Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve Special: SANTA & MRS. CLAUS - A MAGICAL ROMANCE

Norman Rockwell's Merry Christmas 1928
It's Christmas Eve and to celebrate, I've written a short story for you. I've always thought that Santa and his bride, Mrs. Claus, were one of the most romantic couples. Can you imagine being with the same man for an eternity? I hope you enjoy my story and have a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, or whatever you prefer to call it. Thanks for being so wonderful to me! Enjoy my gift to you. Merry Christmas to all and Happy Reading Everyone!

A JOYFUL MERRY LOVE
by Amy Valentini

It was a beautiful day.  As it always was in the small village nestled amidst the forest that lay just on the edge of the horizon to the north. The sky was a clear blue, the wind warm on Merry Belle’s cheeks as she set out the baskets of pine cones that she and her siblings gathered the day before from the floor beneath the great pines encircling the village. Laughter filled the air as some of the younger children, three of her siblings included, danced around the fountain that was the centerpiece of their sweet haven from the rest of the world.
“Be sure to set aside a basket for your Aunt Regina,” her mother called out to Merry from her seat in the wagon in which her father had driven her in from the forest. Her father had already disappeared into his cobbler shop while Merry and three of her older brothers unloaded the baskets from the bed and arranged them beneath the sign that read BELLE’S FINE PINE CONES. There were only seven children, besides herself, left living at home with Lively and Queenie Belle now that the three eldest, Merry’s brother and two sisters, had married. Her sisters, Gay and Livie, had married men from villages outside the magic so they had moved away. Her brother, Reggie, married a local girl named Sprite and since he works with their father, they remained nearby. They live in a small house not far from the shop. Merry sighed with sadness thinking of her sisters so far away. They would only be allowed to visit when the magic fell, which was only once a year.
“Momma, do you want me to take Aunt Regina’s basket to her house?”  Her brother Jasper called out to their mother. Merry smiled slyly. She knew the real reason her brother was so eager to walk the mile into the forest to deliver the basket – Cecelia Claus, their cousin.
“No, don’t bother, Jasper. Nick is supposed to retrieve it for her. He should be along soon. Merry, keep an eye on the younglings, please.” Her mother exclaimed with a smile as she turned the reindeer pulling the colorful wagon in the direction of home.
“Yes, Momma, I will.” Merry reassured her mother even as a smile teased the corners of her mouth and her heart fluttered in her chest. She had hoped that Nick would come into the village today. It had been almost a month since she saw him last and even though she was not happy with his behavior of late, she was eager for him to see her new hairstyle. She had woven her long ebony locks into a long braid that nearly reached her hip and then twirled it around her head with bits of holly sprinkled throughout.  The green of the prickly leaves and red of the berries highlighted brilliantly against her black hair. She knew the leaves nearly matched her green eyes exactly and she’d worn her best apron. The one embroidered with holly leaves, berries, and trimmed with red bows. It looked lovely over her dark green work dress. She was confident that she looked quite fetching and hoped Nicholas Claus thought so too. She hadn’t forgotten how he had acted with that haughty Lavinia Woodhaus before he left to travel outside the magic.
“Perhaps CeCe will come to market with Nick,” Merry remarked over her shoulder as she piled more perfect pine cones into the display baskets. When Jasper glared at her, she giggled making him glower even more. “I hear she’s got a new beau.”
“She does not,” Jasper snapped in return. Then he stopped his work and looked at Merry, a shadowing cast of despair filling his blue eyes. “She doesn’t, does she?”
“Lacy told me that CeCe was worried that her father had picked out a husband for her and then I heard from Maggie that a stranger was seen riding in the direction of the Claus farm.”

