Charlotte Stone and the Missing Holly King

Charlotte Stone and the Missing Holly King

A Story by Johari
"

A Nymet twist on the tale of the Green Knight.... This is just a sample. The full version is available for free to download for the next few days only at Amazon. Merry Christmas xx

"

A Brackenheath Christmas

 


Christmas at Rosemary Heights was a much grander affair than Charlotte Stone was used to, but it felt like something was missing.

She would normally be with her parents and twin sister Edessa in some far-flung (and hot) part of the world, all of them up to their elbows in ancient relics. Christmas puddings, tinsel and carols would certainly have been the last thing on their minds.

Aunt Clarissa and Jude had not long finished wrestling a monstrously large pine tree into a bucket and were now positioning it in the bay window of the sitting room whilst the first log fire of the year danced cheerily in the hearth. The main hall was already festooned with homemade garlands of bay, ivy, crab-apple and pinecones and there was a stack of boxes full of decorations in the corner by the kitchen. Balls of clove-studded oranges and mistletoe tied with red ribbon hung from the ceilings and the porch was filled with bright red poinsettias. Jude’s favourite Christmas music was playing and there was even a light snowfall (which Charlotte suspected was Luned’s doing) covering the lawn making it look like an iced Christmas cake. The light of sunset gave it a subtle rosy tinge so strong it seemed to glow all by itself. It was beginning to look a lot like a traditional English Christmas.

The whole house was filled with not only the usual frankincense and myrrh that Aunt Clarissa burnt on a daily basis, but also a heady mix of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and citrus from the mulled wine that simmered on the kitchen stove of which Aunt Jude was already on her third glass.

‘Now for the best bit, Decoration!’ Jude declared excitedly. Anyone would think she still believed in Santa Claus.

She probably does. Charlotte raised a sarcastic eyebrow but no one noticed.

The coffee table was laden with boxes of gaudy glass baubles, sparkly silver and gold tinsel, miniature crackers and candy canes. There was also a tray of goodies including mulled wine and mince pies as well as Charlotte’s favourite, hot chocolate, complete with a sprinkle of nutmeg for a festive twist. Charlotte watched amused as the two women reminisced over where they bought this or that bauble, Jude especially seemed to be a fan of collecting them.

‘Oh, I haven’t seen this one for years,’ she exclaimed pulling something green from the deepest recesses of the oldest, most battered looking box. ‘My Greenman decoration from the Yule ball of 1976.’ She murmured before getting lost in memories.

‘Pop it on the tree, my dear. Somewhere at the front I think,’ Aunt Clarissa smiled ‘and help me with these would you.’

‘Isn’t Yule just another name for Christmas time?’ Charlotte asked through a mouth full of mince pie.

‘Not quite.’ Clarissa replied as she pulled out strings of tangled white and coloured lights. ‘It is a midwinter feast that has been celebrated for years before the idea of Christmas came along. But, I suppose, to some degree they have become as intertwined as ivy and…oh, what is the other one?’ Clarissa’s face darkened for a moment as if she was fighting some invisible force, before returning to its normal composed look. ‘Anyway, they really both celebrate the same thing. A birth, light in the darkness… hope.’

Charlotte frowned. She had that feeling again that something was missing but she couldn’t put her finger on it.

‘Why is it, no matter how carefully one puts these away every year, fairy lights always get tangled up?’ Jude giggled.

There was a purposeful pop before Jude had even finished her sentence and the undine Luned (Charlotte’s Fey minder) appeared on a branch of the Christmas tree, tutting away.

‘Under the regulations of the P.O.D charter of the Fey Nation, the use of that term is both factually incorrect and derogatory. As such it has been banned!’ She glowered at Jude. ‘The correct description is ‘Seasonal Celebratory Illuminations’. I really should fine you… but; seeing as it’s Christmas…’

Luned gave up on her official reprimand of Jude who squealed with excitement at the sight of the little undine. Despite Luned being a fairly regular visitor, Jude still hadn’t got over her rather romantic notion of fairy kind.

‘A real Christmas-tree fairy.’ Jude giggled before taking another swig of mulled wine.

Luned bristled. If there was one thing she hated, it was being called a fairy. If it hadn’t been for the fact that Clarissa was nearby she might have considered turning Jude into a nargale.

‘And to what do we owe the pleasure of yet another, unannounced visit, Luned?’ Clarissa asked the little undine with a twinkle in her eye as if to say she knew what the undine was thinking.

‘Official business, Shriven.’ Luned bowed in mid-air with a flourish.

‘What has Charlotte been up to this time?’ Clarissa shot a glance at her niece.

Before Charlotte could protest Luned spoke again.

‘Nothing like that, Shriven. Though it has everything to do with her. She has been cordially invited to attend the Fey Nation’s Royal Yule Ball in Fargale.’

Charlotte, Jude and even Clarissa gasped in unison.

This is clearly not something that had ever happened before Charlotte thought to herself, that much was obvious from Clarissa’s reaction alone.

