Disclaimer: I do not own Bridge to Terabithia.
Okay people, I only watched the movie—like twice, and cried my eyeballs out both times. This is a Leslie DID DIE oneshot with a twist. Plus, remember, I never read the book, saw the movie twice a while ago---so this is really my version of Terabithia. Okay? So THIS IS MY ALTERNATE VERSION OF TERABITHIA, but I still hope you like it. This has bugged me since watching the movie and going 'there's no way Leslie just died like that'…why would Terabithia let its Queen go so easily?
INFO: WHEN I SAY "PORTAL" or "Mid-World", it's the Terabithia Jess and May Belle know, and when I say TERABITHIA it's the REAL TERABITHIA beyond the entrance---or the Portal and Mid-World.
Leslie Burke hadn't been surprised when she'd awoken after the terror of unending water and found herself in Terabithia. And yet, this wasn't exactly Terabithia as she'd once known it, this Terabithia wasn't hidden waiting for one to open their psyche and see the truth in the shadows. This was the true Terabithia, and she was its Queen.
The creatures of Terabithia welcomed their Queen to their true home, the home of which the 'Terabithia' in which she would play with Jess was just a preparation. Long had the kingdom been without monarch, long had DarkMaster terrorized the Terabithians into submission, and as they came to her with their plights Leslie understood why they'd allowed the rope to break, for the water to consume.
As all knew, water was the conduct between worlds, it facilitated entering through each plain, and as her body had remained in the portal, her essence had returned to Terabithia, to the true Terabithia—because the Terabithians needed their Queen.
And so she immersed herself into gathering her people together from where they'd been scattered, she'd built up a kingdom from ashes of confusion and fear, and with her leadership Terabithia began to flourish once more and she was happy.
That wasn't to say that she didn't miss those she'd left behind in the other plain---didn't miss her parents—her King.
She did, she missed Jess unlike anything she understood, and because of that she would steal out into the night and cross over the threshold despite the danger her people were worried would befall her by DarkMaster, and she would enter the Terabithia she'd once known—the Terabithia in which Princess May Belle now reigned and was being prepared to one day cross over as well.
"Hello Princess May Belle." Leslie smiled the first time she'd crossed over and found Jess' sister and the newest princess in the Mid-World that was the Terabithian portal in the human plain.
The young girl looked up at the voice and gasped, eyes wide. "Queen Leslie!"
Leslie smiled deeper. Apparently the fairies and the creatures had trained May Belle well, the child had even spoken to her by her title.
"But—but you're dead!" May Belle exclaimed in shock.
"In this plain I am." Leslie tilted her head to the side. "But I am not in the real Terabithia. I was brought over to reign as their Queen there, and I have been busy." She bit down on her bottom lip, looking around and not finding who she sought. "And King Jess? Why isn't he here with you?"
May Belle looked uncertain before reaching for Leslie's hand. "Come."
Leslie squeezed the hand of the child, voice catching in her throat when they cleared the trees and came upon Jess. The rope was gone, and a bridge had been made to facilitate the crossing from the mortal's world to the gateway to Terabithia, and on this bridge sat Jess.
It'd felt as if it'd been forever since she'd seen him, and she couldn't help but call out for him. "Jess!"
And yet he didn't seem to have heard her. He sat on the bridge, legs hanging overboard, dark hair falling into his face as he concentrated on what it was he drew on the paper in his lap.
"Maybe---he didn't hear me?" Leslie whispered to herself as May Belle and her grew closer.
"Jess!" May Belle called.
Immediately Jess looked up at them and smiled slightly.
Leslie's heart raced.
"Hey May Belle, are you ready to go back already?"
Leslie froze, as did the young May Belle. Why was Jess ignoring her? Was he angry with her for leaving? Didn't he realize that it hadn't been her choice? That Terabithia had needed a monarch and felt that she was the one who should journey through the portal into the true kingdom?
"No." May Belle shook her head, confused. "Aren't you going to talk to her?"
Jess looked confused. "Talk to who?"
"Queen Leslie of course, silly!" May Belle exclaimed.
A cloud of sadness covered Jess' face as his smile vanished and he looked away. "I'll talk to her when I go visit her grave tomorrow." Something in him had seemed to shut off at her name, and he returned his attention to the picture he drew.