Jasper’s eyes darkened as Merry recounted the gossip that had circulated. She had no idea if any of it was true and seeing how she had not been to market in almost a week, the stranger could have been just that - a stranger. She had overheard her mother and father discussing the topic of Frederick Claus having consulted their mother about whether or not to arrange a marriage for his only daughter.  Merry knew that her mother would never advise her cousin to arrange a marriage, she didn’t believe in it. Even knowing this, Merry couldn’t resist teasing her brother who was head over heels in love with Cecelia Claus.
“She wouldn’t.  She couldn’t,” Jasper muttered as he stacked the baskets neatly. Merry suddenly wished she hadn’t told him. She hoped CeCe wouldn’t accept some stranger for a husband. She and Jasper belonged together.
A commotion beyond the fountain caught Merry’s attention. Glancing to where the children had been playing, she noticed now that they had all gathered on the far side of the fountain. Jasper noticed too, but quickly put his attention back on his work. Merry sighed knowing he would leave it to her to make sure their younger siblings stayed out of trouble.
Merry set down the handfuls of pine cones she was sorting. She wiped her hands on her apron and started around the display table to inquire as to what had drawn the children’s attention when she suddenly halted mid-step. Strolling into view as if he was a celebrity was Nicholas Claus. The children danced and giggled around him as several of the young women of the village hung on his arms or juggled their positions to acquire his attention. One in particular, the supercilious Lavinia Woodhaus, clung to his right arm as if the earth would swallow her if she let go. Merry wished she would be, swallowed by a large hole - a very deep one.
Merry stepped back behind the display table and smoothed her skirt and apron.  She tried not to look in the group’s direction, but couldn’t resist sneaking a peek from under her dark lashes.
“Jasper, my good friend and cousin, my sister asked me to relay a message,” Nick called out as he approached.

Merry loved the sound of his voice. It was always happy and friendly as if the man was never in a foul mood. He’d always been that way. As a child found lost in the forest, he hadn’t shown anything but joy and was happy to find a new home as a foundling.

Jasper stepped close to Merry in anticipation of the message Nick had brought him, but Merry refused to look up. The last time she had seen Nick, he’d nearly completely ignored her and then, of course, there was that incident. Her brows knitted together and her jaw tightened remembering what he had done.

It was just before he left the village during the long day of fallen magic. This was the only time the villagers could leave or anyone visit and she knew once he was on the other side that it would be a long time for him whereas it was merely a day for her. Time moved faster within the magic so Nick would have a month in the outside - a wonderfully, long month that allowed him to experience so much more than she could ever offer him.  She had heard he’d returned yet he made no effort to see her. She could only assume he was lost to her.
The children jumped and laughed around the display and Merry heard Lavinia giggle. When one of the children bumped the table, Merry’s head snapped up to reprimand them and send them on their way, but she was caught by a pair of laughing blue eyes that held her. Her words suddenly caught tight in her throat.
“Good day, Merry,” Nick said in a low slow voice. Merry heard Lavinia snort disapprovingly, but ignored her.
“Hello Nick.” Merry cleared her throat to speak those words. She tried to tear her gaze from his but he refused to look away, and she hadn’t the will to do it herself.  “So you have a message from CeCe?
“Ah yes,” Nick glanced at Jasper as he began, but then his eyes shifted back to Merry. “She wants you to come by the house for supper tonight. She says father wishes to speak with you.”
“Me?” Merry exclaimed with confusion.
Nick laughed. The sound was joyful, clear, and vibrant sending the women around him into sighs and giggles. The children, once more, began to dance and laugh. Lavinia clung tighter to Nick’s arm and leaned in brushing her voluptuous body against his. Merry wished to rip the woman’s blond hair from her head. When Lavinia reached up and brushed dark red curls away from Nick’s forehead with long slender fingers, Merry nearly leaped across the display table to do just what she had been thinking.
“Goodness no, Merry! Jasper - she wants Jasper to come for supper,” Nick announced with a deep chuckle. “Although, if you’d like to come, I’m sure Mother would be delighted.”
“I’m sure Merry Belle is too busy to tear herself away from selling pine cones and bathing babies to attend supper, but I’m free.” Lavinia cooed in Nick’s ear. Merry curled her hands into fists to keep from slapping the girl.

