So a while ago I asked for some story ideas and I got soooo many amazing ideas, I wish I could write them all! In the end I had to choose one and I went with the idea from JackalyenMystique over on DA and then is promptly changed and morphed into, well this. Took a lot longer then I thought it would, but it is finally finished ^_^
Disclaimer: I do not own Jack Frost, Bunnymund or any other characters from the Rise of the Guardians universe, I just love them a lot!
Aster took in a deep breath of the cold pine scented air of the forest, letting it out in a heavy sigh. He was perched on one of the highest branches of the towering pine trees common to the snowbound forests of the Northern Kingdom, a very odd place for a Pooka he had to admit. He was there, perched like some giant furry bird, in the hope of getting some peace and quiet, something that was next to impossible in the constant rush of noise and motion that was the royal place. He brought a paw up and pinched the bridge of his nose at the thought of the palace; never would he have thought he would miss the peace and quiet of his life in the Middle Kingdom. That wasn't true though, not really at least. He loved his new life as the Palace healer, all the people he got to meet and the wondrous places he would be able to visit in the line if his duties.
Allowing his mind to drift Aster was brought back to the day he had first arrived at the place to formally accept his new post. It was an amazing place, carved of white marble and sapphire, it sparkled in the sun like snow and ice. The entire place had a very wintery look as though it had been carved from a glacier; its surfaces curving gracefully to form beautiful arches at every doorway. He had been received during a normal meeting of the court, fighting the butterflies in his stomach and trying in vain to keep his ears straight he had graciously thanked the King and Queen for their kind offer and sworn to serve the palace to the best of his abilities. On either side of the monarchs sat their children. To their right Princess Toothiana, his best friend and, he suspected, the reason he'd received this post in the first place despite her insistence that his reputation as the most promising healer to come through any school in the five kingdoms had spoken for itself. To their left sat their son, Crown Prince Jackson, lounging in his chair long ways and looking utterly bored with the proceeding, right up until the point Aster had been called forward to accept his post. The Prince had straightened in his chair, pushing a lock of snow white hair from his face as his bright blue eyes looked the Pooke over in a way that Aster could only describe as appraising.
His life as the Palace healer had been disappointingly boring, treating to occasional cut or burn, a sprain here and there and one broken arm when one of the servants had fallen while hanging a wreath in preparation for the Midwinter Ball. That had all changed three days ago when he had been woken in the middle of the night by Janis, one of the healers that served under him in the medical wing. "What is it Janis, it's the middle of the night."
Bowing slightly Janis said "Sir, there has been a fearling attack, wounded are being brought in as we speak."
Aster was up in a moment, any trace of sleep banished by the words 'fealing attack' "How many injured? Were there any wraiths present at the attack? Are the others being woken as well? Gather all the Moonleaf weave got, and Winter's Bite too." He was barking commands as he slipped on a thin robe and ran from the room, bounding through the halls leading to the medical wing as full speed. He arrived to a scene of utter chaos, healers were moving this way and that as soldiers were carried in on stretchers and deposited on the many tables set out in rows. Aster immediately took control of the situation. "Everyone clam down! Minor injuries over there, anything severe but not life threatening over there, severe over here, anything involving wraiths there. You you and you see to the incoming, you three with me, everyone else you know your jobs, let's move people!" He immediately went to work on the nearest solider who had a deep gash on his shoulder and neck, he was barely breathing and Aster could tell he didn't have much longer in this world. He grabbed several leaves from a table nearby and chewed them quickly, the bitter taste familiar and oddly comforting to him, taking the chewed glob he pressed it to the wound and took a deep breath, focusing on that part inside him where his healing magic dwelt. A warm glow spread from his chest down his arm and into his hands manifesting in a soft golden light that flared briefly. When the light faded the wound on the soldier's neck was gone, covered over by fresh pink skin. Aster nodded "move him to the recovery area" he said and them moved onto the next solider.
