The doorbell rang at their apartment and Jasmine complained. The doorbell hadn't stopped ringing all evening and they were trying to put up their Christmas tree.
"Aurora, you can get it this time" Jasmine demanded.
"I just got the door"
"I'll get it" Belle sighed.
She walked to the door in her blue nightgown. She undid the latch and chain, a sound, which Curtis knew too well. She pulled open the door to Charlie and two people she didn't recognize. She sighed.
"Ella, Charlie's here"
"Invite him in" their mother called.
"Come on in" Belle responded.
Charlie and the elves entered the little apartment. The girl's mother came out of the kitchen and smiled.
"Hello Charlie, it's been awhile"
"Hi Ms. Smith. This is Curtis and Brenda, is Ella around?"
"She is, come in, we're all in the living room"
"Actually, no offence or anything, but we need to talk to Ella privately" Charlie informed.
"Well, why don't you all go in her room"
Ella came out of the living room. "Hi Charlie"
Charlie blushed. Ella was wearing a strapless red dress that was tight against her figure and she looked simply desirable. Ella smiled at Curtis and led them into her bedroom. She indicated for them to have a seat once they were in there with the door closed.
"So…what did I do to get this surprise?" Ella asked happily.
"Ella, you remember Curtis?"
"Yes of course"
"Well, Curtis and Brenda wanted to talk to you about something…they think that they might have a connection to your past"
Ella raised her eyebrows. "The sketchbook?"
"Yes" Brenda took a breath. "When you met Curtis in the mall he said you recognized him"
"And the sketchbook Charlie brought us, the drawings you drew, they're real Ella and we'd like you to come with us to see the places you've drawn"
"And him" Charlie held the sketch of Bernard out.
"But it's so close to Christmas…I couldn't leave my sisters and mom" Ella stated.
"Ella, we're afraid if you don't come there won't be a Christmas" Curtis whispered.
"Your mother and sisters can come" Brenda said. "But we really need you to come with us and remember Ella"
"Just a moment" Ella left the room.
She went out into the living room to confront her family.
"They want me to go with them"
"Well, Ella, you should go" her mother said.
"But I don't want to be away from you guys at Christmas time" Ella said quietly. "Would you all come with me?"
"Of course I will squirt" Jasmine smiled. "You need to know where you came from…I need to know"
"We'll all come" their mother said.
"Excellent!" Charlie said from the doorframe. "How soon can you be packed?"
"Never mind that Charlie" Brenda said. "You and Curtis take them and I'll deal with things here"
"We can pack fairly quickly" Jasmine and Aurora said rushing to their room.
Charlie, Curtis and Brenda waited impatiently for the five girls to pack their belongings. Once everyone was ready they loaded things into the sleigh.
"Interesting transportation" Jasmine stated climbing into the sleigh.
"Just get in" Charlie instructed. "We don't have much time"
Curtis' watch went off. "He's right"
Everyone was in the sleigh and the reindeer took off into the air. Jasmine, Aurora and Belle screamed. Ella and her mother laughed. Charlie, who was driving put his arm around Ella with a smile.
"I thought you'd like this part"
They flew into the night towards the North Pole. Once they landed the girls looked around curiously. It was a wasteland in their opinion but then they saw the little person come out. He pulled a pole out of the ground, pressed some buttons and then left. The ground started to shift beneath them as they entered the North Pole.
"Charlie, where are we?" Belle asked.
"The North Pole"
"It's beautiful" Ella beamed. "Like a dream"
"Like your drawing" Curtis corrected her.
The sleigh landed in the middle of the Work Shop and elves watched curiously as a group of girls got out with Charlie, Curtis and Brenda.
"Go back to work" Curtis ordered.
"You'll get watched a lot here with Bernard in seclusion, the elves don't listen to me well"
"Welcome to the North Pole" Santa and Mrs. Claus greeted them.
"Charlie, that's your—
"My dad" Charlie squeezed Ella. "Don't worry"
"I'm dreaming" Aurora said. "I'm dreaming…ouch!"
Jasmine had pinched her. "Awake yet?"
"This is amazing…Ella, I'm sorry I ever made fun of you for believing in Santa Claus" Belle hugged her sister.
"If you would like to get settled before the reminiscing begins follow me please," Santa said. "I had Abby make up rooms for you"
The group followed Santa throw the workshop and into smaller hallways with many doors.
