Harry Potter was in Burgess to see daughter Lily, who he had moved to America with when Ginny and her big brothers (as well as the rest of the people they knew, even Hermione, which had been a real shocker) had shunned his little princess after her Hogwarts letter hadn't come. Teddy had been the only other person to even come close to treating Lily the same as he ever had, but Teddy was well on his own life by then and barely gave much thought to Lily anyway.
So Harry had divorced Ginny, left the boys with her, and taken his precious little Lily off to America where they could lead normal lives. That is to say: lives without prejudice against Lily for being a squib, or with crazy witches and wizards all over the place crabbing for the notice of The Harry Potter.
Lily had grown up to be a beautiful woman, gotten married, and moved away from the house she had her dad had lived in since they'd moved to America... and then gotten divorced when her husband had an affair with his much younger secretary. It wasn't that the girl was prettier than Lily, just that she was closer to eighteen than thirty. She'd kept the house, and the kids of course, and then done what any grown woman would do when the traumatising legal procedures were finally over and the supportive lawyers had gone on their way.
She went crying to her daddy.
Harry only hadn't been at her side immediately because, if he was going to move in with her and be the male role-model for her children, then he was going to have to sell the house in Washington State and pack up everything for the move.
"You don't want Jack Frost nipping at your nose," he heard Lily say as he approached a fence with a white-haired teenager sitting on top of it.
"Who's Jack Frost?" Jamie asked, scoffing a little as he appeared in the gate, Lily right behind him with his hat.
"Nobody sweetie," Lily answered as she made sure the hat was on Jamie's head and going to stay there. "It's just an expression."
"Hey!" objected the white-haired teen.
Harry's eyebrows shot up then when he realised just who it was hopping down from his daughter's fence, and then he smiled. For now though, he wasn't going to call attention to the spirit – if the kids couldn't see who was throwing the snowballs at them, that was their problem – he had no idea if Jamie or Sophie had magic enough to see the spirit, but he wasn't going to point him out. He wasn't sure why Lily hadn't seen the spirit though, maybe it was because she was a squib, but squibs had always been able to... pretty much do anything that didn't specifically require a wand, really. It left him a little confused, but he kept it to himself as he watched Jack Frost pelt the kids with snowballs, provide the kids with snowballs, and generally give the kids a fun snow-day.
"Dad," Lily greeted with a smile, and Sophie on her hip.
"Hey Princess," he answered. "Hello Sophie," he said turning his attention to his granddaughter – who he hadn't seen since she was born. "Do you know who I am?" he asked.
"Grampa!" Sophie answered with a bright, adorable grin.
Harry smiled. "That's right," he agreed happily, and the three of them (and the dog) went inside again, where it was warmer.
"Thanks for coming Dad," Lily said softly as Sophie went with Abbey (the dog) to play in the lounge room.
"Hey," Harry said as he wrapped his arms around his baby girl. "You know I'll always come for you if you need me, Jamie and Sophie too."
Lily smiled back. "Master of Death," she whispered. "You'll probably still be around to take care of the great-grand-kids of your great-grand-kids."
"All the better for me to keep my promises," Harry said firmly as he pushed away the thoughts of seeing Lily grow old and die, while he stayed the same, stuck at an indeterminate forty with just the very beginnings of grey hair speckled through the black. "Now," he said, determined to change the subject. "Where do I put my trunk?"
Lily smiled and led her father upstairs.
Harry took most of the afternoon to settle his things into the room Lily had given him. Lily's was at the other end of the hall, with Jamie and Sophie's rooms next to hers on opposite sides of the hall, and then the bathroom before Harry's new room and the stairs. He might have been able to unpack and settle in faster, but Sophie had wanted to help – which meant doing things the non-magical way, at least for now. He didn't want to be performing magic in front of Sophie and Jamie before he actually told them about magic, after all, and he knew they'd have a lot of questions – so he was going to have to keep a lid on it until everybody had time to sit down and get the full, complicated, explanations.
Once his room was in order, Harry had taken Sophie back downstairs, and started on dinner while Lily got to play with her daughter until Jamie came home from playing in the snow with his friends and Harry was ready to put dinner on the table.
"Grandpa!" Jamie greeted enthusiastically when he got home. "When did you get here?" he asked as he tackled Harry's waist.
"About the same time you went out to play in the snow with your friends," Harry answered with a grin, messing up the kid's hair. "Did you have fun?" he asked.
"Yeah! And look! Look! I lost a tooth!" Jamie answered, all excitement.
Harry raised an eyebrow. "How did that happen?" he asked.
"It was awesome!" Jamie answered, and proceeded to recount his sled-ride all the way up until - "and then this sofa came out of nowhere and slammed into me, and it knocked my tooth out! Do you think the Tooth Fairy will come?" Jamie asked.
Harry chuckled. "For as long as you're awake? Not a chance. After you're asleep? Sure," he agreed. "Now go wash up for dinner."
After dinner, he told them. He told his grandchildren about magic, and as he had predicted, they had questions. Or at least, Jamie had questions. Sophie was a bit little to be stringing whole sentences together yet, though she was pretty good about making herself understood.
