This chapter is dedicated to fleetpoco on Tumblr! They drew the amazing picture for this story! LOVE YOU FLEETY! :D
The workshop was in ruins. No one could deny that. It had taken an hour to get all of the flames out, and only burnt toys were left behind. Everyone survived, yes. Well...at least they hoped.
Jack couldn't find Selena anywhere. He had first gone to her room and found it lying in ashes. When he didn't find her in the rubble, he had kept searching. But he still couldn't find her.
Everyone but Selena had been accounted for. Where was she?
I don't know how long I sat there in the snow. I couldn't make myself move. I tried, but I just couldn't. Time had slowed, along with my mind. I couldn't think straight at all. All I could do was sit and watch from a distance as the flames were slowly put out.
I thought about going back. I thought about Jack and everyone else. I prayed that they made it. I prayed that they would forgive me. Who knew what had happened. Certainly not me.
After a long time, I weakly got up from the icy floor. I gazed sadly after the workshop. I couldn't go back. I just couldn't.
I slowly conjured up a waterspout below me and floated away quietly.
The trip took a long time. I lost track of how much time went by. All I remember is just floating slowly through the air to my destination, feeling the weight of the world on me. Thinking about how everyone must have reacted. Imagining them going through piles of burnt toys.
I found myself sitting on a bench in the Wisteria Tunnel in Japan. It was so beautiful...different colors of purple and white wisteria hanging down elegantly...it reminded me of Bunnymund's Warren. I glanced around it and sighed. What was I even doing here?
I saw a cute little girl with short black hair come wandering up the path. She had on an adorable little blue dress with white polka-dots, and the brownest eyes you've ever seen. She ran around in the lush grass barefooted, smiling at the few people in the tunnel. She happened to catch my gaze and she gasped.
She ran over to me and plopped down on the bench next to me. "好奇心! 好奇心! 私は前に見たことがありません! ここでは数日前でした!" she said excitedly, tugging on my sleeve.
I stared at her with a confused expression. "Umm...I'm sorry...I don't speak Japanese," I said with an embarrassed laugh.
She tilted her head at me for a moment before a flash passed through her eyes. "Curiosity! I see you here before," she said in broken English. "A few day ago," she told me with a large smile.
I smiled at her. "Did you now?" I asked her.
She nodded her head. "Yes!" she said excitedly. She jumped off the bench and pulled on my hand. "Come!" she giggled. I got up and let her pull me along through the garden tunnel. Not many people were there, but the few that were there just smiled at the sight of a little girl pulling along her imaginary friend.
She pulled me along for quite some time. She followed the basic path, but she soon took a sharp left turn. "Where are we going?" I asked her curiously.
She smiled back at me. "You will see," she quipped with a giggle. She continued to pull me along through the wisteria. By now, we didn't pass anyone. We were off on our own path that not many people came down.
She finally stopped, and I looked up. A dome of wisteria of all shades of purple tangled in with bright green vines was above our heads. A small garden of flowers and lush green grass stood all around a small pool of blue water. It looked like a Thomas Kinkade painting. She went over and sat by the water on her knees.
"I found path few day ago when you visit," she told me, dipping her hand gently in the water. I watched as the ripples went out slowly, smoothly. "I curious suddenly. Mother say to me to not go on path, but I did." She looked back at me. "I told no person," she said with a smile. "It special place," she finished, looking around the little paradise.
I sat down on my knees next to her, nodding slowly. "Yeah, it is. Why did you bring me here, though?" I asked her quietly.
She smiled brightly at me. "You help me find it," she replied easily. "You special- it special," she commented.
I blinked over at her, adjusting my glasses with my hand. She couldn't have been older than nine...ten at most. And yet she was so wise already. I could tell she was.
"Why do you frown?" her little voice asked. I could tell that she was worried.
I sighed and looked out over the water. "I made a big mistake, and I'm afraid my friends will be mad at me for it," I explained, not taking my eyes off of a beautiful flower that my eye had caught.