"We put you all together in here" Santa opened the door. "You're free to look around just don't interfere with the process. Ella, Curtis would like you to meet him back in the front hall as soon as you're settled. Charlie will be back for you in ten minutes to take you all to him, that is if the rest of you wish to follow Ella down memory lane"
Their mother nodded. "I have to"
"Very well, I'll send Charlie in ten minutes…that should give Curtis time to get things settled"
Back in the hallway to Bernard's bedroom Curtis was sitting in his tent again.
"Bernard, will you come out soon?"
Bernard didn't answer him.
"I think I might be on to something with Charlie's friend but I'm not sure. We need to see if she remembers any of this" Curtis paused. "I'm going to take her to the graveyard and to Alan's house and to the tower. If there is any sign I'll let Brenda know. I hope you'll come with her when she comes for you"
"I don't know" was all Bernard said.
"I have to go now Bernard…please come out with Brenda, get yourself cleaned up though"
Curtis left his tent and went to the workshop. Ella and her family were there waiting for him.
"Well, are you all ready?" Curtis asked. "Ella, you need a coat"
She shook her head. "It's warm out there"
Curtis noted that. Ariella had always found the coldest weather warm.
"Let's go then"
Curtis led them towards the graveyard where they would visit the grave of Aurelia. The other girls shivered from cold and complained but Ella seemed content looking around. Like it was all coming back to her? At the graveyard she stared at the grave which she had produced on paper. It was the spitting image.
"Ella said she believed this was her biological mother" Charlie explained to her family. "We think so too"
"The name is even the same" Ella stated with her eyes closed. "Aurelia"
Her mind drifted back to a forgotten memory. Many elves were standing in this very spot watching the coffin of their mother be set into the ground. Two versions of her head elf was in the crowd, one of them had his arm around her and the other his arm around the elf she knew as Brenda. She opened her eyes quickly.
"What did you see?" Curtis asked her.
"Aurelia's funeral" Curtis said.
Ella nodded. "He was there" she pointed to the Bernard sketch. "But there was two of him"
"He has a twin…Alan"
"Alan…" Ella repeated.
"Alan is where we're going next. To that house you drew Ella" Curtis informed them as they left the graveyard. "Alan was the first born son of Aurelia and one of her knights, he was born exactly a minute before Bernard"
They walked through an alley and into a crowded street. Elves watched them walk by with interest. At the end of the street stood Ella's mysterious house. It was tall and dark and shrouded with mystery like she had explained to Charlie that day in Art class.
"This is where we believe you lived with Alan…he was your husband"
Ella stared at the house. "Can we go inside?"
Curtis shook his head. "The key went missing with you"
"I don't have it"
"The house has been a reminder of the Dark Age of the North Pole"
Ella closed her eyes again but there was no memory attached to this house. She shook her head when Curtis asked her if she remembered anything.
"We'll continue then to the tower"
The turned down the main street again but in he opposite way of the workshop back towards the graveyard. This time they took the other outskirts road direction. At the end of the road they could see a tower standing alone in the darkness. A single light was seen from the caretaker's lamp. An old elf stood waiting for their arrival.
"Ella, this is who we believe your father, Wybert…the last of the original elves" Curtis informed her.
Ella stared at this man curiously. As did her sisters and mother. He had her eyes and sharp features that made them both very attractive. Ella remembered him with much detail.
"He is my father" she whispered but only the old man had heard her.
With those words, her father embraced Ella tightly. Tears fell down the old man's face as his fingers ran through the hair of his oldest daughter.
"Wybert, will you lead us through the tower?"
"Of course" he nodded taking Ella's hand and pulling her along.
Their mother was in tears. This place was her daughter's home. The man unlocked the tower with an especially small key and they went inside. In her head Ella heard voices filling the tower.
"Ariella! Bernard! I know you're both in here somewhere!" a booming voice made the tower tremble.
Alan stood at the bottom of the stairs shouting for his wife and twin brother. He started to make his way up the stairs.
Ella found herself running up the stair chasing the memory Alan.
"Come out cowards!" he shouted.
A squeak from one of the doors caught his attention. He went to the door and ripped it off its hinges. Inside the room was Ariella and Bernard.
Ella stared shocked at the vision of herself and her head elf drawing.
"So…you thought you would get away with this adultery!" Alan boomed throwing himself towards them.
"Ariella move" Bernard demanded.
"NO!" Ariella replied getting her husband's fist in her face.