***

Nick watched Merry closely as Lavinia taunted her. He had no want of the conceited blond hanging on his arm or any of the other young women who seemed bent on attracting his attention. His heart belonged to Merry Belle, but he was lost as to why she had not come to see him off on his journey to the outside, nor welcomed him home. Even yet, her greeting seemed cold and distant. They had been the closest of friends growing up. He was only a few years her senior. How many years was unknown for he’s never known his exact age. It's approximated that he was perhaps four or five years of age when Frederick Claus found him wandering the great pine forest surrounding the village. His adopted parents had surmised the fallen magic caught him inside while separated from his natural parents. Nick was very happy with his life, and his family, so never felt the need to search for his real family - if he even had one. As a young boy, he eagerly awaited the day he might proclaim his desire to make Merry Belle his wife but now that he was a grown man, he was at a loss as to what to do.

Lavinia leaned against him, her soft breasts caressing his arm. He wanted to pull away but when he saw a crease form between Merry’s delicate brows and her hands clench into fists, he knew that Lavinia’s behavior bothered her. He smiled with a great happiness lifting his heart. Perhaps she did care. Was she jealous? He hoped so.

“I think it best you not attend, Lavinia. As I told Jasper, my father wishes to speak with him so it’s best it is only family in attendance,” Nick remarked casually to his companion not removing his gaze from Merry. He saw one of Merry’s sweet dimples appear in her cheek as she turned her head away. She was smiling. She was glad he had not invited Lavinia to supper. “Perhaps we’ll have supper another time, my dear beauty.”

Nick nearly burst out laughing when he saw Merry crush a pine cone in her hand as he added the provoking remark. She was jealous! Yes, indeed, she was.

“So how was your time outside the magic, Nick?” Jasper nudged Merry’s side as he kicked the crushed pieces of pine cone under the table. She glared at him as if she wished to crush him for asking such a question.

“It was very interesting, very interesting indeed,” Nick remarked as he watched Merry from the corner of his eye.

“Oh, do tell us, Nick darling! Did you meet a lot of fine ladies?” Lavinia’s voice was all sugary as if she was some delicate thing that needed someone to hold her up, which Nick was beginning to think she actually needed. His arm was slowly going numb from the tight hold she had on it. He decided it was time to cut her loose. He unfurled her fingers from his arm and pushed away from her cloying body to sit on the display table inches from Merry. He could smell Merry's lovely scent, which was unique to her alone. She always carried an aroma of sugar cookies and vanilla. Nick loved the way her sweet essence seemed to surround him when he got close. He wanted to sample her all over to see if she tasted as good as she smelled.

He picked up a pine cone and tossed it casually as he leaned back on one elbow on the table. He glanced over his shoulder when Merry snatched the pine cone from the air and placed it on the top of a neatly stacked pile. He smiled at her but received a frown in return.

“I did meet lots of fine ladies but none were as fine as those I know here,” Nick explained removing his gaze from Lavinia and her friends to the beautiful girl with shining black hair. The girl with bright green eyes that always reminded him of the rich fresh forest, pale creamy skin, round cheeks that always carried a hint of pink high on them and contained dimples that made his heart soar when she smiled. Her mouth was a pucker of pink like the softest petals of wildflowers and he dreamed often of kissing those lips again. He’d kissed her once a few months ago, but not since. Was she perhaps angry with him over the stolen kiss?  He’d thought she’d enjoyed it for she had leaned into it and had most definitely returned it. Perhaps that been his imagination or a lost wishful thought.

“I’m sure they wear much finer clothes than we do,” Lavinia moaned pushing out her lower lip in a mock pout. Lavinia Woodhaus was the daughter of the mayor. She wanted for nothing and always wore the newest fashions, for her father journeyed to the other side of the magic every year to make sure she had only the best. Nick traveled with the mayor to the other side this year. His hope was to find a way to allow others to travel through the magic when it wasn’t fallen. He had discovered that it mattered not whether the magic was fallen or not, for him. Nick was able to pass through at any time. He had suspected it for about six months. He had stumbled over a log and fell against the boundary. Amazement had thrilled through him when his arm passed through the barrier. He had been fearful to try passing through alone for fear that he might not be able to come back, so when he passed through with Mayor Woodhaus and it was time to return, he attempted an experiment. He and the Mayor passed through and the magic returned. Nick grabbed the man’s arm and stepped back through to the other side. The Mayor remained on one side but Nick stood on the other side of the magic. Then he stepped back through and was greeted by a look of pure shock on the part of the Mayor. He made the Mayor promise not to tell anyone quite yet. The Mayor agreed, partly to the fact that he didn't understand what happened.

