Even the combined efforts of the entire Western Witches’ Coven had failed to produce more than a light dusting of frost come Christmas Eve. Sparky stared gloomily out of the kitchen window, a sad stream of silver smoke issuing from his nostrils.
‘Come on, Sparky, cheer up,’ said Alys brightly, pulling ingredients from the store cupboard. ‘You can help me make the Christmas pudding.’
The diminutive dragon raised a small purple eyebrow. ‘You’re not going to make it from scratch are you?’
‘Of course,’ Alys replied with a slight frown, consulting her copy of Conventional Cookery for Witches.
While the light outside dimmed, they measured and poured and, stirring sunwise for luck, they both made a wish, adding a handful of small silver charms, which Alys had quickly conjured up. The charms fizzed and buried themselves in the sticky mixture. Alys poured it into the pudding bowl, sealed the top in waxed paper and gently lowered the bowl into the large water-filled saucepan that was bubbling gaily on the stove.
Sparky read from the recipe book. ‘It’s going to take a whole six hours to steam,’ he said, eyes widening.
Alys nodded cheerfully. ‘Then it should be ready by midnight. We won’t forget that.’
Later that evening, after a celebratory supper of mince pies and custard, they were relaxing by the festive fire that Sparky had conjured up from Alys’s Creative Christmas Spell Book, a slim volume that only opened on Christmas Eve and offered a brand-new yuletide spell each year. This year the dancing flames made memory pictures.
‘Look, Sparky,’ said Alys excitedly, pointing to a pair of pulsating pink parsnips that had popped up amongst the flames. ‘It’s those ugly vegetables that won us the Witches’ Institute Flower and Produce competition!’
A little stream of proud pink smoke flared from Sparky’s nostrils. He started to chortle and the pink smoke turned to green as the bewildered faces of the two botching builders appeared, grisly green hair sprouting from their heads. ‘That served them right, didn’t it?’
Alys blushed slightly. It wasn’t in her nature to harm anyone, but they had deserved it. She started to giggle.
The clock on the mantle stood to attention and cleared its throat, preparing to strike. Alys glanced up. ‘It’s nearly midnight, Sparky, which of one of your presents are you going to open?’
Sparky flew over to the shimmering Christmas tree, which the Retired Cauldron had generously sprouted that morning. The tree was now proudly bearing their presents on its outstretched branches. The diminutive dragon looked up, stroking his chin with a thoughtful purple paw. ‘I can’t decide whether to open the one that’s obviously a book or…’
He was interrupted by a loud ping from the Magical Messaging Machine. Alys and Sparky hurried over to the table, which still bore faint water marks from the recent Immersive-Experience incident. The Machine’s screen sprang to life and the big friendly face of George the Dragon appeared. His usually jovial expression was creased with concern.
‘Sorry to bother, but we’ve an emergency!’ His large yellow saucer eyes glowed glassily.
‘What kind of emergency?’ asked Alys and Sparky together.
‘The gnomes had a magic-missive from their elf cousins in Lapland.’ He lowered his voice. ‘I’m not at liberty to say over the witch-waves, but think you can guess who it involves.’ George’s scaly green ears waggled anxiously. ‘Will you come? Please.’
Alys and Sparky looked at each other, then turned to the screen and nodded vigorously.
George’s face relaxed. ‘Come over to my place and we’ll go together. Please hurry,’ he urged.
The screen went blank.
Excited emerald smoke issued from Sparky’s nostrils. ‘Come on, Alys! Lapland. You know what that means!’ The diminutive dragon hovered by the doormat, while Alys snatched up her wand and hurried over to join him. ‘Edelweiss Valley, Switzerland,’ Alys enunciated.
As they disappeared, the clock cleared its throat again and began to strike midnight. The saucepan on the stove spluttered in response.
to be continued tomorrow…
Image credits: clipart-library.com, clker.com