Beginning New Journies
One month to the day since the fall of the Queen, Sandy hovered over Tooth as she rested silently within her palace. He glanced back to see Hiccup, Gustav and Eliza appear out of a snow globe portal with several satchels full of teeth.
"Here you go…" Hiccup said as he wiped a brow. "Any changes?"
Sandy sighed inaudibly, shrugging lightly. He held her hand, gently gracing his thumb over her skin. Some of the color had returned to her feathers, the children beginning to once again have faith and believe in her. However, she had not yet awoken, and the guardians and company had taken up collecting teeth while she and her fairies remained in this state.
Merida arrived then with Rapunzel, Eugene and North's elves, briefly kissing Hiccup before they all got to work organizing the teeth. Hiccup kept an organized log, and Merida directed the elves to place the teeth in their proper cases.
"He's still so upset…" Rapunzel frowned, gently petting Pascal sitting on her shoulder with her finger. "He and Baby Tooth really liked each other."
"Yeah… poor little guy. I hope they can wake up soon… I can tell you that they're a lot better at this than we are…" Eugene replied.
Merida nudged an elf that was goofing around, shaking her finger at him. "Stop your dilly dallying, little laddie!"
As she was doing this, they heard a light gasp, looking back to see Eliza dragging Gustav over towards where Sandy was. The dream guardian's eyes were wide, his breathing quickening as he witnessed the color in Tooth's feathers returning fully, along with their healthy sheen. He gently touched her face as a healthy glow returned to it as well, and a moment later, bright pink eyes met his as they slowly cracked open. He stood absolutely still, the others stopping what they were doing to come to her with the same shocked, but overjoyed, expression.
"Tooth?" Eliza broke the silence first. "… Can you hear me…?"
"Eliza…?" Tooth blinked a bit, Sandy waving his hands lightly as she tried to sit up.
"M- Merida, go get North and the others…" Hiccup said, Merida giving him a nod as she used her crystal to get back to the workshop.
In the meantime, Sandy scrambled as he tried to explain to Tooth everything that happened, his emotions boiling over as he gently took her face in her hands to plant dozens of kisses. Tooth burst into giggles as she became more aware, holding Sandy back a bit. "Alright, alright… Sandy… I'm right here. Everything is going to be okay now."
"We thought you were a goner." Hiccup frowned lightly. "We've been trying to bring you back for weeks by collecting teeth and storing them for you."
Tooth blinked, looking past him to see the elves still working. Satchels of teeth rested along the walls of her palace, and she smiled softly as her fairies began to wake. "You… you collected all of these teeth yourselves?"
Moments later, another snow globe portal opened up; North, Jack, Alice, Bunny and Wick all emerged from it, the Christmas guardian laughing heartily upon seeing Tooth alive. He scooped her up, hugging her tightly as tears brimmed in his eyes. They all rejoiced as they joined in the group hug, Alice chuckling as she even joined.
"My dear Tooth… how happy I am to have you back with us. It simply was not the same without you… and I'm sure Sandy is happiest of all." North smiled.
"I'm happy to BE back." Tooth smiled, stretching out her wings a bit.
Pascal picked his head up when he saw something out of the corner of his eye, beaming as Baby Tooth flew up to him. The small fairy smiled widely and waved, leaving a kiss on his head before flying over to Jack excitedly.
"I missed you too, Baby Tooth." Jack smiled softly, gently holding the fairy in his hand.
"I can't believe you guys did all this work…" Tooth teared up a bit. "I… It's more than I could ask for."
"It's because we love you so much!" Wick beamed, holding his arms out to hug Tooth. Despite it being a bit uncomfortable, she chuckled as she appreciated the gesture.
They all welcomed Tooth and the fairies, the long awaited moment finally arriving. Jack glanced over at Bunny, nodding to him. "Wasn't Emily with you earlier?"
Bunny sighed a bit then. "She's helping out Pitch- er, Kozzie with something."
"Elsa…" Jack breathed before blinking, snickering. "W- Wait. Did you call him Kozzie?"
