A/N: Heeey everyone! :) Welcome to the last chapter of Frosted Ferns. I've actually had this chapter written down before I even finished writing the whole story, and now I'm really excited that I get to post this. I'm also actually pretty sad to see the whole thing go, but I'm happy that I managed to finish something with a few original works slipped between movie chapters. I suck so much at plot . . . I need to figure out how to do it. -.-
You have no idea how much courage it took me to click the button to update.
And did no one really figure out the relationship between all the quotes? I thought it would be a bit obvious, haha. The quote in this chapter doesn't have any type of link to the others, by the way. :p
All my heartfelt thanks waits for you at the bottom. I love you guys.
"I think it's important to have closure in any relationship that ends — from a romantic relationship to a friendship. You should always have a sense of clarity at the end and know why it began and why it ended. You need that in your life to move cleanly into your next phase."
— Jennifer Aniston
"Your assignment will be to research your family trees. Projects will be due in one week, on February sixth," the teacher chirped brightly. "They must include PowerPoint or a Prezi, and you can bring in some family artifacts to go along with your presentation."
Jamie grinned as the teacher rattled off some more expectations with the project, like how their ancestors came to the United States, along with any traditions they might have.
As far as Jamie knew, his family had been here in Burgess forever. This was the perfect excuse to go searching for some more legends and myths that could go along with his ever-growing journal.
The bell then rang, signaling the end of the day. "Okay, guys, go pack up," the teacher said, even as everyone began gathering their books.
At their lockers, Jamie could hear Pippa and Cupcake animatedly talking about whatever they knew about their family trees, and Claude and Caleb bemoaning the fact that they were given a project. Monty was just quietly observing the two groups, clearly wondering which side he should take.
Jamie knew that he was excited, though. And his excitement grew even more as he walked out the doors of Burgess Middle School with his friends and was met with light snow flurries.
"Jackie's here!" Jamie yelled, eagerly running down the front steps. On the last step, though, he tripped and would've fallen flat on his face if it weren't for a pair of cold hands gripping his waist.
"Hey, slow down, kiddo," an amused-sounding female voice chuckled. "Don't wanna hurt yourself."
Jamie laughed sheepishly as the girl he had begun to view as an older sister set him gently back down. "Thanks, Jackie."
The Guardian of Fun was looking like she was trying not to crack up, her blue eyes sparkling with laughter. Her ever-present staff was at her side, glittering from the sun reflecting off of the ice coating it.
"Anytime," said Guardian replied with a grin, reaching over to ruffle his brown hair.
"Jackie Frost!" Pippa said in wonder. "You going to give us a snow day soon?"
The Guardian smiled, ceasing her "torment" of Jamie's hair. "Nah, not yet. Mother Nature hasn't called for any big storms in this area anytime soon."
"Enough to give us something to play in?" Claude and Caleb wheedled.
Jackie seemed to contemplate this as she leaned on her staff. Then she sighed. "Oh, fine. Expect about a foot on Friday, okay?"
"Yes!" they all cheered.
Jackie smiled wryly. "You kids are going to be the death of me . . ." she muttered, absently twirling her staff.
"Walk home with us, Jackie?" Jamie pleaded.
She winked. "Was planning to do that anyway!" Then she walked a few paces ahead. "So what's this about a family tree project I keep hearing about?" Jackie called over her shoulder.
Jamie and his friends scrambled to catch up with the white-haired girl. "Oh, it's gonna be so cool –" Pippa started, but Caleb interrupted.
"You're excited for a project?" he asked incredulously, while his twin stared at her like she'd just grown another head. "Are you kidding me?"
The taller girl crossed her arms and scowled. "Hey, I just think it's going to be interesting for once! It's not every day you get to learn about your family history."
Before Caleb could retort, Jamie intervened. "I think it's kinda cool . . ." he chipped in.
Pippa smiled. "Thank you, Jamie. At least someone gets my drift."
Jackie laughed. "I think that project might be pretty fun, too. I'd do anything to be able to learn about my family."
