A/N: So this has been muddling about in my brain since I saw the film. Because isolation can't be good for anyone and 1816 was the Year without Summer. Mix these with the production of "The Yellow Wallpaper" that I'm in as well as the visions of Hildegard von Bingen and you've got this nonsense.
I don't own anything, I just like to pretend.
Moonlight. Moonlight is struggling through the crack far, far above me (placed there so my room would be the sunniest and most comfortable for me). It's trying to reach me, trying to caress my cheek.
I hate it. I hate it so much. The moon had told me my name and left me alone for a hundred years. I've seen so much pain and unhappiness…I cannot imagine what I would do if I had not met Pitch Black.
Pitch is my savior, no other way around it. Pitch, who found me crying from distress of the past ages of being walked through and ignored, Pitch, who knew everything there was to know about healing me, Pitch, who had taken me in for the sole purpose of helping me.
That brings me to the situation I am in now. He has told me that modern medicine has developed a cure that has saved many of those with the same condition I have. Pitch tells me that it is "mild hysterical tendencies" or the like. So he's giving me tonics and phosphates and he's suggested widening the crack to give me as much air as he can without letting his enemies find and hurt me. Air will help, he says. And I have been forbidden all work until I recover.
I am writing this in secret.
Personally (and I would never say this to any living soul, whether they could see me or not, but you are a great comfort to me and perhaps that is why I don't get well faster), personally I disagree with some of his methods. Sometimes, in my condition, I think that stimulation and congenial work would do me good! But Pitch says that thinking about my condition is one of the worst things I can do, and I admit it always does make me feel poorly. So I will let it alone.
Stashing the papers and the pencil he had stolen the last time he had squeezed out through the crack at the top of his room, since then made smaller by Pitch for Jack's own safety, Jack returned to his bed, and lay there, staring up at the softly shining glow. For Jack Frost suffered hysteria with slight depression (Pitch had declared it so after inspecting the boy's behavior and physical state) and the only cure was that which Pitch swore up and down to be proven by many doctors. A cure of total rest.
They had tried so much to help him, from vigorous exercise to electricity (Jack had to beg to try this one, Pitch seemed worried that it would hurt him). But this was being proven and Pitch assured the child that it would cure him. Settling into the bed, he closed his eyes and fell to sleep, waking only when the Bogeyman knocked gently at the door. Jack's eyes opened at the sound of the door creaking open, slowly (for Pitch's nature was to do things in the way that would make a child fearful).
"Good morning," greeted Pitch. "Do you notice anything different?" Jack looked around, but could not determine any difference to the room, still made of stone and shadow, though less than anywhere else. And finally he looked up.
"The crack is larger!" he said, proud of himself for finding that.
"Yes it is. Your room must be the sunniest and airiest for you to be well again. But Jack, I must ask you, can I trust you with this?" Jack looked down, ashamed of his flight away. "You worried me greatly, Jack. You cannot fly away if you want to get well. I am making it larger in hopes that it will help you, but if you are so dead set against what will help you, then I do not know what to do."
"I'll stay, Pitch. I want to get well. I'll stay here, I swear it," muttered Jack, his hands tugging at the bottom of his tailcoat. Pitch had done his best to keep Jack aware of the standings of the outside world, and he had stolen the waistcoat from a wealthy boy's wardrobe, and though fashions had moved on entirely, Jack insisted that since the tailcoat was not worn overmuch, he would wear it.
"You're a very sick boy, you must do all that you can to grow well again."
"I know." And there was a long moment of silence before Pitch sighed, going to the boy and sitting beside him, drawing him into an embrace.
"I do care about you," he said softly. "When I found you, you were much worse than you are now."
"I feel like there is something strange about my room now. A tremor of some sort. Can you feel it?"
"It's just a draft, Jack. You aren't used to the wider crack yet. It will pass." With a gentle squeeze, Pitch pulled away, leaving Jack to his rest.
I get unreasonably upset with Pitch sometimes. I was never this sensitive before. I think it may have to do with my condition, or was triggered by treatment. But Pitch says that if I feel so sensitive, I shall neglect proper self control. So I try so hard to control myself and I grow so tired.
I will confess it, much as I don't want to. I don't like my room one bit. When I came to live with Pitch (however long ago that is, it's rather difficult to keep track), I was hoping for one nearer the sky, one that opened into my little hollow and lake, with pine trees all around and pretty bushes that grow with red stems. But Pitch wouldn't hear of it. He said that it was a wish that would only hurt as he couldn't fulfill it.
Since then I do not tell Pitch of quite a few things. I don't tell him of my visions. Last evening, as the moonlight poured in and tried to touch me (as if I would welcome it). I saw something so magnificent, I can barely describe. A person so peaceful I can only imagine that they do not have the condition I do nor do they worry for someone like me as Pitch does. This person, so peaceful, went out from the sunset and held back the darkness. This person, knowing all to know of darkness, was bright and went forth unafraid. This person spoke with human language though not a word was said.