"He can't see me." Leslie whispered as she finally understood, letting go of May Belle's hand and going to sit next to Jess, feeling her heart hurt. She raised her hand hesitantly and brushed away a lock of hair from his face, wincing when he looked right through her, mumbling about the wind. "He cannot hear me."
"He can't?" May Belle's eyes widened.
"He can't what?" Jess asked, looking up through Leslie.
"You." May Belle frowned at her brother. "You can't see her!"
"See who?" Jess was frowning as well.
"Me." Leslie whispered, eyes on the drawing of her in his lap. She quickly shot a look at Jess' face and then to the drawing pad on his lap, turning the pages and seeing drawing after drawing of her. In some she was smiling, in some she was dancing, in others she ran and in some she was with him…and in all of the ones with them both he was watching her, sadness and longing in his face.
"Stupid wind." Jess muttered, closing his notepad and getting up. "May Belle, we should go home."
"But Queen Leslie--!" May Belle protested.
"Don't." Both Jess and Leslie said at the same time.
"He can't see me." Leslie got up as well, looking at her King in sadness. "He hurts because of me. Don't speak of me, Princess May Belle, don't hurt him further."
May Belle bit down on her bottom lip, large eyes filled with tears as she nodded, took the hand her brother offered her, and let him lead her away.
Leslie watched them leave, her blonde hair flying in the wind, silent tears making their way down her cheeks.
She returned to Terabithia and immersed herself in ruling it justly and keeping her people safe from DarkMaster and his creatures. The days turned to years, and her body shifted, growing, turning into that of a young woman as if she still lived in the mortal plain.
Leslie would sometimes return through the Portal to the Mid-World to speak with May Belle, and what she heard disturbed her. Jess came less and less to the Mid-World, and soon he didn't come at all, wouldn't speak of Terabithia. He didn't have friends, didn't want any, and all he did was draw.
"I wish he would come and see Terabithia once more, it would stop the nonsense he's been doing." Leslie whispered one evening as she sat in the garden with May Belle, braiding flowers into the younger girl's hair, grinning and reaching for another flower from the fairies, who flittered around them happily, picking flowers for the princess' hair.
"He needs to see you." May Belle countered. During the years she'd grown up into a perceptive young girl, and with the tutoring of the creatures and of occasionally Leslie herself, she was promising to be a great princess. "He needs to remember the magic of Terabithia, he is its King! He should act like it."
Leslie paused, frowning as she remembered the whispers that were going on in the inner sanctums of Terabithia. The people and creatures all spoke of how their king had abdicated and left them, how the empty throne next to Leslie's shouldn't be reserved for him any more.
They spoke---they spoke of the future, a future she didn't wish to contemplate. She was approximately 16 years old in mortal years, she didn't want to think about the duties a Queen had to her people. Duties such as providing an heir to ensure that DarkMaster couldn't take over once more in case some evil should befall her.
She didn't want to think of the possibility of Terabithia needing a King---not if this King was not Jess.
For her it was a mockery, a farce.
Jess was the King of Terabithia! None other should be given that position!
And yet Jess had abandoned them, no longer believed that Terabithia had ever existed.
Why, Jess? Leslie closed her eyes in pain. Why do you not want to remember our adventures here?
"He's at the graveyard now, again." May Belle whispered, turning and looking at Leslie as if she expected her to do something. "He needs to see you, Leslie, he needs to know that you're still here."
"He can't." Leslie whispered, pushing away from May Belle and standing up, stubborn. "I came back to him and he couldn't even hear me. He didn't see me, didn't sense I was there with him. He called my touches the wind."
"Show him that it isn't!" The younger female demanded, standing up also. "Terabithia has lost its king and I my brother!" Tears fell down her eyes, which were still so large and filled with innocence. "You're alive while dead—and he's dead while alive!" Desperation thickened in her voice. "You can bring him back!"
"I don't know how!" Leslie immediately regretted raising her voice, slumping her shoulders in defeat. "I think this is the last time I shall cross over."
"What?" May Belle whispered. "Why?"
"Terabithia needs my full attention." Leslie sat back down, hugging her knees to her chest. "DarkMaster is rallying his troops to do something evil---I can feel it in my bones. The air is dank with the smell of evil and danger."
