Disclaimer: I do not own the Santa Clause trilogy. Even Jack Frost does not belong to me. Sadly.
A/N: So, this will be the final chapter. Thank you to all those who took the time to read and review! Here's to you, guys! Enjoy the last chapter.
Chapter Twenty-Four: Tonight
Everything was black...at least until Crys pried open her eyes. The room spun, the colors swirling as though she were standing in the middle of a kaleidoscope. Gradually, her mind settled enough to recognize the foyer of the factory. We're back? The deal...is broken?
Crys was lying on the ground, her head resting against the cool surface of the floor. Jack was kneeling beside her, his fingers brushing away the hair that had fallen across her face.
"Jack..." She whispered, lifting her body from the ground. Her arm and ankle did not protest. Did the breaking of the deal mean that all the bad stuff was taken away with it? The pain that Carma caused was gone.
"Welcome back," he breathed into her ear, sending a pleasurable chill down her back. The weight of it pressed down on her-the escape was over. Everything would be fine now.
"Where...where's Carma?" Crys dusted herself off as she got to her feet and scanned the crowd around them. On cue, the crowd parted in two, allowing a couple of guards to pass with their prisoner in tow.
Scott and Mother Nature approached from the opposite end of the hall. Crys noted that Mother Nature did not look very pleased in the least. Too bad for Carma, she thought, anticipating the punishment that would surely be doled out.
"Let me go, you idiots! Get...off...me...now!" Carma squirmed in their grasp, but it was no use. A piercing glare was sent Crys' way, but Crys only shrugged carelessly. Better luck next time, Carma.
"Carma, I believe i made it clear that you were never allowed inside the limits of the North Pole again," Mother Nature scolded her in a powerful tone.
Carma ceased struggling and gave Mother Nature a stare that could have melted anything Jack froze. Mother Nature did not flinch or relent.
"In light of recent events and misbehavings on your part, foretold to me by both Santa and Jack Frost, you leave me with few options. I think you know fairly well what must be done," the earthly legendary figure continued, raising her staff threateningly.
"Don't tell me: you're planning on stripping me of my powers? Don't I deserve a say in this matter?" Carma seemed ready to pout like a child who has not gotten their way. Mother Nature arched an eyebrow and faced the crowd around them.
"Carma requires a vote amongst us. Very well. Those in favor of letting Carma keep her powers?" The hall was silent despite the hundreds of elves and people packed inside. Not a single hand rose in the air.
"Interesting. Likewise, those in favor of stripping Carma of her powers?"
Instantly, every hand shot up towards the sky, including those of the littlest elves. Carma's expression turned black. Mother Nature nodded once in acknowledgement before meeting Carma's sharp gaze again.
"There you have it, Carma. Your games are done. You will no longer cause trouble or any misgivings again." Stepping forward, Mother Nature lifted her staff higher in the air. Crys realized she had never seen anyone have their powers stripped before.
"In my power, I hereby strip Carma of her legendary powers permanently," Mother Nature announced before slamming the end of her staff on the ground. The sound echoed around the room, growing louder and louder with every passing second.
Suddenly, Carma's eyes flew wide and she bent forward, apparently in pain. Gritting her teeth, Carma screeched as a magical veil fell over the room, the atmosphere growing thick as only magic could.
It took all of thirty seconds, but Crys could have sworn it was longer judging by how much Carma fought against the magical power evaporating from her body. At the end of it, Carma slumped forward and seemed much weaker and less mystical. To Crys' surprise, Carma's eyes were a muddy brown instead of the violent red she had assumed.
"Make sure she finds her way out of the North Pole," Mother Nature ordered the two guards, who nodded obediently. Carma stared at them and cried out as they escorted her away. She was no longer Carma, the legendary figure. At this rate, she had as much power as a normal human being.
"What about that other problem of yours? Who do you expect is going to fill in for Carma?" Jack Frost questioned Mother Nature, his arm curled around Crys' waist. Deliberately, he pointed a finger above Crys' head and she blushed at the idea. Choose her, he seemed to be saying.
Mother Nature studied Crys and smiled gently. Still, Crys could not help feeling guilty for everything that had happened.
"I know what I did was wrong and stupid. I only want to make things better. I'm...sorry," Crys said, bowing her head lightly in shame. It was all because of a simple wish that things had taken a drastic turn for the worse.