‘Has that troublemaker Morrigan had a hand in this?’ Clarissa asked tersely.

‘Not at all,’ Luned reassured her while wincing at such a scathing assessment of the mother of the Fey. ‘Charlotte has been awarded a P.I.P and it was felt the Yule Ball would be the ideal time and place for the award ceremony.’

‘A Pip?’ Charlotte was confused.

‘It stands for “Perfection in Peril’. For your work in preserving the Nymet tree.’ Luned replied as if it were obvious. ‘It is very prestigious and rarely awarded at all let alone to a human.’

Clarissa still looked doubtful but Charlotte was determined. She had always wanted to attend a fairy ball ever since she had arrived in Brackenheath-on-Sea and she was ready to argue her case. Clarissa could see there was no talking her out of it.

‘Excellent, then it is agreed.’ Luned beamed, reading their faces. ‘Oh and there will be no fake wings or pointy ears required by the way. Just come as you are’ Luned smiled at Charlotte before melting out of sight.

 

‘You will need to wear a dress.’ Clarissa said hoping this revelation would put Charlotte off but, though she wrinkled her nose at the idea, Charlotte was not going to be deterred.

‘A minor sacrifice to make in the name of scientific research and exploration. How many humans have the opportunity to observe fairies up close, especially at such an important event?’ She retorted, though she had hoped a smart suit would have sufficed. As long as it’s not pink. She thought.

‘I’d have thought you would have had enough of fairies.’ Clarissa frowned.

‘I might have something suitable.’ Jude offered. She clearly hadn’t been following the conversation at all but instead had been making little doodles of what looked like…dresses?

Jude seemed more excited than anyone about the ball. Charlotte almost wished she could bring a guest but Luned had made it quite clear that the invitation was extended to her alone. Charlotte wanted to be enthusiastic about Jude’s offer of a make-over but she was well aware of the sort of wacky outfits Jude thought were cool.

‘I used to be quite a fashionista.’ Jude laughed at Charlotte’s worried face. ‘I could do your hair too if you like.’ She added with a wink.

Charlotte smiled weakly. She had no idea if Jude was joking or not but she was positive of one thing; she did not want to go to the Yule Ball with a multi-coloured parrot-shaped Mohican.

The excitement of Luned’s visit meant the decorations were forgotten for that night and they sat munching mince pies instead. Charlotte had so many questions and she soon realised Luned hadn’t left her an invitation.

‘How will I know when the ball is?’ she asked Clarissa.

The two older women exchanged knowing smiles before Clarissa replied.

‘Yule always falls on the nearest full moon… but if in doubt, let the Nymet tree guide you.’ Clarissa’s face darkened for a moment. ‘There are other things that will need to be taken into consideration though.’

Charlotte wondered what conditions were going to be set. Clarissa was as laid back as you could imagine but Charlotte figured that even she would want a quiet life for a while after the excitement of the battle for the Nymet tree.

‘There is the little matter of eating in the land of the Fey.’ Clarissa continued.

‘Oh yes, I know all about this, Clarissa, let me.’ Jude interrupted, excited to find another subject she was knowledgeable on. She cleared her throat dramatically before launching into her speech.

‘The land of fairy is a perilous place for humankind…’

‘You’re telling me!’ Charlotte mumbled in agreement.

‘…and there is nothing as dangerous as eating and drinking fairy food… ooh, have you heard of the poem ‘The Goblin Market’ by Rosset…’

‘Let’s not provoke Luned again by quoting negative portrayals of fairy folk, shall we.’ Clarissa cut Jude off just as she was getting into her stride. ‘Simple facts will do.’

‘Stick to the point, right you are.’ Jude nodded. ‘Suffice to say, there are many stories of how humans have come a cropper from eating in the land of fairy. It used to be that the best course of action was to not let anything pass your lips at all… but there is a way you can enjoy the Yule Ball to its fullest.’

Jude paused for dramatic effect and winked at Clarissa. A result of the alcohol Charlotte suspected.

‘I’ll ask Lloyd to make the necessary concoction tomorrow, he is rather the expert in these matters.’ Clarissa nodded.

Charlotte was not reassured. Lloyd was considered somewhat crazy by the local population and she had had experience of his potions before. Still, Clarissa had always had faith in him which made Charlotte feel a little better.

‘It’s a bit of an acquired taste,’ Jude continued ‘but you will be able to eat anything without any… adverse side effects.’

There would be no more decorating tonight as their heads were filled with preparations for the fairy ball. 




© 2016 Johari



My Review

Would you like to review this Story?
Login | Register




Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Stats

155 Views
Added on December 25, 2015
Last Updated on November 8, 2016
Tags: Christmas;Santa;Holly and Ivy;co

Author

Johari
Johari

Norfolk, United Kingdom



About
East Anglian author Tasha O’Neill has been tinkering around with words since childhood and writes short stories, novels, non-fiction and poetry. She has an enduring love of folklore and fairy.. more..

Writing
Greeneholt Greeneholt

A Story by Johari


Santa Corp. Santa Corp.

A Story by Johari