Hello! Alright this is my first fic for Rise of the Guardians; I fell in love with the movie and characters and this idea just kind of popped into my mind and refused to leave me alone until I wrote it down… that being said it goes without saying that I don't own anything accept my own OC's and the basic plot of this fanfic. Alright now on with the story!

Chapter 1

The Writer

Artemis Terraheart hated winter…

It was funny how such a simple and blunt fact came to her as she sat in a booth at the local diner, The Rose Garden, and looked out the window. Watching the world slowly pass by. Even though it was only about 1 o'clock in the afternoon the weather outside was grey and overcast which made it feel much later than it actually was. Artemis sat quietly her gaze occasionally shifting between the snowy winter scene outside and the tea she had barely touched since she had ordered it. In spite of the fact that this diner was her favorite place to eat out, the only reason she was really here today was to meet with somebody… somebody who was apparently running late… again... This thought caused a faint smile to cross her face.

"Late as always. Dreary's trademark curse still lives." She whispered to herself as she took a sip of her tea. In appearance Artemis was an attractive young woman, approximately twenty-six years of age. Her hair was as black as a moonless night and tied back in a long, thick braid that went down to the back of her knees. However a few strands of her hair hung loosely in her face but she paid them no mind. Her skin seemed to be abnormally pale, as though she spent most of her time indoors and out of the sun. She wore a black long sleeved shirt with red tribal designs on the arms and across the chest. She also wore gothic black jeans and black Hot-Topic boots. But by far her most abnormal trait was her eyes… while at first glance one would think they were an odd shade of brown; that was not the case… far from it actually… the truth of the matter was that Artemis Terraheart's eyes were a deep ruby red.

Freaky? Yep, that was the word that best described it. All throughout her life Artemis's eyes had attracted more than a little unwanted attention, especially back when she was a child. She had learned first-hand how cruel other kids could be to someone who was different… even when the only difference was something as small as eye color. Some kids would stare at her while others would call her a freak. But more often than not, having eyes like bloody pools just guaranteed that most people stayed as far away from her as possible. Hell, back when they were alive even Artemis's own parents wondered about her eyes and had even taken her to dozens of specialists, seeking an explanation. But no one could ever offer the much sought after explanation, let alone a remedy for this odd trait. Although after all these years, quite frankly Artemis couldn't have cared less.

As she alone knew her eyes were unique in more ways than one…

"Hey Artist! Sorry we're late; there was more traffic than I thought there would be." The sound of an upbeat female voice talking to her drew Artemis's attention out of her thoughts and onto the individual who had finally decided to show up. The newcomer was a pretty young woman, probably a few years younger than Artemis. She had mid-length chocolate brown hair that went down to the center of her shoulder blades, her eyes were a soft blue, and her heavily freckled skin was also pale but not to the same extent as Artemis's. She carried an oddly large black and silver satchel whilst she wore a heavy green coat with some black fur around the hood and cuffs of her sleeves. Barely visible beneath her coat was a festive blue winter sweater. She also wore dark blue jeans and black snow boots.

Dolly Jamerson, known to her friends as Dreary was Artemis's best, if not only friend. They had been friends since High school. Back then Dolly had moved into the area and was quickly considered the odd duck as she was always freakishly happy… so much so that it actually alienated her from most kids, as they found her to be weird. Back then she was often a victim of bullying; until Artemis who had been the schools goth loner at the time, got pissed at what was taking place and beat the living hell out of the people who were picking on her. It was from that day forward that Dolly started hanging around with Artemis; albeit mostly for protection at first… but over time they grew to be friends, eventually becoming inseparable. But whilst hanging out with Artemis she was somehow branded with the nickname Dreary and it had just stuck with her ever since. At the same time Dreary gave Artemis the nickname Artist due to her artistic nature… however unlike Dreary's nickname that everyone called her, only a very select group of people were allowed to address Artemis as that. Over the years the two had remained as close as sisters; all throughout their college years and even when…

When the worst tragedy of Artemis's life had struck with the fury of a thousand hells…

"Late? Dreary I'd have worried if you were on time! After all it is your eternal curse to be late for everything." Artemis chuckled dryly. It was a joke, although an accurate one. No matter what the case Dreary always seemed unable to be on time for anything. It was a little surprising she even managed to hold down her job as a journalist with her borderline legendary tendency to be late. "And just what do you mean by 'we'?"

