Disclaimer: I own zilch. Nada. Zero. Nul. 'Ole. NUTTING! (That last one is koala789ish for Nothing.)
"Jack, I'm scared!"
"I-I know, I know." The brown-haired teen took a step towards his sister. He winced as the ice groaned beneath his feet. "But you're gonna be alright. You're not gonna fall in." His eyes nervously flicked down to the ice. "Uh," He tried for his classic, playful smile. "We're gonna have a little fun instead!"
The child shook her head. "No, we're not!"
"Would I trick you?"
"Yes! You always play tricks!"
He carefully took another step towards her, trying to laugh. "No—Alright, well not," He held a hand towards her in a placating gesture. "Not-not this time. I promise, I promise you're gonna be,"
His sister's fearful green eyes snapped up to him at his hesitation, begging for an answer.
"You're gonna be fine. You have to believe in me, Lily."
Her lower lip trembled, and she nodded.
Jack looked around the ice, trying to think of a way to save his sister. He knew the ice was thicker to her left. She should be safe there. The only trick would be getting her over there…
He grinned. "You wanna play a game? We're gonna play hopscotch!" He straightened. "Like we play every day."
Lily relaxed a bit, smiling.
"It's as easy as, uh, one," He took a step and winced as the ice began to crack beneath his feet. Glancing at Lily's frightened eyes, he leaned forward and flailed his limbs, pretending to lose his balance. "WOAH!"
As she laughed, he took his next step. "Two," The ice held firm beneath his weight. Smiling, he looked ahead, and saw a twisty, wooden crook. "Three!" He landed beside it, stooping to pick it up. "Alright," He held the hook out towards her. "Now it's your turn. One,"
She took a step forward with her skates. But the step wasn't large enough, and her foot began to slide back towards her, the ice cracking further.
"That's it, that's it." Jack began to move the hook closer to his sister. "Two,"
Lily took another step, and the ice began to cave beneath her, and she started to lose her balance, gasping.
She won't make it by herself. "Three." Jack whispered, reaching out with the staff. He caught her around the waist, and pulled towards him with all his might.
She shot past him, landing on her stomach on the thick ice.
In the process, Jack had switched places with Lily, but he had gotten away from the thinning ice before. He could do it again. For now, he was just happy that is special sister was safe.
Lily opened those green eyes and looked up, meeting his brown ones. She grinned.
Jack straightened and returned the smile, starting towards her.
Without warning, the ice gave way, and he fell into the piercing cold water.
"Jack!" Lily scrambled towards the hole in the ice, and began to search. Jack was a good swimmer. Surely he'd be back up in a moment, laughing and making jokes. But that familiar blue hoodie was nowhere to be seen.
He'd been under the water for nearly a minute. He couldn't hold his breath much longer than that. "Come on, Jack, come on!"
Jack can't die. Lily thought determinedly. Her only other sibling was Petunia, who thought she was a freak. And her only other friend was Severus, but they had only just met. If Jack was gone… No. She couldn't think like that. He would come back. He had to.
But as long as she waited, nothing happened. The water's surface became still, with nothing but darkness below.
As yet another person passed through Jack, he pulled himself away from the crowd. So no one can see me, or hear me, besides the moon. He snorted. That's kinda depressing.
Hand pressed to his chest, he started to walk away.
He froze, and turned around.
The voice had been far away, and blocked. There was no way that they had seen him, especially given what had happened so far in his tiny life. Even still, the idea that someone would know his name was exciting.
"Wind, take me to them." the winter spirit whispered.
The cool breeze strengthened, and pulled him into the air, shooting him back the way he came. He closed his eyes, trying to forget the awful sensation of living, breathing people walking through him, as if he were nothing more than a ghost. The fun-filled spirit almost forgot what he was doing, and the wind blew him into a window with a loud Thump.
Jack scrambled for a handhold, pulling himself up onto the ledge. He rubbed his forehead beneath his snow-white hair. "Ow…"
He almost took off again, but hesitated when he heard the conversation happening inside.
"…And he didn't come back up!" a girl with red hair finished, tears flowing out of her emerald green eyes.
"How long did you wait, Lily?" asked an older man who was presumably her father. "You know Jack can hold his breath for a long time—"
"I waited for an hour! He didn't come back!" She broke down in sobs.
Another young girl, probably the first's sister, glared. "This is your fault. You're supposed to be 'special' and have magic, and yet you couldn't save him from the ice!"
"Petunia!" the mother exclaimed.
"Jack was trying to save me!" Lily shot back at her sister.
"He shouldn't have! We'd all be better off if you had been the one to fall through the ice, not him!"
Jack knelt down, opening the window. He knew they weren't talking about him by now, but he couldn't stand to let this child feel bad. The Other Jack had saved this girl, and Petunia was angry at her for it.
But he was also confused. This girl, Lily, had magic? Maybe it was like his. Either way, he didn't want to leave. He wanted to help her.
Her bottom lip quivered, and she ran away to her room. Jack hesitantly followed.
"Why did you have to leave, Jack?" she cried into her pillow. "Why?"
Jack stopped at her window, looking back at her. "Maybe you lost one Jack." he whispered. "But you gained another one. I'll stay with you, and make sure that no one will ever hurt you. You deserve better than that." He touched the glass, and frost spread across it. "Besides, I'm sure it's what Other Jack would want me to do."
Jack woke from his dream, staring at the moon. If only things were as simple as they had been then.
It had been nearly twenty-six years since that fateful day.
He remembered following her to Hogwarts, and learning magic along with her. Only a teacher named Dumbledore had ever caught a glimpse of him. After that encounter, he'd steered clear. Something about those piercing blue eyes had set him off.
He remembered pelting James Potter with snowballs, and decorating the Gryffindor common room window with frost. One day, for fun, he'd even written Hi Lily. on it, causing the girl run around, questioning every other Gryffindor while Jack laughed.
He had followed Lily everywhere, making sure she was protected. He had watched her grow from a nine-year old girl grieving over her brother, to a powerful witch, and to a mother.
But then, the Dark Lord had come, and killed both her and James. And Jack could do nothing but stand by and watch.
Filled with guilt, he had left, flying all over the world for years on end. He had met the other guardians, and helped them defeat Pitch. And he had gotten his first believers.
Now, two years later, he was doing what he was created to do—protect the fun in children. But nothing could seem to heal the hole in his heart.
The whole time he had been with Lily, he had been convinced that he had no relation to her besides being her guardian. But when he had gotten his memories back…
Jack shook his head, shooing those thoughts away. He was in Burgess now, where his believers were.
He looked up as familiar, golden sand drifted through the dark sky. Smiling, he stood on his tree branch and shot through the air towards the Sandman.
"Hey Sandy." he greeted his friend.
The golden man grinned, then formed an arrow of sand above his head, pointing to the sky.
Jack's eyes followed the symbol, and saw the ribbons of color cutting through the sky.
"North's calling us?"
Sandy nodded, sending out one more stream of sand towards a sleeping child below.
A question mark formed above his head.
"Great. Well then, see you at the Pole."
Sandy smiled, and turned his cloud of dream sand into an airplane.
Jack took off, flying towards the North Pole. Oh, if only Lily could see my life now.