May Belle sniffed the air and yet couldn't sense anything.
"It won't be safe for you to be here alone." Leslie whispered. "He will try to hurt you. As long as I am unwed and without a child you are my heiress."
"C-child?" The 14 year old gasped. "Are you going to get married? But you're too young!"
"Not in Terabithia." Leslie tried to smile, but she knew that it wasn't a true smile. She hadn't smiled a true smile since the day she'd realized that her King couldn't see her any more.
"Please, go to the cemetery, please!" May Belle was urgent. "Talk to Jess! Make him see you! Please! You made him King of Terabithia once, make him the king again!"
Leslie sighed. "Why do you think he'll be able to see me tonight when all other times he hasn't been able to?"
"Because tonight is Halloween."
Leslie's eyes widened. "All Hallows Eve." She turned to May Belle with a smile. "Maybe---Maybe---I will try it!"
She'd accompanied May Belle to her house because the darkness was overwhelming and who knew when DarkMaster could have one of his creatures attack. After making sure that the young princess of Terabithia was safe in her home, Leslie took in a deep breath and for the first time since passing over, she looked at her house.
Another family lived there now.
She wondered what had happened to her family.
Wondered what had happened to Prince Terrien, the royal Ogre Hunter and her once faithful dog---gift from her king, Jess.
Gulping back the beginnings of regret, Leslie walked down the streets she hadn't walked for what seemed like an eternity, amazed at how life had gone on without her. She watched children dressed as monsters as they went trick-or-treating, she saw some of her old schoolmates who'd grown older as had she, and finally, she passed the cemetery.
At almost the back row a small light burnt.
Tilting her head to the side, her blonde hair falling passed her shoulders, Leslie picked up the hem of her dress and a bare foot stepped out onto the holy ground as she made her way into the cemetery, passing graves of others long deceased and wondering where their spirits had gone.
Surely they were not in Terabithia or she would have come across one of the few human Terabithians who mentioned life in the mortal world.
No, the mortals who died must have gone on to other realms.
"I still miss you."
Peering in the direction of the light, Leslie recognized the voice of her King and she carefully made her way towards him, anxious, her stomach in knots. What if he still couldn't sense her, couldn't hear her, couldn't see her despite the fact that it was All Hallows Eve? The one night when all those of the other plains ventured into the mortal world?
She paused when she finally came upon her king, sitting on the grass by a tombstone, a battery-operated lantern resting by him as silent tears stained his cheeks.
From behind him, Leslie turned her gaze to the headstone.
She bit down on her bottom lip to keep back a sob.
"You were the only one who ever really understood me and I left you alone that day---I wasn't there for you when you needed me the most." Jess whispered in a choked voice. "I miss you so much."
"I miss you too Jess." Leslie whispered tearfully without even realizing she'd spoken.
And then it happened.
Jess froze and turned to look at her, eyes widening. "Leslie?"
And a large smile broke out in her face as she walked to him and went down on her knees, his wide eyes tracking her every movement. "You can see me."
Jess turned, facing her, face looking ecstatic and unbelieving as his eyes ran hungrily over her face. "Y-you're really here! I—can I touch you?"
"I don't know. I can touch May Belle, but she has been able to see me from the first." Leslie whispered, raising her palm, fingers spread wide, waiting anxiously only to laugh when Jess pressed his palm against hers and she could feel it, that laugh grew as she curled her fingers through his and squeezed.
"I can't believe it." Jess whispered, his voice a little deeper with maturity. "Leslie, you're here."
"I always have been, silly." She smiled genuinely for the first time in a long time. "You just haven't been able to see me."
He raised a shaky hand and cupped her cheek, his thumb softly caressing her cheek. "How is this possible?"
"All Hallows Eve." Blushing and not understanding why, Leslie ducked her gaze from his face and cleared her throat. "Why haven't you gone back, Jess? Why won't you go back to Terabithia?"
He didn't answer, instead he shifted closer to her. "Are you---are you okay? Leslie? Are you---you're in h-heaven, right? You didn't go to hell just because you didn't believe in the bible and Jesus, right?"