"Hi Auntie Artemis!" The voice of someone Artemis had failed to notice was also with Dreary. It was the voice of Danny, Dreary's five year old son. He was a cute kid, he had his mother's freckles whilst his hair was dirty blonde in color and his eyes were a vibrant sparkling blue. He was also a little over dressed for the weather, having an extra heavy navy blue coat on as well as two light blue winter sweaters, a long sleeved dark blue shirt and black snow boots. Although this could easily be chalked up to his overprotective mother, it was clear that the little boy didn't mind the extra clothing as he was an oddly calm and cooperative child.

"Hello Danny, I wasn't expecting to see you." Artemis said with a small smile as the boy took off his coat before slipping into the booth. Followed by Dreary once she hung up the coats of both herself and her son.

"I wasn't planning on bringing him but something sort of came up." Dreary replied apologetically whilst reaching into her bag and pulling out a few sheets of blank paper and a couple of crayons for Danny to play with whilst the adults talked.

"Heh, I know how that can be." Artemis said before taking another drink of her tea. "Well they stopped serving breakfast about an hour ago. Want to have lunch instead?"

"Sure and again thanks for meeting up with me. I know it's been kind of a long time… oh, I'm reading your new book by the way. It's… um…" She cast a quick look at her son who was not paying the slightest bit of attention to what was going on. "Nice?" She said with a bit of a forced smile.

"Scaring you senseless Dreary?" Artemis joked darkly. Indeed if there was one thing that Artemis was truly renowned for, it was her writing. Or to put it more appropriately her novels; her horror novels. She had authored her first book when she was nineteen and was met with instant success. Her work was always on the best-seller list; Artemis herself had even gained the title of the 'Queen of Fear' due to the terrifying nature of her work. Although her writings had always been thrilling page turners, it was her latest book that many people had claimed crossed the line… it was bloodier and according to some critics it was far more 'evil' in nature than the usual content horror writers dared to put into their books.

"I wouldn't say 'senseless' exactly." Dreary muttered rubbing the back of her head in a worried manner. "But… well, it's kind of concerning because of everything that's happened… so… are you… ok?" Sensing where this conversation was going Artemis gave her a cold look. A look that made her red eyes seem to shine malevolently.

"Don't…" was the only word she said and it sent a shiver down Dreary's spine. Undoubtedly Artemis could be a frightening person to piss off and even though Dreary knew her better than anyone, she could still get spooked by that seemingly unnatural glare that her best friend had.

"I'm just worried about you that's all." Dreary said softly, fidgeting slightly under that uncomfortably cold look Artemis was giving her. "I mean it's been a little over a year now since-"

"Hmm? What are you drawing there Danny?" Artemis said to the young boy, successfully stopping the conversation at hand. Much to Dreary's partial relief... while she initially was going to bring a certain subject up; she ultimately decided that in some matters… perhaps it was best to just to let some things rest.

"My friends." Danny replied with a big smile as he turned the paper around for his mother and aunt to see. The picture depicted several figures that were actually pretty well drawn for a five year old. "That's Ryan, Sarah, Mikey, and that's Johnny!" The last name on that list caused a look of panic crossed Dreary's face and an unreadable emotion began to fill Artemis's eyes. Her gaze slowly scanned the drawing… the depiction of the boy Danny called Johnny varied greatly from the other drawings on the page.

His depiction of this boy included a halo and a small pair of wings…

"Just cause he's gone doesn't mean we're not friends anymore." Danny stated simply, perhaps not quite grasping his mother's sudden look of fear or his aunt's emotionless eyes. But after a few seconds the cold look left Artemis's face and was replaced with a look of warmth and happiness… even if the happiness was perhaps more than a little forced.

