Merry Christmas! Here's an attempt at angst.
Disclaimer: Wow- it's a good thing I don't own RotG... I'd kill everyone. XD
Also: WARNING: Character Death
Once, quite a long time ago, there was a boy made entirely of porcelain, and stained glass.
He stood upon a tin stand, a tiny shepherd's hook in his hands. His body was a bit long for him, still awkward in it's teenage years. He was thin, too- grooves were carved into his pants to resemble straps, his china shirt seeming to fit just a bit too loosely on his petite frame. The glassy cloak around his shoulders hung off of his bony arms as if it was a giant pair of wings- sprouting from his back and circling around him protectively.
His skin- all the way from his bare feet, to his boyish face- was a fine, milky porcelain. He thought he must look awfully cold, with such a white surface- and the porcelain so cool to the touch. His curled hands, tinted with pink at the tips, were as smooth as ice.
His name was Jack Frost, and for some reason, he was wonderful.
It was one of the many things the figurine never understood. He didn't understand why The Silversmith spent so much time making sure his eyes were some exact shade of chocolate brown, or why he used so much paint in search of a skin tone that was just right. He couldn't understand why the man counted each freckle on his face, as if to make sure they were all accounted for. The time he spent on his tosseled-china hair alone was enough to make Jack wonder why exactly he was so special. Why did he, a little glassy figurine, require more attention than the tea set Jack knew was destined for the governor? (Which was some sort of political position of great importance, he supposed. The other china dishes never fully explained it to him, so jealous were they of the amount of detail found in his piercing glass eyes, alone.)
Jack would have asked The Silversmith himself, but there were no vocal chords within his hollow-china neck, so he could only watch the man continue to labour over his every feature. He could only listen as the man continued to praise him, saying what a good lad he had been, and how perfect he was now.
Though, the man would often say one thing to the boy.
"Your name was Jack Frost, you know."
Jack does not understand why there's pity in his eyes when he says it.
Jack is delivered on Christmas day, right after something called "mass", and his box is placed into a pair of hands much smaller than The Silversmith's.
He is in the box with a few pewter utensils and a small wooden cup- the instruments of a pauper family. They are nowhere near the the shine of the golden and silver treasures found in The Silversmith's workshop, and, according to the man himself, miles away from the level of detail within Jack himself.
From what slim conversations he had had with the crystal forks and silver pitchers at the shop, Jack had assumed he was something the fancy kitchenware would call, "Obscenely Expensive." He knows a family that buys modest implements like this would not spend such money on a "luxury" such as himself.
For about the millionth time in his month-old life, Jack Frost wonders what he doing there.
"I am a gift." He thinks, because he desperately hopes such a poor family didn't waste their money on the likes of him. No matter how lovely The Silversmith and the dishes say he is, he knows that food is much more important than... whatever he is.
There are many things Jack does not understand. So he can only wait, and hope the answers will come to him on their own.
The lid to the box is thrown open, and suddenly Jack is looking up at a pair of huge, amber-brown eyes.
For the first time, Jack feels like he should have a breath to be taken away. Out of all the dazzling and magnificent things Jack has encountered, the little human girl holding his box is the most beautiful thing he's ever seen. Even in the dim moonlight, Jack can tell she must be a sweet, little lady.
A spark seems to pass over those big, shining eyes. She stares down at Jack for a few moments, blinking in shock. Gently, he's lifted up into her hand, tilted side to side as she looks at the shape of his ears- the red tip of his nose. It's as if she's looking for details and is amazed again and again when she finds them.
Then, the eyes gloss over- growing smaller and smaller until they're clenched shut. Jack is horrified when he spots streams of moisture streaking down her pale cheeks. Snow is falling around them when she raises her other hand to stifle a broken sob.
Jack can only rest in her palm as she cries. Looking up at her, not knowing what to do, even if he could do something.
He doesn't think he's so wonderful anymore.
Eventually, Jack is slipped into a pocket, lying amongst spare buttons and forgotten bread crumbs.
He hears the girl arrive at her home, placing the other contents of the box down onto the front room table, before racing off to her own room.
Jack is placed on the window sill, right above a small bed. His perch gives him a view of the entire room, and if the door had been left open, he is fairly certain he can see most of the main room through it.
The girl rushes out the door, perhaps to ready herself for bed, and it's then that Jack feels that there is something wrong with this room.
It's a sparsely furnished room. There isn't even a rug to warm the floor. The chest in the corner is plain, and is left open for clothes to hang out the edges. There aren't only dresses- there are clothes that seem much too big for a girl of her size. He sees a few toys, but they were stacked in the corner of the small bed, instead of on the floor where Jack thought play-things were supposed to stay.