"Damn woman, this is not meant for you!" Alan shouted. "Get out of the way"
"No, I won't let you harm your brother"
"Ariella, please" Bernard tried to push her aside but she wouldn't budge. "I'd rather it be me then you"
"And I'd rather it be me then you Bernard, it's my fault"
"No it's not"
"Yes it is and I won't move"
"Have it your way then wench" Alan threw himself at Ariella and Bernard. They all knocked to the floor and Bernard went into an unconscious state. Alan grabbed Ariella by the arms and dragged her down the stairs.
Ella tried to run to the memory of Bernard but it faded. So she followed the memory Alan and herself down the stairs but they disappeared and she fainted on the staircase.
"Ella!" Curtis called rushing up the stairs with Charlie.
Charlie lifted her unconscious body and Curtis shook his head.
"Memory overload…she must have remembered everything that happened here" Curtis said. "It was too much or too painful to deal with"
Charlie picked her up and carried her back downstairs.
"What happened here?" the mother asked.
"This is where Alan found them right before she went missing" Curtis explained. "Bernard was knocked unconscious and couldn't get help in time for her so when the E.L.F.S. got to their house she was gone and Alan refused to give up her location. We never found her and she was assumed dead so Alan was executed the next morning and a marker was placed in our cemetery for Ariella"
"But she's not dead"
"So…now that she remembers…what will happen?" Jasmine asked almost in tears.
"Ella belongs here" Aurora hugged her sister. "This is her home and if she wants to remain here then we have to let her…right mom?"
"That's right girls. It's her decision to make not ours. Ella has to do what's best for herself"
"We should get back," Charlie said shifting Ella in his arms so he couldn't see down her dress.
"You're right," Curtis said.
Curtis pulled out his walkie-talkie and paged Brenda.
"Yes Curtis" Brenda's voice came through the walkie-talkie.
"We're on our way back. Ella fainted from memory overload but I think she remembers more then we thought"
"Where are you?"
"Just leaving the tower. Ella remembers mom's funeral, she remembers her father and she remembers what happened in the tower Brenda"
"Should I get Bernard ready?"
"See if he'll come out, if not it's fine"
"Roger, see you five minutes time"
Curtis put the walkie-talkie away and they headed back to the workshop. Once their Ella was placed down on a couch to recover. Charlie sat with her while the other elves wandered over occasionally and saw with shock that Ariella had been found. Ella's family had sat down a little distance from her to cope together with everything. Curtis had gone to find Brenda and see what was what.
While Curtis and Brenda were away from his door, Bernard unlocked everything including the chain. He stepped out of his room into the light of the workshop. The little elves passing by stopped suddenly shocked. Bernard sent them off on their way and followed them slowly towards the stairs to the workshop. He knew he looked like a disaster but he was tired of being locked away in his room. Curtis recapping the story had helped and he was curious as to what his friend had been up to.
Ella woke up quickly from her faint. She hugged Charlie tightly being glad to have someone close to her. When she was stable on her feet she went over to her mother and sisters and hugged them.
"I'm so sorry," she said as tears fell.
"Ella, we're just happy you're home again"
Down in the workshop Bernard saw a pleasant sight. The elves were still working away hard at making the toys for Christmas. Charlie was there with a group of pretty girls. The floorboards creaked beneath his feet as he turned slowly to the stairs. Elves looked up with shock. They're head elf was returning in a disastrous state. But he was returning just in time. Curtis and Brenda had heard the gasps of elves and ran from the other staircase to see Bernard moving slowly down the stairs. They eyes turned to Ella whose back turned on Bernard and was talking quickly to her mother and sisters. Charlie was walking over to her as Bernard came down the stairs. Jasmine's eyes had suddenly grown large spotting Ella's gorgeous elf drawing. Aurora noticed her sister's gaze and followed it to the stairs. Belle and the mother did the same. Ella was the last to look as Bernard took the last stair. She turned around and her breath caught in her throat. Charlie nudged her towards Bernard who was also frozen in time.
Brenda ran from her stairs over to the other set. She climbed down them just in case Bernard decided to pass out like Ella had. She touched his shoulder but it went unnoticed.
"Bernard, we found her" she whispered.
Bernard took a step towards Ella but stopped. He turned to Brenda and hugged her tightly. Brenda had taken her wedding ring off on her way over to the other staircase. She placed it into his hand. Bernard looked at the ring then back at Brenda. She smiled and gave him a nudge towards Ella. Ella stood in her spot with Charlie nudging her to move forward. When Bernard let Brenda go he felt his feet carry him like flying towards Ella. Ella had started to run too. They met in the middle of the workshop with Bernard picking her right off the ground and spinning around with his lips pressed against hers. The elves clapped happily at the sight and even Santa joined them.
