Chapter 2: The Frosts
Mother Nature reappeared in another blinding flash of light in front of a set of tall, black, wrought iron gates surrounded by large evergreen trees. She was only a little flustered, she told herself, taking a moment to just breath.
As she took her moment, there was a loud squeak. The gates opened inwards for her, a quaint stone pathway leading up to a large, three storey ivory-bricked mansion. The gates came to a stop, the north wind blowing through the trees.
"Thank you kindly," she said to the gates, walking through. There was a happy sort of squeak as the gates gently closed behind her.
The stone path up to the veranda was surrounded by lovely rose bushes, still blooming even though it was late November. The grassy grounds were covered in a layer of snow, some spots a bit slushy and melted, revealing the light green grass underneath. Some portions were covered in scorch marks.
"Well if it isn't the lovely Mother Nature!" said a voice. Mother Nature turned to the right, watching as a very tall man with literal fiery hair approached her, a charming smile on his face. "You look radiant, as always," he said, arms open wide. Blaise Frost walked through the rose bushes, bowing very low and grabbing her hand, kissing it.
"And you are charming as ever, Blaise."
"To what do we owe this wonderful visit?" he asked, straightening up and clasping his hands behind his back.
"Can't I just pop on by to give my lovely winter sprite and her fiery beau a visit? Say hello to the grandkids?"
Blaise laughed, throwing his head back. "Of course you can! You know we love when you do," he said, soft smile on his face. "However, more often than not you usually have an ulterior motive when visiting suddenly."
"Whatever do you mean?" Mother Nature feigned innocence, grabbing the elbow Blaise offered her.
"Usually a little birdie tells us of your arrival. I've been outside a majority of the day and have not seen a single bird. And here you are!"
"Here I am," Mother Nature agreed. She paused the walk, staring at Blaise. He had always been quite the charming fellow, one of the positive traits that had rubbed off on Jack. Blaise's features were remarkably similar to his son's, but a bit squarer, and quite warmer. His eyes were sincere, filled with wisdom and weathered with time and war. Being in his presence was calming; generally, Blaise was a fairly laid-back sprite. But near him, there was always this lingering sense of a wisdom beyond the years of many. Mother Nature had always admired that; it would have made him a great ruler, had he chosen that path. She sighed.
"Ah, so it's trouble that brings you here," Blaise said, his forehead creasing a certain way, his hair burning a tad taller. "I see."
"Yes. Unfortunately. How's Winter doing?"
His hair immediately burnt low, a soft smile on his face though sadness was in his eyes. "She's lovely as always and holding up, I suppose. The Twins have kept us busy, as of late. Fino's warlock lineage is a tad stronger than we could've ever thought. We found out he could talk to animals the other day."
"Indeed. It would be more so if he would stop letting in all the strays he's made friends with!"
"You name it, he's probably brought it home."
Mother Nature smiled. "And Fiera?"
"Fiera is high-spirited as always. Causing trouble here and there. Almost convinced us to keep a baby bear Fino brought home the other day. Then there's their usual banter. They're either poking fun at each other, getting along well and causing mischief, or poking fun at their older sister."
"And how is she doing?" Mother Nature asked. Jacqueline had once been a very bouncy sprite. After that…day had happened, however, the spark she once had was gone. She was always very reserved around Mother Nature. She assumed it was the same around her parents, as well.
"The stories she has Mother Nature! I suppose her centuries away from home were good for her. She's…not as reserved as she once was which is a nice change. She's still a little hesitant around Winter every so often. I wish…well, no matter," Blaise said, waving his thought away.
Interesting, Mother Nature noted.
Blaise continued, clearing his throat. "I think she's shown remarkable growth power wise too," he said. "I think she's exceeded Legendary status."
"She was gone for what, eight centuries?"
"Eight or nine, I think."
"She'll have missed her original MELT then."
"Indeed. She's definitely at least at a Legendary level now."
"I'll be the judge of that," Mother Nature said, smiling. Any magical beings who had a Legendary status or special powers, such as Jacqueline and her siblings, were ranked in their mastery of the craft. (This way, should a situation arise that needed the specialization these magical beings had to offer, Mother Nature could go by ranking to see who was best suited to the job). If she recalled correctly, Jacqueline was currently second highest level, sitting at Grand-Master. The Twins were Distinguished, the second rank out of a total seven.