"It's just a nickname going around, yeah." He laughed, nudging Jack. "Shut your pie hole, you gumbie!"
As the group celebrated Tooth's return, the individuals mentioned were not able to do so. Anna and Kristoff opted out of helping with the teeth earlier that day, the princess sitting with her sister and Kozmotis within the castle of Arendelle. Emily paced around the room as he gently held the darkling queen's shoulders. Elsa gripped the sides of the chair, breathing heavily as she endured internal struggle. The atmosphere in Arendelle was not very joyous, Anna sighing lightly.
"She didn't mean it… really she didn't…" Anna said quietly, nursing a bandaged arm. "Kozmotis…" She spoke, everyone having gotten used to calling him by this name. "… it's getting worse. Elsa doesn't even remember her outbursts half the time anymore… she's losing who she is, and… I'm scared. She's scared."
"We must keep enduring." Kozmotis replied, tucking a strand of hair behind Elsa's ear as he kissed her cheek. "I will help her fight through this."
"That will no longer be enough to subdue the control the darkness has over her, father." Emily said, glancing at them. "And with the power she possesses, she is bound to cause great harm to her loved ones and her kingdom. Eventually, as it had happened to my father, she will fall deeper into the abyss and forget any source of love and light she ever had. She will be completely consumed by it."
Anna shook her head, her bottom lip trembling as Kristoff rubbed her back comfortingly. "There has to be something we can do…" She whimpered, beginning to sob. "There must be a way we can help her…"
Emily pursed her lips, exhaling slowly. "This may be a last resort… for he is very ancient, and not as strong as he once was thousands of years ago. He is even older than father and I. He once mentored North… he is his greatest and eldest ally. If we are granted passage into his domain, there may be chance he can help us. If not, the only way Elsa can be cured of the darkness is if, as my father had, she passes it on to another."
Anna stood then, her eyes widening a bit. "Who is it, Emily? I'll do anything, and… if they can't help us, then… then I'll take it myself."
"Anna, no! I'm not going to let you just stand there and be turned evil!" Kristoff frowned.
"And I'm not going to stand here and watch my sister suffer!" Anna exclaimed, turning back to Emily. "Please, take us to this person."
Emily glanced at her father, who stood and gave her a nod. "Very well. I must first speak to North, and then we may be led to him." She responded.
The following day, North agreed to help aid Emily and Kozmotis bring Elsa to Santoff Claussen. He entered the same way they had last time, Anna and Kristoff having joined them as well. The two of them looked around at this mysterious and majestic land in awe and fascination, not having been seen by many a human. They finally approached the inside of the great tree, the Spirit of the Forest smiling as she greeted North.
"I suspect that the gift I provided you served you well?" She asked.
"Yes, very much so." North replied, thanking her. "However, I am here to ask for Ombric's help. A dear friend of ours is greatly afflicted."
The Spirit frowned lightly. "He is very weak, as you know, North." She responded. "But he is always willing to help those in need, especially you. You may go to him."
North nodded, taking the small group as they ascended the stairs, leading to the top where Ombric sat. Katherine sat and tended to him, smiling upon seeing North. When she saw Kozmotis, her smile faded, her eyes widening as she jumped to her feet.
"There is no need to fear, Katherine. This man is no longer Pitch Black... this is the man Pitch Black overtook. Kozmotis will cause you no harm." North said.
After a few moments, the young woman calmed, trusting North as she sat down. "How were you able to overcome the darkness? It had afflicted you for so long, drove you to do such evil things."
"It was unfortunately passed... to the woman I love, in an attempt to save her." Kozmotis replied, bringing Elsa forward. "That is why we're here."
Ombric sat up, coughing deeply. "Do my eyes deceive me? The great General Kozmotis Pitchiner has returned... after all this time?" He chuckled weakly. "I can sense the light emanating from you. However... I have heard your plight and wish to help. The trouble is, that to expel such great darkness takes much power. And in its wake, life would need to replace it."
"Please... tell me it is possible." Kozmotis breathed.
