Disclaimer: not mine
Glad people liked the start!
Anyone know why ffnet is having ads pop up part way through chapters now? Very distracting and annoying. Keep them to the top and bottom!
Some real world events referenced here to help establish the timeline
Jack carefully set the small plant into the soil, patting the excess soil back into place. Once that was done he concentrated and then snowflakes gently fell onto the soil, melting immediately. Learning everything he could do now had been gruelling but fun and Harry always encouraged him to think outside of the box, to push his limits.
He didn't know what would have happened to him without Harry, it wasn't really anything he wanted to contemplate. He'd learned all about how Winter Spirits were generally treated, and it wasn't right. Winter was a necessary part of nature and it was beautiful too. Every season had its own kind of beauty to him.
It was hard to keep a track of time, he didn't know how long it had been since he woke in the lake, but he didn't mind, there was so much to learn and do. At least here, Harry could see him, so could the dead souls who passed through. It was amazing to see people of so many different times and cultures and he would talk with them, learn from them. Seeing children was sad but he would play with them, cheer them up, so that they passed happily into the beyond. Harry said that was a sign he held some powers of Death. Just like how Harry's presence had called to him that night, comforting him when he'd been so lost and confused. He didn't mind being tied to Harry at all.
Harry stared at Jack and then laughed, pulling him into a hug.
"What…did I do?" he asked, bewildered.
"You used one of Death's powers," Harry answered, smiling proudly. "I can become totally invisible to everything and it seems you can too, except for in my case. Since the power comes from me that makes sense though." The fact it could keep Jack safe was definitely a bonus.
"Really?" Jack asked and Harry nodded, Jack grinning and whooping for joy. He was glad that Jack was happy to have gained powers from being partially dead. If anyone learnt of that, of his ties to Harry, they would likely fear and despise him even more than his Winter brethren.
Harry also wasn't trying to keep his powers from Jack which would explain how he had used it without trying. He could cut Jack off, but why would he? It was…nice, and the closest he would ever come to having an equal. With time perhaps Jack would become to Winter what Harry was to Death. Anything was possible with magic and Spirits. He never tried to tell Jack what should be impossible since that would limit his growth, he had to find out for himself what could and couldn't be done and if he ended up able to do things others believed impossible then it was their fault for limiting themselves.
It was nice, always having someone to come home to, to talk to. He had really come to care for Jack over the years. Despite his status, the other immortal teen was always so happy, ready to laugh and play but he could be serious when needed. He was even better than Harry was with the Souls of children, probably because he'd been a much happier child than Harry had ever been.
Soon Jack would be ready to leave his realm and see the living world for himself and Harry wasn't looking forward to that. What if Jack preferred it and never came back? It wasn't his choice to make though, it was Jack's. he would never try to lock Jack away like so many people had done to him.
Harry carefully settled the hooded cloak over Jack's shoulder. The cloth was soft to the touch but impervious to everything he could think of, the dark blue cloth embroidered with the symbol of the Deathly Hallows over a large snowflake. As soon as it settled over Jack, frost patters formed along the edges, getting an eye roll from Jack. Despite his control of his powers that always happened. Under the cloak Jack was wearing dark brown pants in the same style as the ones he'd died in and a loose white shirt. Staff in hand…he was ready to go.
He was also fidgeting nervously, and Harry smiled at him. "You'll be fine. Your powers are under control and you have learned to fight from some of the best to ever live."
"I'll be able to come back?" he asked, and Harry hugged him, enjoying the slight chill of Jack's body.
"Whenever you want, you know how. Just remembered, your body,"
"Will be different in the realm of the living, yeah." Jack took a deep breath. "Right," he whispered and the tapped the air with the crook of his staff, a glowing portal opening before him. With one last look at Harry, he stepped through, the portal closing behind him.
Harry forced himself to go tend his garden rather than tail Jack, he had to learn to be fully independent at some point.
Jack perched on a spire, staring in awe at the city sprawling beneath him. It was amazing! Where should he even start? He took a calming breath and stepped off the spire, landing lightly on the street, joining the crowd while being careful not to run into anyone, he didn't want to be walked through. Harry had explained what the sensation was meant to be like for Spirits and it sounded horrible. Lucky Harry didn't have that issue since he wasn't actually a Spirit.
He spotted a discarded newspaper and picked it up, able to read the language easily. It was a power he was very happy to have picked up from Harry, the ability to understand any language that was out there. The paper was dated March 15th 1881…which meant he had been a spirit for a bit over a century and a half! There was a war being fought by the British and Boers of the Transvaal. Good thing Harry had insisted he learn history and geography, or he'd have no clue where any of that was! The big news though, was the assassination two days before the paper was printed of the Tsar of the Russian Empire Alexander II. That explained the hushed nature of the city and the feeling of fear, not to mention all the men in uniform.