Everything was still as the crowd awaited Mother Nature's response. With her dress whispering across the floor, Mother Nature walked to Crys.
"I know. That is why I feel you are the right person to accept Carma's role. The power of balance is a great one, but I am certain you can handle it," the legendary figure stated. Crys' head shot up and she gazed at Mother Nature with gratitude.
"Wait...can a human even become a legendary figure?" Crys was submsersed in confusion. Was such a thing even possible? Mother Nature placed a comforting hand on Crys' shoulder.
"Only on special occasions...when I allow it to be so," she replied with a warm smile. Crys returned it and nodded. Mother Nature gently touched her staff to Crys' forehead. "Crys, I bestow upon you the power of balance, of all matters good and bad in this world." Just like before, Mother Nature tapped her staff on the ground.
A great weight settled on Crys'shoulders and wrapped around her. It eased as it sunk into her body, becoming a genuine part of her. Strength spiraled through her along with a level of wisdom and insight she never considered before. It was magic in the most wondrous sense.
"It will take some getting used to," Mother Nature advised her and offered her help to Crys. Unlike Carma, Crys was intending not to take that assistance for granted. In fact, she was intending not to take anything for granted again.
Everyone applauded her and Jack laid a frosty kiss on her neck, followd by a longer one on her lips. Crys scanned the happy crowd. There was Scott, his power as Santa regained. Curtis was beside him, a half-grin on his face...
A cold chill swept through Crys as she remembered a certain detail of Carma's wrath.
"Wait! Where's Lucy? Is she okay?" Crys frantically searched for her litter sister amongst the crowd. Was she still unconscious?
Mother Nature stopped Crys with a firm hand and laughed musically.
"Why don't you ask her yourself?" The crowd spearated into two again as Lucy darted forward, perfectly healthy and breathing. Crys crushed the girl to her chest and sighed into Lucy's red hair. Thank God...I thought I'd lost her, Crys thought as she refused to let Lucy go.
"Crys! You're legendary now? Does that mean you have magical powers, too? That's so cool!" Lucy's words were spilling out so fast that Crys could not keep up with her. Same old Lucy. Her little sister leaned in close with a sincere look in her eyes. "By the way...I kept your secret."
Crys recalled hinting about it to Lucy and smiled in response. Once again, she wrapped Lucy in her arms tight. Crys healed the damage done by Carma, including allowing David to live as he had in the escape. Every bit of pain Carma caused, Crys erased the best she could.
Everything was as it should be. Crys vowed never to change a thing.
"It's nice to have everything back to normal," Crys sighed as she watched a shooting star fly across the inky night sky. Jack offered her a cup of cocoa, the scent of chocolate wafting around her.
"Promise me something," Jack requested, leaning against the railing of the balcony. Crys sipped the steaming cocoa, the liquid burning her throat.
"Depends on what it is," Crys teased. Jack cupped a hand under her chin and lowered his lips to hers. They hovered an inch or so above her lips, tempting her.
"Never make a deal with anyone again." Crys nodded and allowed Jack to kiss her. An electrical current spiraled through them, the mixture of their powers melding together.
Something else was on Crys' mind and it refused to stop nagging her. There was one other thing that Carma had caused, this one not so easily repaired.
"Jack...I want to have a child," she blurted out. Carma had made her suffer through a miscarriage. Crys longed to correct that mishap, to share something so special with Jack.
Slowly, she met his eyes to observe his reaction. A pleasant smile was there on his lips. Bringing her hand up to his lips, he kissed it gently. Now that Crys looked closely, she could see a hint of sadness tinge his eyes for a monent; he, too had been pained by Carma's wrath.
"If that's what you wish," he said to her, pulling her in close. It felt so good to be back home once more, in his arms. "We have time. We have tonight," he whispered in her ear, making her giggle.
Tomorrow would mean the start of her training and use of her powers. But tonight...tonight was theirs to enjoy, courtesy of Mother Nature.
Resting her head against Jack, Crys closed her eyes and hummed a soft tune. Soon her voice added to the night, floating across the rooftops below.
So this is Christmas...
I hope everyone enjoyed the ending and the story as a whole. (= To everyone who read and reveiwed-thank you so much!
Until next time, readers!