"Hm..." Ombric sat in thought, a hint of sadness in his eyes as he smiled. He looked over to Katherine, taking her hand and patting it lightly. "My dear... I have lived almost as long as time itself. Mine has been fading slowly for so long, but... the end has come."
Katherine's eyes widened, shaking her head as tears began to fill them. "No, you can't!" She cried, looking back as the Spirit placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Listen to me closely, Katherine. Upon my end, I leave Santoff Claussen to you and the Spirit of the Forest. If you should ever need aid, call upon the guardians. They are our closest friends." Ombric said.
"I will." Katherine said, hugging Ombric. She wiped her eyes, taking a step back as the wizard turned to face the group.
"Bring the girl closer, Kozmotis." Ombric said. He did so, Elsa breathing a bit laboriously as Ombric held her hand. "The darkness has not festered for too long within her... and she still has much love within her heart... and around her. Tell me your name, child."
"I- I am... Elsa... queen of Arendelle..." She replied. "Please... I don't want to put my family in danger."
"Ah... yes, much of her still remains." Ombric nodded. "I must make arrangements." He spoke, coughing into his other hand. "As you all know, time made me its keeper many ages ago. To extract this darkness from Elsa and contain it, I shall expend the last of my power... my life shall fade from this world and extend into the beyond. Before I become one with the stars, I must choose another to keep time. Time must always have a keeper." He smiled then, looking at Kozmotis. "You and Elsa both, I sense have suffered through much tragedy, and you have both overcome great adversity, and the light has returned to you. You both have much to make up for the suffering you have endured, but you more so, Kozmotis. As the new keeper... you would certainly have good opportunity."
Everyone gasped except for Anna and Kristoff, not really understanding Ombric's meaning. "You would choose my father to keep time?"
"Yes, Emily. A man as great as he, who once defended light and love, deserves an equally great life from all he has overcome. You were made to perform many evil deeds, Kozmotis... it will take that long for those wounds upon yourself, and those the darkness within you affected, to heal. And from this moment forth, never shall you be afflicted by it again." Ombric said. "If you accept... then eternal life shall be granted upon you, and Elsa as well."
Kozmotis glanced around, biting his lip a bit. He stopped when he felt someone take his hand, looking over to see Emily smile and give him a nod. He returned the smile, giving her hand a squeeze.
"Your mother would have encouraged me just the same." He said softly before turning back to Ombric. "If it will benefit the ones I love… then I shall do it."
Ombric nodded, smiling weakly as he extended his hand to Elsa's forehead. "Once I extract the darkness, and contain it… you must place it somewhere no one shall ever find it."
"Hm…" Kozmotis pondered. "The lair… my old lair, deep into the ground… I can place it there." He said.
"Very well." Ombric said, and North smiled sadly as he nodded his head to him. "North, my old friend… I shall look upon you and the guardians from the stars."
"And I will always look up to you as I do the Man in the Moon for guidance." North replied, wiping a tear from his eye.
Ombric closed his eyes then, a dull glow illuminating around his hand and extending to Elsa as he drew out the darkness from within her. In its place, as her skin became ivory once more and her hair regained its light color, her dress did not return to its signature blue color. Instead, it swirled with patterned fabric and furs, flowing down to the ground with long, loose sleeves. Everyone gasped in awe, her headdress crowned with crystals, diamonds and sparkling clear jewels like the twinkle of snowflakes reflecting light. Kozmotis looked down at himself as his red and gold robes began to change color as well, silvery and shimmery silk accented with blue patterned, intricate stitching replacing it. The hem extended, the collar extending as well into a long hood. His scythe, which had become gold after he was no longer the nightmare king, changed into a silvery wood material, the blade reflective and clear. As all of this happened, Ombric's physical form disappeared, becoming a glowing orb and ascending upwards into the sky. They all watched, North placing a comforting arm around Katherine as she wiped tears from her face. He soon became one with the stars in the sky, the light dividing to make a constellation beside that of the parents of the Man in the Moon. After a few moments of silence, Anna snapped out of her stupor, crying tears of happiness as she hugged her sister tightly.