She grinned. "I'm in Terabithia, Jess. In the real Terabithia. My mortal body might have been left here in this plain, but when the waters raged and consumed, my essence went to Terabithia and I am Queen!" She pulled away and stood, twirling around in the moonlight. "I rule in a castle and I have a throne by mine, an empty throne." Leslie threw herself back on the ground next to him. "Your throne."
"M-My throne?" The 16 year old boy stuttered, looking at her oddly.
"You're the King of Terabithia, Jess." She leaned forwards, her face nearly touching his, trying to stress what she was saying. "Our people think that you have abandoned them, that you no longer want to be their king." The pretty young blonde pulled away and sat on the cool grass, frowning slightly as she looked away. "They want a King, Jess, and they want me to find him."
"A king?" He whispered.
She nodded, hugging her knees to her chest. "I am a Queen without a King, and DarkMaster is rallying his troops to do evil once more. He's been silent for too long, and we knew that he was planning something, and while we don't know what's going to happen, I know that our people wish to have a King as well as a Queen to lead them into battle."
"Battle?" Jess frowned darkly. "Leslie, what are you talking about?"
"The battle for Terabithia, what else would I be talking about?" She glared at him. "Have you really forgotten about it? About Terabithia? About our adventures there? About DarkMaster? About everything?"
"Leslie---Terabithia didn't really exist." Jess whispered. "It was all in our imaginations."
The young blonde jerked away as if he'd hit her. "All---in our imagination?" She whispered, getting to her feet, rubbing her suddenly chilled arms. "It doesn't---exist?"
Her king stood as well, reaching out for her and cringing when she jerked out of his reach. "Leslie…"
"Am I just a part of your imagination too, Jesse Aarons? Is that what you really think?" She narrowed her eyes, angry for the first time with him. "I'll have you know that I am more alive than you are!"
Looking back, Leslie couldn't ever understand what'd made her do it, it'd always be a mystery to her, and yet it had felt oddly right.
In an angry surge she walked to him and threw her arms around his neck, pressing her lips to his in an awkward, vengeful kiss, her lips bruising from the harshness of her actions as she moved her lips against his in what would be her first kiss.
And somewhere between the punishment and anger, the pain and disappointment, Jess' arms went around her, pulling her tight to him, and his lips moved against her furiously.
During a split second something shifted between them, and Leslie didn't know for sure exactly what it was.
She whimpered, feelings she didn't recognize or understand welling up in her with such ferocity that she panicked and pushed away, eyes wide, cheeks red, breath haggard.
Jess remained where he'd stood, eyes closed, lips slightly parted, face an expression of ecstasy.
The young blonde girl felt awkward and unsure around her best friend for the first time ever. "I should go."
His eyes flew open. "Don't."
She gulped, averting her gaze. "I have to. It's All Hallows Eve, the one night all creatures and spirits freely roam this world---which means that this is the least safe night for me to be out alone." Leslie looked around her, realizing how dark it'd gotten. "DarkMaster could be out there, and I can't let him get me."
Despite Jess' previous words that Terabithia and everything within weren't real he narrowed his eyes and looked around them, picking up his things immediately. "Let's go."
Tilting her head and looking at him curiously, Leslie nodded and followed him out. She observed Jess as he walked ahead of her, holding the battery-operated lantern in front of them, eyes narrowed on the darkness, looking so much like a King protecting his Queen that she couldn't help but smile.
Always having hated silence, young Queen of Terabithia started talking, telling her king of all about the Terabithia beyond the portal in the Mid-World. She told him of the many adventures and quests she'd had while Queen, and laughed as she described the funny and embarrassing moments she'd gone through at first trying to make peace between the warring lore-creatures.
She paused when they got to his house.
Jess stopped as well, looking at her curiously. "What is it?"
"Aren't you going in?"
He shook his head. "I'm walking you to this portal. I want to see it myself."
Leslie smiled at him and they continued walking together until they reached the bridge to Terabithia. The blonde noticed how her king hesitated, looking at her somewhat afraid before looking at the water beneath the bridge.
"Come on silly, water is my conduct now." She giggled. "It can't hurt me---only take me home."
Gulping, Jess stepped onto the bridge with her, listening to her speak as she went to a small lake they'd discovered right before her death.
"This is it." She smiled sadly, realizing that they were going to have to say goodbye again, and that he mightn't be able to see her after tonight.
"Will I see you again?" Jess asked.
