DISCLAIMER: "Rise of the Guardians" and its characters belongs to DreamWorks Animation and William Joyce. I own nothing but my own original characters, story, and concepts.
Chapter 1: The Mysterious Flying Boy
Charlotte Bennett squinted into the wintry sun as her younger brother ran by her.
"Snow day!" Jamie hollered, tugging on his cap.
All down the line of houses on Blueberry Street, kids ran outside with snow jackets and mittens, cries of "SNOW DAY!" echoing off the streetlights. Charlotte smiled as Jamie met up with his five friends and split into groups for a snowball fight.
"Aren't you going to go enjoy your day off, Charlotte?" Her mother appeared behind her, cell phone against her shoulder. She was already dressed in her gray suit jacket, pencil skirt, and dull blue tie. Her high heels blasted her off the ground, and her brown hair was tied back in a bun.
"Yeah," she answered, taking her own phone out of her coat pocket. "I'm just gonna ask Serena if she wants to join me."
As she dialed Serena's number, Charlotte bounded up the stairs and flew past her open bedroom door. Her pink room was covered with photographs, on the walls and scattered across her desk, and light was filtering through her blinds to make it look like fairy dust was in the air. She grabbed her favorite camera from her desk, put new film in it, adjusted the strap that hung around her neck, and put on pink snow boots to accommodate her magenta coat, matching mittens, and black jeans. She pushed up her dark-rimmed glasses, fixed her white beret, and went back outside.
Serena hadn't answered the first time, but Charlotte was rewarded after a second try. "Hullo?" came Serena Kingston's groggy voice on the other end.
"Morning, sleepyhead!" Charlotte yelled. "Snow day! Meet me at my house?"
"Ugh, Char," Serena groaned. "Snow day equals five more hours of sleep! Call me back at noon."
"Aw, c'mon, it's a beautiful—"
"—day," Charlotte finished with a sigh. "Well, no surprise there. Looks like I'm on my own." She glanced down at her camera with a grin. "But as long as I've got this baby, I'm not alone."
The sidewalks were covered with kids. Twins Luke and Nina Gladstone were building a snowman across the street. The air was chilled but the sun was bursting with joy and illumination, the sky pale blue. It was a perfect snow day, in Charlotte's opinion, and the other kids seemed to agree with her.
I've gotta get this, she thought excitedly. She ran down to the end of her front walkway and focused in on the orange and blue horizon. A little closer—there! Perfect. Charlotte smirked and was about to snap the photo when something flew into the side of her head.
"Ow!" she yelled, wiping snow out of her hair. "A snowball?" She glanced around angrily, but Jamie and his friends were too far away to have possibly reached her. Frowning, Charlotte turned back to her photo.
It was a shadow at first, hovering in mid-air, but then she could tell it was a person. They were hunched over with crossed legs, a long curved object in their hand. They sat there in the air, silent.
"What the—?" Charlotte muttered.
Suddenly the shadow burst forward and she saw a face: deathly pale, with icy blue eyes, silver eyebrows, and spiky white hair. A boy, maybe her age, or maybe a year older. He was flying, and he stretched out and yawned, smirking down at her. "Well, like they always say, a picture's worth a thousand words!" He posed, making a peace sign and a huge grin, and as she took the picture, he then flew right by her, causing a huge gust of wind.
The force of the pass-by blew Charlotte right off her feet. She landed in the snow, white powdery magic scraping against her glasses and entering her mouth. She blinked in wonder, a million questions popping up in her head. What. The. Heck?
Charlotte sat up and immediately inspected her camera for damage. A panicky feeling appeared inside her as she saw the lens was cracked. "No, no, no!" She shook her head. "No way. Not my favorite camera!"
Sadly, she peered at the photo that had just zipped out of her camera. Had she captured the mysterious—and soon to be dead—boy? Charlotte was perplexed to find that no, she hadn't captured him. Not even a smudge or blur of blue and white—he wasn't in the photo at all!
He came at me after I took the picture, she thought. So why isn't he in it?
"Oh no! Whoops."
Charlotte glanced up. The boy was floating above her, scratching the back of his neck sheepishly. "I'm sorry, miss!" he called down to her. "Even though you can't see me . . . I'm still sorry!"
He was about to turn around when she called, "Can't see you? What are you talking about?"
The boy stopped abruptly, toes flat out, like he was about to descend. He looked back at her and flew closer, a confused expression on his face. "Two plus two is…?" he asked.
Charlotte rose and dusted the snow off her coat and pants. "Why are you asking me that? It's obviously four."
The boy gasped and flew backwards. "No way! You can see me?"
Charlotte cocked her head at him and frowned. "Yes, I can see you, strange flying boy with the stick that looks like a candy cane."
"Hey, candy canes are North's thing," he replied automatically. He flew closer to her, floating not even five feet before her. He lay down on his stick on his stomach. "You can see me!"
"Yes, now that we've got that established, who are you?"
"You're just like Jamie," the boy commented. "You even look like him. Brown hair, brown eyes—you've even got freckles like him!"
"Jamie?" Charlotte questioned, narrowing her eyes. "Jamie Bennett? You know him?"
"Heck yeah! We're friends. I met him a year ago because he can see me too," the boy answered. "Ya know him?"
"Yes, I do know him," she said slowly. "He's my brother."
The boy's jaw dropped. "No way. So that means . . . you're Lottie!"
Charlotte knew it the instant he mentioned Jamie's nickname for her. Ever since he was ten, Jamie had talked about the boy that floated in front of her non-stop. He was Jamie's hero—most of his school reports were on him, he whispered to him at night before he went to bed, and he sometimes even dreamed of him, the two of them flying through a dark, ice-covered forest.
This is impossible. This can't be happening again.