"Elsa… I'm so glad you're alright…" She wiped her eyes, smiling as she took a step back. "You look so beautiful… not that you weren't beautiful before, I- I always thought you were… it's just now, you're-"
Elsa laughed, smiling brightly. "I understand…" She leaned forward, kissing Anna's forehead. "Finally… we can be a family, happy and safe…" She took Kozmotis and Emily's hands, looking to each of them. "… all of us."
Kozmotis cleared his throat then, taking a step back before taking Elsa's hands in his. "This… may or may not be an appropriate time, I'm not quite sure… and I don't quite care at this point." Elsa blinked at him, tilting her head. "Elsa… I reflect on our journey together, and all of the trials we have faced. Through all I forced you and your loved ones to endure in my time as Pitch Black… among many others of course… you remained faithfully by my side. Despite my attempts to sway you from me, you remained. Despite the pain I inflicted upon you, the danger I placed you in… you still found love for me in your heart… and your love was the light that drew me out of the darkness once and for all. We have been given this… incredible gift of life and longevity, and… I am filled with joy because… I want to spend every moment… from this one, and every one after that time offers… with you." Elsa's breath caught in her throat as Kozmotis lowered to his knees, still holding her hands. "It would be the greatest honor… if you would accept my hand… my heart… my soul… every part of me, and allow me to accept every part of you, in matrimony."
Anna beamed, squealing happily as she clung to Kristoff's arm. "Elsa!"
Elsa cleared her throat. "A- Alright Anna, let me-"
"He asked you to marry him!" She exclaimed, smiling from ear to ear.
"I- Yes, I know, let me just-"
"Say yes!" Anna squeaked as she could not contain her excitement.
Elsa breathed out a laugh, trying to keep her composure. "I will give my answer, just let me speak for a moment…" She took in a deep breath, trying to tune out her sister bursting into overjoyed giggles as she tried not to giggle herself. "Kozmotis… I happily accept your offer, and I would love nothing more than to become your wife-" Her sentence was cut off when he stood to his feet, gently pulling her into a loving kiss. Everyone surrounding them joined in the happy moment by clapping, congratulating the newly engaged couple when they broke their kiss. After some time, Kozmotis turned to Emily, his smile fading a bit when Emily smiled sadly at him. He drew her into a hug, exhaling slowly.
"My dear… I hope you are not unhappy." Kozmotis whispered.
"I am, father… I shall always miss mother. But… I am frightened that this is all some cruel dream…" Emily replied.
"No, my dear… as Sanderson will tell you, there are no cruel dreams." Kozmotis replied, kissing her forehead.
In that moment, they all realized that for all the agony and despair that had been laid upon their paths, that the jagged edges that stung underfoot had passed, smoothing out for a more fulfilling and wholesome journey ahead. Hopes and dreams that would have been dismissed as impossible had become a reality that day, and it was a destiny they had all come to embrace gladly.
When the elder waved her hand, Hiccup beamed, pulling Merida close and sealing their marriage with a tender kiss. Everyone who was in attendance in Berk cheered and applauded, and the dragons surrounding the crowd all lifted their heads to shoot fire into the sky. In addition to the entire village, all of Merida's family and their friends; the guardians, Kozmotis and Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Rapunzel, Eugene, Eliza, Emily, and they even managed to get Ralph and Vanellope to attend after they had returned to the arcade and made things right.
Upon returning, Vanellope discovered her true place in Sugar Rush as a born- well, programmed leader, and when the two described their adventure, the entire arcade saw the two former misfits and outcasts in a new light. Ralph was named a hero, and all the nicelanders, even Gene, were… nicer to him.
Needless to say, they were far more appreciated and liked now than before they were thrown into the perilous and dangerous adventure they had experienced.
Now, Vanellope was one of the many out of place characters being observed curiously by the Vikings, and Ralph raised a brow when Ruffnut stared up at him like a lovesick puppy, running her finger along his forearm.
"So muscular…" She muttered, giggling lightly. "They call me Ruffnut the Remarkable… what do they call you, handsome?"
"More like Ruffnut the Revolting, seriously, you're going to make him throw up from your ugly!" Tuffnut shouted from a few yards away.