“Oh, they are fine and they are beautiful but I prefer something more familiar, something sweet and delicious.” Nick glanced at Merry. She was staring at him with an odd expression. She cocked her head and the tip of her tongue appeared to wet her lips, but then quickly disappeared. Was she remembering the kiss? He’d told her she tasted sweet and delicious like the most familiar dessert treat after he kissed her.

“I’m sweet and very delicious,” Lavinia said seductively as she stepped forward and ran her fingers through his hair.

“Lavinia Woodhaus, you’re acting so common!” Nick was taken aback to hear such a chiding exclamation from Merry Belle. She never raised her voice at anyone, not even when the children needed reprimanding. She had been silent ever since he spoke to her about CeCe’s message and now suddenly, she was scolding the Mayor’s daughter. She was jealous, he realized. He repressed the smile that teased the corners of his mouth.

“How dare you, Merry Belle? You’ve no business speaking to me that way,” Lavinia whined as she stepped close to Nick. “Nick, darling, are you going to let this … this pine cone seller speak to me … your dearest … that way?”

Nick heard Merry expel a pained gasp. He saw her eyes sparkle with tears before she dipped her head. She didn’t really believe there was anything between him and Lavinia, did she? He watched her shoulders fall as she stepped away from the display table, her hands clenching her finely embroidered apron. Before he could speak, she murmured something to Jasper who was staring at him with the look of a brother who was about to defend his sister. Merry moved away and disappeared behind the screen that blocked out the back of the stall.

“Jasper?” Nick was truly confused. He hadn’t meant to hurt Merry by his flirtations with Lavinia, but it was obvious he had. Jasper shook his head and looked away.

“Come to the tavern with us, Nick.” Lavinia chirped near his ear. He looked at her. She cared not that she had insulted Merry or that she really was acting common. He never should have flirted with the woman.

Nick pulled away and hopped off the table. Without looking directly at Lavinia, he pushed past her to move around the table.

“Not right now, Lavinia,” Nick told her. He needn’t look back at her to know she was staring after him with a shocked expression. No one told Lavinia Woodhaus no to anything.

***

Tears streamed down Merry’s face like a heavy rain and she could do nothing to stop them. It was all she could do to swallow down the sobs that threatened to explode from her chest. She wiped at her face with her apron. Her heart was aching, her lungs burned with the pain of heartbreak that overwhelmed her. It was obviously true that Lavinia Woodhaus was something special to Nick. The kiss that Merry had seen them exchange the night before he went outside the magic was more than a flirtation.

“Merry?” The sound of Nick’s voice behind her caused her breath to catch and her back to tense.  Now, she wished it was her own body that the earth opened up and swallowed. She had no desire to embarrass herself more than she already had. She refused to turn to look at him.

“Go away.” The sound of her voice in her ears was only a shadow of the depth of despair she was feeling.

Strong hands gripped her shoulders and her immediate reaction was to shrug them off. She tried to move away, but Nick didn’t allow it. He spun her to face him but she lowered her head so as not to see his face or to allow him to see hers.

“What is this all about, my sweet?” His voice was soft and worried. Merry felt a clutch in her chest as a sob boiled up and out before she could stop it. Her tears flowed once more. Nick pulled her close and she allowed him. He wrapped his strong arms around her as she pressed her wet face to his beautifully embroidered waistcoat. She loved the waistcoat he’d worn today. It was why she’d chosen the ensemble she had. He was dressed in his forest green, embroidered with vines and edelweiss blooms. His black pants and polished black boots were the perfect accompaniments, and the white linen blouse beneath the waistcoat was like snow in the forest against the dark green. He wore no cravat today but left his collar open, and now as she peeked out from under spiked lashes, she saw soft curls she knew were red like the curls on his head. His scent of pine and cherry wood tobacco filled her stuffy nose and calmed her sobs. When his hand stroked the curve of her skull, she sighed and inhaled a deep breath trying to halt her tears. It wasn’t his fault, after all, that she was so desperately in love with him. If he chose another, she must resolve herself to it.