"Of course!" Blaise nearly shouted, throwing up his hands. "You are Mother Nature after all, and we are your humble servants," he said, winking and bowing with much splendour.
Mother Nature laughed. "Really Blaise, you're too much."
"Speaking of being too much," he said, righting himself and straightening out his orange blazer as they resumed the walk, approaching the veranda. "I feel like a warning may be due."
"We've had a recent bout of territorial disputes this year. That being said, it might be a little crazy inside."
"I suppose that explains the scorch marks," Mother Nature said, grinning.
Blaise laughed. "They keep trying to melt the snow to get back at Jacqueline, but they can barely make a dent! She really is something else," he finished, fondly.
Mother Nature glanced at Blaise. "She's not…that is to say…she hasn't had any tendencies her brother may have had, does she?"
"She's a troublemaker, but not to that extent. She couldn't be more opposite to him even if she tried."
A weight lifted off of the matriarch's chest. "Thank heavens."
Before Blaise could reply, the front door burst open, a short, pale woman coming out of the house. Her red lips broke into a smile, the loose strands of her inky hair bouncing as she rushed to the steps.
"Mother! How wonderful to see you," Winter said, hugging her.
"You as well, my dear," Mother Nature replied, hugging her back. They broke off the hug, Mother Nature glancing at Winter carefully. Though she had a faint blush on her cheek, it was not a warm one; her eyes were cold. Still frozen then, Mother Nature realized, a pang of sadness deep in her chest. "I hear things have been a little crazy lately?"
"I see Blaise has been chatting up a storm already," Winter said, narrowing her eyes and smiling at her husband.
"Guilty as charged," Blaise said, grabbing Winter in a very large hug and kissing her forehead. She giggled. The pang of sadness disappeared from Mother Nature's chest, replaced by one of happiness.
"Blaise please, my Mother is right there!"
"Would it be rude if I sent you home, Mother Nature?"
Mother Nature laughed. "Oh, don't worry Winter dear. Really. Seeing you two always does my heart good."
"Well, let's not dally on the porch," Winter said. "I was just making fresh cocoa. Care for a cup, Mother?"
"I would love one," she said, following the parents inside.
Time flew by after Mother Nature made herself comfortable in the blue parlour Winter used for entertaining. Her skirts pooled about her and headdress off to the side, Mother Nature had gotten lost in the stories Winter had to tell her about the past decade. To nobody's surprise, Father Time had been right. Already an hour and fifty minutes had passed since her arrival.
"You can't imagine how many of Fino's little pets we've had to bring back to the wild. Poor Fiera, he never tells her when he's brought something home for a stay. It gives her quite the fright."
"Especially the racoons," Blaise said, entering the parlour.
"Raccoons?" Mother Nature asked.
Winter laughed. "They were the first things he talked to! A group of them sleep under the deck when the weather gets bad. They were making a bit of a fuss, chirping about, so Fino chirped right back at them! It shut them up fairly fast."
"It shut us up fairly fast, too. After that we kept a close eye on Fino. When Jacqueline came home the other day after walking him to go see a friend, she told us how he had been talking with birds the whole time!" Blaise added, making his way to the couch.
"I'm sure she was impressed."
"Not quite," Winter said. "She was more so annoyed because the birds kept sitting on her head."
"She came home with feathers all over her hair! It was hilarious," Blaise added, kissing Winter on the cheek and sitting beside her on the couch, throwing his arm around her shoulder. "Now then love, why don't we let your darling Mother tell us the real reason she came by today?"
Winter's face fell. "The real reason?"
Mother Nature sighed. "Nothing gets by you, Blaise. You should've stayed King if you ask me."
He shrugged. "I'm happy here. Besides, you make a wonderful Queen, I think," he winked.
"I'm flattered," Mother Nature said, briefly smiling. "I'm afraid Blaise is right, Winter dear. You see…trouble arose in the Council Meeting earlier today."
Winter glanced at Blaise, noting his look. She sighed. "What did he do this time?"
"He's been charged with roughly two-hundred and seventy-three attempts at upstaging Santa. He froze a volcano in Hawaii, it's snowing in the Amazon, and he frosted Mexico sending the geese back north for the winter," Mother Nature said, ticking each of those three items off with her fingers.
Blaise let out a low whistle. "Wow. How did he manage the other two-hundred and seventy?"