"No… no I'm sure that Johnny feels the same way." She said gently as she pushed the drawing back to Danny who merely smiled and looked over at his mother.

"May I go play some of the games?" He asked; referring to the videogames located in the nearby side room of the diner. After fishing around in her bag for a second Dreary handed her son some quarters and watched him scurry off after a quick, "Thanks Mom!" This left Dreary and Artemis alone… Artemis smiled as she watched the boy go before quickly wiping the freshly forming tears out of her eyes.

"Artist… I am SO sorry. I told him not to mention-"

"It's fine…" She said quickly as she tried to focus her attention elsewhere. "You're doing something very right with him you know. He's going to grow up to be a great man someday. I can see it clearly. That's all your doing Dreary, Lionel sure as hell isn't contributing anything." At the mention of this name a long and uncomfortable silence fell between the two…

Now there was a name that had a ton and a half of problems associated with it. Lionel was the father of Danny and was briefly Dreary's husband. If there was ever a bigger piece of slime to have existed it would have covered the whole damn planet. He was a smooth talker and an incredibly wealthy executive to some multi-national company… he'd lured Dreary with his charm. Even in spite of Artemis's warnings that something was just not right with the guy; Dreary fell for his act and ended up wedded to him.

It was a match made in hell…

Lionel had cheated on Dreary left, right, and sideways. He made her life a complete misery; in fact it was one of the few times in her life that Dreary truly lived up to her nickname. She tried to keep it together especially when she had become pregnant with Danny… it wasn't until several months after Danny was born did Dreary get the emotional strength up to leave. She had called Artemis begging her to come pick them up. When Artemis had gotten there Lionel had just arrived and was intent on not letting Dreary or Danny go. Which ultimately led to a fight between Artemis and Lionel… to make a long story very short, Artemis left with Dreary and her infant son although she needed to get fifteen stitches in her side, whilst Lionel needed to get five false teeth. The following day Dreary had filed for divorce and Lionel actually signed the divorce papers without any problems… a truly bittersweet victory. Due to the fact that he and Dreary never had a prenuptial agreement, he took every dime she had from her savings and her parents' life insurance policy. He didn't even need the money; he did it only for spite… in short… Dreary was left with nothing, accept Danny.

And lately he had been trying to take that too…

"Which brings me to the other reason why I asked to see you today." Dreary said ominously. Finally breaking the silence that had been hanging over the table like a fog. "I have to go to a custody hearing later today… nothing major is getting decided or anything but I don't want Danny to have to be there. He's scared of Lionel enough as it is. Could you maybe…"

"You want me to watch him today?" Artemis concluded a smile reforming on her face. "Dreary, you know you don't have to ask! I enjoy having someone else around in that big house of mine. Besides it's my part of my godmotherly duties right?" She added jokingly since she was in fact the godmother to Danny.

"I just don't want to upset you Artist. I know that it was around this time of year that the accident happened and all-"

"It's in the past and I'm trying to leave it there." Artemis stated coldly with the slightest hint of bitterness vaguely present in her voice. But it quickly dissipated as Danny made his return from the videogames. "So how were the games Danny?"

"I lost." The boy stated as he got back in the booth.

"Danny, how would you like to spend the rest of the day over at your Auntie Artemis's house?" Dreary asked and immediately the child's face lit up with a huge happy grin.

"Really?" He asked practically jumping up in his seat. Seeing his enthusiasm got Artemis to laugh a small warm-hearted laugh.

"Maybe your mom will even let you sleep over?" Artemis inquired casting Dreary a quick look. The boys' mother sighed and shook her head.

"Alright but I'm gonna pick you up early tomorrow. We have things we have to do, right Danny?"

"Right!" He chirped happily.

"She says early, but with your mom we've got till noon at least." Artemis joked with a slight laugh. "But any particular rules outside of the basics?"