In the dark, the space seems just a little too large for just one girl.
The girl returns soon afterward. She looks to Jack, standing helplessly on the windowsill. The expression she gives him can only be described as a look of pure sorrow.
She climbs into the bed, throwing the heavy quilt over her head.
Jack is confused. He thought humans slept in the center of their beds, when they were alone.
Jack stays on the ledge for quite some time.
When the girl wakes up in the mornings, she always says good morning to him before heading off to school.
There are two other, bigger humans in the house with the girl. From what he can tell, they are called The Father and The Mother. From what Jack can see from his view out the bedroom door, The Father leaves early in the morning, and when the girl leaves for school, The Mother spends a long time fussing over her- her hair, her clothes, her shoes. They hug for what seems, to Jack, to be a little too long.
The Mother says "goodbye" as if she'll never say it to her again.
The little girl talks to him, especially during his first week on the windowsill.
The first thing she does when she gets home from school is to go into her room, closing the door, and then talking to him for hours. She talks about her day, her friends, school, anything Jack might ever want to know.
Often, she grows quiet and whispers about how very, very much she misses him. Which Jack doesn't understand, since he's right there.
She whispers secrets in his ear, things she wants to do in the spring and places she wants to explore with him. She apologizes a lot, as well, but for what- she never says.
Jack listens to her each and everyday, wishing he could smile and reassure her that Yes, that dress looks just fine on you. Or Yes, that scarf was knitted perfectly. You should be a tailor someday. To tell her the games she plays sound wonderfully fun, and that she should be out playing them instead of being inside with him.
Every night, after she kneels by the bed to pray- to the side of the bed, Jack notices, like she's waiting for someone else to join her- she gets up, putting the candle out. Just before going to bed, she looks to Jack, a small, crooked smile on her face. No matter what joy she talked about during the day, it can never quite erase hint of sadness in her eyes.
He wishes he could say.
The other toys do not like Jack.
Jack thinks that, maybe, they think he thinks highly of himself- since, he is, after all, on quite a tall ledge, and his skin shines in the cool winter sunlight. Much unlike their own dull, oak forms. The little wooden animals don't even look at him when he tries to say hello. Instead, they have lengthy conversations about hunting seasons and animal tracking that make him wonder if they're trying to sound important. A wooden hoop lies in the corner, tilted towards the door like it wants to go out and play. It conveniently has the side with the most cracks and nicks facing the rest of the room, proud to show signs that it's been played with. However, the hoop speaks not a word to him, not even when he inquires about what sort of mischief it's gotten into during it's life.
Well, the toys do speak to him, but only for quick jeers, usually laughing at how he can not be played with- or condescending comments, like, "Look at that oversized teacup!"
The only one in the room to really take notice of Jack at all is The Great Russian Bear.
The Russian Bear is a great big stuffed cloth animal- stitched together with borrowed thread and filled with excess sheep wool. He was old, older than any of the others toys in the room. He had seen many generations of whittled animals and worn hoops come and go from the room, and this made him very wise.
The Russian Bear was the only one to speak with Jack, even if the other toys snubbed him for it. But no one is mean to the bear. You don't mess with a bear more than three times your size.
"Oh, ignore them." He would tell Jack, after another failed attempt at the conversation, "They don't like that fancy porcelain statue such as yourself, among them. It makes them feel less important. Ignore it."
He and the bear would talk about everything. Jack asked questions about the world, and the Russian Bear would think and give him the best answer he could think of. He told Jack of the different stars you could see from the window, and the types of trees that lay beyond the house. He told Jack about the Frost family, and a great deal about the little girl, who had had the Russian Bear since the day she was born.
The Russian Bear was glad to have someone who listened to him about all of the wonderful things in the world. Jack was just happy to have a friend.
One night, when the room was quiet and The Russian Bear was stuck in the little girl's strong embrace, Jack asked him why he was there.
"It doesn't make sense." Jack says, "I'm made of porcelain, which you say is very fragile. So i'm not a toy, because I'll break if someone plays with me. But I'm not a dish, or a tea cup, so I'm not practical. I'm not even a decoration, because miss Pippa hides me when she goes to school, so I can not be looked at and enjoyed like a portrait- and when she does look at me, all I seem to do is make her sad. And I didn't think they made objects with the purpose of making people sad."
The Russian Bear regarded his words silently for a few moments, as toys his age were prone to do. And when he did reply, Jack was all the more likely to listen.
"You're a memorial." The wise old bear says, "You were made in the place of the brother who hasn't come home."
