As promised, a tie in chapter between this and the sequel, The Brightest Ones. This chapter is nothing but PURE FLUFF AND SPARKLES. You have been warned. It also contains about the closest thing to smut I can get so, uh, yeah. Enjoy XD I hope to see you guys over at the sequel, which is already posted. I'd also appreciate any feedback on this fic in general, especially if it highlights things I should work on getting better at. Again, thank you guys very much 3 - Not the Milk
The summer after regaining her powers, Annamore sat, wings folded, with her feet dangling off the sides of Sandy's cloud. She had more power now than she'd ever had before she'd lost it, and she was only just starting to catch up with the amount of names that had appeared on her list after she returned to her work. Months of downtime had left her working overtime, and many times since returning she'd wished that she had Tooth's ability to make little fairy sidekicks to help her.
Pushing her hair to the side, she shot a quick glance at Sandy. At least I have had plenty of moral support. Catching her glance, he flashed a quick grin at her. She grinned back, then looked back out across the night sky. A heavy thundercloud was rolling towards them with only the speed that a summer storm could muster, and she was looking forward to the show it would offer. Unworried, at least for herself, she pointed it out to him. "Better hurry, love. This storm might cause a few nightmares of its own."
He nodded and gestured at her, a question mark appearing over his head. She huffed a little in mock offense. "A little fall of rain can't hurt me." While he turned back to his work sending out dreams, she pulled her hair back into a ponytail as the wind started picking up. Only the part still growing out from the head injury she sustained the year before resisted being pulled back, but that was on the side of her head and not liable to blow in her face. Lightning flashed as the massive cloud moved closer to where they were floating in the sky, thunder shaking the air around them a minute later.
Finishing up for this particular area, Sandy grabbed her hand and pulled her back from the edge of the cloud so he could transform it. She held up a hand to stall him, eyes sparkling. "Hey, let's do something new." He raised an eyebrow expectantly, waiting for her to continue.
"Make it a ship, complete with sails." He snorted at her and, using sand, informed her he was a pilot, not a sailor. "But it'll be fun, and I can probably manage to sail it." She argued, hoping she wasn't being too optimistic of her abilities. "I have sailed before. A long, long time ago."
Shaking his head, he lifted his arms and formed the cloud into a floating, golden ship. Clapping her hands together in excitement, she ran and took the ships wheel, steering it in the direction the wind was blowing. Chuckling at her joy, Sandy waved a hand, creating an ornate looking hat from sand and setting it on her head. "Does this mean I'm the captain?" Looking, if possible, even more pleased; she winked at him when she asked.
Sandy, playing along, made a smaller hat which he placed on his own head. "Oh, I get a first mate, too. How exciting." She paused, thinking for a moment. "Except, technically, you are the one working tonight. So where to?"
A compass of sand appeared in his hand, which he pretended to study carefully. After a few moments, he pointed off into the distance. Turning the wheel, she sent the ship flying that direction. She quickly noticed that they were flying far faster than the wind alone should have been causing them to move, but that didn't surprise her considering the creator of the ship. Slipping out of the path of the storm, they found another spot to settle while Sandy sent out more dreams.
Annamore sat patiently, resting her chin on her knees while she resisted the urge to nap. Eventually she felt a hand brush lightly against the feathers of a wing. She almost jumped, having been lost in her mind. Feeling her tense up momentarily, Sandy rested his other hand on the side of her neck to sooth her, kissing the back of her head gently at the same time. When he felt her relax a little, he slid his fingers lightly in between her feathers and scratched, lightly. She tensed up again, from shock rather than displeasure, but he didn't stop, instead bringing his other hand down to smooth out the feathers he was leaving ruffled.
She was tempted to pull away, as last time someone had messed with her wings like this she'd ended up with one broken. This touch, however, was entirely different from Pitch's. And she also loved and trusted Sandy, so she waited, trying to process the sensations she was feeling. At first touch, it was slightly uncomfortable as his fingers slid between the larger feathers, pushing them aside. Once buried in the down underneath them, though, it felt surprisingly marvelous.
She shook slightly, uncontrollably, leaving all the feathers on her wings fluffed up, which inadvertently made it easier for him to continue slowly working his way down her wing. Towards the edge of it, he stopped for a moment to slide his hand under her wing, where he began on the underside. With him bracing her with his other hand around her opposing shoulder, her wing lifted slightly on its own accord as his fingers moved beneath it, running across the softer feathers underneath. As they ran back and forth over them, her wings slowly stretched to give him better access.