"I don't know." She admitted, eyes turning to the water. "But I do come here to spend time with May Belle. You---you just usually can't see me."
He cleared his throat and wouldn't look at her.
Sighing, Leslie turned her back on her king and began walking into the pool of water, which wasn't deeper than to her waist. Standing in the middle of the small pool, Leslie took in a deep breath, relaxing, hands out, readying herself.
And yet she didn't know what he would have said, because she was already falling back into the water, and in a flash of color she was in the lagoon in the garden of the castle.
"My Queen!" The garden gnomes hurried to her side as she emerged from the water. "We were worried DarkMaster had gotten you!"
She smiled at them and walked to her castle to sleep.
The next time she returned to the portal and to the Mid-World, Jess was there with May Belle. The three of them had been disappointed when Jess couldn't see Leslie again, but he didn't leave. Instead he spent all of his evenings in the Mid-World, doing his homework, helping May Belle with hers, fixing up the rotting tree house---and talking to Leslie as if he could see and hear her.
As the tree house was given new boards and a better ladder, as the days turned into months, Leslie realized that Jess was slowly opening himself to Terabithia once more. In time he could hear her, and a while afterwards, the way his eyes moved with her, she realized that in his own way Jess could see her too---just not with his eyes.
That made her smile.
Jess was opening his mind to the magic of Terabithia was well.
Word spread rapidly throughout Terabithia that its king had returned, and no one commented any more about the empty throne in the castle next to Leslie's.
As the months turned to a year, Leslie was finally visible to Jess, and she'd laughed when he'd grabbed her and twirled her around happily in their tree house—their personal castle.
As their time together turned to years there were frequent attacks by DarkMaster and his followers in all three plains, in Terabithia, in the Mid-World, and in the mortal home. The battle was upon them, and Leslie was worried for the safety of May Belle and Jess, who were much more unprotected than she was.
Droughts dried up the water around the Mid-World and made it impossible for her to cross over to check on them, and during those months she worried nonstop for the princess and king, knowing somehow that this was DarkMaster's doing.
So worried about Jess and May Belle, Leslie didn't think of her own protection, and that nearly cost her her life during a surprise attack from DarkMaster's minions. If it hadn't been for the fact that a group of Woodland elves had been journeying to the castle to have a meeting with her regarding the attacks to their villages in the west, she would have been taken or slain.
The Terabithians, realizing how close they'd come to losing their Queen, appointed her Elvin savior as her personal guard.
Malin proved to be a good companion and confidant, and protected her with his life. His abilities to make quick, smart choices in split seconds saved their lives multiple times over the course of the next couple of months, and soon Leslie was so concerned with staying alive and protecting the Terabithians from the increasing attacks that she forgot to check on the lagoon in the garden to see if the drought in the mortal world had ended and if she could cross over.
In fact, she was nineteen before she crossed over again, and it wasn't due to the fact that it'd been planned.
DarkMaster had changed his plans, and instead of trying to kill her, their spies in his rank said that he wished to capture her and force a union between them as he realized that even if he killed Leslie the Terabithians would never submit to him again. With their union he'd be their king, and they would obey him, if only because of their loyalty to their Queen.
Leslie had been horrified at this revelation, at the fact that the creature of darkness would think that she would be unified with him, but she hadn't expected the attack on the castle.
No one had.
During the confrontation she'd been injured, and Malin's face was the last thing she remembered before waking up in the tree house in the Mid-World to the sound of angered male voices.
Groaning, Leslie sat up, hand to her head, and all of a sudden it was silent and Jess and Malin appeared by her side, both concerned.
"Leslie?" Jess knelt by her side, worry on his face. "What happened? Are you okay? Why haven't you crossed over before now?" He paused, looking at Malin and frowned. "Who is this?"
"My Queen." Malin ignored Jess, worried black eyes on her. "Are you well? I tried healing your injuries to the best of my abilities but I was not able to check you completely to make sure that you weren't injured elsewhere." He raised an eyebrow at Jess. "He would not allow me."
"I'm fine." She answered both of them, looking around before turning to Malin. "We have to go back."
"But you just came!" Jess scowled.
Malin helped her up, both ignoring Jess and heading towards the lagoon.
"Leslie!" Jess hedged himself in front of her, eyes narrowed. "What's going on?"