"Shut up, idiot!" Ruffnut exclaimed, taking an axe and hurling it at her twin brother, missing his head by mere inches.
"Missed me, trollface!" Tuffnut laughed before walking off.
Ralph winced, tugging on his shirt collar as Ruffnut turned to smile back up at him. "So, you were saying?"
"U- Uh… I'm Ralph, the uh… wrecker…" He replied as he cleared his throat.
"Oh… you can wreck me any day, big boy…" Ruffnut giggled as she licked her lips.
"Alright, we're going to just go over here now- and I don't mean you!" Bunny shot a look at Ruffnut as he guided Ralph away, the female Viking groaning with disappointment. "She likes the larger blokes, that one." Bunny laughed.
"Thanks…" Ralph said, blushing like a tomato as he rubbed the back of his neck. "So… are you and Emily still…?"
"Oh yeah, we're doing great… and now that ol' Kozzie doesn't want to skin me, everything's peachy. He and Elsa are getting married soon too."
"That must be nice…" Ralph smiled sadly, earning a light pat on the shoulder from the Pooka.
"Hey, come on mate… you'll find yours someday. Must be plenty to pick from in that virtual world of yours." Bunny said.
"Well, there was someone I did like… but she likes someone else…" He sighed lightly. "To tell you the truth… I have a thing for blue chicks. Don't ask me why, but…" Ralph admitted.
Bunny laughed at this, but all in good fun. "Would've never guessed it, mate."
As they spoke, Alice and Jack had just finished congratulating Hiccup and Merida when she felt a light tapping on her arm. She turned to see Emily standing behind her, smiling lightly. "Emily, a pleasure to see you as always." She nodded.
"I should say the same for you, Alice." The two had become a bit closer, daring to even go as far as calling each other friends. The forest nymph led the young woman off to the side, taking a stroll around the village. "I heard you have been doing quite well for yourself as a guardian."
"Yes… I've been trying to reach out to children to help guide them in times of confusion and uncertainty… it is hard for children afflicted with trauma and tragedy to make sound decisions. I like to think of myself as the voice to point them in the right direction. I've finally found a way to help the children, to truly be a guardian to them. It's not as conventional as the others, but… it's important in a child's life nonetheless." Alice said, stopping to smile up at Emily. "And my center…? My true center… is justice."
Emily nodded slowly, her smile growing. "I'm impressed by your progress. You've truly fit in well among their company."
"Thank you for that sentiment." Alice nodded politely. "And what about yourself? How has your forest recovered?"
"It is nearly complete." Emily replied. "But I must tell you now… I do not plan to remain there once it is."
Alice tilted her head. "I don't understand."
Emily chuckled lightly. "I wish to relocate myself to the Warren. Bunny and I are mates now, and it is his wish as well as mine to remain close to each other. This leads to the subject I desire to discuss with you."
"Oh?" Alice raised her brows. "What is it?"
"As I shall no longer remain in my vast forest… I wish to leave it to someone else in my place." She smiled lightly. "All guardians require their own domain to call their own. Sandy has his island, Bunny has his Warren, Tooth has her palace and North his workshop. But you, and Jack, have none. I wish to bestow my domain upon you both."
Alice's eyes widened in surprise, humbled by the gracious offer. "Upon my word… that is an incredible gift to accept… I… I do not know how to repay you for it."
Emily held one of Alice's hands in hers. "You have encountered many horrors in your short life, Alice Liddell, and you fought through every last one of them. You deserve a sanctuary, a place to call your own alongside the one you love. I have finally found my happiness… and now it is time to also find yours."
Alice smiled softly, nodding and patting Emily's hand. "Then I accept your gift with gratefulness and appreciation."
"I hope that the Wonderland that has so long endured your struggles with you can finally be seen for its beauty and splendor. A world that magnificent within a brilliant mind such as yours should be tangible." Emily said.
"I really don't know how to thank you." Alice smiled kindly.
"You already have with your loyalty and friendship." Emily nodded, turning when Merida announced that she was about to throw the flowers.