"Only one and it's a biggie… don't you dare read him any of your books! The last thing he needs is anymore nightmares!" Dreary stated seriously… even though she did mean it in more of a kidding manner. Artemis nodded quickly before successfully managing to catch the attention of one of the waiters; who had been told by Artemis that they'd let them know when they were ready to start ordering.

Thankfully lunch went by without any more unpleasant topics being brought up.

Artemis's house was not actually a 'house' per say… in reality it was a large stone gothic manor.

Comfortable? Yes.

Spacious? Absolutely.

Creepy? Without a doubt…

Well it was… when Artemis was younger she had always been fascinated by this mysterious building, of course back then it was completely run down and abandoned. No one had lived in it for almost a century; many people would claim that the place gave off a malevolent sort of aura that dissuaded visitors… which might also help to explain why there wasn't a neighbor for miles… in short it was a freaky old house that no sane person would want to visit let alone live in. But to Artemis this place had become her home. Her soaring success as a writer had made her very wealthy; and when the chance presented itself she purchased the run-down old manor and had it beautifully restored. But even though it was no longer in bad condition it still gave off an unsettling vibe which still kept most people away… not to mention that anyone who had read Artemis's books wouldn't dream of walking up and knocking on her door anyway; the appearance of her home only added to her terrifying public image. Although according to the gossip around town that was exactly what Artemis wanted…

That aside, tonight on this particular evening Artemis had just finished tucking Danny into one of her comfortable spare bedrooms and was reading him a bedtime story. Definitely not one of her own books, but rather one of those heartwarming stories that helped fill children's minds full of pleasant thoughts and hopefully sweet dreams.

"And they all lived happily ever after. The end." She finished as she closed the book she had been reading from. Danny yawned a little before looking sleepily up at Artemis.

"Auntie, could you leave the light on?" he asked as he adjusted the covers on the bed. "Monsters don't come out when there's light."

"Monsters?" Artemis questioned with a raised eyebrow.

"Yeah, you know… like the Boogeyman." Danny said his voice suddenly filled with fear. Artemis thought back to something that had taken place in her own past… she chuckled lightly; looking down at Danny for a second before patting him gently on his head.

"I'm gonna let you in on a little secret Danny. You don't have to be afraid of monsters… whether it's light out or dark; they aren't scary at all." She said softly waving her hand around a little bit. "In fact the monsters are probably just lonely."

"Why would the monsters be lonely?" Danny asked curiously.

"Because they look scary. Think about it, if you looked like a scary monster don't you think it would be really hard to make friends?"

"I guess so… but… have you ever seen any monsters Auntie?" Artemis fell silent for a moment, clearly she was thinking of the best way to phrase this.

"Well honey, Auntie has always seen things that other people can't necessarily see. You're asking if I've ever seen any monsters? Well I have; maybe once or twice… but that is a story for another day. Right now it's time for you to close your eyes and go to sleep." She said as she watched Danny smile up at her, clearly reassured. "But in case you're still scared…" Artemis walked over to the nearby window and pulled open the drapes, filling the room with moonlight. "The moon is out tonight, so let it be your nightlight instead."

"Goodnight Auntie Artemis." He said as he yawned loudly and turned over, finally going to try and get some sleep.

"Goodnight John-" Artemis stopped herself; just as a look of pain slowly began flooding into her eyes… but she shook her head, banishing the sadness from her thoughts. "Goodnight Danny." And at that she walked out of the room but was careful to leave the door partway open. Just in case Danny should call out for her she wanted to be able to hear him.