Torn between her desire to get back to her people and to appease her King, Leslie looked at Malin and then back at Jess, knowing her conflict was visible on her face.
"The castle was attacked." Malon responded for her. "DarkMaster's plan is to kidnap our Queen and force a marriage from her to become our King." He snorted and looked away. "If you were half the King she believes you to be, she wouldn't be in this danger."
"Malin." Leslie hissed. "Stop it! It's not Jess' fault that he's still in this plain!"
"Yes it is!" Malin hissed right back, to hell with respect. "He was supposed to be with you that day! He was supposed to have been brought over with you at the same time!"
Jess froze in horror at that revelation.
Leslie closed her eyes, sighing, she'd wanted to keep that from him.
"We can't keep running from DarkMaser, my lady." Malin sighed as well, voice softer. "You need a husband and you need an heir."
Leslie looked away, face grim. They were on that topic again. "I'm not ready to marry, Malin."
"You're our Queen, you serve Terabithia's needs, and we need an heir." Malin pressed. "We need a king!"
"You have a king!" Leslie snapped.
"He's of no use to us when he's still in this plain. You know that."
The blonde nodded, taking in a deep breath. "Jess, Malin and I have to go. It's not safe for you or Princess May Belle to be here. Stay away until I come for you."
"Leslie…" Jess's voice was croaked. "Don't go back. You're in danger, you----."
"Terabithia needs me, Jess." Her gaze connected with his, serious. "I mightn't---mightn't see you again."
And with that she rushed forwards and cupped his face, bringing her lips to his tenderly, crying silent tears as Jess' arms went around her small body and pulled her to him.
They stayed like that until she slowly pulled away and smiled shakily at him, wiping the silent tears that'd fallen down Jess' face.
"Don't go." Jess pleaded, fingers caressing the silk of her cheek. "I almost didn't survive the last time you left me."
Closing her eyes she pressed her cheek into that hand, lips trembling from suppressed sobs. "Goodbye, my king."
And with that she hurtled herself around him and towards the lagoon, disappearing in the water, and coming up on the other side. The Queen collapsed on her knees in the water and sobbed, not caring if it was safe or not, not even noticing when Malin crossed over and watched her sadly from her side.
Months passed as Leslie spent the time rebuilding the castle and fighting DarkMaster. More than once she was distracted with thoughts of the king she'd left behind, and more nights than not she was left awake crying, reliving leaving Jess again, but during the day she remained as calm and controlled as she could.
Her people looked up to her and needed a strong monarch.
It happened a day all of the castle was tense and in waiting. The soothe seers had predicted a great occurrence happening on that day, and the whole of the kingdom was on edge, waiting for an attack from DarkMaster to rival his previous ones.
Leslie had stood above the wall of the castle walls, watching, waiting, when one of her maids had rushed up to say that someone had appeared through the lagoon…that the king had arrived.
The blonde had been in shock, abandoning her post and rushing to her lagoon and dropping the sword she'd been carrying when she saw Jess standing in the middle of the lagoon, looking around him in awe, eyes wide.
"Jess?" She whispered.
He turned to look at her, a smile lighting his face. "Leslie."
"But—but…" The blonde took a tentative step towards him. "How?"
He suddenly grinned. "You remember how we said we'd go White Water Rafting when we were old enough? Did you know it's actually really dangerous?"
Her eyes widened. "You didn't."
Jess' smile lessened as he looked at her seriously. "Terabithia needs its King, and…I…I need my Queen."
"Finally." Malin could be heard snorting from where he stood behind Leslie.
Jess suddenly colored slightly, breaking their eye-contact, ignoring Malin's comment. "And you left before I could tell you I loved you. I—I love you, I always have, ever since you beat me in that race at school."
The blonde grinned brightly, laughing as she wiped at a tear and rushed into the lake, flinging herself at Jess, who caught her in the air and twirled her around before bringing her tighter to him and kissing her lovingly.
They were caught in each other, not noticing the fawns and goblins and the other creatures of the castle coming to watch them, happiness on their faces---didn't notice the fairies spread their wings to fly to the four corners to spread the glad tidings.
The king had finally come home to his queen.
I know. REALLY AU.
Still…hopefully you enjoyed.