The work was hard and bloody but Aster pressed on despite his growing exhaustion, the healing was starting to take its toll on him but he would not leave any of these men to die, not when he could prevent it. Just as he finished mending the skin of one soldier's abdomen he felt a tug at his arm "Sir, we need you over here," said Janis, leading him to a bed in the corner of the room with a rather small figure sitting on it. Aster's eyes widened as he recognized the figure of the Crown Prince, hunched over slightly and draped in a long blue cape. He was wearing a sparkling suit of chain armor with blue accents, an empty sword sheath hanging at his waist. His hair and most of his garments were covered in the dark ichor that passed for blood among fearlings. He looked pale and his motions were slow and uncoordinated as he waved away the two healers trying to tend to him.
"He is refusing to let us tend to him sir, not until he men are seen to." Janis said.
Aster was surprised by that news, most royalty he had ever met would have insisted on being seen for a hangnail before the man with a stab wound to the chest, yet this young prince wanted his men seen to first. Aster was impressed. He walked over and fixed a stern gaze on the young prince "We need to treat you your majesty."
The prince waved his hand weakly with a small smile at Aster "none of this 'majesty' business, call me Jack." His words were slurred as though he were drunk.
"Very well, Jack, we need to treat you so if you wouldn't mid lying down."
"Not until my men are seen to, I'm fine" Jack said, his words trailed off as and he blinked his eyes as thought fighting sleep. At that moment Aster's eyes went wide and he took a step forward, the scent of blood was thick in his nose, the prince absolutely reeked of it.
"Hold him down." Aster said, when the other healers hesitated he said, fighting down a flash of irritation, "As royal healer I order you to hold him down!" This time they did so, despite the prince's objections. Aster gently worked off the metal armor, his eyes again going wide at the sight of the large gash carved in the side of the gleaming suit. Aster quickly removed the blood soaked undershirt revealing an even more horrifying sight, a slash starting at the prince's right shoulder and running down his side to end at his waist. "I need Bloodvine and Cedarheart now! And Agren's Tear if we have any!" He shouted out as he began cleaning the wound with a damp cloth. With a wound like this the prince shouldn't even be alive at this point much less conscious!
"I'm fine." Jack said weakly, his entire body deathly pale.
"No, you are in idiot!" Aster said as Janis handed him a small pouch. Aster dumped the pouch's contents, six small red seeds, onto his palm; so few…he would just have to make do. Placing the seeds in Jack's gaping wound Aster closed his eyes and focused once again on his magic, ignoring the exhaustion that tugged at his limbs. Slowly he moved his hands around Jack's body, the prince wincing in pain as the vines grew and spread through his veins, Aster continued his work until every organ and tissue in Jack's body was connected vie the vines that would serve as his blood until his body could replace what he'd lost. Sighing deeply Aster looked at the Cedarheart being offered him and said "mash that into a paste and feed it to him, and someone please seal his wound…I don't think I have the strength." He waved for a chair and one was brought to him. Taking a seat Aster felt the weight of his exertions dragging heavily on him, he kept himself awake just long enough to watch Janis seal the slash down Jack's side and then he passed out in the remarkably comfy wooden chair.
Several hours later Aster awoke with a horrible cramp in his neck, he suspected the back of the chair digging into it while he slept was somehow involved. Slowly he stood and stretched feeling his joints pop and crack as they adjusted from his very uncomfortable sleeping position. He looked over at the bed next to him to find a pair of bright blue eyes looking back at him, shining slightly in the early morning light filtering into the room. Everyone else seemed to be asleep, the air filled with the snores and deep breathing of sleeping men and women. The Prince smiled when Aster looked at him "Oh thank goodness someone else is awake, it's been terribly dull here all alone." He said cheerfully.
Aster bowed to the prince "Good to see you conscious your majesty, how you are feeling?"
"Like I've got a plant growing inside me, and what did I say about that 'majesty' nonsense?"
"Of course sir, my apologies. If you would allow me to examine you I would like to check on the Bloodvine and be sure it is working as intended." Aster said. Bloodvine was tricky to work with in the best of circumstances and he had been far from his peak when he'd applied it to the Prince the previous night.
The prince let out a sigh as Aster's use of the word "sir" but said "Of course healer. Thank you for all your work here, I watched you save many of my soldiers last night. I can never thank you enough for their lives, or mine."
"It was very foolish of you to refuse treatment like you did your maj-Jack." Aster said, catching himself this time.