“Are you still angry with me over the kiss?”

Merry pushed away from Nick’s broad chest and looked up at him through wet eyes.

“So you knew I was there and kissed her anyway? Oh heavens, it’s true then. You love Lavinia Woodhaus over me!” She wrestled herself from his embrace and pulled her apron up to wipe tears from her face even as more flowed replacing them.

“What? Me … love Lavinia? Merry, have you lost your senses?”

“If not, then why did you kiss her? I saw you –” Merry snuffed and wiped her tears. Why did Nick act as if her accusation was so incredulous? “You kissed her. She was in your lap, for goodness sake, that night in the tavern.”

She drew in a deep breath to calm her shaking. “I came to plead with you not to go outside and there you were with her on your lap. Her arms around your shoulders and then you kissed her.”

Nick’s sudden deep chuckle sparked anger in Merry and she turned on him with a stern glare. He immediately stopped, then raised his hand to stroke away the tears from her cheek.

“I didn’t kiss Lavinia, she kissed me. Why did you wish me not to go?” Nick drew the pad of his thumb along her cheek and then over her lower lip. Merry narrowed her eyes at him but he refused to stop touching her. Had she been more like Lavinia, she might have struck his cheek for acting such the Lothario.

“She kissed you? What’s the difference?” Now it was her turn to stare at him incredulously.

Nick chuckled again, this time the sound was low in his chest and subtle as if only for her ears. “There’s a big difference. I did not ask for the kiss nor respond to it. Lavinia has made a show of blatant flirtations with me in your presence ever since I told her she held no interest for me, and that you were the only one I wished at my side.”

Merry sniffled and wished with all her desire to blow her nose. Had he really told Lavinia that it was she he wanted? Her heart soared for a moment, but suspicion still plagued her. “You told her that? When?”

“About a week before I went to the outside.” Nick pulled a handkerchief from the pocket of his waistcoat and pressed it to her nose. Merry took the cloth, turned to the side and blew her nose, embarrassingly unladylike. When she turned back, Nick was smiling at her. His eyes twinkled with delight as he tilted his head slightly at her. “So you saw that, huh? I’m sorry, dearest, really I am. It meant nothing and Lavinia knows it. She must have seen you there and played her trump card in hopes of warding you off. Her effort seems to have worked for I was sorely disappointed you didn’t see me off or await me upon return.”

Merry nearly laughed aloud at Nick’s sudden feigned pout as he pushed his lower lip forward, furrowed his dark brows, and presented a dog-eared expression.

“I suppose I will have to forgive you for being such a ninny. You should have confronted me then, instead of stewing in your imaginings,” Nick murmured close to her ear, the scent of cherry tobacco in his soft curls filled her clearing nostrils. Before she could respond to his teasing retort, he posed a more disturbing query. “Now, tell me please why you had planned to beg me not to go to the outside?”

Abruptly, guilt and a sense of selfishness, that she knew Nick would abhor, filled her and made her once more wish the earth would open and swallow her. With him standing so close, his lips so close to her cheek, and his hand resting along her neck, she was barely able to breathe much less think and now berated herself for mentioning it at all. She had no right to request him stay or leave. He was a free man with a will not easily bent to anyone’s way. He’d always been stubborn and headstrong since childhood.

“It doesn’t matter since you’ve already gone.” Merry refused to lift her gaze to meet his, even as he attempted to tilt her head using his fingers beneath her chin.

“Did you fear I wouldn’t come back?”

Merry’s gaze lifted without forethought. He was staring at her with a look that stole her breath. His bright blue eyes had darkened, not with anger, but with something else. Something wonderful that made her insides jumble and her skin tingle. The same kind of look he’d worn, that day in the forest, just before he kissed her. She recalled how she had wished for more, wanted more and since then, dreamed of more.

“I must admit I did fear you wouldn’t come back. I thought once you experienced the world outside the magic that you would want more. Perhaps some round-eared beauty,” Merry admitted blinking to keep back the tears that once more threatened to flow.