"These," Mother Nature said, taking a brief moment of concentration before flicking her wrist and summoning one of the cardboard cut-outs before them.
"Oh my," Winter said, her hands covering her mouth.
"Spread across malls all over the North West. I've grabbed some of them, but there's still a lot more to take care of. They're currently cloaked; Sandman gave me some special dream dust that should easily convince those who have seen it that it was a dream. Are you okay Winter?"
The season had flushed, her eyes sadder than usual. "I should've listened to her."
"Jacqueline's been having a bit of an odd week," Blaise supplied, rubbing Winter's back.
"She was complaining about things being off and I didn't listen. Everything felt fine to me, so I told her not to worry."
"Things being off?" Mother Nature asked, curious.
"Feelings that weren't really…her own," Blaise said, with a knowing look.
"Of course," Mother Nature realized. "She is his Legate so that must've been the reason why. Their connection."
Winter looked away. Blaise shrugged.
Mother Nature was beginning to sense a bit of unbalance—and it did not have to do with the weather.
Before she could open up her mouth to ask, a loud slam from the kitchen startled her, two loud voices shouting for their Mom and Dad.
"Oh dear," Winter said, as two flaming blurs ran into the room, one tripping and somersaulting briefly.
"Momma, she did it again!" The girl on the floor said, righting herself up into a sitting position.
"She went into our territory!" The boy beside her said, hands on his hips, hair burning tall.
"There's a huge snow fort! Huge!" the girl picked up, her hair burning down to her shoulders.
"Ginormous! Like a castle!"
"And it's sitting under OUR tree!"
At this point the Twins began talking over each other, Winter and Blaise trying to interrupt. Mother Nature took the opportunity to cloak the cut out, clearing her throat. The Twins stopped instantly, turning their attention to the opposite sofa.
"Oh," Fino said, Fiera blushing and quickly standing up.
"Oh indeed," Mother Nature said.
"Fino. Fiera. That's more than enough," Blaise finally got to say. "As you've noticed we have very important company." He gestured towards Mother Nature, the matriarch giving a small wave and standing up.
"Hello Grandma Nature," They said in unison, both bowing.
"Hello, Fino, Fiera." Mother Nature smiled and opened her arms, the Twins gleefully running and hugging her on either side. "My you two are warm!"
"We're red hot!" Fiera said.
"We've been practising lots lately!" Fino added.
"Look how big my flame is!" Fiera said, cupping her hands together and concentrating. They turned a bright red as a large flame sparked, almost as tall as Fiera.
"I can talk to animals now too!" Fino said. "Just like Aunt Spring and you!"
"So I've heard," Mother Nature said. "Not in the house, Fiera."
"Sorry," Fiera said, immediately extinguishing it and folding her hands behind her back.
A new idea began to take shape in Mother Nature's mind. Once again, before she had the opportunity to voice it, the room grew colder and another voice interrupted.
"Excuse me but my snow castle is in the perfect—ouf!"
In a flurry of blue sparks and snowflakes, the last member of the Frost family had materialized. She was rubbing her nose, frowning a bit.
"Your snow castle is ILLEGAL!" Fiera shouted.
The sprite stopped rubbing her nose, hands on her hips. "It is not! And besides, you guys took my favourite tree earlier for your stupid little flame monsters! And they kept melting my snow fortress!"
"Jacqueline dear…we have a guest," Winter said.
Jacqueline looked in the direction Winter gestured to, her face dropping. "Oh." She recovered from the shock fairly fast, the surprise on her face quickly becoming a small smile as she dropped into a curtsy. "Mother Nature, what a surprise," she said.
"Indeed. A pleasure as always, Jacqueline," Mother Nature said, smiling.
Jacqueline, unlike her younger siblings, was more or less neatly put together. She wore one of her simple frozen blue dresses today. It was lightly frosted, unlike her usual formal dress Mother Nature saw her in (which was frozen very well, the bodice literal icicles). Jacqueline glanced away, brushing off one of her poofed sleeves and then folding her hands in front of her, the long, wide bottoms of the sleeves hiding them. Though she looked a lot like her brother, her features were rounder and warmer. She was not frozen nor had she ever been frozen.
"Now kids, we love your company but I don't think now is the best time," Winter began.
"Nonsense, they can stay. That is to say, they should say," Mother Nature said, the idea fully formed now.