Bernard set Ella down and placed his hands against her cheeks. "I'm not dreaming am I?"
He looked at Brenda for an answer. She simply shook her head.
"If this is a dream "Ella started. "Then I really don't want to repeat the first half of it"
Charlie laughed at that remark. "Could we at least repeat the part where I had to carried you from the tower here and could see down your dress the entire time?"
Ella gave him a disappointed look.
"I didn't look…Danielle would kill me"
Ella turned back to Bernard. "I think this part of the dream is the best…let's just stay here"
Bernard kissed her lustfully. "I quite agree"
"Wait…" Ella's smile faded.
She turned to her mother and sisters. "What about you guys?"
"Ella…don't worry about us. We'll go back to life before you"
"But…I'm going to miss you"
Belle ran to her sister. "I'm going to miss you talking in your sleep"
Ella laughed. "I'll miss you yelling at me in your sleep for talking in my sleep"
"I did that?"
"Every night Belle"
"Jeez…I'm a mean sister"
"Nah, you were awesome, except I didn't appreciate getting ditched at the mall and being stuck shopping with Charlie"
"Ella, if I hadn't ditched you at the mall you wouldn't be here today" Belle sighed. "Everything happens for a reason. Come visit"
"All the time"
"And bring him" Jasmine nodded towards Bernard. "Just make sure he's cleaner and doesn't smell as bad"
Everyone looked at Bernard who in turn smelled himself. The room burst with laughter at this.
"You know, you could always live here…" Curtis started. "Of course, in time you'd become an elf…"
Ella looked at her family. They were all thinking about this idea for awhile.
"We'll come for holidays," Jasmine said. "I love Ella and all but I do need that degree"
"I agree with her," Aurora said.
"Well…I don't have to finish high school" Belle said but looked at her mother. "OK, maybe I do"
"Ella" their mother took her hands. "We don't belong here. It's hard for me to let you go like this but we don't belong here. You belong here. When you first came to live with us, you didn't fit in with anyone until you met Charlie. You always said you thought Charlie held a connection to your past because whenever you were around him things came back to you"
"Just let me finish Ella" their mother pulled her over to Bernard, took his hand and placed it in Ella's. "Ella, the two of you belong together. That obvious enough for everyone. He needs you, which is also obvious from the state he's in right now"
"You're place is here with Bernard, our is back in New York. You understand right?"
Ella hugged her mother. "Yes, but I'll still visit a lot"
"You won't…not a lot"
"I love you mom…you've been wonderful"
"I love you too Ella, you were a wonderful daughter and really put those girls in their place. We should go now before everything gets too emotional"
"Wait!" Curtis called out. "You're not going to stay for the wedding?"
"What wedding?" Bernard asked Curtis. "Nothing gets planned without going passed me first"
"That's more like it" Curtis laughed. "I was only joking about the wedding unless of course someone if having one. I just had to make sure Bernard was Bernard again"
"If there is a wedding we'll be back," Jasmine said.
A group of elves had arrived with their stuff and a letter for Ella. She took the letter and read it out loud.
"My Dearest Ariella, it took them too long to find you but now you're back and this belongs to you" Ella looked in the envelope and found a key.
Bernard took the letter. "It's not signed"
"I know who it's from" Ella smiled up at the balcony where Alan's ghost stood.
Bernard followed her gaze but saw nothing. "Ella?"
"Alan says you better be good to me or he'll come back from the grave and give you a beating" she informed him as her dead husband disappeared.
Bernard looked insulted but Ella kissed him. "You're always good to me"
"Ella, we should go" her mother said.
Ella sighed. She left Bernard's side and went outside with her family to say goodbye. Belle was in tears.
"At least you get your own room now," Ella said.
"But I'll have no one at home when they go back to university"
"You'll be all right"
Belle hugged her then got in the sleigh. Charlie sat at the reins. Jasmine and Aurora hugged her tightly then hugged Bernard. They each gave him a kiss on the cheek.
"Too bad things turned out this way" Jasmine winked. "We bought found her sketches of you to be gorgeous"
Bernard blushed slightly. Ella had just released her mother and jumped in the sleigh to hug Charlie.
"I'll be back" he laughed.