Getting to the end of her wing he switched to the other side and started the same treatment on it. She ducked her head under the first wing, hiding her blushing. Finally gaining the ability to speak, she asked him with a muffled voice, "What are you doing?"
A moment later she remembered she had to look at him for an answer, but she wasn't sure she wanted to considering how hot her face felt. He stopped and pulled her wing back from her head, smiling happily, a heart over his head. His cheeks were red, too, as he turned the heart into a question mark. "Yes… I liked that. No one's ever done that to me before." She giggled a little, pulling him around into a hug. "What made you think to do that?"
He thought for a second, and imagined a chicken from sand. "What?" She started laughing. He pointed at her, then back at the chicken. "You saw me doing that to a chicken? But that was back when I didn't even remember you guys. You're such an amazing little stalker." He raised an eyebrow at her and reached for her wings again. She stopped his hand, flushing again slightly. "If you're going to continue that, you'd better be prepared for the aftermath."
He gave her a knowing look, and reached into his clothes. She stared at him, thinking back to her time spent at college and wondering if she should make a crude joke about his actions. He removed his hand quickly, holding something. He glanced around, looking slightly confused, as if wondering what to do next and hoping to find inspiration in their surroundings. Recovering his confidence, he removed the hat he was still wearing with a flourish, bowing. Ending up on one knee, he held the object in his other hand out to her. It was a ring that glowed as if it was made from dreamsand, only it was perfectly smooth. In it white stones in the shape of stars were set, and it was obvious they glowed too, with the same light as the moon.
Her heart pounding, she stared at him in shock. Pondering for a moment, she held out her hand to him. After staring at her hand for a moment, he registered the meaning of it and slid the ring on; smiling the brightest smile she'd ever seen. Recovering her own senses, she tackled him onto the floor of the ship, kissing him roughly as she did. When they sat back up again, panting, she tilted her head sideways at him. "So… You've known me less than two years. Are you sure about this?"
He took her hand, held it against his face, and with the help of his sand images told her that he had no intentions of changing his feelings, or his mind. "Just making sure." She replied happily, ruffling his hair gently. "I feel the same way. If you know beyond a doubt what it is you want, there's no need to take a few hundred years to think about it, right?"
Sandy nodded cheerfully, kissing her again playfully. "At least I know you do indeed have a plan for the aftermath." She winked at him, standing up and stretching, smoothing her ruffled feathers back down. "I think, though, that I better let you get back to work, and I need to get ready for tomorrow. See you in the morning."
She pulled him into one last kiss and, back flipping off the deck of the sand ship, flew off back to her cloud. She detoured back through the thunderstorm, which was still raging not too far away, enjoying the thrill of dodging lightning bolts.
They were married not even a year later by North, on the beach of Sandy's island. The other guardians where there, as were plenty of mermaids who had shown up to show support for their old friend, as well as other magical beings. The ceremony was simple and short, the food was plentiful and good, and everyone involved could not have been happier for the two of them.
The wedding involved a second ceremony that was no less important to anyone attending, although it came as a surprise to Annamore. During the reception, North made an announcement. "Anny, I have been talking to Man in Moon. He would like you to join us as new Guardian."
She glanced around nervously as all eyes landed on her again. "But I'm not…"
North held up his hand, forestalling argument. "Of course you are. You don't work with children normally, true, but if we called for help protecting them, you would. Right?"
She nodded mutely, a smile forming on her face. "Then you are Guardian."
The next few weeks were interesting for both of them – while they'd spent a good amount of time around each other previously, learning how to juggle living together with their opposing work schedules took a little more effort, since they had different ideas of when it was a good time to sleep. They also had to work out where they'd sleep – neither was overly inclined to giving up the rooms they'd spent so very many years in. In the end they were able to compromise happily, and they both soon adjusted to the change.
About ten years later, an even bigger change happened for them to get used to, one that they waited till the annual Christmas party to announce. They showed up with a pair of large, odd shaped bundles. Each of them was holding one. North looked at them sternly. "You know you don't need to bring gifts! That's my job!" He thumped his chest for emphasis.