She grinned at me and ran over to the flower. She plucked it gently out of the ground and brought it over to me. She held it up to my face.
"Look," she said. "It very beautiful, yes?" she asked. I nodded, not really sure where she was going.
"It rare flower," she told me softly, stroking the satin-like petals. She looked up at me. "You like flower," she said. "Look- there is something wrong with flower," she motioned to a small blemish on one of the petals.
She fingered the flower gently as I inspected the spot. "Wrong thing not seen until look closely," she mentioned, holding the flower up in the air. "It still beautiful."
I blinked at her, slowly catching onto what she was saying. "So...are you saying that I made just one mistake? And that it won't be noticed?" I asked hesitantly, still doubting myself. Surely the lack of toys at Christmas would be noticed.
She nodded. "Friends will for...for..." she made a cute face as she struggled with the word.
"Forget?" I supplied. She shook her head. I thought for a moment before it hit me. "Forgive? Do you mean forgive?" I asked her excitedly. I had no clue why I was so excited over what this little girl was saying, but I just knew that she was saying it for some reason.
She perked right up, her yes brightening. "Yes! Yes! For...give," she stumbled over her words. She smiled at me. "Friends forgive friends," she advised wisely. I smiled at her and tapped her nose. She giggled at me, and felt her nose.
"It wet," she commented, making a confused expression.
I smiled at her. "It's a drop of curiosity," I told her. "What is your name, sweetie?" I asked her.
She smiled at me happily. "Hanu!"
I smiled back at her, motioning for her to lean in closely. "My name is Selena," I whispered secretively.
She giggled at me. "Seh...lee...nah," she said slowly, testing out my name. She smiled at me once more, and it was then that I noticed that she was missing a tooth on her bottom row.
I knew then that I had to get back. I had to see Tooth. I had to tell her about little Hanu's tooth.
North sighed, rubbing his forehead with his hand. "We searched...everywhere," he stressed, tears clouding into his deep blue eyes. He shook his head, looking down at the floor in shame. "And nothing," he whispered.
Angela Clause sighed and gave her husband a sympathetic smile. She set down a plate of cookies and a mug of eggnog in front of him, but he just stared at it blankly. She sat down in the chair opposite of him at the table in their kitchen. She glanced around the little cabin kitchen. Their home was buried deep in the ice castle, and thankfully, the fire hadn't reached this far in. She looked back to her husband, setting her small hand on top of his in comfort.
"Nicholas..." she pressed, bending down to look up into his crestfallen eyes. "I'm sure she's fine. She's made it out of worse," she reminded him.
He just sighed and shook his head. "I know, Angie..." he murmured, turning his hand over to hold hers. "I'm just worried about Jack. And Tooth. And Bunny. And Sandy," he listed, shaking his head still. "She's effected them all so much...and I feel like we'll never be able to protect her," he admitted.
Angela straightened up in her chair, giving her husband a stern look. "Well, I don't think that just sitting around is going to help any," she told him seriously. "Now, where was she last seen?" she asked.
He put his elbows up on the table top and put his hands together, resting his chin on them. "She was with Jack...of course," he laughed wistfully. "He had just given her her birthday present...and he said something about a...spark, or something," he recalled slowly.
Angela rolled her eyes. "Well, they're in love- of course there's a spark!" she said exasperatedly.
"No, no," he insisted. "It was a different kind of spark...electrical," he told her.
She gave him a confused expression. "I don't understand..."
He sighed. "Neither do I," he admitted, running his large hand through his white hair. "Neither do I."
Jack sat on the edge of the remains of the ice castle. His staff stood in his hands limply, and his hoodie hung over his head. His eyes stared out at the cold terrain of the North Pole. He breathed a sigh, hardly noticing the puff of cool air coming from out of his parted mouth.
Carolyn. That was the only word he could think of. Carolyn. And all he wanted to know was if she was okay.