Artemis was silent as she walked down the hall from Danny's room into her study, or as she preferred to call it her 'writing room.' It was a large circular shaped comfortable room that was decorated with all sorts of unique things such as a few statues of dragons, a few paintings of varying scenes that Artemis had actually painted herself… she was sometimes considered a jack-of-all-trades by the artistic community... She also had several bookcases filled with all sorts of books, there was a large tapestry hanging on one wall over a large black decorative sofa. There was also a large stone fireplace in the room as well, whilst off to the side there was a door that led out onto a balcony. Lastly in the very center of the room there was a large writing desk that was kept very neat, but there wasn't a computer or even a typewriter on it. No, Artemis preferred a different medium; a very old fashioned one…

She wrote on blank paper with a feather quill and ink…

Her publisher absolutely hated her for handing her work in like that. He'd even gone out and personally bought her a laptop in hopes of not having to go through another handwritten manuscript. Not that it had made a difference; Artemis still had that laptop but she only used it to play solitaire… That aside she went out onto her balcony where only a single chair was situated and after taking a moment to brush the snow off the seat she sat down; ignoring the icy feel of the cold that seemed to tear through her thin body. The balcony was situated in an ideal location to watch the stars and the moon at night. Or in Artemis's case, something else…

"Show time." She whispered to herself as the one thing she loved to watch every night began to occur. Right on time as usual.

She watched as the Sandman's dream sand made its way across the sky.

She could see it. She always could see it. From the time she was a child she had always been able to see things that other people could not. She could see spirits and their powers. No matter what the spirit was, or what kind of power it had, she could see it as plain as day. Did it have something to do with her bizarre eyes? Who knows… The only word Artemis could ever think to describe it as was 'psychic' and she had some severe doubts that that was the right word for it.

Not that it mattered much, right along with her freaky eye color her ability to see things that nobody else could had always caused her grief. Only she had learned quickly enough not to say anything about the spirits to anyone… that was a painful lesson that she didn't want to think about ever again… But so was life, just one painful lesson after another. She'd never actually voice her true thoughts out loud, just as she would never mention being able to see spirits.

"Some spirits are monsters that enjoy nothing more than causing trouble and heartbreak for others. Especially that one… the one who ruined my life!" Artemis snarled hatefully up at the sky, she knew that no one could hear her and god she was glad for that. She didn't want anyone to hear her. But sometimes… it just felt better to yell up at the sky. Especially when no one could hear.

"Was it deliberate? It had to have been… what did he think would happen if he caused part of the road to freeze? And stupid me, he looked like a normal human at first so of course I would swerve to miss him… Right off the road… we rolled right off the road and into a tree…" Artemis said so low that it was barely a whisper. "And that spiri- no… that demon… was what took my son away from me…" No longer able to restrain her silently growing misery that weighed upon her heart like a million ton weight Artemis placed her face in her hands and wept silently.

She didn't cry for very long though, she fought back her sorrow like she always did… she buried it… no matter how much grief she had coursing through her she didn't want to have to deal with it. It hurt too badly and she knew that this pain would never leave. All she could do was fight feeling the pain… fight it for another day.


There was a strange sound coming from back inside her home…

Quickly wiping the tears from her eyes, Artemis got to her feet walked back inside. For a moment she stood completely still, listening for whatever strange had caught her attention a few moments ago. But after a few long minutes of silence she sighed in annoyance and rubbed her temples. Apparently she was only hearing things… or so she thought… right when she was thinking that she might be starting to lose it altogether Artemis heard the sound again only this time she was to determine what the sound was… it sounded like a child's whimper.

"Danny?!" Artemis whispered urgently. Without thinking she picked up a heavy bookend from one of her book shelves and ran as fast as she could down the hallway to the room where Danny was sleeping. In spite of her great panic she managed to push the door relatively quietly. Of course what she saw in the room nearly caused her to have a full blown heart attack!

The first thing she saw was a tall, ghastly looking man hovering over the young boy's bed. Of course the fact that he was surrounded by swirling particles of unnatural black dust immediately hinted that what she was seeing was a spirit rather than a human… not that it helped to improve the situation one bit. Even though for a fraction of a second Artemis inwardly wondered why that black dust bore such a resemblance to the Sandman's dream sand; she didn't need to think twice about what she was going to do. She raised that bookend, took a step towards this creep…

And Pitch's lights went out in a painful burst of golden butterflies…

Alright that's it for now; please remember to Read and Review!