Sandy and Annamore exchanged glances, both fighting laughter. "These aren't gifts, I'm afraid." She said, gently unwrapping her bundle to show her fellow Guardians as they gathered around to see. "What laid this, mate?" Bunnymund asked, reaching out and reverently running his paw over the surface of a golden egg. "Need it painted?" He added, almost hopefully.
He jumped back as Sandy's face appeared inches away from his, looking threatening while shaking a finger at the rabbit. "Whoa. Alright, no painting then." He held his paws up in surrender.
"You can't blame him." Annamore replied, now holding both eggs while Sandy backed down from his threats. "He's already gone into protective daddy mode."
"What?" Tooth's feathers ruffled in excitement over her whole body, the ones on her head rising into a crest. She flew closer, reaching for an egg. Annamore let her take one, allowing her to nestle it against her warm feathers. "This is so amazing!"
"Wait, you laid these?" Jack looked in surprise between the eggs and her. She nodded, rubbing the other egg against her face lovingly. "And let me tell you, laying an egg is not fun. Two is even worse. I don't want to have to do that again, if I can help it. Didn't even get a good warning, either. One day, I thought I was suddenly insanely bloated, the next day… I never figured I'd have to lay eggs." She shuddered at the memory slightly, wing feathers ruffling.
"But then that means…" He looked at her, then at Sandy, who was looking smug. He pointed above his head, a pacifier and a diaper appearing in sand above him. "Whoa."
"But there are two eggs?" North took the egg from Annamore and gently cradled it in his tattooed arms. He smiled happily. "This is wonderful news!"
Annamore nodded. "Of course, the real issue we are having is how do we keep them warm? Because let me tell you, having to pass them back and forth between our jobs is difficult, and it's not like we can sit on them like real birds can. Although, he does a better job of it than I do." She winked at her husband, who took the joke good naturedly.
"Sand." Tooth said absentmindedly, still staring contentedly at the egg.
Sandy questioned her. She looked up, feathers flaring for a moment as she was startled out of her reverie. "I mean, I remember a long time ago in Egypt they used to use heated sand to hatch eggs. Sand's great for conducting heat."
"Well, he knows how to make sand hot, that's for sure." Annamore muttered without thinking. When everyone stared at her in shock, she covered her mouth, turning red. Sandy tried to glare at her but looked slightly too pleased for the look to be effective.
Jack, being the youngest, was the fastest to crack up laughing. "That's what got you into this trouble in the first place." He snickered, reaching out to try to take the egg from Tooth, who was still in her own world. She gently placed it in his arms, but whispered something to him as she did. His cheeks flushed slightly pink as he looked at her, then at the egg in surprised thoughtfulness.
Bunnymund, keeping a careful eye on Sandy for fear of accidentally angering him again, offered a grin to the proud soon to be parents. "I'd love to babysit the little ankle biters sometime, once they are past the shell covered stage." He winked at Annamore. "I bet they'll be trouble, if they are anything like their parents."
She laughed, acknowledging the truth behind that. "Can't wait to meet them." She said, taking the egg from North to pass to Bunnymund so he could have his turn. "I hope at least one of them has his eyes." Sandy smiled at her, obviously pleased by that. He added his own two cents by imagining a pair of wings, making her smile back.
"Oh, that reminds me. North, have any good flashlights?" She took his arm and wandered out of the room with him so he could find her one. When they returned, she got them to turn out the lights in the room after her and Sandy took the eggs back. Holding them one at a time, she shined the flashlight through one egg shell, showing veins that ran across the eggs inside, and a dark figure that already filled over half of the egg, that kicked willfully against the shell as the light hit it. They all gasped with excitement and happiness at their first glimpse of one of the twins.
She traded eggs with her husband and repeated the treatment on the other egg. The child in this egg seemed even more excited by the light, and they could see an outline of it's hand shadowed against the inside of the shell. It let out a small flash of light, visible even with the bright flashlight shining through. They turned off the flashlight and turned the lights back on, everyone smiling at what they'd seen despite having to blink against the sudden brightness. "I think you have a little spitfire here." Bunnymund said, patting the shell of the second egg.
The rest of the night the Guardians took turns holding the eggs to allow the new parents to have a few minutes off to enjoy the party. Tooth dragged Annamore off to discuss the finer points of hatchings, before starting to interrogate her on if they had any names planned yet, or needed help getting a room ready for them. "Some of my fairies and I would be able to take a few hours off to help if you'd like." The fairy stated, looking hopeful. "That'd be great. I think you'd be better at it than I am. I'm excited, but what if I suck as a mother?" The feather-winged woman looked at her feet, wings drooping as she admitted her fear.
