking, making me blush.  After talking with Gabriel for a little while, I rule him out.  He’s staring at Danielle with such intensity.  He is definitely in love with her.  Hm.  I’ll have to ask Valentine and Juliet to set them up on their day.  While the three friends talk, I stare out the window.  I see someone wave at me.  I blink, thinking I’m imagining things, but no.  He’s there.  Valentine.
“Can you guys excuse me?” I say quietly.  Nick stands up to let me pass and I rush out to meet Valentine, embracing him.
“Thank God you’re here!” I exclaim.  “I don’t know what to do!  There are two guys who could both be my boy!  I have to find out which one he is!”
He rubs my back, smiling.  “Well, I’m glad you’ve finally come around.  Now, what are the names of these guys?”
“Nick and Christian.”
“Both Christmas names, I see.”
I nod.  “Please help me, Valentine.  I don’t know what to do.”
“All I can do is tell you that I can make one of them kiss you.  My powers are weak here.”  He hands me a necklace.  “Put this on and whisper the boy’s name.  He will kiss you as soon as he sees you.  Then you will know.  Unfortunately, it only works once, but I think that’s all you’ll need.”  He smiles at me and disappears, leaving me alone in the snow.
I follow Valentine’s instructions and place the necklace over my head, whispering Nick’s name.  It glows pink and I head back inside the cafe.
As soon as I get back to the table, Nick stands up and kisses me, causing Gabriel and Danielle to gasp.  As he pulls away, I smile to myself.  I know who my boy is now.
“I’m sorry, Stella.  I don’t know what came over me.”
“It’s okay, Nick, but I’ve got to go.”
“Why?” Danielle asks.
“To find Christian.”  She nods and I once again rush out of the cafe.
I run to the orphanage, heading into the stables Christian found me in.  I sigh in relief as I find him there, stroking a horse.
“Hey, Stella,” he says.  “Weren’t you supposed to be with Danielle, Gabriel, and Nick?”
I smile.  “Yeah, but Nick kissed me.”
His face falls.  “Oh.”
“I should have known.  Of course Nick gets you.  He’s always had the best voice, after all.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You said Nick kissed you.  Does that mean you’re leaving with him?”
“No!  I meant that I knew it wasn’t him!”
“So it’s Gabriel?”
“No, it’s you!  You’re the one.”
He smiles and runs over to me, lifting me up and spinning me around.  “What do we do now?”
“I have to give you your powers.”  I sing a verse of the binding song, the last verse, the one used only on these occasions.

The fire is slowly dying
And my dear we're still goodby-ing
But as long as you love me so
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

The letters float around him, pushing their way into his mouth.  He closes his eyes and lets them in.  When he opens his eyes again, his breath doesn’t show on the air.  I smile as he hugs me and kisses my forehead.
“So I see you’ve found your boy,” a voice says from behind me.  I turn to see Danielle standing there, smiling.  But there’s something behind it.
Not human, I hear Eiffel scream in my head.  She’s not human!  Christian looks at me and I can tell he heard it too.
“Smart horse,” Danielle comments.  My mouth drops open as I realize who it is.  “Jack,” I say through gritted teeth.
“Very good, Stella.  Though I’m surprised you didn’t pick up earlier.”
“What are you doing here?  And why are you possessing Christian’s sister?”
“I’m not possessing her.  I created her.  Your precious little boy never had a sister at all.”
My fists clench.  “Why are you here, Jack?”
“I wanted you to find you precious little boy before I did what I really wanted to do with you.  I couldn’t risk the other children going out to find him.  Now that I have both of you, you will spend the rest of your immortal life in my dungeon.  Without his powers, your boy can’t help you escape and he will die soon enough.  When you don’t appear for Christmas, you will forever be under my power.”  He once again blows snow from his hand, creating yet another blizzard.
When I wake up, my head is on Christian’s chest and he’s stroking my hair.  “Are you alright?” he asks me.  “You’ve been out for a few days.”
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I say, sitting up.  “How long exactly have I been out?”
“It’s been five days since I woke up.  I’m not sure how long I was out.”
I bolt to my feet.  “We’ve got to get out of here!  Christmas is coming!  If we don’t get out, we won’t be able to save it!”
“Stella, I’ve tried!  There’s no getting out of here!  The walls are pure ice!”
“No, we can get out of here.  Jack didn’t know about you having powers.  He doesn’t think we can escape.  Maybe if we sing we can get out.”
“How would that work?”
“Just follow my lead.”  I place my hand on the cell wall and sing.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yule-tide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos.

Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe
Help to make the season bright
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight.

They know that Santa's on his way
He's loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh
And every mother's child is gonna spy
To see if reindeer really know how to fly.

And so I'm offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although it's been said many times, many ways
Merry Christmas to you!

Christian joins me, his voice unsure, but still beautiful.  Slowly, our words combine and form silvery letters, pushing against the cell wall.  As we sing the last word, the wall falls away and we run out.  I use a special call to get Dancer to my side.  “What day is it, boy?” I ask him.
Stella!  Thank God you’re back!  Chris has been so worried!  Who is this guy?
“I’ll explain later.  Now just tell me what day it is!”
It’s Christmas Eve!  We need to get you back so you can do your performance!
I hop on Dancer’s back and pull Christian up behind me.  Dancer rushes off through the snow, creating a mini snowstorm behind us.
Here we are, Dancer says as we arrive at the workshop.  I stand in horror at the dark little wood buildings.  Normally lights are all on at this time.
“Christian, we need to start right now.  We’re nearly out of time.”
“But I don’t know what to do!”
I grab his hand.  “Don’t worry.  I’ll guide you.”  I take a deep breath and start the first song, making the lights go on.

Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
Over the fields we go
Laughing all the way

Bells on bob tails ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight

Oh, jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh

Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh

A day or two ago
I thought I'd take a ride
And soon Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side

The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
We got into a drifted bank
And then we got upset

Oh, jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh

Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh, yeah

Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh

Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh

Christian stands with me and I smile as the letters of our words become lights and holly berries, disappearing into the world beyond.  The singing elves only some out as I start the last song.  Christian puts his arm around me and draws me close as the last few words escape our lips.  The elves cheer and pull us inside to see Chris.
The old man beams as he sees me.  “Stella!  I feared you might not make it back in time, yet here you are!”  He notices Christian.  “And who is this?”
“Chris, this is Christian.  He’s my boy.  He helped me get back here.”
Chris laughs, his big belly showing.  “Well, now that you are back and we now have full ranks again, I can actually start my trip.  Show Christian to your room, if you would.”
I smile and drag Christian up the stairs.  He gasps at the room, completely furnished.  “Do you like it?” I ask, though I already know the answer.  Every Christmas Child is born to love this room.  Or the room was built for every Christmas Child to love.
“It’s amazing.”
“Oh, I just remembered!  The others are waiting for me, well, us now I guess.  We have to give our report.”
“The others?”
“The other Holiday Children.”
“Right.  Where are we meeting them?”
I motion to my closet.  “The hall is through there.”
“You’re kidding.”
“Nope.  It leads to our meeting hall.  But you should probably get dressed first.”
“I am dressed.”
“I meant in holiday dress.”  I reach into my dresser and pull out an outfit for him.  A nice red shirt and black pants.  He takes them willingly, nearly ripping off his grey shirt in the process.  I smile and grab a dress from another drawer, heading into the bathroom to change.
When I step back into the room, Christian is dressed and smiling back at me.  “Shall we go?” he asks.  I nod and take his hand, walking through the closet door, where the rest of the main Holiday Children already sit, waiting for us.  Most of them gasp as they see Christian, but Valentine and Juliet just nod at him and motion for us to take our seats.
“I am glad to report that the actions of Jack Frost have not hindered our efforts.  Christmas is still on schedule, and will not be stronger than ever.”
The table erupts in cheers.  Valentine and Juliet calm everyone down.  “Thank you Stella and Christian.  The meeting is dismissed.”  I take Christian’s hand and lead him back into the room.
“So what now?” he asks, leaning against the bedpost.
“Now we actually get some rest.  We have a year until the madness starts again.”  Suddenly, my feet move towards him and our lips crash.  Our first real kiss.  We break apart and lie down together on the bed.  He twirls his fingers in my hair while I snuggle into his chest.  So this is what Juliet meant by love.  She was right.  It is wonderful.
My eyes flutter open and closed as Christian begins to sing to me.  It’s the song I sang when we first met.  I smile in my sleepy state.  The words sink into my brain as I slowly fade from the world.

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten,
and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white

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