Chapter 1: The first snow of winter
"The most important thing is, even if we're apart, I'll always be with you." - Winnie the Pooh.
It was a cold, unremarkable night. Velvet clouds blurred the starry night sky over a quiet, solitary town in the sweeping countryside. The falling temperatures were beginning to cause shifts in the winds, driving the unrelenting clouds to clash and a thin veil of snow to descend upon the little town of Winston, much to the delight of the local children. One so rarely saw the flurries of white or felt the gentle brush of snowflakes on their lips in these parts, making every little bit of white wonder eternally memorable.
And, where biting, snow-bringing winds come, their wielder the Guardian Jack Frost rode upon them; surfing them on his wintergreen shepherd's crook like the ocean waves instead of the blizzards of the East coast.
His silvery hair, white like the moon, whipped around his face by the north wind, speckling his vision as he flew through the cold night air. The temperature didn't bother him though. In fact, it was a kind of familiar comfort. One might compare it to a child cuddling up to a warm cup of cocoa; only he was blasting through the arctic night at speeds which would shame any wind spirit, reveling in the cold as much as any warmth.
Jack happened to glance down as he ghosted through the air. Keen eyes, strengthened from hundreds of years of spotting good snowball fights, caught the sight of children running and shouting along the streets, racing each other home. They were barely the size of specks, but Jack could clearly make out the little group throwing slush balls scooped up from the gutter and hear the sound of youthful laughter on the wind.
He sighed contentedly, doing a quick flip just to pass the time. This little town reminded him of his hometown Burgess. He had always meant to go back there; see the pond under the moonlight again, visit the kids, sleep in his favorite fir tree. But alas, winter's icy grasp had not yet touched these lands.
It had been three years since he became an official Guardian- a mere fragment when you think of his literal age, yet hugely significant in terms of mortal years. By this time Jamie had undoubtedly grown up more, even though he hadn't actually seen the boy. Maybe even had a girlfriend now. Who knew!
Sometimes, during the lonely nights when he found himself perched on an isolated rooftop overlooking the world, Jack wondered if the years had made Jamie forget him. The more positive side of him said of course not. Jaime had always had just faith in him and in their adventure. What they - what he and all the Burgess children had shared could not be so easily forgotten; yet he still wondered.
How he would like to see Jamie again.
And Jack himself? For his part, he had become a great deal more used to his role as Guardian in that short amount of time he'd had it. He spread his snowy fun where fun was needed and heralded the winter season, leaving when the rays of spring arrived and the first flowers poked their colorful heads out of the wintery ground. And he was doing a remarkable job if he did say so himself- much to Bunnymund's chagrin.
"But is this awesome feat any bit surprising to the others? It shouldn't be, right? They invited me and they should know the mighty Jack is capable of everything." He muttered to himself as he made one last lap around the city, making sure every square inch was covered in a soft layer of snow.
It was true. Guardian was a big fancy title, as most people believed, but it was far from easy despite seeming all sweetness and light the brochure offered. But Jack never was the type to be all stiffness and duty. Oh no, far from it! Jack Frost is, after all, the Guardian of Fun. And fun is the polar opposite of work. Fun had no deadlines. Fun had no waiting list. It happened where it happened and, in Jack's opinion was the second most powerful force on earth, next to belief.
And so Jack Overland Frost remains as he's ever been - the most carefree and youthful of spirits - even though things are finally different, finally better for him. He had a role. He had friends. People who believe in him. And, for these short, idle days, there was peace in the world.
But it wasn't going to last.
A month later found Jack hovering idly several feet above the front of a kindergarten school, perching on his spindly staff like a bird, ready to swoop down on unsuspecting children who here just being let out of confinement (known otherwise as classes) and being led across the street by their preoccupied parents. Many of them happily held their mum or dad's hands, as they were too young to walk by themselves. Some were bunched up together in little flocks, chatting away about the day and teasing each other until someone would come and pick them up.
Grinning mischievously, Jack raised his hand and directed a passing cold breeze to tickle the cheeks and tousle the hair of the children running to and fro below him. Not too chilly of course, only enough to make the little girls giggle and the boys whoop for joy.
A group of them raced each other in the snow-strewn lawn right outside the open doors, shoving each other good-heartedly before bursting into laughter. It was kind of endearing to watch and made Jack smile lightly, fondly recalling his memories with Emily. The times when she had whooped and tussled with him in the snow. The times when they had both run in from the cold, stamping their boots and blowing on their fingers with great loopy grins on their faces. Every time a new winter comes, especially the time when snow falls, Jack would be reminded of Emily, of his family, of what used to be his life. He didn't mourn it - he didn't belong to it anymore, after all. But there wasn't sadness, for he knew that Emily was saved in the end, and all the more because he knew she'd remembered him and loved him.
"Lily, your sister is here!" Jack was pulled out of his musings by the voice of a teacher with a loose strawberry-blond bun. One of the smaller kids raised her head in the call's direction and obediently climbed off the slide she'd been playing in. She couldn't be more than four years old.