"You'll be fine!" North said, overhearing her worry as he walked up behind her. He clapped his hand heavily on her shoulder. "No one who's bad with kids would have been made a Guardian!"
"Says a guy who forgot how to play with kids." She shot him a grin to let him know she was teasing.
On the other side of the room, Bunnymund was sitting down on a couch, holding the pair of eggs, his face almost reverent. Jack and Sandy were standing close by having a conversation. "No, really. I mean, let's be honest, I wasn't expecting any of us to manage kids. And you… Twins? Way to go, buddy!" He held his hand out for a high-five. Sandy looked at him sideways for a moment, as if trying to figure out if he should be insulted by the surprise, but his current pride made him accept the comment, and the high-five, in the spirit in which they were intended.
He climbed up onto the couch next to the rabbit and took back one of the eggs, hugging it to himself. Bunnymund grinned. "Congratulations, mate. You did this."
"I like to think I helped." Annamore chuckled, making her way back over to sit next to Sandy, her classic hot chocolate in hand. She stifled a yawn. "They aren't even hatched yet and I'm already exhausted. I hope they don't start flying for a long time, otherwise grounding them will be impossible."
"How do you know they'll need grounding?" Tooth asked, looking slightly concerned.
"They're his children; of course they'll need it." She replied at the same moment that Sandy, pointing, implied the same thing about her, making the others laugh.
When they returned home they were able to set the eggs up in a makeshift incubator, with a little help from things that North had given them. This made their next few weeks far easier, as Annamore and Sandy worked on a nursery with assistance from Tooth, Jack sometimes swinging in to help as well, although Annamore suspected that was mostly because he wanted to see Tooth.
Finally, towards the end of the seventh week the parents were rewarded by sounds when they checked on the pair of eggs. Each taking one, they sat down on their bed, cradling the eggs against themselves to prevent them from rocking back and forth during hatching. Both had managed to punch small holes in the shells, and sounds of confusion and distress slipped out. Sandy started to grab an edge of the shell to assist his child, obviously not liking the idea of it being stuck in the egg now that it was on its way out.
"Slow down there." Annamore said calmly, stopping him. "It's better if they do this on their own, love. All we should do for now is encourage them." He nodded acceptance and looked at her expectantly. She smiled at him knowingly and started singing wordlessly to the eggs, mostly to let them know that people were waiting for them. After a tense hour, the one Sandy was holding was cracked most of the way around already. "Bunny was right, that one's going to be a spitfire all right." She looked back down at the one in her arms, which wasn't even cracked half way around yet.
Another hour went by before the baby in Sandy's egg apparently had enough. With a sudden jump the baby head butted the shell off of itself, startling both parents and herself, as she started to wail immediately. The baby was a tiny, yet slightly chubby girl with small wings of light mottled red and gold, currently darker than they should be due to still being wet from the egg. Her wispy hair, which was quickly drying to her head, revealed similar coloring while her eyes were a blue that hinted at turning to green later on.
Sandy, recovering, wrapped his new daughter in a soft blanket to help her dry. She looked like she regretted her head butting action, and once safely wrapped she started to calm down. He looked proudly at the mother. "A girl!" She beamed, staring at her daughter happily. Another hour went by before the obviously mellower second baby had finally had enough. The parents watched in shock as the shell suddenly started disintegrating, turning into familiar dreamsand. The child was revealed to be a boy, and while he almost perfectly shared the color scheme and lack of wings of his father, he was a bit lengthier than his older sister. His eyes were golden, but a different, slightly darker shade then Sandy's.
After wrapping her son in a blanket and snuggling him for a minute, she held him out to Sandy, an eyebrow raised. "I think we have another Sanderson here after that trick he pulled, what do you think?"
He traded babies with her and looked their son over, a proud smile on his face. After a minute he nodded at her, agreeing with her on the name. He pointed questioningly at their daughter.
"How does Meissa sound? It means 'the bright one.'" She replied quietly, rubbing her fingers softly over the girl's slightly patterned hair.
He thought for a minute then gave her another nod of approval, still staring at the twins in wonder.