Who invented the concept of naughty and nice, I would like to know. Because it can't be Father Claus; he's too nice a person. He would never dream of depriving a child of a Christmas present no matter how naughty that child is.

But he can't go against The Book. The Book of Naughty and Nice, which keeps magically updating itself every year, is the bible for every elf at Santa's Workshop. It guides us, tells us how many presents the workshop is supposed to churn out every year and it is also filled with lovely ideas for presents. And of course, it contains an inexhaustible list of children featured neatly in two categories – Naughty and Nice.

I sigh and look at Isaac Brown's name. He is one of the 'naughties' as we elves call them. Son of a wealthy entrepreneur, little Master Brown is arrogant and spoilt. It's not his fault. The apple generally doesn't fall far from the tree, does it? But, for some reason, I like Isaac. I've been observing him for months and I can see redeemable qualities in him. He can be good if he tries. Presently, he doesn't even know the difference between right and wrong, and since his business-absorbed father won't teach him, I feel like I should.

My eyes brighten and I look around furtively – I will make a toy for Isaac and no one will know. Santa will probably find out, but he won't sack me, will he? I am quite a brilliant elf, if I say so myself. I pat myself on the back and set out to make a toy for little Master Brown. It will be a magical toy, of course. I don't use my magic lightly, unless I absolutely have to spell a toy in a certain way to make it work. This toy will be special, something no one has ever seen, something the adults may ignore but that will help shape Isaac's personality, something that… will require a part of me in the making.

I call upon Éléonore for help.

"Whot iz eet, mon chéri?" she asks in her best French accent. Last year, she was Italian. Elves are fickle that way.

"Will you please tell me the 'psyconnection' spell?"

She looks at me suspiciously. "Why?" she asks with narrowed eyes. The 'psyconnection' spell is no ordinary spell. No doubt Éléonore, being the Keeper of Magic at the North Pole, is required to protect it.

"I…uh… The Claus needs it… for something," I manage to say as steadily as I can. There's no other credible excuse I can give.

Éléonore looks at me for a while and when she finally nods, I suppress a sigh of relief. She waves her hand and a little scroll appears in her palm, she hands it to me and says, "Take zis directly to Fazzer Claus, 'Enry." Once she's gone, I study the instructions in the scroll and cast the spell on Isaac's gift. Then, I box it and toss it in the bottomless bag in Santa's sleigh.

Isaac Brown rips open his Christmas present and stares inside in dismay. "A magic 8 ball? What a waste!" cries 9 years old Isaac. He shakes the ball violently in his anger. "What good are you?" he growls rhetorically. Almost immediately, the ball answers and he can see the words 'I can help you' inside. Isaac stares at the ball, surprise evident on his chubby face. Weird, he thinks to himself, wondering if he should give the ball another try or just throw it in the bin where it belongs.

He shrugs and tries again. "Can you help me be friends with Amanda Waters?" He shakes the ball and looks inside. 'Yes' it says.

Utterly stumped, Isaac shakes the ball again. He has played with many fortune telling balls and pretty much knows all responses that magic balls generally give. He knows by now that magic balls are useless. But this ball is different somehow and it intrigues the little boy very much.

I smile as Isaac asks his next question. I can hear him in my mind, through the magic 8 ball. The psyconnection spell works perfectly!

"What else can you help me with?"

An impish smile makes its way onto my face and I concentrate on the answer in my mind. It flies through time and space and appears as a response in the magic 8 ball – 'I can help you get a better present next year.'