The Immortal Gift

December 2016 Spirit of Giving Story Contest Entry

The Immortal Gift
A Spirit of Giving Christmas Fairy-Tale for Grownups.

Frances Penwiddy

Copyright©Frances Penwiddy 2016

The Immortal Gift is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons, fairies, elves, trolls or goddesses living or dead is coincidental. Except for the fairy on the tree whose incredible beauty, soft golden hair and English Peaches-and-Cream complexion atop a perfectly proportioned body, a body to die for, uncannily resembles the appearance of the author who has given her gracious permission to be so represented.

The Immortal Gift

Deep amongst the trees of Spooky Wood an elven sprite sat on a white, red spotted toad-stool. His tiny feet were clear of the ground and swinging lazily back and forth. His smudged face was clouded with the gloom that only an elf of some two million years of age could show. One arm was bent at the elbow and resting on a knee, its hand cupping a point-ed chin from which grew the faintest wisps of knotted hair which perfectly matched the un-combed curls that hung from below his much patched and dirty pointy hat. His eyes stared unseeingly at the muddy earth, fallen leaves and tangled weeds that lay below the toadstool and at the corner of each of those eyes a tear was forming.

At the precise moment the first of the tears fell to the ground and touched the earth to turn into a tiny diamond that sparkled for just a second before flying up high into the sky to be-come a star, a beautiful contralto voice singing an ancient ballad of love and sacrifice ap-proached. The owner spotting the elf called out sweetly, “Grimly, what ails thee? Know you not that it is the eve of Christmas, a time of cheer, love, giving and happiness?”

Grimly looked up and wiped a ragged jerkin sleeve across his eyes giving his face the appear-ance of a mascara disaster zone, “Aye, Artemis, I know well enough what day is the morrow.”

“Them why so gloomy?” She stooped and held out her hand and laid a dainty silk handker-chief across the palm, “Here jump onto my hand so that I may see you the better. Take care now lest you drop a speck of mud upon my new silk toga.”
She lifted the tiny elf until he was a little below eye level, “Now tell me of the circumstances that brought you to this state of gloom…Poo, thou doth pong a bit have you recently finished work?”

“But an hour ago.”

“But thou hast not called at the Crystal Falls to cleanse thyself.”

“Nay, I have seen enough of water and wet things for one day,” he sighed deeply, a slight tremble to his mouth as he exhaled. “The trolls are working to rule again and we elves have had to work extra hours to make up the shortfall. What ails the silly creatures that they should strike on this of all days, our busiest of the year?”

“They are oft troubled with uncertainty poor creatures. Tis the fault of their design. Being fashioned from granite, flint and slaked lime doth impede the flow of hormones through their bodies and they are oft inflicted with mood swings and I suppose this day was that time of the month.”

Changing the subject because he was beginning to feel a little uneasy, he had certain misgivings about trolls but he did like their muscular bodies and those of his fellow elves as well. Compared to them, he with his dirty blonde hair, delicate face and slim body with its curvaceous derriere was well, was er, was not quite the material that quarry workers in the clay pits were made off. This in its turn led him to being given the lightest of jobs which was to glean below the knee depth water that was always present in the pits and was where the purest, gravel free potters clay was to be found. He did well enough, earned a little more than a crust and was greatly favoured by most of the stronger trolls and elves and was therefore comparatively free of the harassment that was oft metered out by the meaner natured of his fellows. There was the occasional gentle squeeze of his buttocks to tolerate when he passed a troll or fellow elf but he convinced himself that this was no more than male bonding and continued to bend at the waist whilst he searched beneath the water for the tell-tale signs of the richer seams of clay, his derriere wriggling provocatively when he moved his shoulders from side to side. “Artemis,” he began, “Thy gown is so very beautiful, is it fashioned from the fine silvered thread that the girl elves spin from spider’s thread.”

“It is indeed my little one and thank you for your compliment.”

“It is my pleasure, Goddess. It reminds me of the gown I saw early this morning.”

“You saw another wearing a gown like mine!” Artemis was not happy at this blatant plagiarism.

“Oh no, not quite like yours, just similar, beautiful of texture and flowing like water but it was on a fairy, a Christmas fairy.”

Somewhat relieved Artemis asked, “Where did you see her?”

