I do not own Rise of the Guardians. I make no money from this work of fiction.
This story is a response to a challenge issued by Robin stories. The requirements can be viewed here:
i1225 [d-o-t] photobucket [d-o-t] c-o-m /albums/ee385/RogueMudblood/Permissions/ JackOverlandWarChallenge_zps4cad078d [d-o-t] p-n-g
So, this will be AU, it will contain character death, and there will be some bloodshed (it involves a war, after all). There will not be any romantic pairings. Because Jack's family is not explored greatly in canon, some liberty is taken with their characterization.
There will be some Christian ideology in the story. The northeastern English colonies had a Puritan background. New France had a Catholic background. Those elements will come through in order to explain some of the elements of the war in this piece.
A note on the cover: yes, the Union Jack is in the public domain.
For those who like to use Facebook to follow stories:
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Questions can be asked there, but I will remove abusive posts.
I do hope you enjoy the story, and I'd love to know what your thoughts are.
"Jackson Overland!" He cringed as his mother's voice carried over the frost-covered hill to him even while his high-pitched giggles floated back to her. He enjoyed hiding in the crevices that the terrain provided, his ear pressed to the ground. Though he shivered with the cold, he continued playing out in the snow. The cool flakes brushing against his face left him with the sensation of wet kisses as they melted upon contact. He giggled as he felt winter's gentle caress against his young skin. It was a clear contrast to the rough stone against his backside and the scratchy brambles of the bush covering his hiding spot.
The sound of his mirth carried on the wind. Footsteps pounded against the ground, the dull thuds carrying to the boy announcing the approach of an adult. He stifled his youthful mirth behind his small hands. His mother's shouts were closer, and he was almost certain she would find him in a moment. Though the minister at church would frown at his mother if she mentioned it, she had told him that there was nothing more important than finding time to spend with him. Jackson enjoyed their time together, even when it was like today, with the snow gently falling.
As soon as he spotted feet directly on the other side of his hiding spot, he jumped up. His joyful giggles quickly changed to frightened squeals as he took in the tanned deerskin leggings where he had expected to see his mother's legs in his father's knee-length breeches. Another set of footsteps sped towards him, the sound of Jackson's terrified screams causing the footfalls to increase in pace. Even with his mother's voice carrying to him on the wind, he remained fearful.
The sharp tang of the blade being drawn against the leather sheath as it was slowly slipped from the sleeve echoed in Jackson's ears. Even as his mother's hands wrapped tightly around his upper arms that noise was the only thing on which he could focus. He felt himself being picked up, recognized his mother's shadow falling over him as she placed herself firmly between him and the man who had found him. The only sound he could hear, even as her voice washed over him, helping to calm his young nerves, was that of the knife he was certain had scalped many men. Slowly, as his mother's voice continued, he broke from the daze which had consumed him.
"We have nothing to give you." Marie Overland was not given to foolishness. She was aware that the native in front of her could easily overpower her and take her son. She had no desire to know what the native would do to either of them if he chose to harm them. Being an intelligent woman, she recognized that dwelling on such things would be nothing more than a horrifying folly. She chose to focus instead on each moment as it happened.
The man in front of her tilted his head to the side. His eyebrows furrowed together as his lips turned downward. Marie nodded as she took slow steps backward, making sure to keep Jackson's body firmly behind her. It was clear to her that the man did not understand her words. He had not moved as she retreated. Hoping he would remain where he was, Marie turned. She hoisted Jackson into her arms and began to run back through the frozen countryside to their home.
She was aware that the journey took no more than half an hour when walking. Even though she was carrying her son, Marie knew that her running pace should get them there in half the time. With each step, her foot pushed deeper into the snow than normal with the addition of her son's weight. Her heart pounded, the sound of her blood rushing through her veins echoing in her ears. Jackson's gasping breaths were even louder to her, his rasping pants covering all other concerns as she ran.
By the time she arrived at the door to their modest cabin, her feet felt like solid blocks of ice from the cold that had seeped through the deerskin she had used to cover them. Her son's tears had soaked through the shoulder of her bodice, though she could hardly blame him. Once inside the cabin, she set him down, quickly returning to the door to bolt it closed as best she could. Reasonably certain that the native would not be able to enter the cabin without her being aware, Marie returned to her son, gathering Jackson into her arms. She cradled him as he wept, sobs wracking his five-year-old body. Rocking him gently, she shushed him. Her hand caressed his hair as she kissed his forehead.
Marie was entirely uncertain how long they had remained sitting on the floor. Once Jackson had calmed, she had simply cradled his body against her chest, not daring to move. When the creak of the floorboard greeted their ears, she knew that they were no longer alone on the property. Carefully rising with Jackson in her arms, she carried him to another room.
"Jackson." Though her voice was no more than a whisper, the tone was sufficient to rouse the young boy. She set him down, bending so she would be able to look directly into his eyes. "I want you to go pull down the bed and make sure the sheets touch the floor. Then crawl up underneath and don't come out until either your father or I come to get you." Tears welling in his eyes, he nodded and rushed away.
Turning into another room, she closed the door briefly, listening as the floorboards of the front porch continued to creak as the person outside walked along them. Not knowing how much time she had before they entered, she tried to remove the panel behind which was hidden their spare flintlock. Her hands shook as she pulled the firearm from its concealed crevice. As she dropped the pre-prepared ball ammunition, she clearly heard the creaking of the front door as the unannounced visitor entered.