A quiet murmur sounds around the room when he says this. The Brother was someone Jack only heard about in hushed tones, and he was never talked about for long periods of time. But it was obvious that The Brother had been well liked by all in the room, and that his absence was a touchy subject.
Jack still didn't understand why the other toys, when they did look at him, looked at him as if he had been the one to make The Brother stop coming home.
Time passes, the sun begins to rise earlier, and Pippa seems to grow everyday. Jack wishes he could smile back at her, tell her what a fine lady she'll be someday.
The Father now has a new staff- one that looks almost like the one Jack holds in his porcelain hands- that he takes out in the morning with him. The Mother still watches over her daughter carefully, and Jack finds himself wishing just as much as her that there was someone out there protecting her when she was out on her own.
The ice is beginning to thaw.
They go out, in the spring.
Men arrive at the house one day, saying how the lake has melted completely. There's hushed tones, and a long discussion heard from the kitchen. The Father leaves around midday, a small group of men from the village behind him.
The house is silent, that day.
The Mother paces the floor, looking hopeful, but it's a kind of hopeful that makes Jack feel uncomfortable. The kind of hopeful that's accepted that a bad thing is about to happen, but hopes that it's the better of two terrible things instead of the worse.
They return just as the sun is setting, when it's too dangerous to continue searching a cold pond. The Father enters, face hidden in a shadow.
The Mother steps forward.
"Did you- did you find-?"
The Father shakes his head.
Pippa takes him down from the windowsill that night, and holds him tight to her chest as, for the second time since he's seen her, she cries.
She holds him tight enough for Jack to start worrying about his skin cracking, some of the paint rubbing off his hair. But she's crying, and Jack knows that if he ever needs to be somewhere, it's there, in her arms. Even if he can't say comforting things, like he wants to.
Pippa eventually drifts off to sleep, but it's going to be restless. Jack settles into her arms, fully intending to protect her throughout the night.
Something bothers him. Even though Jack spends most of his days watching the house, he's still not the best observer. Which is why he's embarrassed when he has to ask the Russian Bear, who's been thrown slightly under the bed, why Pippa is so sad.
Jack has seen many different types of sadness during his life in the Frost household. He's seen the distant pain in The Mother's eyes as she watches through the window as her daughter leaves. He's seen the pure agony on Pippa's face when she first held him, and the quiet misery behind her smiles everyday afterward. He's even seen it in The Father, usually so composed and authoritative, when the rest of the house is asleep and he sits at the table, head in his hands, willing the grief to spill from his mind through his tears. Jack feels he is intimate with sadness, like it's something palpable from the air around him. He feels he can see it in the children he sometimes spots from the window, can hear it in the whistle of the wind. It's everywhere around him and he feels that, if a heart lay within his cold, hollow chest, it would be made of all the sadness weighing down the very air in that room.
Jack knows sadness. Which is why he's so shocked when he swears he sees a shine of raw, barely restrained heartache in the bear's usually cool, button eyes.
"She's sad," He says, words coming out clipped, spun from a deep well of regret, "Her brother is never coming home."
At that moment, Jack wonders if he really does make everyone around him sad.
They bury the Brother's clothes, the next day. It's the only piece of him they have to say goodbye to.
"What is Real?" Jack asks the Russian Bear, someday in the summer when Pippa is out with her friends and the room is left in a peaceful, sleepy state.
If he could, Jack is sure the great bear would be smiling, "Real is not something that is, it's something that you are."
"Are you real?" Jack asked, curiously looking down at his friend, who was propped up on the well-beaten pillow.
The bear hummed in thought, "No, I can't say I am."
Jack pretended to furrow his brows in confusion, "But, you're worn- your hide is nearly rubbed off. Your eyes are dulled with age. You're loved- I thought that made you real- no offense." He added quickly, in case he had hurt the bear with his blatant description of his shabby state.
The bear only chuckled good naturedly, signaling to his great belly nonverbally,"True, true. But this is just as much time's natural effects as it is from love. I was made by the Brother, you know. He made me for miss Pippa when she was but a very little miss, and she did love me very dearly- but she always loved her dear brother more than she ever loved me."
Jack sent a look, something equivalent to an absent nod.
"Miss Pippa thinks of you as very real. Have you noticed?" The Russian Bear inquired.
He had noticed, and it touched him every time Pippa told him so. Though, Jack was never sure if she was talking to him, or to The Brother.
Jack was beginning to realize that only nice things were said about people who couldn't come home. But even in this fact, the Brother seemed like a very good person to be in the place of.