Nick chuckled deep in his chest. “You also believed I wanted Lavinia. I believe you should stop assuming and talk to me instead. Besides, you’ve got the most beautiful pointed ears of any elf I know.” He winked at her as he stroked her cheek gently then smoothed her hair back behind her ear. Merry couldn’t resist a smile. “I admit I enjoyed my time outside, but there is much sadness in the world. Too many children who go without joy, and who must work instead of play. I wish to do something more for the children of the world. It was something I hoped to speak about with you.”

“Me? Why me? Why not my father or brothers?”

“Because you will be an important part of what I plan – I hope anyway,” Nick said in a low, deep voice that sent shivers over her skin. He leaned in close, pressing his forehead to hers. She felt the silkiness of his curls against her skin and her heart skipped a beat. Before she could speak to his curious statement, Nick pressed a sweet kiss to her lips. “If you wish it, Merry Belle?”

Just then, the bell in the town square rang. Nick stepped back and took hold of her hand.

“Come Merry, I’ve something to announce to everyone,” Nick exclaimed with excitement in his voice and his eyes.

Merry followed along, her hand snug in Nick’s strong, warm grip. She wiped at her face, drying the tears that had flowed only moments earlier. She hoped her eyes weren’t red and swollen.

“Ah, here he is! Come Nicholas!” Mayor Woodhaus called out from the platform where the bell holder stood. This central place was where the villagers gathered to hear any, and all, announcements made in the village. As they reached the spot, Nick turned to Merry, raised her hand still clutched in his and pressed a kiss to her knuckles. He smiled, released her and stepped up alongside the Mayor. Some of Merry’s girlfriends squeezed in alongside and whispered curiously about Nick’s public display, but Merry ignored them, her eyes on Nick’s handsome face.

“My dear friends, as you know I traveled outside of the magic with the honorable Mayor Woodhaus during the last fall. I discovered there are low times in the outside world. Great sadness exists, there’s a general lack of joy, and the children of the world are losing their youth. I also discovered something wonderful about myself. It seems that I am able to move back and forth through the magic with very little effort. I’ve spoken with the Mayor, and several of the village leaders. We have devised a plan to spread some joy throughout the world and bring out the child in all, but I will need your help.” Nick spoke to the group with a commanding strength and determination. Pride filled Merry’s chest as she watched him call upon their attention. She had no idea what it was about but if he wanted her to be a part of it, she was more than willing.

“We are a people of joy, laughter, love, and hard work.” A cheer went up in response to Nick’s remark and he paused with laughter on his lips.

“We have toymakers a plenty and very few markets, except when the magic falls.” The group groaned their agreement.

“Ah, my friends, but the outside world has little in the way of amusement, and so I wish to spread our joy, and our gifts to all the far reaches of the globe.”

“How do you plan to do that, Nick Claus?” One of the merchants called out from the crowd.

“As I said, I can move back and forth through the magic whenever I wish,” Nick explained as he moved to speak to one side of the group, and then to the other, always stopping to stand before Merry. His gaze capturing hers each time he paused. “I plan to gather some of your goods and carry them through the magic to share them amidst the people of the outside. I feel that once they discover the joy that your beautiful wares bring to their lives that they will soon be clamoring for your merchandise.”

As if it took a moment for the thought to sink in and then become clear, silence filled the air before murmurs began to rise from the group, and soon followed by cheers and applause. Mayor Woodhaus stepped up beside Nick and patted him on the shoulder in approval.

Nick raised his hands to quiet the crowd.

“My hope is that with enough travel back and forth eventually I’ll discover a means for everyone to travel without waiting for the magic to fall. In the meantime, we will just have to make do.” Another cheer went up. “I have another announcement, if you will bear with me.”

The crowd quieted once more. Nick’s gaze shifted to Merry and he held out his hand toward her. Merry felt every eye in the crowd settle on her and she had the sudden urge to crawl away.

“Merry Belle, join me here please.” Nick reached out his hand once more. Merry accepted it and stepped onto the platform. She was nervous, and refused to look out over the crowd of friends and family who had gathered even though she knew every face and every name. Nick took both of her hands in his and turned to face her. “You think I want more. You think I want another or someone with rounded ears. I want only you, Merry Belle.”