The conversation coasted away from the topic of projects, and pretty soon, Caleb and Pippa were speaking normally to each other as if the previous argument had never happened. Jamie still couldn't take his mind off of Jackie's last words, though.
But to save the Guardian of Fun any embarrassment or stress, Jamie didn't ask Jackie on the subject until everyone was at his or her respective homes. When the two went into Jamie's room, he burst from his curiosity. "You had a family?" he asked – well, more like demanded as he set his bookbag next to his desk.
Jackie set her staff next to the window and sat down on Jamie's bed. "Yup," she said simply, popping the "p."
Jamie sat down on his spinny chair and leaned his chin on the backrest, looking at her with irritation. There had to be more than that.
Jackie's blue eyes brightened mischievously, seeing his dissatisfaction. "Let's see what you can find first. Then I'll tell you everything."
"Jaaaackiiee . . ." Jamie whined.
"Jaaamiiieee . . ." she mimicked, her expression showing no signs of backing down. Then she became serious. "I promise I'll tell you, but I'm pretty interested in your history, too. I've been around for along time. I'm pretty sure I can give you some information about your family. Maybe I've seen them before—who knows?"
Jamie pouted, but he knew that he couldn't get anything out of the winter spirit even if he'd begged as hard as he could. He'd learned that a few months ago, when he tried to pry information from her about his birthday present . . . which turned out to be the journal that he now used to record all of the stories Jackie had told him about the legendary figures around the world.
Jackie had already written stuff in it, her neat, loopy handwriting filling up at least thirty pages of the tiny-looking book. "Just in case I can't tell you all the stories that I know," she told him, when he had flipped through the cream-colored pages. But when Jamie had glanced worriedly at the few sheets left, she had assured him that the book was enchanted so that the sheets would never run out, and would automatically add more pages in between each story just in case some additional information was needed to be written down.
"Stay here while I get my mom's laptop," he instructed, hopping out of his chair.
Jackie gave a firm salute. "Aye, aye," she said cheerfully.
Jamie half-shut the door and made his way downstairs. "Mom, I need the computer!" he called, hearing her bustling around in the kitchen.
"What for?" she called back.
"For a family tree project!" he yelled, going into the office to search for it. Once he found it, he announced as he was going back up the steps, "I'll tell you if I need you!"
When Jamie opened the door, he found Jackie flipping through a photo album. "Hey, Jamie," she said, waving a hand lazily.
"I thought I told you to stay here," he complained, though there was no real bite in his tone.
"Well, I thought that you might want this," the winter girl shot back, hefting the heavy-looking album off her lap. "It was in your parents' room. It has all the pictures of your ancestors, from what I could tell."
Jamie set the laptop on his desk and made his way to the bed. "So how far back does my family go?" he wondered, ignoring the fact that his best friend had broken into his parents' room.
Jackie shrugged. "I dunno," she said bluntly.
"I thought you were going through it!"
"I decided to start at the end, because I thought it'd be more fun that way," Jackie said matter-of-factly. "And also, I wanted to see pictures of li'l baby Jamie," she teased.
Jamie could feel his face heat up. "I'm going to start at the beginning," he muttered, snatching the book out of Jackie's hands. He sat down next to her, the winter spirit's natural chill seeping through his thick sweater.
There were a few portraits tucked into the pages of the album, but Jamie didn't pay much attention to them. It was when he stumbled upon a newspaper clipping from 1712 when he became interested. "'Seventeen-year-old girl falls into lake,'" he read aloud. He glanced over at Jackie to see if she might be interested in this, but she was sound asleep, unconsciously making frost snake along his bed sheets.
She must really be tired after that storm that she put down . . .
Jamie sighed, but turned on the laptop to see if he could find any more information about this newspaper clipping. It sounded quite similar to a Burgess legend that he'd read and copied down in the library a couple weeks ago . . .
BURGESS'S ETERNALLY FROZEN POND jumped out from the Google Search. Jamie clicked on the web link and was astounded at the story.