"But first, they need to wash up," Blaise said, getting up and shooing the Twins out the door. "You two are covered in ash."
"It's natural!" Fiera said. "We couldn't wash it off if we tried!"
"You can wash it off, and you will," Blaise said, only a tad sternly.
"C'mon Fiera, let's go." Fino grabbed her hand and the two kids rushed out of the room, disappearing to the other side of the first floor.
"So what did he do this time?" Jacqueline asked. "I'm assuming he did something, judging by this large piece of…cardboard? I accidently teleported into." She rubbed her nose again, frowning.
Mother Nature waved her hand, the Frostmas cut out once again appearing. Jacqueline looked shocked; her face fell, and she turned to her parents. "So, uh, about those weird feelings—"
"I'm so sorry we didn't listen to you, Jacqueline," Winter said.
Whatever retort Jacqueline had had died in her throat. Her face fell, her shoulders slumped when she saw Winter's sad look.
"Is this it?" Jacqueline asked Mother Nature. The matriarch paid careful attention to the young sprite's face, watching as she avoided all eye contact with her Mother.
"This is just one of two-hundred and thirty," Mother Nature said, frowning.
"He's outdone himself this time," Jaqueline said, quietly.
"It's true, Dad."
"And that's not all, I'm afraid," Mother Nature continued, paying rapt attention to the three adults in the room with her. "He's caused an extreme shift in balance for this time of year! Froze a volcano, cooled off Mexico—causing the geese to fly back North for the winter—and it's currently snowing in the Amazon."
"This situation is a huge mess," Mother Nature said. "I won't beat around the bush here. Originally, I was going to request the help of your parents…but I see now that it may be better if I enlisted your help as well, Jacqueline, along with your siblings."
"How so?" Jacqueline asked.
"Your parents have told me that you've exceeded your current rank and are perhaps well past Legendary, even."
Jacqueline glanced back at her parents briefly, her mouth twitching. She looked at the cut out again, the smile that was threatening to break through dropping. "I mean…I don't wanna brag or anything but I've…learnt a thing or two since my last MELT."
"Then consider today the day of your final MELT."
"My final MELT? For the Legendary ranking? Today?"
Mother Nature nodded.
"WE'RE BACK!" Fiera shouted, rushing into the room soot free. (Panicking, Jacqueline pushed the cut out onto the floor behind the couch, where the Twins wouldn't see it).
"And clean! I told you so," Fino said to Fiera. She stuck her tongue out at him, crossing her arms. Fino blew a raspberry back at her before turning back to Mother Nature. "Did you say something about MELTs?" he asked, eyebrow raised.
"I did indeed. I came over today originally because I needed your parent's help with some…problems. After talking to them though and seeing what you three kids are capable of—"
"I bet it was my flame," Fiera whispered to Fino.
"—capable of," Mother Nature continued, smiling nonetheless, "I have decided to get you two and your sister to help me fix these problems. Here's what's gone wrong."
And so, Mother Nature spent the last thirty minutes explaining in detail to the kids what had happened. She had divvied the tasks accordingly. Jacqueline would move the storm to Ontario, where it should've been. The Twins would take care of the volcano together (as unfreezing a volcano was something that was more of a rank four thing; but two rank twos should do the job just as nicely, she figured). Fino would calmly explain to the geese that it was not June but November, and tell them to head back to Mexico; that is, after the two of them warmed it up.
"Everyone knows what they're doing?" Mother Nature asked.
"I get to unfreeze a VOLCANO! I've always WANTED to play with lava!"
"I'll be helping her with that and then the two of us will warm up Mexico, so I can tell the geese to go back to their vacation home!"
"Then later on, I'll be moving a set of storms over a few continents."
"Precisely. Fino, Fiera, we leave in an hour; I have some unfinished business back at the garden to take care of, and by the time I finish it should be sufficiently dark enough that we can evade the mortals."
"Okay!" they chorused, rushing out of the room and up the stairs.
Once the twins were out of sight, Jacqueline slammed her foot down, the cardboard Jack springing up. "What about these?"
"While I administer the MELTs, Blaise and Winter will collect the remainder. Will you both be okay with that?"
Winter paled; Blaise looked at her, concerned. She nodded. "We should be fine," Blaise voiced.