“Well often after breakfast and before I report to the clay pit I take a little walk down to the human village of Willow Wand and on the far side of the old rustic bridge is a grand house. The humans often leave a small window open at night even when there is snow laying, crisp and even on the turf. Today I climbed through the window and there was the most luxurious of Christmas trees in the main room of the house and at the very top, the most beautiful fairy I have ever seen. Not a real fairy you understand but one of those fairies that humans use to decorate their trees and cakes. Her gown was so pretty and I must confess to staying longer than I should just gazing up at her. She was so lovely and I did envy her being able to watch the humans in their home and own such a gorgeous gown and had to drag myself away before the humans awoke and discovered me.”

Artemis raised an eyebrow, “You liked the gown?”

“Yes,” Grimly reached down and lifted a corner of the delicately laced spider’s thread hanky he was standing on and placed it against his cheek. “It looked and felt just like this.”

Artemis raised the other eyebrow giving a surprised look to her face, “You liked the feel of the softness?”

“Yes and the pretty lace edging. As I walked to the quarry I felt myself wishing that I could be like the fairy. Be able to spend the days wearing such soft and sensuous gowns and not have to wear these tatters,” he dropped the corner of the hanky and grabbed the front of his jerkin and shook it in frustration, “These course, ugly, dirty, wretched, most unbecoming of clothes. Oh why wasn’t I born a fairy rather than a clay pit elf?”

Artemis was taken aback, “You would rather be a girl fairy than a boy elf?”

“Oh yes, oh yes indeed. If I thought for just one moment that Santa Clause would do such a thing, I would sit down and ask him to turn me into a pretty fairy as my Christmas gift but I know such things are not to be, such gifts are not within the remit of Santa Clause’s contract with the Gods.”

Artemis felt her heart sadden, how pitiful it was that this delicate little elf could not have his dearest wish granted at this the time of the year for gifting to others. She thought about it, there must be something she could do, something, somebody, anybody who could help and then inspiration came to her. Was she not the dearest of friends with Hera? The Hera, wife of Zeus and was not Hera gifted with the ability to transmogrify and had powers that enabled her to make fertile the A-sexual and allow them to reproduce? Indeed she could for she had the most impressive powers so how easy a task it would be for her to transmogrify this little elf into a beautiful fairy. Couldn’t the humans themselves carry out such miracles and do so on a daily basis, albeit with the aid of a surgeon’s knife which Hera could easily side-track with her mystical powers. She would seek her advice and give Grimly the gift he yearned for.

“I must speak to a friend on Olympus, Grimly so whilst I am doing that, you must go to the Crystal Falls, bath, wash your clothes, wash your hair and then we can find somewhere to dine on pine-cone omelettes and a mousse of wild strawberries and perhaps, I might have news for you.”

Grimly started to ask her about the news but she hushed him up. “First Crystal Falls, then dinner and then, if there is any news to impart, I will tell you.” She lowered him to the ground, “Now run along and be on your best behaviour less you anger the Gods and prevent my gaining their assistance.”

She stood thoughtfully watching the elf as he hopped and skipped his way in the direction of Crystal Falls. The mention of help to have his wish granted had lifted him and he was back to the happy-go-lucky character she had grown to love but, this problem of which she had never guessed, that he had yearnings to become an air sprite a fairy indeed, this was something she had to deal with. As a goddess of the forests she had obligations, obligations she took seriously. She sighed, this sweet natured elf must be granted his wish and adjusting the folds of her toga so that the split in the skirt opened to reveal the full length of her leg and the whisper of lace that showed at the bottom of her matching spider silk panties as she walked, Artemis strode elegantly into the cover of the trees and took her celestial android out of her worsted weave shoulder bag and auto dialled Hera’s number on Olympus.

Hera answered on the third ring, “Artie darling, how wonderful to hear your voice amongst the thunder of mood swings up here on Olympus!”

‘She hasn’t heard my voice,’ thought Artemis, ‘She hasn’t yet given me a chance to speak,’ still that was Hera, one moment all gushing enthusiasm, the next clouds of doom. “You’re having a bad day; let me guess, it’s old grumpy playing up again.”