She crouched down, picking up the ammunition. Her fingers trembled as she clutched the ball in her hand, the barrel of the pistol shaking as she loaded it. Once she had the weapon ready to fire, she positioned herself behind the door, the gun barrel barely poking through the space between the edge of the door and the wall to which it was attached. Marie closed one eye, allowing her to more accurately focus her aim.
The creaking noise of the floorboards as weight pressed down upon them preceded the deep thud of the heavy footsteps approaching her hiding place. Even being able to see her breath with each exhalation, she could feel the sweat forming on her brow. Reaching one hand up, she wiped the moisture from her forehead with her knuckles. Wiping the back of her hand against her skirt, she could not help but note the tension building in her muscles as she crouched. When the steps stopped just on the other side of the door, she bit her lip to keep from revealing herself. She was unwilling to waste the shot by firing through the door and possibly missing.
As the floorboard directly in front of the crack through which she was aiming groaned in protest of the weight being placed upon it, she prepared to fire the pistol. Her eyes closed reflexively as her finger tightened around the trigger. The shot went wide, missing the leg in front of her, but putting a hole in the opposite wall as her husband Zophar's voice rang out in the cabin.
"Marie?!" She scrambled from her position behind the door as he pushed his way into the room. His eyes glanced down to the flintlock in her hand before lifting to her face as she finally stood. His brow was furrowed with his confusion. "What...?"
"Mommy!" Jackson's shriek caused them both to rush out into the hall, Marie dropping the gun to the floor as she rushed to the back room.
Opening the door, she called out to him, hoping to calm his anxiety. "I'm okay, baby! Daddy's home and mommy's just fine." Even as the words reached his ears, Jackson rushed forward, nearly knocking Marie to the floor as she crouched down to catch him. Tears were streaming down his young face, his body shaking as she cradled him in her arms.
Leaning down to them, Zophar gathered his clearly frightened son up into his arms, allowing Marie to stand. "What's brought all this on then?" He walked back towards the front room of the cabin, Jackson's arms clasped tightly around his neck. He could hear Marie's movements in the background as she put the pistol back into its place in the wall. The dull thud of the wood as the panel settled back into place echoed in the cabin. Sitting down in his preferred chair, Zophar waited for Marie to enter the room. Her gentle footsteps seemed to hesitate before finally joining him.
Looking up to her, Zophar repeated his earlier question. Marie shrugged one shoulder before turning away from him and heading towards the fire to tend the bread. Moving it aside, she stirred the food in the pot over which it had been cooking before moving the bread back into place. She stirred the embers in the fireplace underneath the large pot, adding some kindling to the fire in an attempt to raise the flames.
"I set the food on earlier. Jackson only wanted to play a bit – completely understandable. So I let him go out in the snow, and when I came to get him, we played a bit. Like ghouls." Zophar nodded, his hand idly rubbing Jackson's back as the boy's sobs finally began to subside. "Someone else found him first." Zophar's hand halted in its actions for a brief moment before continuing to gently rub his son's back, soothing the young boy. "We got back here, quick as we could." She turned back towards the pair, seeing the worry on her husband's face for the first time.
Zophar very much wanted to comfort his wife at that moment. Standing slowly as he cradled their dozing son, he balanced Jackson's weight on one side, reaching his arm out to Marie. She walked over to him, letting his arm fall around her shoulders and taking comfort from his embrace. She let the tears fall, knowing that as long as she was able to hide her face there was no chance that their son would see them and know how much she had been truly afraid of the Indian who had come upon them.
Slowly exhaling a shuddering breath, Marie squeezed Zophar's waist before stepping away from her husband. Since she was turned away from them, she was able to wipe the tears from her face without either of them seeing. Drying her moist fingers against her skirt, she opened the dish cabinet, taking out bowls and spoons to set the table. She could hear Zophar moving around behind her as he roused Jackson so the boy could eat.
They went through the motions of dinner with minimal conversation. He washed the dishes himself while Marie helped Jackson bathe and get dressed for bed. Zophar knew that many men considered this a woman's chore, but he needed to take the time to think. He had heard that England had embroiled itself once more in war, and though it was their mother country, he could not help but hope that this war, unlike the last, would not have devastating effects close to his home.
He had been truly afraid with Marie being pregnant with Jackson just as the last war ended. Only five years later, and the French were once again attempting to expand their empire in Europe, meaning he would once again be forced to defend himself and his family from the enemies to the north and possibly west as well. The thought terrified Zophar, something he was not afraid to admit.
He had managed to avoid being pressed into military service in the last war because they lived outside the major settlements. Though Zophar was born English, and he would die English, it did not mean he wished to die in a war declared by the English.
After drying the dishes and putting them away, he bathed with a wet cloth as well, simply washing away the day's grime before using a towel to dry himself. He readied himself for sleep, smiling as he found Marie already turning back the covers on their bed. They lay beside each other in the bed for several moments, silence radiating in the room. She slowly gravitated towards him, his arms opening willingly to embrace her. He could feel the tears soaking into his night shift as she buried her face in his shoulder.
When her breathing had finally evened out as her sobs ebbed, Zophar gently ran his hand through his wife's hair, fingertips grazing her scalp lightly. The measured strokes served to lull her to sleep. The repetitive motion that served to soothe her also allowed him to dwell on thoughts he did not wish to spend any time contemplating.
The last thought he had before falling to sleep was the realization that try as he might, Zophar would not be able to keep this war from reaching his family.