Rumor has it that there's something fishy about Burgess, and it's the pond that rests in the town! Tests on the pond show that it's been frozen solid for three hundred years, with no signs of ever melting. Scientists have been puzzling over this strange phenomenon for decades, but they haven't come close to discovering why.
There's been numerous tales about the reasons behind the pond, but this one seems to be the most popular. Three hundred years ago, an unknown girl fell through the ice covering the pond. And ever since then, it's been frozen solid. The legends say that she watches over that lake, preventing any other people from falling through it.
"What was the girl's name?" Jamie mumbled, flipping to the next page in the photo album. The page held a portrait of four people, a man and a woman, and two girls at their feet.
The artist who drew this was really good, Jamie found himself thinking. The expression on the oldest girl was extremely lifelike. Her brown eyes seemed to be sparkling with mischief, and her arms were wrapped around the girl in her lap. It was clear that they cared for each other.
Jamie glanced down to the words under the drawing: February 1704, The Overland Family – Jackson, Emeline, Jacqueline, and Emma.
"We'll always remember you, Papa, and Jackie" was written under the neat cursive in a childlike scrawl. The last two words were in a different handwriting. Jamie assumed that there was a period after the word "Papa" and the writer simply changed it to a comma. Did this mean that two people of this family died?
But Jamie shrugged it off, finding it interesting that Jacqueline Overland had the same name as Jackie . . . and that they looked so much alike, though Jacqueline looked about ten years old in this portrait.
Jackie has white hair and blue eyes, though, he reminded himself. And her last name's "Frost," not "Overland."
Jamie reexamined the clipping that was in the album. "'A terrible tragedy has struck Burgess,'" Jamie read aloud, his eyebrows furrowed in concentration.
A much-beloved member of our town has passed away. On December fourteenth, Jacqueline Overland, age seventeen, fell through the ice covering Burgess Pond. According to her tearful sister, Jacqueline died saving her. "Jackie told me that I'd be okay! But she never talked about herself . . ." cried the eight-year-old Emma.
Jacqueline was also loved by the other children in the village. "I'll miss the way she made me laugh when I was sad," Mary Hughes said, tears also present in her eyes.
"She will be greatly missed," said Emeline Overland before gently closing the door of her house.
It seems like just yesterday that Burgess was mourning the loss of Jackson Overland due to influenza. The two members of that family contributed much to the town. Their bright spirits will both be shining in the stars.
Jacqueline is survived by her mother and her sister.
Jamie examined the family tree listed in the back of the album. He found Emma Marie Overland connected with the name Seth Aaron Bennett near the top, and his name at the bottom. He traced the line from Emma's name to his and was surprised to discover that he was a direct descendent from the sister of the "Guardian of Burgess," or Jacqueline Cornelia Overland.
"Hey, Jackie, look at this," Jamie said, shaking the sleeping spirit's shoulder. But she didn't stir. "Jackie," he repeated, louder this time. "Jackie!"
At this, ice-blue eyes shot open. "Huh? Whuzzat?" she said groggily.
"I found something cool about my family history," Jamie told her, pointing at Emma Overland's name. "I'm related to the 'Guardian of Burgess.'"
"Who's that?" Jackie said, her eyes still dazed with sleep.
Jamie glanced back at the newspaper clipping. "Um, some girl who fell through the lake three hundred years ago. She was one of my ancestor's sisters! Isn't that cool?" he asked excitedly, looking at his best friend.
At his words, Jackie seemed to get even paler than she already was. "You're related to Emma?" she said in a strangled voice.
Jamie was a bit confused by his friend's reaction. "Yeah . . . why?"
The blankets began to get covered with a thicker layer of frost as Jackie struggled to control her breathing. "It's . . . it's just that—" Jackie swallowed, then gingerly picked up the portrait of the Overland family. "That's my sister," she said quietly, pointing at the chubby, smiling infant in Jacqueline's lap.
It took a while for that information to sink in. Then Jamie exploded. "That's your sister?" he yelped, flinging his arms out and accidentally whacking Jackie in the face. "Oops, sorry," he said quickly before plowing on.