Jack smiled at the use of his name "I believe the word you used was 'idiot'" he said with a smirk "there are many rulers who would have you banished for such an insult."
"With all due respect Jack, any man who refuses treatment with an injury like that is an idiot and I will tell him so to his face, Crown Prince or no." Aster said with a pointed look at what was visible of the line of pink skin running down Jack's side above his blanket. Thinking for a moment he added "Besides, I don't think you're like many rulers."
"Oh? And why is that?" Jack said with a look of mock confusion on his face but Aster could see that he was truly interested the answer.
"Because, you refused treatment until your men had been cared for. There are many rulers who would be pushing their men out of the way to be first in line. There are many rulers who would not even enter a battle themselves. Which leads me to the obvious question; why?" Aster said watching Jack closely for his reaction.
Jack smiled, seeming pleased by Aster's response then said simply "They risk just as much, usually more, than I do, why is my life worth any more than theirs?" Aster was once again left speechless by the young prince. He was spared having to respond by the Prince who asked "Can I ask you a question healer?"
"Aster" Aster said.
"What?" Jack said, looking confused.
"My name is Aster, and yes of course."
"Ah, well then Aster" Jack said "I seem to have a flower growing from my waist and I was wondering what exactly that means?" He lifted his blanket at that moment to reveal a small red flower sprouting from the end of the pink line that marked his injury. Aster started at the sight of the flower, it was a sign that the bloodvine had done its job and the Prince's body no longer needed it, but it shouldn't have bloomed for several more hours at the very earliest. The prince was impressing him at every turn.
"That, Jack, means that you are an incredibly fast healer and, if you're ready, I can remove the Bloodvine."
"Are you up to that? You seemed quite thoroughly exhausted last night." He sounded concerned which surprised Aster again, though he supposed iy shouldn't have at this point.
"You truly aren't like any monarch I've ever met" Aster said with a chuckle before saying "yes I'm fine to do this, it's not difficult."
"Very well then, I place myself in your capable hands." Jack said as he threw his blanked off. There was something in his voice that Aster couldn't identify, he put it aside for the moment and stepped forward, placing one hand on the flower and the other on Jack's chest directly over his heart. He concentrated on the network of thin vines currently crisscrossing Jack's body and began to guide them out, pulling lightly on the flower as he did so. Jack shuddered as the tendrils began to slide out of his body, following the flower like a set of roots until, after several minutes of work Aster gave one final tug and pulled the last of the vines free. Quickly he closed the small hole left by the vines departure and, breaking it off at the base of its stem, handed the small flower to Jack. "What's this for?" Jack asked, eyeing Aster in way that made the Pooka feel like he was being searched.
"That is a Heartblossom, your Heartblossom actually. It grows from the bloodvine and is tied to you; it will blossom and thrive just as you do." Aster said as he began running his hands along Jack's side, arms, chest and the rest of his body, following the pathway of his veins in search of any remaining bloodvine.
Jack looked at the flower in his hand as Aster examined him, turning the small red and gold thing this way and that to examine it from all angles. A strange expression came over Jacks face as he examined the flower, after several moments he looked up at Aster and said "Thank you. You saved my men from their wounds…and me from my pride. I really don't know how I can ever repay you." The usual self-assured bravado was gone from the Prince's voice as he spoke, he sounded honest, sincere. Despite himself Aster was surprised with the honest emotion in the prince's voice.
Aster smiled at Jack "You can start by not being such an idiot when you've been sliced open like a fish at market. Were healers, not miracle workers, there is a limit to what we can do and the more time that passes the more limited we become."
The bravado was back as Jack replied "Well then I guess it's lucky for me that my sister found us such a fine healer isn't it?" There is was again, the edge to Jack's voice that Aster could not quite place, something about the way he said 'fine'…Aster was suddenly aware of how very exposed Jack was as he ran his paw over the prince's well-muscled abdomen. He ears tilted back slightly and a warmth blossomed in his cheeks as he noticed just how close his paw was to the top of the Jack's shorts, the thin garments doing little for the prince's modesty.
Stepping back quickly Aster said "All seems well Your Hine-Jack. Your free to leave, just be sure to come back tomorrow so I can look you over-to be sure the treatment worked that is." Aster stumbled over his words thankful that his race did not blush; if they did he would be red as the Heartblossom.