A unified gasp went up from every young female in the crowd. Merry was unable to resist a peek at Lavinia who was frowning with anger.

With great grandeur, Nick took a step back, dropped to one knee and gazed up at Merry. A cheer rose from the crowd watching every movement. Heat rose in Merry’s cheeks and her hands shook in Nick’s. She was excited, and mortified, at the same time for he was making quite the public spectacle of them.

“My life is here, Merry Belle. My heart is here with you and I only want you, desire you, love only you, and know that my life is not complete without you.” Nick proclaimed in a voice that was not overly loud but with such a loud silence surrounded them, Merry was sure that even the fish in the river were able to hear his words. “Will you do me the great and joyful honor of becoming my wife and partner in this grand adventure?”

Merry stared down into the brightest blue eyes she'd ever seen and they twinkled with anticipation. Her heart soared, her breath seized, and her knees trembled. Unable to speak, she nodded her head, then released his hands and threw her arms about his shoulders. Without concern for the crowd, she pressed her mouth to his in a powerful kiss. The crowd erupted in cheers of joy and congratulations. Nick gathered her in his arms and pulled himself to his feet. Merry was where she had always dreamed of being and wished to be nowhere else at that moment. Nick pulled his mouth away from hers and chuckled.

“You kissed me, Merry, my love,” Nick whispered near her lips. “Now do you see the difference?”

“Oh yes, Nick, I do see.” Merry giggled as she kissed the tip of his nose. “But you kissed me in return.”

“Aye, I did.”

“As long as you always do, my dearest, for I love you so,” Merry exclaimed before pressing her mouth to his again. Nick returned her kiss in earnest. The noise of the crowd, the cheers and good wishes being showered on them faded away as the passion of the moment closed over them in its own kind of magic.

Merry Belle and Nicholas Claus were married two weeks later in a wonderful celebration to which everyone attended, including the very unhappy Lavinia Woodhaus. Three months later, Nick loaded up an ornate wagon filled with goods from the village and led by reindeer, it passed through the magic and returned one day later with an empty wagon. When asked how it went, he recounted how no one seemed interested and refused to spend good money on toys for their children so Nick decided to make sure the youngsters enjoyed the fruits of the village’s labors. He left enough toys, dolls, and wreaths at each home in the surrounding villages to wet their appetites. Before he left, he peeked in a few windows to see the joy on the children’s faces and befuddled expressions of the adults. He wasn’t sure if their enterprise would succeed but he glowed with the delight of bestowing the beautiful items upon the families, and seeing the children once more playing as children should. The village leaders spoke amidst themselves and decided that what Nick had done was spectacular. They decided that rather than sell the items to the outside world, the village goods would be gifts to keep joy and playfulness in the world.

Nick eventually discovered the means to take one or two of the villagers with him on his trips. As long as they were touching him, they could pass through just as the sleigh he built to accommodate the many toys and goodies could, and of course, the reindeer needed to pull it. Nick was able to broaden his expanse of delivering gifts throughout an ever expanding area by using the time movement differences between the two worlds. Soon a strange thing happened after a few journeys through the magic. It began to snow area around the village, beautiful snow crystals of pure white that never melted nor increased. The air temperature stayed mild and comfortable, but the entire village and surrounding forests stayed draped in beautiful sparkling white. Merry believed it was a reflection of Nick’s purest intentions and his love for all – especially children. Nick knew it was the deep love he had for his Merry Claus. It was her purity of heart, and her willingness to allow him to travel the world outside the magic bringing joy and happiness to those less fortunate than him, and the generosity of the villagers who shared their lives with a little lost round-eared boy. 

The End.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night!

***This story is copyrighted under Amy Valentini and will not be reproduced or copied without express permission of the author - ©2012

I selected this post to be featured on Blog Nation. Please visit the site and vote for my blog!

2 comments:

Elizabeth H. said...

Thank you for sharing the story!!! Have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!!!

Beebs said...

Lovely story Amy! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas xxx

Free with DHC Purchase While Supplies Last!

FREE Spring Clutch with purchase of 4 makeup products from DHCcare.com. While supplies last! Shop Now.; ;