"S'fine," she mumbled, rubbing her nose.
"So if that's your sister, then you're the girl who fell through the pond! You're the one who keeps the pond frozen all the time!" Jamie realized.
Jackie nodded, still clutching the picture of her family. "I actually thought you'd be more excited to know that I'm your great-great-great-great-something aunt," she said dryly.
Jamie's eyes bugged out at this information. "I'M RELATED TO JACKIE FROST!" he yelled. "I'm related to a Guardian!"
Jackie laughed. "And so is Sophie," she reminded him. "Wait 'til Bunny finds out," she said with a gleeful smile.
This was the last straw for Jamie. He fell off the bed and started laughing.
Jackie left when Jamie's mom called him down to dinner. "I'll come by again soon," she promised, as she hovered outside his window. "Don't forget, I still owe you guys a snow day on Friday."
Jamie, Sophie, and their mother sat at the table. "Bless Daddy on his trip to California," Sophie said solemnly, after they said grace.
"Bless Daddy," their mother agreed before asking Jamie, "So what did you find out about our family?"
"Oh," he replied, stabbing a carrot with his fork, "a lot of things."
"Like?" she prompted.
"The legend about Burgess's pond," he listed, "and that we're related to the girl who fell in it." And that I'm related to the Guardian known as Jack Frost, he added silently.
"That's cool," his mother said, spooning some peas onto Sophie's plate.
"It is," Jamie agreed.
And when he got back upstairs, Jamie grabbed the journal from its position on his bedside table. Pulling the Always Sharpened Pencil (the writing utensil that had been part of his birthday present) from the holder on the book, he began to write . . .
Jack Frost has been around for a long time. And no, she's not a guy, and she definitely does not nip at noses (though she does threaten to tickle me every once in a while . . .). Her name is Jacqueline "Jackie" Overland Frost, also known as my aunt, sister, and best friend. :)
Oh yeah, forgot to mention this—she's also part of the Guardians of Childhood, which consist of Nicholas St. North (Santa Claus), E. Aster Bunnymund (the Easter Bunny), Toothiana (the Tooth Fairy) and Sanderson Mansnoozie (the Sandman). They work together to protect the children of the world.
Jamie wrote on for about half an hour, before concluding:
I believe in the Guardians, because believing . . . is seeing.
Jackie smiled softly as she left Jamie's house and flew to her pond. "So you're still here after all this time, Emma?" she asked as she spread another layer of frost over the already-present ice.
When she finished, Jackie landed lightly on the frozen surface, iced branches spiraling out from her touch. She stood directly in the center of the pond, the same spot she fell in three hundred years ago. She looked up into the night sky, at the full moon. Its light bathed her in its brilliance.
Jackie closed her eyes—blue eyes that used to be a warm brown. "Thank you," she whispered into the stillness. Who she was thanking, Jackie didn't know. All that mattered was that Emma's family lived on because of her, and that Jacqueline Cornelia (and she laughed silently at the absurdity of it—was that seriously her middle name?) Overland Frost would guard and watch over each passing generation until the end of time.
Snow blanketed the streets of Burgess that night.
A/N: And that's it! We're done. ^w^
Wow, I seriously cannot believe I managed to complete something . . . I'm so scatterbrained I'm surprised I made it to the end. But I couldn't have done it without all of you amazing people's support and belief in me and this story. I love you guys, and I can't get over how amazing you all are. :')
And it's funny because I originally just posted this thinking that it would be nice to write something Rise of the Guardians-related, since I recently got into the fandom late May. I have my Spanish teacher to thank for showing my class the movie during the end of the year last year. This movie is now one of my top three, with How to Train Your Dragon (both of them!) on the list. ¡Muchas gracias, Señora! Me encanta la película. :)
And by the way, check out my new "story," In Separate Stars, which is a collection of one-shots about Jack (yes, he's male in this one :3) and the Guardians. Requests are always welcome, and I hope to see some of you there! ;)