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 sun as her brother appeared at her side.
"Snow day!" Jamie hollered, tugging on his cap.
Along the block, kids ran from their houses, cries of "SNOW DAY!" piercing the winter air. Charlotte smiled as Jamie met up with his 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. The work outfit contrasted dramatically with her usual clothes of flannel shirts and comfy sneakers.
"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 room was covered in photographs, on the pink walls and scattered across her desk. Light was filtering through her blinds, making 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 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 call, 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 neighborhood was heavily populated with kids, and it appeared they were all out enjoying the day off. The air was frigid with cold, but the sun was bursting with joy and the sky was clear and blue. It was a perfect snow day, and like the neighborhood, Charlotte planned to enjoy every second of it.
I've gotta get this,she thought excitedly. She ran down to the end of her front walkway and focused in on the hazy blue horizon. A little closer—there! Perfect.Charlotte smirked and snapped the photo just as something whooshed by and flew into the side of her head.
"Ow!" she yelled, wiping snow out of her hair. "A snowball?" She looked around angrily, but Jamie and his friends were too far away to have possibly reached her. But then a shadow passed over, and Charlotte glanced up at it with a frown.
"What the…?" she muttered.
A boy about her age hovered in mid-air above her a few feet away, his hair white as snow. He floated hunched over with crossed legs, a long curved object in hand, and stretched out with a yawn before 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. "Make sure to get my good side, Freckles. So, basically, you have to get every side."
"Um," was all Charlotte could manage.
He must have not heard her. "Ooh, I hear a snow ball fight down the street that desperately needs my expertise. Catch you on the flip side!" The boy zoomed past her, and the wind he created knocked Charlotte right off her feet. She landed in the snow, blinking in wonder. What. The. Heck?
Dazed, she sat up and immediately inspected her camera for damage. "No, no, no!" Panic filled her gut as she saw that the lens was cracked. She shook her head. "Not my favorite camera!"
Sadly, she peered at the photo that had just zipped out of the damaged camera. She had captured a tiny speck of the boy, a whirr of blue and white smudged in the corner. What in the world had just happened? Who was that mysterious boy?
"Oh no! Whoops."
The boy had circled back was floating above her, scratching the back of his neck sheepishly. "I'm sorry, miss!" he said. "Even though you can't see me…I'm still sorry!"
He was about to fly away when she snapped, "I can see you just fine, you camera-breaking jerk."
The boy stopped abruptly, toes flat out and arms at his side like he'd been electrocuted. He looked back at her and drifted closer, a confused expression on his face. "Two plus two is…?" he asked.
Charlotte rose and dusted the snow off her clothes. "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 a stick that looks like a candy cane."
"Hey, candy canes are North's thing," he replied automatically. Then he grinned in delight and landed on the ground before her. "You can see me!"
"Yes, now that we've got that established, who in the world 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. "You know him?"
"Yes, I do know him," she said heatedly. "He's my brother."
The boy's jaw dropped. Swirls of ice branched out from under his feet across the pavement. "No way. So that means…you're Charlotte Bennett!"
And then it clicked into place. For the past year, Jamie had talked about a boy he believed in with all his heart non-stop. He was Jamie's hero—most of his school reports and drawings were centered around the old myth of the boy that could control ice and snow. In Jamie's mind, this bedtime story doubled as his best friend. But the boy that floated in front of her was no regular bedtime story.
This is impossible.