I'm hoping that some of you Bernard groupies are still around and reading Bernard fanfics. Honestly, this isn't much of a Santa Clause fanfic, as he's (and a few of the elves) the only one in it.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The workshop was filled with whispers of confusion and shock. As the gathering of elves stared at the figure lying in the back of the sleigh, infinite questions filled the minds of all the elves. Who was she? How did she get here? She isn't an elf; her ears were rounded. All of the elves by now had ceased their work and were either gathered around the sleigh or looking over the balconies, all to gaze at the wonder within the sleigh.

noelnoelnoelnoelnoelnoelnoelnoelnoelnoelnoelnoelnoelenoelnoelnoelnoelnoelnoelnoelnoelnoelnoelnoelnoelnoelnoelenoel

Lydia Hightower moaned softly as she came slowly into consciousness. She heard what sounded like a wall of gasps from all around her. She wearily half opened her eyes, but at first she saw only groups of richly colored blurs leaning over her.

Where am I? she thought. But as soon as she asked herself this, a series of images flashed across her mind. She could vaguely remember. Rain. Fire. Screaming. Her uncle. Uncle William. She remembered now. It had been raining. They had been attacked. The screams had come from her and the fire came from their attackers. That was all she could remember. How did she get here? And more to the point, where was here?

In a moment, however, it no longer mattered. Lydia Hightower's body went rigid as a roar of pain seared through her arm and shoulder. However painful her few memories were, they paled in comparison to the physical pain she was experiencing now. She had enough strength left to diagnose the pain as a dislocated shoulder before she passed out again.

joyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoyjoy

"What is going on here? Why have you all stopped working?" a most disgruntled Bernard said as he strode up to the gathering of elves. Sure, he thought angrily, tonight was a cause for some celebration, even for the elves, whose existence had fallen into a slight darkness in the past decade or so (it was really quite hard to keep track of something such as redundant as the number of years that passed, when you lived as long as an elf did), but this was ridiculous. Even an event that was meant to be as joyous as Christmas was no excuse to mess around and neglect work that needed to be done.

Once he reached the sleigh, which seemed to be the center of the elves main attention, Bernard was fully prepared to chastise the elves further, until he noticed what exactly had called for such scrutiny.

Lying in the back of the sleigh, wrapped in a large weatherworn duster, was a girl.

Bernard's aggravation dissipated so rapidly, he could feel it. He felt himself leaning over in order to gain a better look at this strange visitor. She looked like she could have been anywhere between 14 and 17 years old. Bernard could not help but notice she was quite beautiful. Her alabaster skin was slightly flushed from the severe cold of the Pole and snowflakes clung lightly to her chestnut hair, which rimmed her lovely face in a curtain of silk.

As beautiful as she was however, Bernard took note of how she looked like she'd been through some sort of hell. She had long gash along her cheek that allowed blood to trickle over her face and shadows lingered beneath her eyes. What really startled him though, was the bizarre angle in which her right arm was held.

Although Bernard didn't know much about injuries, he figured the mangled arm had to be at least broken. The girl obviously needed attention, but how could she get it? His instructions were simple: any injuries were to be documented and reported, immediately. He was sure however, if his boss found out about the poor girl, the result would not be entirely pleasant.

Bernard did some quick thinking in his head, before he had a slight epiphany. He did a quick turn on his heel and faced all the elves. As he cleared his throat loudly the room got very quiet. "All will be taken care of. There's nothing more to see. Back to work, please."

He stood and watched until all of the elves reluctantly returned to their duties and then called over one of the elves he trusted most, an inventor, by the name of Quinton. The elf was young but very promising and he already had a lot of new ideas gliding surreptitiously around in the gears of his head.

"Quinton, I need your help."

"What can I do, Bernard?"

"We need to get the girl up to my room."

"Bernard, is that entirely proper?"

"I really don't care if it's proper, Quinton. What I do care about is what will happen to her if she's discovered."

"Ai, sir."

They looked around a moment to make sure all the other elves were safely busy before carrying out there plan.

Exactly twelve minutes and 18 seconds later (they had had to take the long way, so as not to be seen) the two elves were laying the girl as gently as they could on Bernard's bed. The older elf then looked at the other and said, "You go on Quinton. I'll take care of her."

"Are you sure? I can stay."

"No, I don't want you getting into trouble. And I may need your help later."

"Alright. And Bernard?"

"Yes?"

"Be careful," the plucky elf said and stayed just long enough to see his superior flash him a smile and vanished.

"Now," Bernard said to himself and the unconscious girl laying in front of him, "What do I do?"

He leaned over the girl and sighed. He stood up straight and sighed again. This pattern ensued for a couple minutes until Bernard cautiously leaned down once more and, after the proper moment's hesitation, tapped the girl lightly on the shoulder and spoke to her hesitantly.

"Miss…uh…miss-"

The poor elf, who had seldom in his several hundred years encountered a human, much less under these circumstances, was not prepared for the pained face to jolt into animation. Her eyes flew open momentary and clamped shut again in torment, and the girl gasped and convulsed in agony. She grabbed Bernard's arm in a vice-like grip and her face declared her anguish.

"Uh...are you...uh...who are you?" Bernard babbled almost incoherently.

"Later," a weak voice said through gritted teeth.

"What?"

"Later! Please!" the girl seethed.

"Oh! What can I do?"

"Take my arm."

"What?"

"Take my arm!"

Bernard grabbed the girl's dislocated arm, a little too roughly and the girl gasped in pain.

"Oh, I'm sorry!" Bernard said quickly, but the girl shook her head.

"Now, do exactly as I tell you. When I say to, muster all your strength and pull my arm as hard as you can."

Bernard's eyes widened as he took in her instructions. "I can't!"

"Of course you can! You must!" she looked at him through pained, pleading eyes. "Please."

Bernard found he couldn't resist the suffering in her grey eyes. He swallowed and nodded.

"Alright. On the count of three. One. Two." Bernard and the girl both took a breath. "Three!"

Tears sprang from the girl's eyes as a scream escaped her lips and the feverish color fled from her face.

"Oh my-! I'm sorry!"

"You hesitated!" the girl accused, her teeth gritted. "We must try again!"

"Oh no! I can't!"

"Yes you can! I promise. Don't hesitate this time! Just take a deep breath and close your eyes. At the count of three, pull with all the strength you can muster. Please. You can do this. Please!"

Once again, Bernard nodded and he clamped his eyes shut.

"One. Two...Three!"

This time, a cry escaped Bernard's lips as a loud pop issued into the air. Bernard, thinking he had hurt the girl badly began apologizing again, in vain.

The girl laughed. She took Bernard's face in her hands, and forced him to look into her face, which although it was shining with sweat and tears, had begun to regain normal color.

"It's alright! You did it!"

"I did?"

The girl took one of Bernard's trembling hands in her own.

"Lydia Hightower."

Bernard, elated with his success and relief at not having hurt the girl a second time, stammered through the introduction. "B-B-B-Bernard!"

"Thank you Bernard," Lydia said, smiling. She let out a relaxed sigh before falling back into unconsciousness.

Great, thought Bernard, now what am I supposed to do?

TBC

A/N: Review please. I promise I'll update faster if you do, and my little Basset hound will cry and howl and look pitiful if you don't. I don't even know if any of you are still interested. I know it's only a few days till Christmas but I'll probably keep writing after.