Taking the teacher's hand, Lily was guided to meet a long-haired girl, dressed warmly in a coat and sweater - her elder sister, most likely. Upon seeing the older girl, Lily screamed recognitive joy and barrelled into her outstretched arms. Her sister's smile shone brightly as water under sunlight as she pulled little Lily up on to her hips, squeezing her into an almost motherly hug and whispering all sorts of questions she knew Lily wouldn't be able to answer all at once into her ears.
You'd think they haven't seen each other in 10 years...he thought, snickering.
The sister struck a brief conversation with the teacher before receiving Lily's school backpack and, swinging it over her shoulder, the sister took Lily's hand and took the turn next to the school building.
Jack's short attention-span had already transferred to the other children by the time Lily's sister had released her from the initial embrace. He was thinking of prompting the children into a game of footprint tag, or maybe impel them to make a snow sculpture! Jack readied himself to make a descent. His bare toes curled around the staff and he spread his arms for balance as he tilted forward, teetering on the edge of an invisible precipice. That was when he heard something that nearly startled the life out of him.
Jack snapped around with enough force to throw him off the delicate balance he'd been maintaining. A person with lesser agility would have been taken advantage of by gravity and dropped six feet to the ground. However, with quick reflexes, Jack steadied himself weightlessly. Turning his staff, once more he perched on it like a sparrow, only this time only this time he was glancing around at the empty air around him. An unfamiliar someone had whispered in his ears. But he saw no one.
After a moment, he decided he must be hearing things and turned his attention back to the ground below, only to hear that echoing voice once again.
Follow them, Jack...
Jack raised an eyebrow. "Who's there?" He called. No answer came.
Who did it belong to? The whisper moved gently through the air, like leaves brushing the pavement. It sounded very calm, yet had an urgent note to it. Above all, it didn't sound hostile.
Catching a burst of crisp wind and gliding upon it, he went after the two sisters. There was no harm in doing it, he decided, and perhaps it would be fun. And although he probably wouldn't admit it, he was curious. What did the owner of that voice want with these two? And why would Jack be the one to find out?
Intent on finding an answer, he coasted across the sky on a gentle meandering breeze, silently watching as they treaded slowly forward on a pavement side-by-side, hand protectively in hand. All the while and way, Lily's free fingers pointed to the landmarks she could remember on the way home. There, a huge house with a cheerful swing in its green garden. And there, a flag that has such a funny shape on it hanging high! Such was the innocence of a child's mind.
Her sister answered happily each time the little girl asked a question and, though Jack couldn't hear their answers, he could tell that she was trying her best to humor her sister while making sure they both didn't slip on the road. But she was apparently patient, and also smiled encouragingly when Lily showed off the new rhyme she learnt that day. She began telling stories of her friends at school, rapidly changing subjects with infectious enthusiasm until she had grown quite tired of talking.
"Look, Lily. Can you see the snow falling?" Her sister suddenly said as she gestured the sky above. "It seems we have much of that this winter."
Lily imitated her sister and looked up to the sky, while her sister gently brushed off the snow on Lily's chullo hat.
"I like snow." she whispered softly.
Smiling, her sister lovingly patted her head. "Me, too."
Both sisters gazed in awe at the soft downy falling snow for a moment before a woman with her arms full of shopping pushed past them, muttering about the blasted cold.
Lily's sister laughed. "Alright little bear, let's get you home and into some warmer clothes."
They turned off the main road and started hiking up the gentle slope of a hill into a quite pretty neighbourhood, where houses nested pleasantly beside each other. Finally, they halted right in front of what Jack assumed was their home - a regular, quaint house with a small, tended garden. The elder sister pulled out some jingling keys from one of her pockets and following a cheerful 'click' pushed open the front door and ushered Lily to take off her boots.
Right behind them, Jack was lingering uncertainly just above the gate. He'd followed them this far and, contrary to his expectations, saw nothing out of the ordinary. Surely nothing could be demanded more of him now. Jack almost shook his head and berated himself for listening to a voice that he was convinced now did not exist. But then, just as Jack was wheeling around to leave, the voice uttered yet again with persistence.
Hurry, Jack. Come. Don't let them out of your sight...
"You know, it would be so much nicer if I know why I have to follow them." He muttered to himself.
They were already at the house. Tightening his grip on his staff, Jack put on a burst of speed. Just in time, as he slipped in, right as the door closed.
This is my first ever fan fiction and probably the one I am most devoted to. I've been harbouring this story ever since I saw RoTG many years ago. I know I put the story originally as Adventure and Fantasy (because it is!). But somehow I feel this is a story of friendship and, dare I say it, romance too! No story feels complete without some sort of relationship centred around it, right?
I hope you enjoyed the prologue. Looking forward to writing next chapter!
*Note: Lines in italics indicate the character's thought.
Or 'This story includes':
- Certain references the book series (though the story is largely inspired by the movie)
- Awesome ice users and authentic folkloric figures.
- The complete cast of Rise of the Guardians
- Baby Tooth
- A girl who does not swallow nonsense
- And a familiar fun-loving winter spirit ;)