“You’ve got it in one. Zeusie is a dear most of the time but when it comes to Christmas, once the Winter Solstice is over he gets worse by the minute. It’s the same at Easter, St Swithin’s Day and the Feast of St Crispin. He just can’t get it into his head that those human Christian feast days are here to stay. He’s been thunder bolting right, left and centre all morning, most of the afternoon and now he’s on his chaise longue just sulking and eating chocolate coated olives, the one’s I was saving for the party tomorrow night.”

“That’s men for you and it couldn’t have come at a worse time, I need a favour from him.”

“Don’t you worry about that, I’ll get him into a more receptive mood, I’ll slip into my see-through mini toga later and he’ll agree to anything. What’s the prob?”

“One of my elves, Grimly.”

“Grimly but he’s such a lovely sweet thing normally, what’s happened, not an accident in the quarry?”

“No, he just lumbered me with a pretty serious situation. He’s just come-out as being transgendered and wants to become a fairy.”

“That’s not a problem, he’d make a gorgeous fairy, just a nip and tuck and a boob job and he’d win beauty contests.”

“I agree but it’s Christmas and he is going to ask Santa Clause to turn him into a fairy by to-morrow. Not just a fairy but one like he’s seen on top of a Christmas tree.”

“And Santa’s refused?

“If he hasn’t yet, he will do when Grimly asks him. Apparently transgendered spells or gifts are not within Santa’s terms of contract and only Zeus himself can sanction a codicil to a con-tract.”

“Oh dear, that does make it more difficult because if I get him into a more receptive mood, he’ll be too busy trying to get me to be receptive to his ding-a-ling than want to bother with official business, let me think about it for a moment.”

There was a long pause and then Hesta suddenly declared, “I’ve got it, I’ll forge his signature, I’m good at that, certainly good enough to forge a codicil to fool Santa.”

“But if it’s spotted later, he might cancel the codicil, declare the change to Grimly’s status null and void and have him sent back to the quarry.”

“Nope, I’ve thought of that as well. Hermaphrodite is coming over here in an hour, I’ll get her or is it him this week, I can never be sure, to witness the signature, Zeusie wouldn’t dare upset her or him or both or either, or he’d never ever know who he’s poking when he gets her into his bed.”

“You sure you can do that. I mean with Hermaphrodite, you can never tell. Half the time I don’t know whether to call him Hermie or Aphro.”

“Count on it, only a couple of months ago we were having a girlie fling and she’s promised me she’d do anything to have another night like it and I’m game. Yup, you tell Grimly she’s going to be Grimilda tomorrow.”

Artemis felt her heart quickening, “She blew Hera a static-electronic kiss and started running through Spooky Wood to Santa’s Grotto and breathless with excitement she burst into the workshops and stopped and gazed around her in wonder at the hive of activity. Assembly lines stood in rows with toy trains, teddy bears cabbage patch dolls, Lego sets and any number of androids, tablets, laptops and food mixers all jumbled up with exotic lingerie, super stud underpants, ball gowns, rugby balls, cricket balls, baseball bats, hockey sticks, flowers, fruit, artificial vaginas and cosmetics, perfume and stink bombs
“Over here, Artemis,” and looking up she saw Santa waving to her and rushed over.
“I’ve brought my Christmas Wish-List,” she managed to gasp, her bosom heaving most provocatively.

“Am I on it?” asked the whiskered gentleman with a twinkle in his twinkling eyes and a twitch of his moustache.

“Oh Santa, you know you’re welcome to tickle me on Christmas Eve, you don’t need to be on my wish-list.”

Santa looked up from the list, “I might just do that to put you in the mood because Hercules has asked me for a pressy that involves you. He has asked for a present of an invitation to join you for Christmas dinner and to you party and a sleep over on Christmas night.”

Artemis clasped her hands in front of her bosom, “Grant him his wish, Santa darling and yours of course and you might as well cancel my pressy, I won’t need Atlas after all.”

“Delighted my dear, would you like me to put Atlas on hold for Boxing Day?”

“Why not and if you have the evening off and are not too tired, why not join us and please wear your dishy red coat and definitely the boots.”

Santa put two more ticks on Artemis’s list and then looked at her, a touch of sadness on his face, “The present concerning Grimly I’m afraid is outside my terms of contract and I won’t be able to do that.”

Artemis pulled out the celestial email and flourished it in front of Santa, “Tra-la-la, permission from Zeus, a codicil to your contract and it’s witnessed by Hera and Hermaphrodite as well.”