Jack sat up, swinging his legs over the edge of the table he took a step forward said "Until tomorrow them." He made to turn toward the door but hesitated. Turning a bright smile at Aster he said "Again, thank you." And, leaning up on the tips of his toes, planted a swift kiss on the Pooka's cheek. Without looking at Aster Jack quickly grabbed the sheet from his bed and, wrapping it around himself, exited the infirmary. Aster stood there for several long minutes, the place where Jack's unusually cool lips had brushed burning under his fur, contemplating a single question; what now?
So here Aster sat three days later in the top of a tree, shivering in the chill win, still no closer to answering that question. His retrospection was interrupted as the branch he was perched upon shuddered violently. A wordless shout escaped his lips as he grabbed the tree's trunk, holding onto the rough bark for dear life.
"What in the five kingdoms are you doing up here?" Said the familiar voice of Toothiana as the young woman alit on the end of his branch, her bright green feathers ruffled by the wind.
"Looking for some peace and quiet, which I'd found until just moments ago." Aster replied rather sharply, his heart still hammering in his chest.
"Well someone is in a sour mood." Tooth said, sounding hurt.
Aster felt bad for his tone, but she had scared him half to death and interrupted the first true bit of time to think he'd had in the last three days. "Yes, I am. Sorry that I snapped at you though, it's not your fault."
"Whose fault is it then" Tooth asked pointedly.
"Nobody's." Aster said simply, his tone making it clear he didn't want to talk about it.
"Hmmh" Tooth was nodding "Would this be the same nobody that's had you out of sorts for the last few days?"
"I-I-I have no idea what your walking about." Aster stammered, his ears going back a little. He knew he couldn't hide this from Tooth, she was his best friend and sometimes he felt she knew he better then he knew himself. Still, he didn't want to share it with her yet when he was still trying to figure it out himself.
Tooth grinned in triumph "So it is! What happened Aster, you know you can talk to me about anything. Did someone say something?" Aster looked at her uncomprehendingly until she elaborated "About you, ya know, being a Pooka?"
"Oh!" Aster said with a slight chuckle "No, no nothing like that."
"Then what?" Tooth asked, her tone saying clearly that she wasn't going to let it go.
Aster sighed and then said "There's this guy…"
Tooth's face brightened in a big smile "Oh that's wonderful! Who's the lucky guy? Does he know? Are you going to tell him? Is he interested to? Where did you meet?" Tooth started spouting off questions until Aster held up his hand.
"Let's see…You know him, I don't know, I'm not sure, I think so, infirmary." He said, mentally going over his questions to be sure he didn't miss any.
Tooth thought for a minute, her expression showing that she was clearly enjoying this game; Aster didn't mind, he found it easier to have the fairy guess. After a minute she asked "Is it another healer." Aster shook his head. She thought for a moment later and then something seemed to click "Oh! You met in the infirmary and you've been out of sorts for a few days, it was someone you worked on from the attack!" Aster nodded. "So, one of the soldiers-" Tooth began but stopped when Aster shook his head. "Not one of the soldiers? But who else could…" She trailed off and her eyes went wider, looking at Aster in incredulity. "Jack?" She asked in disbelief, after a brief pause Aster nodded. "Well you certainly shoot high don't you?" She said.
Aster started, clearly whatever response he had been expecting, that wasn't it "What's that supposed to mean?" he asked defensively.
"Oh nothing, just observing that you've been here for less than a month and you're already setting your sights on the crown prince. Work getting a little tedious for you?"
Aster stared at her dumbfound, shocked that she would say something like that to him. "NO! You know damn well it's not like that! I thought you knew me better than that…"
Tooth turned to him and smiled "I do Aster, and that's the only reason I'm not telling you to stay away from by brother. He's a sweet guy, little innocent, bit of an idiot sometimes but he's got a good heart."
"I've noticed." Aster said
"So the question is then, how are you going to go about winning it?" She asked him, waiting expectantly.
"Well…I was thinking that I'd just talk to him? Ask him if he'd even want me." Aster said, sounding doubtful.
"Don't talk like that, I know you Aster, my brother would be lucky to have you." She said firmly.