Bunny approached Jack, the ice guardian whining a bit when his hair was ruffled. "Cut it out, Bunny!"
The Pooka laughed. "Hey, never a dull moment, huh?" He said, Merida giggling as her mother handed her the bouquet of flowers.
"Yeah..." Jack said, glancing up at him. "Bunny, I... I'm glad we're friends."
"Me too, mate." He tilted his head. "Hey, everything alright?"
"Yeah, it's just... after everything with... with Alice, and the Queen, and..." He sighed. "You hated my guts in the past, I just don't see why you don't hate me even more now-"
"Hey, hey." Bunny stopped him, holding his shoulder. "Our quarrels in the past are just that, quarrels. We didn't really know each other then, we were a pair of dumb blokes."
"Guess some things don't change." Jack chuckled a bit as Bunny elbowed him lightly. "But I guess you're right..."
Before Jack could say anything else, Merida tossed the bouquet back, not realizing her strength as it flew over the crowd of women that had gathered, and the ice guardian blinked when it landed right on Bunny's ears. He glanced from the bouquet to Bunny, the women all looking at him and groaning to themselves. Jack started to snicker, inhaling sharply before bursting out into laughter. Bunny rolled his eyes, shoving his shoulder with his own as he pulled the bouquet off his head, turning around to where Alice and Emily were. Emily raised a brow, smirking lightly when Bunny held out the bouquet to her.
"Some beautiful flowers, m'lady?" Bunny asked as he smiled crookedly.
"Come now Bunnymund, surely you know I can make far more vibrant ones with a wave of my hand..." She took the bouquet to hold it. "However, I will simply appreciate the kind gesture." She chuckled.
Hiccup laughed as he joined Merida, sighing contently. "You are just... so beautiful." He said as he kissed her, and behind them, Valka gently side hugged Elinor as the Scottish queen teared up. Beside them, Fergus tried to retain his composure, holding back tears.
"Oh Fergus, there's no need to hide your feelings." Valka smiled gently.
"I- It's just... Merida's an elf now... look at her, Elinor, my beautiful lass is an elf!" Fergus burst into happy tears. "The heavens above has blessed m' darling girl!"
Elinor pinched the bridge of her nose. "He reads a LOT of fairy tales..." She rolled her eyes.
Vanellope burst out laughing as she joked around with Eliza, Gustav, and some of the dragons, Toothless sniffing her curiously and blinking as she glitched from the ground onto his back. "Giddyap, dragon!" Vanellope cried, giggling. "How do you start this thing up?"
"That's NOT how you ride a dragon." Gustav said as he crossed his arms.
"Don't worry, we can teach her." Eliza smiled at him. "You taught me well, didn't you?"
"Yeah..." Gustav smirked, blushing lightly when Eliza kissed his cheek.
Later that evening, all the guests stayed in Berk after the celebratory feast ended. After everyone went to sleep, Vanellope snuck out to Hiccup's hut, finding Toothless downstairs. She was about to wake him when she felt a light tapping on her shoulder, turning to find Kozmotis.
"Let him sleep." He smiled lightly. "You shouldn't be here anyway, I'm sure Hiccup and Merida are continuing their wedding celebration upstairs." He chuckled lightly, not expecting the child to know what he meant as he led her outside. As he did, he looked up at the moon, a gentle smile gracing his features.
"I'm glad you're good now." She smiled. "I'm still gonna call you Kozzie though, Bunny made up that nickname and it's funny." Vanellope giggled.
"I'm somehow not surprised." Kozmotis rolled his eyes playfully. "And I must offer you my congratulations on your new presidency in Sugar Rush, young lady."
"Thanks! I'm friends with all the racers now, and the players think I'm awesome!" She chirped. "Finally, I'm a real racer!"
"Indeed... you always were, Vanellope." He smiled.
"So... I guess we both found our happy ending, huh?" Vanellope smiled, sitting beside him as they looked out on the lake.
"No... no. This is not the end, Vanellope... it is a new beginning... for all of us." He said gently.
