"When we were young, oh oh, we did enough
When it got cold, ooh ooh, we bundled up
I can't be told, ah ah it can't be done."
- Stubborn Love, The Lumineers
He was wearing a bramble of thorns on his head like a crown, and she couldn't help but gasp at the sight.
Toothiana was a busy woman, that was a common, and well known fact. The only Guardian to work year-round, yessiree, no one knew work like the Tooth Fairy. It was a comfort, really, the set schedules and routines, the baby faced fairy helpers, the mostly unexpected visitor on her palace doorstep. She enjoyed the regularity, the expected highs and lows—unpredictable events were simply not her cup of tea.
But, despite her love for the clockwork-like rhythm, the last item on her list of favorite things became more of an anomaly as the years went on. The frost spirit that would accompany her travels during the warmer months was uncharacteristically absent from the Guardian's celebration of the summer solstice.
Bunnymund shot out in a wry chuckle that maybe she was working him too hard, it only took seconds for her cheeks to flame and flare, and for her vocal chords to stutter out an explanation that disproved the Easter bunny's less than innocent suggestion. The hare simply rolled his eyes, and turned his attention to North, who was fiddling with a miniature rocket, the icy replica whirred around his hands, as an unsettling fog settled around the Guardians. North's Yeti companions were nervous, making more mistakes than usual, dropping pricy hors d'oeuvres and champagne glasses at a moment's notice, the elves were getting themselves tangled in lights and strings, even Sandy was acting strange, the Guardian of Dreams was wide awake, and alert, as if expecting an attack. Question marks lingered above his golden head, the amount multiplying with every ticking second.
They all turned to her, and Toothiana had nothing to say. Babytooth floated above her shoulders, staring at the queen of fairies with a sad expression. She patted down her feathers, and rolled her shoulders back, before she let out a sigh she hadn't been aware she was holding.
The toy rocket landed below her small feet, lay on the tiled floor in shards of snow and dust.
"Ey mate, you leave a bloody window open, North? I'm feelin' a chill comin' on." Bunnymund hated the cold, everyone knew that.
North shook his head in the negative, and Sandy made some sort of gurgling noise, the palace was shivering, shuddering, before a great big boom shook the air.
For one second, just a moment in the fabric of time and space, they all stared in shock and worry—they were in complete and utter stupor.
The moment ended, and they were up in arms. They ran to the source of the noise.
All except one.
Toothiana stayed behind. She could hold her own in battle, that's not the problem. Her ultraviolet eyes were wide, and knowing, and just a bit scared, when she raised her hand up to her line of sight.
Her fingertips were covered in ice.
Fuschia nails she loved and adored were a pale blue, her emerald feathers were coated in powder snow, and the color only travelled up her arms at an alarming rate.
He was angry.
So, so angry. She could hear his emotional fit of rage from where she stood, North's extravagant lobby was a kingdom of ice and cold. His opulent globe was flickering on and off, lights unstable and terrifying. Wind whipped around her, each cold caress chilled to her the bone, she shook and she trembled, but she never looked away from the air, snowflakes danced and twirled and dropped almost violently onto the floor, revealing their hero, their heir.
Jack Frost stood in the ebony ice, back straight, silver hair windswept and gorgeous, skin off-white and dying. There are leaves and twigs on his hood, the fabric of his jeans is torn and washed out. He was wearing a bramble of thorns on his head like a crown, and she couldn't help but gasp at the sight.
So she raised her weapon, a whip fashioned from vines and sunflower stalks. He shook his head, staff in his hand. The wood is darker than she remembers it, the color of ash and debris.
"Hey, Tooth." His smile doesn't reach his eyes, the words fall flat against the disaster brewing down below. The North Pole was up in flames, and she wasn't sure who to blame at this point.
It couldn't be Jack. It just couldn't.
"Jack, what's going on?" She kept her voice steady, kept it calm without a hint of the desperation she was feeling strangle her throat. Her blue hands are forgotten among the insanity, she walked towards the boy she is in love with.
His face is that of a stranger's.
"I'm better now, Tooth. Everything's fantastic, actually." His grin was terrifying. He waved his staff around, and even his already bone frame looked hallow, he was a breathing skeleton. "I had a chat with the higher ups, made a good friend, and things are just going great." He breathed out the word with a puff of a ice, and she shied away from the cold air. He closed the distance between them, hanged his arms around her shoulders, and pushed her against his chest.
"I'm stronger now." He stared into her eyes, and she saw the abyss. The abyss is frigid, the abyss is blue, it's a fathomless color, it's periwinkle, it's glacier, it's the sky on a bad, bad day, it's the color of a forewarned apocalypse, it's the color of her lips when they press against the hollow of his collarbone. It's the color of his face when she slapped him away.
His eyes are contradictory shades, they are blue, they are yellow.
They are poisoned.
He was on the ground after her palm leaves his chest, he was recoiling from the hit. She was livid, she was angry, she was burning brighter than the sun outside the ravaged palace, she heard the sound of horses and wicked chaos, and screeches from the world beyond.
"Who are you, and what did you do to Jack?" She screamed and brandished her whip, the crack of vines are enough to get the boy into battle mode, he parried her attacks with a flick and twirl of his staff, ice covered the ground, but neither of them are too bothered by the change in conditions, they fight airborne. "Pitch did this, didn't he?"
Jack shrugged nonchalantly, and charges at the fairy queen, throwing her against a mirrored wall of the palace. His hands are at her neck, fingertips bruise feathered flesh. She scratched at his chest, anything to get him off of her.
"Yeah, I guess he did. It was a good trade, really. He believed in me."
Was that why the boy of her dreams, in his longing for faith, sided with their sworn enemy? Was he really that broken, underneath his mischievous smile and charming way?
My god, I'm a failure.
She could've saved him.
She could've she could've she could've—
His grip loosened, and she wrestled him off her tiny frame, flying skyward as soon as she sent the boy tumbling down. He landed on a broken heap of toys, the ruins probed his skin, broke a few bones, she could just tell.
They would be fine in a matter of hours. Until then, she needed to leave.
She needed to gather the rest of the Guardians, and from there…
Toothiana wasn't sure what would happen after that, but she was certain of one, just one, thing.
They needed to save Jack Frost.