"Be sure to tell him that." Aster said as he put a paw to his forehead.
Tooth laughed at that, smiling brightly at Aster "See? Just be yourself and he'll see you for who you are. No, I was referring to the dance."
Aster looked up at Tooth in surprise "That what?"
"You don't know?" She asked, the blank look on Aster's face answer enough "Its tradition that anyone wishing to court a member of the royalty attempt to woo them with a dance at a formal ball. Lucky for you there's one in just a couple weeks, so what kind of dance are you thinking of?"
Aster's heart was too busy falling to earth for him to answer Tooth. A dance… Why did it have to be a dance? He looked down at his large feet; they were good for many things, jumping higher than most any creatures on the earth, running nearly as fast as a horse at full gallop, propelling him quickly through the water. Indeed his feet where a gift to his race, an adaptation that allowed them to do many things that other races could not…dancing was not one of them.
Noticing Aster's sudden shift in mood Tooth asked "What's wrong?"
"I can't dance."
"Oh don't be silly, of course you can!" Tooth said dismissively.
"No,' Aster said, gesturing to his feet "I physically cannot dance."
Then Tooth understood "Oh…" she said.
"Ya…" Aster agreed.
"Well, you'll just have to learn won't you?" She sad.
"It's not possible." He said dejectedly.
Tooth looked at him seriously "Aster, you are the youngest person to graduate from the university at Santoff Claussen, ever! You've mastered healing techniques that are beyond any other living healer. You bring men back from the brink of death on a daily basis and you're telling my you're going to let a two-step beat you?"
Aster looked at her for a long moment and then relented with a sigh "Will you teach me?"
Tooth smiled brightly "I'd be honored."
"Left left step right turn turn right turn left step." Tooth chanted as she walked Aster though the steps as he twirled with his invisible partner through the steps of what was apparently Jack's favorite dance. As he went to step his toe caught on his other foot and he tumbled to the ground "DAMNIT!" he shouted in frustration, pounding a fist against the floor.
"That was good, you almost had it and you've got the rest of the song down pat." Tooth said encouragingly as she offered Aster her hand.
Ignoring her Aster pushed himself up "I've got three days until the ball, this is pointless!" He growled.
"Don't start that now, you've come so far! You'll get this just like you always do, I know it!" Tooth said.
Aster sighed and said "Again." Tooth taped the crystal set into the wall of the room, the music started again and Aster began to twirls step and spin, going through the dance for the three hundred and forty seventh time by his count. He had three days to get this down; there wasn't a moment to lose.
Aster stood in the grand ballroom of the royal palace of the Northern Kingdome. He felt underdressed even in his best dress outfit, a light green shirt with gold buttons and embroidery and a matching hat. Everyone around him was wearing silken frilly things adorned with gems and lace that Aster personally felt was far too much but he knew must have been the height of fashion for the area. He preferred the more simple elegance of the dress in the Middle Kingdome over the extravagance displayed by the nobles around him, though he had to admit that it was rather pretty to look at. He was milling around the room, chatting with the occasional person, usually someone requesting his help or advice with some medical situation, waiting for the ball to formally begin.
After nearly an hour the lights in the room started to shimmer brighter and the musicians began to play. The King and Queen entered the room, dancing gracefully around the dance floor to a hauntingly beautiful melody before taking a seat at the large chairs that had been placed against the far room. The music shifted to something more fast paced as Tooth and Jack entered the room, dancing separately but weaving their motions together in a wonderfully coordinated display as they spun and leapt around the room. Tooth had on a thin golden silk dressed that wove in and out of her feathers, accenting their natural beauty. Jack was dressed in a form fitting white outfit that covered his entire body, dark blue swirls and patterns ran from his left ankle up and around his neck and down to his right wrist, the whole things was completed by the dark blue cape that was draped over his shoulders. Aster stared at Jack as he danced, watching his graceful moment, so effortless and lovely…how could he ever impress someone like that with the meager dance skills he acquired over the last two weeks? Coming to a stop in front of their parents Tooth and Jack faced the crowed, bowed and then took a seat on either side of their parents. The crowd clapped, Aster joining in, falling silent as the King stood and said "Thank you to all our guests, please allow me to welcome you to the 487th annual Midwinter's Ball!" The crowd cheered and the musicians started playing as the dance floor filled with people. Tooth stood and moved to dance with a friend, the King and Queen stayed seated smiling around at their guests, Jack to stayed seated, as was expected of him and looking none too happy about it.