As they watched, a shooting star soared through the sky, Kozmotis smiling warmly as he watched Vanellope gasp with awe. It reminded him so much of Emily's fascination as a child... and knowing he had her back, he felt all the lighter. Indeed, a star was its most beautiful in its fall; for just as Emily had, it was not a fall into darkness and despair, but the star was a seed to be planted, the growth that would spring allowing new opportunities and goodwill to come to fruition.
Jack's eyes darted all over, taking in the environment around him. He was the very first to see work Alice had done, nodding upon viewing the completion of Alice's new domain; Wonderland had been drawn out of her mind and made a reality.
"Wow..." He breathed. "It's exactly how I imagined it."
"You mean how I imagined it." Alice laughed, wandering forward as they stood near her waterfall in the Vale of Tears.
"Right, right... so where are all your friends?" He asked.
"Still slumbering... it will take some time for them to wake. And thank goodness for it, I'm not yet ready to listen to all of their nonsensical babbling." Alice replied, turning around to face him. "There is a special place I wish to show you, first."
"Should I be worried?" Jack chuckled.
"What is it about intimacy lacking romance that worries you?" Alice giggled.
Jack blushed at this. "N- Nothing, it's just... who knows, you may have something creepy poking around."
"I assure you, nothing shall harm you here." Alice took his hand, kissing it before leading him forward. They traveled through the surrealistic landscape, enjoying each other's company.
"So... it was nice of Emily to give you her forest." Jack said.
"Indeed, more than I could ask. Far too generous." She replied.
Jack noticed they were beginning to enter a colder location, looking around at the beautifully sculpted statues of ice. Alice had remade the area to look far less dreadful, as she had done with all portions of Wonderland of course, and Jack beamed when he saw a large statue of himself in a courtyard like area. He looked up, a glowing moon with aurora lights shaped into angel wings radiating their essence outwards in waves.
"Alice... this is... this is beautiful." Jack spoke quietly, spinning around to try to get a good look at everything.
"Thank you. Come, I'll show you where you will be staying." Alice said to him.
"W- Wait, staying? You're letting me stay here?" Jack asked.
"Why is this all such a surprise to you?" Alice laughed.
"Because... this sounds kind of corny, but... it's too good to be true." Jack smiled.
Alice rolled her eyes playfully. "There's one last thing I want to show you now... you'll have plenty to explore on your own time." She said before motioning for him to follow her.
She led him along a path, reaching a small village setup. As they reached it, Jack slowed to a stop, his eyes widening as memories flooded his mind. "This... this is my town..." He breathed, continuing onward. "There's the meeting bell... and the community fire pit, and the mill... and then just around the corner would be-" He stopped, Alice moving aside to allow him to look upon the small cottage. He slowly extended a hand, blinking as he opened the door to see his childhood home just as he remembered it. "... I used to tell Eliza stories here... all the nearby kids used to come. We had so much fun every night." He smiled softly, walking around a bit more before turning, exhaling sharply as he drew out a laugh. "Alice, how did you-... how did you do all of this?"
"I took a fine look into your memories... it wasn't very difficult from that point on." She replied as they went out to sit on the small porch, gazing up at the beautiful sky.
"Alice... this is your home now, though. Why do all of this?" Jack asked.
"Because YOU are a part of my Wonderland now, Jack." Alice smiled. "The most important part of it, I daresay. For hundreds of years after your noble sacrifice for your sister, you lost your home just as I had. Well, perhaps not in the same manner, but... we were both homeless wanderers, searching for purpose, for love, for life." Jack smiled as she rested her head against his shoulder. "Now... we finally have a place to call home."
"Yeah..." Jack smiled, his arm draping around her shoulders and giving them a gentle squeeze. "A nice reward for all we've had to deal with in our lives."
"I couldn't agree more." Alice replied before the two sat in simple, peaceful silence.
As both would discover, the fall of their enemies would leave them with a mind as clear as the sky on this night. Though much change had transpired for the group of heroes, it was all for the better. They all had much to live for, and now they had all the time in the world to do it. What dangers and evil that life would present to them, they would have fought alone, or in lesser numbers in the past. Now, their family had grown, and they were all ready for what the future brought them.
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