Disclaimer: Rise of the Guardians belongs to William Joyce and DreamWorks. The Guardians belongs to William Joyce... and Laura Geringer (a tad)... and perhaps Simon & Schuster. The Guardians of Childhood? Yeah, that would be Joyce as well. Esse belongs in the east wing of Fuzzy Fuchsia Carpets Sanitorium for the Criminally Inept. Yes. You heard it here first. Ineptness is a crime.
Notes: It seems to me the movie and the books take place in two separate worlds. This story takes place somewhere between the two. Expect spoilers and speculation.
Warnings: Some parts are dark. Some parts are fluffy. And some parts... well... yeah... They're really dark.
In The Silence
The village glows golden in front of him. Light dances from the bonfire and from the clear, curving glass of hurricane lamps; reflects back from the sparkling eyes of the villagers bundled up in thick, warm layers of clothing. Light bathes them in its comforting presence; it chases back the dark to mere shadows under their feet.
He stares down at his own pale, bare feet.
He casts no shadow.
And that, perhaps, is the most terrifying thing during a night full of discoveries both wonderful and horrific. A handful of truths swimming amongst the blank, dark depths of his mind. He is Jack Frost — if the Moon wasn't lying. He doesn't think the Moon would lie, but he never would have thought light would lie, and yet...
He casts no shadow.
Men and women pass through him, unseeing, unhearing. Children pass through him — unbelieving. Light light light — passes right through him, denying his existence. But he does. He does exist. He thinks...
Would the Moon have named him, if he didn't exist?
He must. If he didn't, then there wouldn't be memories of cold and dark and fear before the Moon beckoned. And he does remember cold. And dark. And fear. They're with him still. Even if, right before him, there's warmth and light and happiness filling the village square. He yearns for them, towards them, reaching out with every fiber of his being — and frost creeps across the uneven ground.
He wants to cast a shadow.
Frost comes across an invisible boundary, where the fire's warmth won't let it pass. There's a struggle, and he feels it as a tingle across his skin. It's unpleasant, and he pushes against the sensation, glaring up towards the Moon. He wants to be. He wants his voice to be heard, and his frost to be seen, and his shadow to fall across the village square as proof that he IS.
And clouds cover the Moon, dark and angry, casting the village into shadow. The Wind picks up, moaning through the branches of the surrounding pine trees and whistling through tiny cracks in windows and small gaps underneath doors. Cold falls over the glowing town, sharp and painful, as frost spreads — a heavy blanket of perfect, frozen lace.
Shivering, the townsfolk rush back inside their homes, closing shutters against the wailing Wind and sudden flurry of stinging snow. The fire gutters — and dies. All that's left in the village's small square is cold. And dark. And fear.
Jack stares, and trembles. Because his shadow is horrible. Horrible. He turns and runs from it, but it follows behind him as any ordinary shadow would.
cold. dark. fear.
He's back where he started, the beginning of all memories, the beginning of him — whatever he might be. Not cold dark fear he begs the hidden Moon, he never ever wants to be cold dark fear but the Moon doesn't answer. Perhaps the Moon doesn't answer — because some truths are too terrible to speak.
He brings his staff down hard upon the lake's thick ice, and it cracks. Another blow; black, sluggish water oozes from the wound in the ice. Jack knows, he knows he knows he knows that the Moon has made a mistake. A terrible, horrible cold dark fear mistake.
He dives into the water, and lets it pull him down. Down into the inky, icy depths and away from his raging storm of a shadow. Back to the very beginning, the very first memory, the very first realization of I. I. I.
He is Jack Frost — if the Moon wasn't lying. But the Moon knows by now that there's been a mistake; it must know, because he knows. He's a terrible, tragic cold dark fear mistake. Jack Frost never, never ever should have been pulled from the bottom of the lake.