After about an hour of dodging his way through the milling crowd and rebuffing a few unwanted advances from various younger nobles Aster made his way to Tooth was, cutting in rather gracefully as she spun in place.
"Well hello," She trilled, clearly enjoying herself "I thought you were here for my brother?" She winked.
Aster grinned back, the festive atmosphere had him a better mood then he'd been in in weeks "I am. Speaking of which, when would it be appropriate?"
"Give it a few more minutes and then go. Don't worry, he'll love it." She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek before spinning away gracefully, a handsome young sprite immediately taking Aster's place. Aster slowly made his way toward the front of the room where Jack sat looking longingly at the crowd of dancers, clearly wishing to join in. Aster was just politely declining an invitation to dance by a young woman when the music stopped. Low murmurs fill the room as Aster straightened to his full, and impressive, height in order to see what the commotion was about.
A young man, probably around Jack's age was walking up to the slightly raised area of floor where most of the royal family was seated. He was wearing rather baggy set of bright red pants and matching shoes and a red shirt that was so tight it looked…no, it was painted on. Red pain covered the young man's torso and arms, a strip of golden fabric ran up his back around his shoulders and split to wrap down both arms ending at the wrists, small golden streaks painted onto his chest and into his dark red hair accented the 'outfit' perfectly. "Who is that?" Aster said to the young woman he had just rebuffed.
She craned her neck to get a look and then her eyes went a little wide "That's Kyle, youngest son of the Lord of the Southern Kingdome. I didn't know he was here tonight." She looked rather hungry as she said finished. Judging from the look of surprise on Jack's face he hadn't know either.
He bowed slightly, bending at the waist a small bit before standing straight and putting both hands behind his back. "Crown Price, honor me with a dance?" The way he asked made the statement seem less like a request and more like a demand, that combined with the way Kyle held himself, head up so as to contently look down on others made Aster immediately dislike the sprite. Jack smiled, a mechanical thing, nothing like the smile Aster remembered from that morning in the infirmary. Jack stood from his seat, bowed to Kyle and followed the Southern Princeling onto the dance floor. The musicians struck up a tune, something fast that Aster assumed must have been more traditional of the Southern Kingdoms and Kyle took the lead as he and Jack began to dance across the rapidly clearing dance floor. Kyle lead well and Jack was a fast study, before long the two were dancing around the floor faster than anything Aster had seem before spinning and jumping in perfect synch as though they'd practiced together for years. Aster noticed that Kyle kept placing Jack's hand on his chest, his own hands repeatedly making bids for Jack's more personal areas, each time he was foiled by a deft movement from the Northern Prince. Aster could tell that Kyle was getting slightly aggravated, his face occasionally creasing before reshaping into the supremely confident smirk; all the while Jack wore the mask of that mechanical smile. At least that's what Aster thought he say, wondering to himself if it wasn't just his brain being hopeful.
Finally the music came to an end, and the two bowed. Aster turned to leave. Kyle had danced circles around anything he could hope to do; he didn't see the point in embarrassing himself. He'd just made it to the exit when he came up short, standing there in front of the door with her arms crossed and her feathers ruffled was Tooth "And where are you going?" She said sternly.
"Look…just drop it please. I was stupid to think…please move, I just want to go back to my quarters."
Her expression softened at the dejection in Aster's voice and she said "Why? Cause some holier than thou prick from the Southern Kingdome has some fancy moves? Oh no, you are not giving up just like that. My brother is a better judge then that, trust me. Now get out there and woo my little brother, and the very fact that that sentence just passed my lips should show you just how serious I am." Tooth finished, the last sentence all coming out in one breath.
Aster smiled in spite of himself, damn the fairy "Alright." Tooth hugged him briefly and he turned back to the other side of the hall, toward where Jack had just retaken his seat. He cut through the crowed quickly, years in infirmaries had tough him to move through close quarters without disturbing others. He continued forward, locking his eyes on Jack as he left the crowed and stepped into the open space in front of the makeshift thrones. There were several gasps as he did so, more muttering broke up be he ignored them, his eyes still focused on Jack. Jack set up straight as Aster approached, his eyes widened with surprise when Aster bowed deeply, his face broke into a broad smile when Aster held out a paw, silently asking him for a dance.