"Just one question," Jacqueline said. Mother Nature inclined her head, indicating the sprite to continue. "The snow already coating the Amazon. What do you want me to do about that?"
"Once you move the storms northwards, the regular temperature should kick in and melt it ASAP. By morning, it will be right as rain. Keep in mind, Jacqueline, your MELT is very different. It is a combination of demonstrating your powers and doing your brother's duties. You are a Legate, after all. And with what he's done now, if our current punishment doesn't hold up, you may be taking that title sooner than you thought."
"So no pressure, right?"
Mother Nature snorted. "None at all."
"What is his current punishment?" Blaise blurted out.
"Community service at the North Pole. Santa's idea."
"Are we sure that was wise?" Blaise asked. Winter looked away.
Mother Nature was beginning to make sense of a few things. "Well, Santa seemed convinced and seeing as how it was him whom Jack directly wronged, the Council voted yes."
"Maybe it will be good for him," Winter said, quietly.
"One can only hope," Mother Nature replied, noting Blaise's frown and Jacqueline's…hurt? Expression. The silence was thick.
"Thank you very much for doing this, Mother," Winter said, breaking the silence.
"Thank you, Winter dear. Without the help of you and the children, I imagine it would take me much longer to clean up this mess!" she stood up, grabbing her headdress and placing it back on her head. "Now then, I have a bit of an unwanted guest back at the Garden that I must take care of. I'll be back in an hour for the Twins; the two of you should be good to go once we leave."
"Sounds good," Blaise said, getting up and offering Winter a hand. She took it and got up as well, giving her Mother another hug.
"Thank you for visiting," Winter said. "Even if the circumstances weren't…ideal."
"It was a lovely visit, despite the reason. I'll be back before you know it," Mother Nature finished, pulling out of the hug and squeezing her daughter's shoulders tightly. "Until then, Winter, Blaise, Jacqueline."
With a small smile and a weight lifted off of her chest, Mother Nature disappeared in a bright flash of light.
Mother Nature reappeared in her Garden with a new sense of purpose. With the Frosts help, she would fix the unbalances in the world and administer the MELTs she should have given the kids a long time ago.
Most importantly, she would fix the unbalances plaguing the Frost family; she was determined to. You see, Mother Nature had a special gift. Yes, she had all of nature at her fingertips, but she was also able to sense the nature of people.
This meant that as an added bonus, she could sense if a person was unbalanced or balanced just right. And the Frosts, they were very, very unbalanced.
She had reappeared in her rose garden, where the giant sundial stood. Her visit had taken roughly two hours and forty-five minutes; of course Father Time would have been right. He always was, when it came to matters of time! That near three-hour visit had allowed Mother Nature to pick up on what was plaguing each of the Frosts and figure out what it was that was causing their unbalances—well, nearly.
The Twins had been easy enough. They were hiding something from their parents. You couldn't even tell just by looking at them; but occasionally, as Mother Nature had explained the situation, they had shared a knowing look once or twice, almost as if they were communicating silently. As if they knew something they did not want their parents to know.
Then there was Jacqueline. She had practically radiated negative emotions. There was fear, worry, and…anger. Which was very concerning for the matriarch, because she could not tell who the sprite was angry at. Worst was, it felt as thought a lot of that fear and anger was towards Jacqueline herself. That sort of self doubt was not healthy for a sprite in the long run. The sooner Mother Nature worked that out with her, the better.
And of course as always, there was the deeply conflicted feelings of Blaise and Winter. Today they were at a peak; Mother Nature figured it was because of the news she had had to share. Winter was upset; Mother Nature got the vibe she was also upset at herself and also hiding something from everyone else. And Blaise? He just wanted Winter to be happy—and he didn't know how he could do that now.
With a determined smile, Mother Nature headed to her kitchen first, to make sure said unwanted guest was gone, then towards her forest office. It was time to get to work; balance had to be restored.
Thankfully, balance was Mother Nature's specialty.
A/N-And finally, we Meet the Frosts!
Even people like Jack have to have a family, and this is my portrayal of them. When posted, it had been a plot bunny for quite some time! Next up are the Twins! We'll learn what they're hiding and love their fiery antics even more! Do give me feedback on my shitty frosty children! I love them all so much and would love to know what about them you love, dear reader! I don't bite! I also have the Legate Law and MELT definition up on my page, if you're curious about either or!
[Updated: October 15th, 2017]