“Excellent but there is still a problem which we must consider. That is Grimly being elven and wishing to convert to being a fairy.
“Now elves are earth sprites whereas fairies are air and water sprites and when one of them wishes to switch there is, I am afraid, a cost. They must surrender their immortality and by doing so take on the appearance of a human but they can only become fully human if they gain a soul. The only way they can gain a soul is to fall in love with and marry a human and they have but seven years and one minute to do so or they will become a tiny droplet of their element be it water, air or earth and cease to exist as a sprite.”

“But for how long will they live if they marry a human and gain a soul?”

“For as long as they live together and remain in love they will live as humans until their allotted time comes.”

“That’s okay then, because humans have a belief that when they die, tis only the body that is discarded, their souls go on to live eternally in Paradise.”

“That is true but you must warn Grimly of the consequences if he does not fall in love and marry.”

“I will, I will and I know he will agree for he so much wants to be a fairy and wear pretty clothes, have regular makeovers and fall helplessly in love with a handsome mortal. I will come with you this night when you make your journey across the world and when we arrive at the village of Willow Wand you can leave me there and I shall see that Grimly receives his gift and that all goes well.”

“It must be done by the book, Artemis, nothing must be done otherwise than as it is stated in the manual of ‘Gifts, Wishes and Spells.”
Artemis nodded, impatient to be off for her dinner date with Grimly and the joy of telling him about the Christmas Gift she had arranged for him.

“Be here no later than four minutes before midnight,” called Santa after the skipping, twirling dancing Goddess of the Forests, a smile on his face as he relished his anticipation of the events to come on the morrow at Artemis’s party.

They were seated at a pretty pink toadstool table, Artemis had reduced her size to that more compatible with Grimly and they were finishing their sorbet of wild English strawberries and sipping occasionally at the nectar wine from the night scented honeysuckle. Despite the cold night that surrounded the warm yellow glow that came from scented candles and pine wood fires they were warm and comfortable. The only thing that marred Grimly’s pleasure at being in the presence of his favourite goddess was the faintest touch of jealousy as he admired her beautiful body, her youthful looks and above all the gown of silvered spider thread that she wore with such elegance.
“Not too much wine, Grimly,” warned Artemis, “Tonight we are to help Santa make his deliveries until we arrive at Willow Wand.”

“I shall take care, Artemis, great care, I just can’t believe it is true that tonight at one minute past the Witching Hour I shall become the fairy atop the Christmas tree.”

Santa brought the sleigh to a gentle touch down and kept the reindeers trotting on the spot to ensure the sleigh did not sink too deeply into the crisp and even snow that lay about them. “I thought it best I should allow you to alight here, Artemis. If you were to attempt to follow me down the chimney you would spoil your silk toga with soot or even worse snag and tear it on a badly placed brick.”

“You are so thoughtful, Santa. Grimly knows of a small window that is left open and he can get in that way and open the street door for me.”

Needing no invitation Grimly hopped onto Artemis’s shoulder, slid down the smooth silk, slowed as he rose over the rise of her breast and then speeded up on the down slope, gained even more speed as he raced down across her tummy and called “Wooee,” as he sped down her thigh and launched himself off her slightly bent knee. There was a faint plop then a louder “Eeek,” followed by absolute silence.

Santa looked up from where he was sorting through his bags of Christmas gifts, glanced at the snow in the area of the sleigh and asked, “What was that, it sounded a little like Grimly?”

“I do believe it was,” Artemis looked down but there was no sign of the elf just his somewhat crooked pointy hat lying a little over a metre from where she stood. “There’s no sign of him, just a sec, his hat is laying on the snow,” she bent down and picked up the hat and heard a muffled groaning noise coming from a small hole in the snow immediately below where the hat had lain. Artemis stooped a little lower making the skirt of her toga stretch and follow the contours of her shapely derriere much to Santa’s joy. “There’s a hole in the snow and funny noises coming from it.” She reached in the snow and just before reaching elbow depth she felt something furry and took a hold of it and pulled.

“Ouch,” and Grimly, suspended by his hair popped out of the snow, “That’s my hair you’re pulling me out with.”