Jack's hiding place for his forbidden notebook changed nearly every day, oftentimes up by the crack that he, on days when he thought that Pitch's methods were hurting more than helping, would reach through to touch the wind above, the wind that passed through his fingers as if carrying a secret message. That day, however, the notebook was simply tucked within his bed, under the mattress of ice.
Jack stared up at the wider crack. It let in more moonlight now. The sun and the air was what would help him, but the moon was able to get in just as easily, it seemed. The moon had been nothing but a source of vexation for poor Jack. The moon cast these horrible shadows, a thousand times worse than shadows cast by the sun or even the shadows that Pitch could manipulate. The shadows the moon cast held none of the warmth of a sun-shadow and none of the security of Pitch's.
Moon shadows seemed to have a pattern, but only barely. Jack would spend time trying to follow it, trying to see what the moon was trying to tell him. But there was no pattern. Only just enough that he could start following it and then it lost its pattern and it was enough to work Jack into such a state of upset that Pitch had spent quite some time holding the boy as he cried, teaching him ways to calm himself.
He took a deep breath. Pitch had told him that the best thing to do when he felt agitated or distressed was to think of a happy or calming thing. Anything that would upset him would do nothing but harm him further.
"It was seventeen…uh…seventeen fifty-fifty four. There was a boy, he was…he couldn't have been more than twelve. We played together for ages. It was in Germany, down by the mountains. It was…It was hours and hours. Sledding, snowballs, it was one of the best times I'd ever had."
He did feel calmer, a little bit, remembering how that little boy had shrieked with laughter as he and his friends threw balls of snow at each other. That little boy was long dead now, but he wasn't thinking about that. Just the one day. Just those hours playing in the snow.
The knocking on the door was welcome, and Jack looked up to find Pitch. Pitch looked concerned, and approached, saying, "I heard you talking to yourself."
"I was doing what you taught me to do. When I get upset about the shadows. A happy thought." Pitch smiled, a smile that was equal parts forced and real. It always was, but to Jack it was enough, because it was directed at him and it was the smile of someone who cared.
"Very good, Jack. You have been using your techniques and I'm proud of you for that. But now, we have a therapy session." The boy nodded, sitting up straight in his bed, tucking his feet under him, watching as Pitch sat in the chair across from his bed (sometimes Jack sat there if he wanted to feel braver or stronger). "We'll look at your experiences from the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries."
"I would have been…"
"I found you when you were one hundred and two…"
"I would have been ninety something then."
"Yes, you would have been. I found you shrieking in a snowdrift. What around that time could have helped triggered it? Did you witness anything? Did you do something?"
"I…There…there was a girl. It was just around the first frost. She was to meet her friend and a man at a party. He grabbed her and kissed her even when she didn't want him to."
"How did this affect you, Jack?"
"I wanted to help her but I couldn't. And I just felt so helpless that when I tried to pull him away, my hands just went through him."
"And you say she didn't want it to happen at all?"
"How old was she?"
"I don't know, maybe fourteen at most?"
"Ah. Jack, our kind revolves around children. Seeing a girl so abused would have hurt you deeply. We do not like to see children in pain or—"
"But you frighten them!" And then his hands clapped over his mouth. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to."
"I think we may just be done for the day if you will speak like that."
"I'm sorry, Pitch. I'm…I'm so sorry. Please, I just…"
"Jack, our positions are very complex. You bring winter but you have a deep aversion and fear of freezing people."
"I frighten children. That does not mean I hurt them. Fear makes a child grow wisely. Wonder, hope, dreams…do you know what those things do to children?"
"They do bad things."
"Precision of language, Jack."
"They…they keep children from being prepared for anything. Wonder causes blindness, hope sets them up to be crushed and you always wake up from dreams."
"Pitch?" his voice was small, and that drew the Bogeyman's attention better than anything else. "I…I was wondering. If…if the grown-up mortals have the same condition that I do, what's it like for them? Is it different from me?"
"Jack, you suffer from hysteria and depression. Hysteria, for either humans or yourself, manifests itself in the same ways. They grow to be just as thin and pale as you, and they don't eat much. They grow weary from nearly everything, and they grow to be very emotional." Jack nodded. "Is there anything else you wish to talk about?"
"Pitch, when will I be well again?"
"It's difficult to say. So long as you rest and don't work, you'll recover. Work gets in the way of your treatment, you remember."
"Just rest, Snowflake. Try and sleep." Pitch stood, and as he went to the door he said, "I'll bring you something to eat in a few hours. Sleep as much as you can."
And Jack was alone once more.