"I know but I just thought I should let you know they have to get home safely"
"Ella," Charlie took her hands and kissed them. "I got you here safely"
"Don't worry" he hugged her back and kissed her cheek.
Ella hopped out of the sleigh and stood in front of Bernard. He wrapped his arms around her waist. She waved as the sleigh rose and flew out of sight.
"Well, now that that is over" Santa looked at his elves. "How about some football?"
A group of elves cheered and ran to the courtyard of the workshop. Ella and Bernard stood together on the landing. Bernard rested his chin on her shoulder with his arms around her waist.
"I knew something was missing" Ella stated.
"What's that?" Bernard asked kissing her neck lightly.
Ella took out her sketchbook and erased Bernard on the landing and redrew the drawing to include herself in his arms on the landing. She showed it to Bernard who nodded with approval.
Christmas Eve came around quite quickly now that Bernard was back in action and elves weren't slacking off and Ella was being reintroduced to all her old friends. Abby and her had a lot to catch up on. By the time Christmas Eve rolled around the North Pole was back in it's normal routine.
At ten minutes to midnight on December 24 Bernard stood in his usual spot just before Santa left to make his usual announcement but it was slightly altered this year. "As you all know, Christmas, religiously is about the birth of Jesus Christ but up here and for most people on earth it is a time for friends and family and loved ones coming home and spending time together. This year, before I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, I'd like to welcome home someone special who has been away far too long. So if you could all join me in applause for the return of the first born daughter and thirteenth child to Princess Aurelia, Elf Thirteen, Ariella Smith"
The workshop broke out into applause as Ariella came downstairs dressed in an outfit normal to her function at the North Pole. She wore a sideways painter's hat, a smock over a deep red dress that had a paintbrush sticking out of it and a pair of red and green striped knee-high socks. A few whistles whipped through the air catching Bernard's attention with humor.
Curtis held up his hands for silence and the elves quieted down quite a bit.
"I could get use to this" Curtis laughed.
"It doesn't always work" Santa assured him. "Only when they're really interested"
Bernard knelt on one knee before Ella reached the last step. He took her hand and kissed it softly.
"I'm not royalty Bernard"
"That's fine, I had no intention of treating you so" Bernard replied. "I actually had more urgent problems to take care of"
"Oh really? Like what?" Ella questioned him.
"Like how on earth am I going to get this engagement ring on your finger after I proposed, they've swelled up like pumpkins did you eat something with peppermint in it?"
"Are you sugg—wait a minute—
"Will you marry me?" Bernard asked her.
"You're demented and I love you. Of course I will" she hugged him.
The room filled with applause again.
"I hate to disrupt the moment and your dream of not being royalty Ella but being the first daughter of a Princess you are around here" Curtis replied. "Just like if Bernard weren't Head Elf, everyone would still listen to him since he was the first son"
"Second technically" Bernard corrected his friend.
"Well in that case I expect a royal wedding" Ella decided.
"And I'm hoping you've got some decent clothes in that disaster you call a room Curtis" Bernard put his arm around him.
"Because I need one of those…what do you call them?" he turned to Santa.
"He needs a best man and it's usually the groom's best friend"
"Are you suggesting that…hallelujah!" Curtis cheered. "Mark this day on the calendar as not only Christmas Eve but as the day Bernard admits I'm his best friend even though the rest of us knew it already"
"What are the odds I'm going to get Charlie in a dress?" Ella asked randomly.
Everyone looked at her oddly.
"What? I can't get married with him and Abby in the wedding party"
"Tell you what Ella" Santa started. "You get Charlie in a dress and I'll trade you two bedrooms"
"Agreed" Bernard stuck out his hand immediately. "He's got a nice room"
"No thanks Santa, I've got other plans" she held out her house key.
The clocked chimed midnight and the elves shifted a step back.
"Well, that's my cue to go…who do I leave in charge, Bernard or his woman?"
"What's that suppose to mean?" Bernard asked.
"Behind every great man is a great woman Bernard…you're no exception, she was just missing for awhile"
"Still not following you"
"Just keep things in line like normal" Santa laughed.
He got into the sleigh and started calling out to the reindeer. They took to the sky and he wished everyone a Merry Christmas. After Santa left the workshop broke out into noise. They male Elves were congratulating Bernard and the females were giving Best Wishes to Ella and admiring her ring.
"Curtis, there's something else I almost forgot about" Bernard broke away from the group of elves to Curtis' side.
Bernard hugged him. "Thank you"