He set out to find the children, hoping to give them some joy under such bleak circumstances.
North pulled hard on the reigns as a blur nearly collided with his Sleigh, looking around and then he spotted a cloaked figure turn back, flying near the side of the Sleigh. The hood was pushed back to reveal a young face, not much passed a child himself.
"Sorry!" the boy called, clutching a staff in his hands. "I didn't see you. Are you okay?" Bright blue eyes looked him over then the reindeer and Sleigh.
From his looks and the cold wind, it was easy to determine he was a Winter or Ice Spirit, he seemed too powerful for a mere Sprite. He didn't deal much with Seasonal or Elemental Spirits, they came and went rather swiftly normally. As a Guardian, none would try to mess with him, but he had seen enough of their work that he did step in and stop them when they went too far. This one though…there was something different about him, and not just his apparent young age. The boy was nervous but…yes! There was genuine concern in those ice blue eyes. "Sleigh more likely to damage you than you damage it. Are you injured?"
"Bah! What is this Sir?" He shook his head, chuckling and the boy offered a hesitant smile in return. "Names are good." He motioned for the boy to come closer and he hesitantly alighted on the board that ran along the side of the Sleigh.
"But I don't know your name."
Well, that was a first. The boy had been human before becoming a Spirit based off his looks, surely he knew of him then? How new was he? "Nicholas St. North, call me North. Perhaps you know my name among the children, Santa Claus?"
The boy frowned in confusion before his eyes lit up. "Oh! You bring toys one night a year?" he asked and North nodded. "I'm Jack, Jack Frost. It's nice to meet you." Young Jack seemed content to hold on, so he allowed it, perhaps the boy needed a rest from whatever method of flight he used.
"And how old is Jack Frost?"
Jack thought it over, perhaps he was older than he first appeared? "Around 180 years as a Spirit? Plus seventeen years as a human."
North blinked, startled and the boy laughed.
"You thought I was younger, didn't you?" Jack shrugged. "I lived with Harry till 1881 so I haven't been around in the open very long."
North wondered who Harry was, another Spirit obviously. Perhaps one like Jack who had taken him under his wing. "Are you Elemental or Seasonal?"
"Not entirely sure?" Jack shrugged slightly. "Harry thinks I might be both. I spread frost but I can also make snow and sort of help snowstorms? I just mostly travel and help kids have fun."
"Bringing joy to children is worthy cause!" he cheered, and the boy grinned, relaxing more. "Are you going somewhere now?"
"Scotland, got a snowstorm scheduled."
"Come, sit. I will use shortcut for you," he patted the seat and Jack studied him before vaulting over the side to perch on the seat in an easy crouch. North grinned and pulled out a snow globe, shaking it. "I say Inverness." He threw it ahead of the Sleigh and the portal opened. North laughed as he heard Jack's whooping in delight.
Jack laughed and looked down at the city below. "That was amazing! You saved me hours of flying, thanks!"
"Your welcome Jack! I did almost run you over after all."
Jack grinned and shook his head, lifting up into the air. "Nice to meet you North!" he called and North waved back.
"Safe travels Jack!" He called after the boy, hoping he would see him again. The world could use more Winter Spirits like him.
Harry looked up as Jack practically blew in, spinning and laughing to drop down where Harry was sitting. "Having fun?"
"I met Santa!" he grinned, acting like a child and Harry smiled. "Well…okay so it was more I collided with his Sleigh in mid-air, but no one got hurt and he gave me a lift to Scotland, saved me hours!"
"Did he give you sugar too?" He teased and Jack stuck his tongue out at him.
"No…but he thought I was a kid."
Harry sighed. "My fault I suppose. Time doesn't really pass here for you so while you've learned and grown, you haven't really aged. Plus your only company is Fluffy, me, and the dead, you aren't used to socialising with those in the living world."
"Don't care," Jack shifted to lie beside where Harry was sitting.
"So, what's Santa like?" he asked, and Jack launched into a retelling of the whole encounter.
Jack sighed as he pulled up his hood and walked out into the black night, the clouds blocking all light, but that was okay, he didn't need it. He left no footprints in the fresh snow and even if he had they would have been filled in within minutes. The entire country had been suffered from a freezing cold winter, much colder than normal, he should have realised it wasn't natural sooner. Ice floes were not meant to flow down Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico. It definitely was not meant to snow in places like Tampa! He'd already dealt with the group of Sprites responsible and the blizzards were slowly calming, but now…he had to deal with the victims.