Aster smiled to as Jack stoop and took his hand. He quickly stood and led the Prince to the dance floor, glancing over at the musicians he saw Tooth give him a thumbs up and the song started. Jack looked up at him, an incredulous smile splitting his face as he recognized the tune. And they danced. Aster lead lightly, Jack needing no help in the steps and they danced together gracefully Aster weaving his large feet carefully so as to keep them out of both his way and Jack's. He spun Jack out and back in, the sprite's back flush with his chest for a spit second before he spun away again. As the music reached its climax Aster tossed Jack into the air, the Prince's smaller form turned gracefully as he rose and fell, landing safely in Aster's outstretched arms. Aster let out a small sigh of relief, he'd done it. He relief was short lived however as his concentration slipped and, as he stepped one foot over the other it caught and he fell, landing flat on his face on the dance floor.
Several people gasped, a few tittered, one haughty voice openly laughed. Not looking at anyone Aster pushed himself up, ears flat against his head, his eyes prickling. He made for the main door; the crowed moved aside for him. As soon as he was out the door he crouched down into all fours and raced from the palace.
Aster took in a deep breath of the cold pine scented air of the forest, letting it out in a shaky sigh. Once again he was perched high in the branches of that same tree where this whole foolish idea had been born weeks ago. His head was buried in his paws as he replayed that horrible moment over and over in his mind, the embracement overwhelming. He heard the rustle as someone settled into the branch above him "I'm not in the mood Tooth, please just…just leave me be."
"I never know anyone else came up here to get away from things." said a voice that was distinctly not Tooth. Aster looked up in shock to see Jack sitting quite comfortably on the branch above him, looking out over the lights of the palace below them. He gazed still trained on the palace he said "Ever since I came of age and my powers developed I've been coming up here when I need to be alone, nobody ever things to look in the trees…well, nobody but my sister." He chuckled lightly "I'm assuming that it was her who told you about my favorite song? Of course it was." He waited but Aster gave no response, still too surprised to formulate a response. After a moment he continued "You know, I was disappointed when you were too busy to see me for that follow up. I'd been looking forward to seeing you and when you wouldn't see me I thought maybe I'd been too forward."
Aster listened to Jack's words, trying to make sense of situation when suddenly he realized what Jack was doing; he was talking, not about anything of any real importance, giving Aster time decide how he was going to react. It was surprisingly sweet and considerate, and also wholly unnecessary. "What are you doing out here? Aren't you supposed to down there being charmed by Mr. too good to wear a shirt?"
Jack laughed lightly at that "Right to the point I see, I had a feeling you wouldn't be much for posturing and diplomatic speak, I'm glad to see I was correct. Mr. doesn't know how to keep his hands to himself down there had his chance, as did you."
"Ya…sorry if I embarrassed you." Aster said.
"Embraced me? Aster, I haven't enjoyed a dance that much in a very long time. Which brings me to the reason I came all the way up here in the middle of the ball; you left before I could say whose dance was better."
"Well that's obvious." Aster said sadly.
At that moment Jack swung down from the branch so he was hanging by his knees, his face upside down just inches from Aster's. "They seem to have forgotten to tell you that I'm the one who gets to choose. And I've chosen." With that he leaned forward and kissed Aster, right there in the highest branches of one of the tallest trees in the Northern Kingdome. Aster felt Jack fall down from the top branch and into his lap without breaking the kiss, how he managed the feat was beyond the Pooka.
After several long minutes they broke apart, Aster looked down at Jack and grinned "So who'd you choose?" Jack laughed and lay his head on Aster's chest, settling into the warm fur. Aster smiled and kissed the top of his soft white hair and settling into his new life at the palace, it may not be traveling the five kingdoms, but Aster had a feeling it would a grand adventure all its own.
There ya go! Let me know what you think in the reviews!
^_^ Thanks to everyone who reads, likes, favorites, reviews and follows my stories, I love you all ^_^