"But Jack?" The Russian Bear drew his attention, "You are Jack, the porcelain figurine. And you can be, and are, just as real as the Brother."
Jack got the message.
You are not the Brother.
You will only get hurt if you try to be.
People move on. It's something that amazes Jack about humans, and one of the endless reasons he feels so proud of Pippa.
He was right, she does grow into a beautiful young lady. And if that means she talks to Jack less and less, he's okay with that.
It means that looking at him makes her less sad, now.
Jack remains frozen in his porcelain skin, but the other inhabitants of the room are not so unchanged. The little whittled animals left the room for good a few years ago, because they were made from The Father's tried hands, and not the Brother's. The hoop was gone as well, given to some of the younger kids in the village. Small dresses sold and money raised for bigger, more mature ones.
The Russian Bear is gone, as well. The bear's fur had finally grown too shabby and Pippa had outgrown her need for something to comfort her.
She's such a strong young lady. Jack is sure he would never stop being proud of her.
Jack is sure he misses the bear, but the Russian Bear had made it known to him early on that everything, and everyone, has it's time. So when the time came for him to not come home, Jack wasn't as sad as he could have been.
And when the day comes that Pippa wakes up and puts on a long, white gown, he isn't as surprised as he could have been.
She tells him about the baker's son- how handsome he is, the amazing breads he makes, and his sense of humor that always makes her smile. He sounds like the kind of man the Brother would have approved of.
Jack approves of him.
"I hope you're proud of me." She says, looking into his eyes.
"Always, Pippa." He thinks, "Both of us will be, forever."
He lives on the mantle place of the baker's fireplace for quite a long time. He's there to hear the cries of three babies come and go from the house. He smiles to himself, when he hears the exasperated yells of, "Jackson! Stop that!" or "Jackson! You're going to hurt yourself!" ring throughout the home.
Pippa doesn't speak to him anymore, but every once in awhile, while dusting, or just walking by, she'd send him a small smile. A far away smile only meant for him.
He smiled to himself, everyday.
More and more wrinkles are ghosting around that smile.
Humans move on, it's something he's so proud of them for.
He doesn't think he can move on, the day there's tears in the house again.
It's a nice spot, Jack thinks. Pippa would have liked the great willow trees around the paths, and the hill overlooking the sunrises. He's sure the grass would be soft, if he could feel it.
Pippa Archbold née Frost
It's oddly plain, for such a special person, but Jack thinks Pippa wouldn't have liked anyone making a big fuss over her, anyway.
He's set down at the front of the grave, along with a bundle of flowers. This headstone is placed right inbetween a joint grave, and another single on the other side. Jack does not need to look at the names to know who lies there.
The dirt is still freshly dug, and the Baker crouches down, meeting Jack's eyes.
"I'm handing her back over to you now, alright? I want you taking care of her up there while I'm not there, you hear? She's been waiting an awfully long time to see you again, she'd better not be a big mess when I see her again, alright? Keep her happy, Jack Frost. She deserves it."
Jack doesn't doubt the Brother will. He'll watch over her spirit, Jack will watch over her grave.
He thinks he's ok with this arrangement.
As the Baker walks away, having said his final goodbyes to his wife, Jack suddenly realizes that he's just become another person who won't come home.
Then, he looks back at the gravestone behind him, and smiles to himself.
Anywhere by Pippa's side is my home.
And so, he stands in front of the stone, head held just a bit higher, little staff held just a little tighter. He stands there until the snow falls around the graveyard, tucking her grave in a blanket of snow, wishing her one final goodnight.
For a moment, it feels as though Jack can really feel the cold against his freezing skin. He can almost feel the true hollowness of his body, the invisible heart beating with what brought him into existence.
"I'm proud of you, Pippa. I always will be."
And in that moment, Jack wonders if he'd ever really felt sadness before now.
A single tear- a single real tear drops to the ground.
He suddenly can't remember why he didn't feel wonderful, anymore.
There you go. My attempt at something slightly sad. This can actually continue, if you guys want. I've got ideas for it. :3
Ok! Extra info time! :D
Written while listening to "Give me Love" by Ed sheeran.
I also took reference for this fic from a few places- besides the ones in the summary. Some of them being the fics "Pain of Porcelain" and "There" which are both in my favorites list. Check them out, if you have the time.
And for those of you wondering about my other story, "Pitch's Game," Don't worry, I plan on continuing it. I just needed a break from it's silly, crackish tone. This is want came out. XD
So leave a review, telling me what you think, and if you'd like to see more of this. It could be a one shot, or...
Also! By the the way, I forgot to mention- I know that Jack's sister's name isn't "Pippa". I just like the name. :)