The four day blizzard had covered much of the country and many people had been caught unprepared. He could feel those who still lingered, knew Harry had worked during the storm to collect those who died while he was working to disperse it. Now he would help those who still lingered. He came across a young man first, barely breathing, frozen tears sealing his eye lashes shut. Jack could hear his heart struggling to beat, and reached out, cupping his face in one hand, the killing cold emanating from his own skin, and within seconds he was dead. It was kinder to do it quickly than let him linger, the Soul in pain as it fought for life. Jack saw the Soul take form outside of the body and gently sent him on to Harry's realm. Usually he would talk to the Soul but there were too many out there who needed help to take that time.
Finding a child whose head had been pierced by a large, very sharp, shard of ice almost made him sick. The woman in the river would likely give him nightmares of his own death even though he didn't remember it.
To Jack, the later named Great Blizzard of 1899 felt like the biggest failure of his existence. The official death toll was one hundred souls, he and Harry knew it had been higher.
North landed the Sleigh, stepping out to look around. He knew the blizzard that had covered most of America had not been natural and so he had come looking for Jack. He did not believe the boy responsible, but he did hope he may have heard something. Finding him…well that was not at all easy. But finally, the tracking spell had led him here. It was much harder tracking a non-Guardian, especially one he had only met once and briefly at that, a good thing he had taken him through a snow globe portal, or he never would have managed to track him.
He settled his coat and walked into the trees, miles from any town. He paused as he heard something…singing? He turned and walked in that direction and then he saw Jack. the boy was sitting in the snow, cloak spread about him and…a child in his arms. He saw the child's lips move but was too far away to hear, saw Jack nod, and then he pressed his lips to the child's forehead…and the small body went still. Jack held the body close, rocking, head lowered and shoulders shaking. His first instinct screamed that Jack had just murdered a child but…something held him back. There was something here he was not seeing.
Jack stopped shaking and stood, the child cradled to his chest, and then he began walking on top of the snow, in the direction of town. Once he was a safe distance away, North used a snow globe to reach the town. He saw Jack walk in over an hour later and approach a house. He gently laid the child before the door and used his staff to knock on the door, standing with bowed head as the door was opened and a man cried out in grief. The child was carried inside and Jack turned away, their eyes meeting. Even at a distance he could see the frozen tears on the boys face.
Jack looked away, walking back the way he had come, and North followed, walking silently back into the woods. Jack slowly pushed his hood back, leaning tiredly on his staff and now he looked his true age.
"Are you alright Jack?" he asked, and the younger Spirit blinked at him, surprised.
"Tired," he admitted after a minute. "It's been…a bad week."
"The storm," North nodded. "Is why I was looking for you, I hoped you might have heard who was behind it."
"They've been dealt with already. There was no reason for this storm…it hit areas totally unprepared for a small snowfall let alone this." He ran a hand through wild white hair before looking back at North. "Go ahead, ask."
"Was beyond saving but not beyond pain. Any season can kill but Winter… nothing could have saved him, so I ended the pain. He was six years old and he died for a bit of 'fun'," Jack spat angrily before taking a deep breath. "I need to go, more work to do." He pulled his hood up and vanished, startling North. He looked around but there was no sign of him, so he returned to the Sleigh. He would not speak of what he had seen with the other Guardians, Bunny did not think kindly of Winter Spirits, and he did not want them to think of Jack as a killer should they ever meet.
He paused as he saw a young man in a black cloak much like the one Jack wore, emerald green eyes meeting his. He felt a shiver right through his being at the presence he had. Who…or what was he? "Jack does not kill," the young man who appeared about the same physical age as Jack said. "He eases the passing of the dying and helps their Souls move on. It is a burden that must be carried by some or else the Souls would remain trapped in the world of the living. It is a burden I wish he did not hold and yet your precious Man in the Moon caused him to because he meddled in things he should not."
"You are Harry," North guessed, and the young man nodded.
"Unlike your benefactor, I could not leave him alone in a world he did not understand. I am sure you are aware of how most see Winter Spirits; I did not wish him to be alone. He likes you, Nicholas."
"I like Jack, he is bright but now I see he is also strong and burdened. The name Jack Frost is on neither Nice nor Naughty list. Where should deliveries be made?" he asked, seeing a flicker of surprise on Harry's face.
"There is a town called Burgess, in the woods there is a lake that is frozen year round, the birthplace of Jack Frost." Harry nodded, pulled up his hood, and vanished, just like Jack had.
North got in the Sleigh and returned home, he had much to think on and gifts to plan with little to aid in his choices. It was a good thing he still had ten months till Christmas.
Harry held Jack as he cried for everyone he had helped pass into Death. Perhaps it was cruel for Jack to help him, but Jack had insisted on learning to use his powers. He ran his fingers through fine hair and rubbed his back, not to quiet him but simply to offer comfort. Eventually the tears stopped, and Jack lay quiet in his arms. When Jack finally moved he surprised Harry, lifting his head and pressing his lips to Harry's. Oh…he really should have seen that coming.