“Oh, sorry, dear one but you have only yourself to blame, much haste, less pace as the humans say.” She dusted him down, plonked the pointy hat on his head and keeping a firm grip on him walked up to the grand house, whilst Santa climbed up to the roof. “Why does he insist on using chimneys,” she said to no one in particular, “If he were to wait but a minute, Grimly could climb in through the window and bustle round to open the street door,” she shrugged, “It must be a man thing, the same primal urge that makes them want to go pot-holing.”

She eased Grimly through the small window and heard his feet scampering across the floor and pause for a moment, ‘Ah he has stopped at the Christmas tree’, she told herself. She smiled as she heard him move off again and walked round to the front of the grand house. As she arrived at the doorstep, the door opened and she felt the soft touch of the warm air as it drifted out of the house to welcome her and Grimly’s face appeared around it, a finger held to his lips, “All is quiet,” he whispered and Artemis tip-toed in and walked slowly after Grim-ly as he guided her to the Christmas tree.

Santa, with a wheeze and a gasp, eased himself out of the chimney and came to stand beside them gazing up at the fairy who stood, half way through a pirouette, at the topmost part of the stem.

Artemis glanced at the grandfather-clock as it softly chimed the hour of midnight and nodded at Santa Clause who took a small gaily wrapped packet from his bag, stooped and held it out to Grimly, “This is your special gift from Artemis, it is Christmas morn and you may open it now.

Grimly glanced up at Artemis who smiled and nodded and he softly caressed the bow of the pink ribbon that held the gold wrapping. He closed his eyes and pulled gently at the bow until it loosened and fell away allowing the wrapping to fall open and reveal a small pink satin box. Grimly stared at it, frightened to undo the catch and peer inside until he felt Artemis’s gentle touch on his shoulder and he lifted the lid and his eyes opened wide in surprise as a small cloud of bright silver dust rose and form a thin stream that spun up to the fairy, spread into a cloud and surrounded the porcelain doll, caressed it and then descended slowly and wrapped itself around Grimly.

Nothing happened at first and then, just as Artemis was beginning to think that her spell would not work, the silver cloud slowly disappeared into Grimly and his skin began to glow. Two gossamer wings grew from his back and his shabby pointy hat morphed into a thin rod of enchanted willow and glittered in his hand and a gentle, pretty voice spoke as the soft folds of a spider silk toga replace Grimly’s patched and stained jerkin and trousers, “Oh my, Oh my this is wondrous, so wondrous, my dream has come true," and Grimilda’s wing’s blurred and she flew up to Artemis’s face and hovered there for a second before closing and kissing the Goddess of The Forest gently on the cheek.

“You could give me no more cherished gift,” and she kissed the other cheek, “Nothing could ever match this beautiful thing you have done for me.”

Artemis raised her open palm to Grimilda’s feet, “Rest, let your wings relax, they are but new and must be given time to set.”

Grimilda did as she was bade and turned to curtsy to Santa Clause, “Thank you so much Daddy Christmas,” and she lifted the skirt of her spider silk toga and held it to her cheek, “So soft, so silky, so beautiful.”

“No more so than the beautiful fairy who wears it.”

She looked up at the top of the Christmas tree now bare and not looking as it should do on Christmas morning. Kneeling she kissed the palm of Artemis’s hand, “I would ask that you raise me to the top of the tree so I may return to my duties. No more the dirt of the quarry, now I have a tree, presents, a grand house and humans to guard and protect.”

And when Artemis raise her hand, Grimilda hopped from it to her place on the tree, completed the half turned pirouette and stood whilst she settled her balance. With one leg bent at the knee a little and raised elegantly behind her, she held her arms out to both Santa and Artemis, Merry Christmas, Artemis, Goddess of the Forests and Guardian of those who live there. Merry Christmas, Santa Clause the bringer of immortal gifts.”

Exactly seven years later at precisely five seconds before midnight, Grimilda dressed in her brand new spider silk toga walked hand in hand with her mortal husband Oberon and stopped at the Christmas tree. “Tonight we will consummate our of joining at the wedding ceremony and at precisely one second after midnight you must carry me across the threshold of our bedchamber and lay me on the bed and then we must come together in the act of love and I will gift you a lifetime’s devotion and you will gift me a human soul. And we will gift each other the purest of love.
They both turned and looked straight out of the page at you. “And this immortal gift we will share with you.”

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