He tried to sleep, he really did, but then he felt himself almost drift away from his body, blinking rapidly to bring the world into focus. When it did, he did not see his room. There was a person before him. They were the most colorful thing he had seen since beginning to live with Pitch, but that didn't say much. They were peering out into the world, unnoticing of little Jack. Watching and staring, the crown upon their head began to shine every time they moved their head, very nearly blinding him. Then, then-then-then their mouth opened and a cry to the world was heard.
With a rush Jack was back inside his own mind, back in the bed in the room. This time, he didn't waste time, fetching the notebook and beginning to scribble in it. He hated himself for doing this so soon after his therapy session, so soon after Pitch told him to sleep and that work (like flying up to the crack as he had always reminded) would do nothing but hinder his recovery. But he had to.
I had another vision. This person was not the very peaceful person, but they were just as brilliant to see. Colors, the colors that do not exist in this realm, this world of shadow and the cracks that Pitch has given me. It was so difficult to look at them, they were so bright, nearly so bright as the very peaceful person I saw before. They cried out into the world, the world so large and now I find it to be a little frightening.
There is one comfort in this—this confinement to bed and my treatment—the children are safe. Imagine if I had been out there with them! How could I be trusted around the lovely little things if I am caught in a fit of hysteria or have these visions? I would hurt them for certain! Perhaps I ought tell Pitch about these visions. Or at least that the moon is sending me those horrible shadows again. But he has been so patient and kind that I dare not. I feel so basely selfish for having not gotten better. Perhaps it is because I have withheld these things from him, perhaps it is because I insist to myself that writing is—
No I must rest, I must get better. I will only get worse if I think too much on this. Mental strain, Pitch tells me, is only harmful to those with my condition.
When Jack awoke, it was to the scent of lunch. Pitch was there, holding a tray with two plates on it. He would eat with him! Sitting up, Jack took the one that was passed to him, the elder sitting beside him. Silence reigned as he ate. Finally he turned to Jack and said, "Eat, Jack."
"The meat's not cooked," he said, not wanting to sound ungrateful for all the help he was receiving, but he did want to voice his concern.
"Yes it is. It's rare. It's good for you that way." Jack turned back to it and poked at it with his fork. And he began to giggle. "What's the matter?" He just kept laughing. "Jack, what are you laughing about?"
"Nothing! It's just…it's still bleeding!"
"It isn't bleeding, Jack."
Jack put on a voice that was a good octave higher than his normal voice, saying as he waved the meat about, "Help me! Help me! They're going to kill me!"
"Quiet down. If you aren't going to eat, at least take your medicine." Jack pulled a face. He hated the Cod Liver Oil that Pitch insisted would help him. Still, he choked it down. Pitch handed him a glass of water which he gratefully drained. He fell very still, closing his eyes and resting a moment. "Jack?" He couldn't bring himself to respond. "Snowflake?"
It was the affectionate term that finally made Jack say something. "I don't…I don't want to be tired anymore."
"I know. Please, you're unwell—"
"I'm better! I can hold up my head, talk! I don't—" He was visibly distressed, over what neither Jack nor Pitch knew.
"You aren't making a very good case for yourself!"
"I order you to get well!" The sudden shout threw Jack off guard, making him start, the meal falling to the ground.
"You must comply! Do you understand?! I order you to get well!"
"I can't!" he was becoming more and more distressed.
"You must!" Despite his age, Jack was very much a child. Faced with this sudden anger and hostility, he did what all children would. He began to cry. Curling into himself, he began to weep. Upon seeing him, Pitch let out a gentle noise one could almost call a coo. Wrapping the child in his arms, he pulled him close. "A strict demand to get well helped many in the past, to my understanding. I suppose it wasn't the correct course of action with you." Silence fell as Jack wept quietly into the man's chest.
Finally, Jack quieted, but he kept his grip on Pitch, not wanting him to go. He peered up at the crack and became aware that the moon was beginning to shine through. Pitch would likely leave so he could get some sleep, but he didn't want him to go.
"I see things in the shadows the moon casts," he whispered. At this, Pitch looked down at him, letting the boy climb into his lap to hide his face in Pitch's neck. "I hate it. The moonlight creeps so slowly. When I can't sleep I watch it and the shadows always start to move. It's like there are figures in the shadows. Not like with your shadows."
"The moon is trying to reach you. But you mustn't let him."
"The moon, Snowflake, is not a kind soul. He will create for his amusement and disregard his creations."
"Is…is that what happened with me?" Jack was staring at Pitch now, eyes wide and frightened.
"I don't know, child. If you want, I could make the crack smaller again."
"No, no I like the sun and the air."
"If the moon is disturbing you…"
"I want the crack to be like it is." Finally Pitch gave a smile (equal parts forced and real, it felt like home and love, now) and embraced him, one hand running over his white hair.
"Go to sleep, Jack. I'll bring you food if you promise to eat."