"Is Bigfoot real?" Jamie had asked first.
"No idea," Harry admitted. "I do know that the dodo bird isn't extinct, but I have really no idea about Bigfoot."
Jamie slumped in disappointment, before the excitement came back, and more questions with it. He asked about other magical creatures (like dragons, werewolves and griffins), he asked about potions and rituals (in a vague sense, since he didn't know specifics to ask about, which Harry was glad for), he asked if there were other people out there who could do magic (yes, but it was a really big secret), and if there was a possibility that he could do magic.
Harry sighed. "I don't know, Jamie," he admitted. "I just... don't know."
Jamie had nodded in acceptance, and Lily had taken the kids up to put them to bed not long after.
While she did that, Harry boiled a carton of eggs to paint, ready for the Easter Egg hunt the next day.
He'd seen Jack Frost earlier that day, true, but Harry didn't think he'd ever really believed in the Easter Bunny. That didn't mean he wouldn't encourage the kids to believe though.
Letting the boiled eggs cool enough to be handled, painting the eggs, waiting for them to dry, and then hiding them around the place had taken a while. Long enough that he was still awake at midnight certainly.
He'd just hidden the last egg when he heard a horse-ish noise from above, and when he looked up he saw Jack Frost chasing after a black sort of shape across the night sky.
Not his issue right then. He was tired. It had been a long day, and he was ready for bed.
Harry smiled to himself as he watched Jamie, Sophie, and all the other kids searching through the foliage and the snow that remained from the previous day's heavy fall for eggs. Lily was taking the opportunity presented to her by having him around to spend some time getting her own life in order again, without having to worry about the kids, and he smiled at that too, glad to be able to help his grown-up princess in any way he could. Then he frowned when he realised that the kids kept on finding nothing but broken shells.
He'd only hidden those eggs last night! There weren't a whole lot of animals in the area that would eat the eggs, and okay he hadn't done a whole lot, but every egg busted?
"Mr Potter?" asked Cupcake as she brought him another pile of broken shells. "What happened? Why did the Easter Bunny only leave us broken shells? Were we bad?" she asked, and looked just about to cry.
"There's no such thing as the Easter Bunny!" declaimed one of the twins angrily before he and his brother stormed off, angry and hurt.
Pippa and Marty both sniffed and headed home, heads hanging.
"Mr Potter?" Cupcake asked again.
"Grandpa?" Jamie added, and his eyes looked a bit glassy as well.
"Bunny! Hop hop hop!" Sophie insisted, as she continued to search doggedly.
But Harry knew they'd found enough broken shells for all of the eggs that he had hidden.
He sighed. "I only ever found broken shells when I was your age," he admitted to the two seven-year-olds who were looking up at him so desperately full of hope – hope for answers that he wasn't sure he had.
"He's got to be real!" Jamie objected. "I saw him! In my bedroom last night!"
Cupcake sighed and her shoulders sagged. "It was just a dream, Jamie. You should be glad you still even get nice dreams... instead of nightmares," she said as she turned to walk away.
"He's just got to be real!" Jamie insisted.
"No eggs," Sophie declared sadly, not a moment later, when she stumbled up to them.
Harry pushed himself up to his feet and picked Sophie up. "Then we'll make some," he decided firmly. So what if he'd spent a good portion of the previous night doing just that? He would see his grandchildren with eggs on Easter Sunday.
"It's not the same," Jamie lamented, then smiled sadly. "But thanks Grandpa."
"Hey," Harry scolded the boy comfortingly. "You're not going to give up on something, are you?" he asked. "Sophie?" he checked with the little girl in his arms.
"Bunny," Sophie said firmly, fists bunched in his woollen scarf. "Hop hop hop."
Harry smiled at her fondly. Besides, if a wizard couldn't believe in the existence of impossible figures, then who could? He'd just have to set aside his own feelings on the matter for now. And the unpleasant evidence.
Harry spent the day teaching Jamie how to blow eggs, helping Sophie paint them, and then using the middles out of those eggs to make omelettes for dinner.
"Bunny?" Sophie asked as Harry tucked her in.
Lily was making sure Jamie was ready for bed. They'd switch for last goodnight's in a minute.
"If I have to search the whole world to find him for you Sophie, I will," Harry answered, then kissed her forehead and pulled up the blankets. "Sleep tight, and pleasant dreams."
Harry smiled at her, and met Lily at the door.
He kissed her cheek. "You head straight to bed after this too," he insisted in a whisper. "I don't know what you got up to today, but I can tell you're exhausted."
Lily nodded, kissed his cheek, and moved further into her daughter's room.
Harry moved into the hall and towards Jamie's door.
"Alright, look. You and I are obviously at what they call a crossroads," he heard Jamie saying through the door.
Harry opened it a crack and peeked in. The kid was sitting on his bed and talking to a stuffed rabbit. Harry decided to not interrupt. Kids had their serious issues as well, and he wouldn't interrupt until Jamie really needed him to.
"So, here's what's gonna happen: if it wasn't a dream, and you are real, then... you hove to prove it. Like, right now," Jamie informed the stuffed rabbit seriously. "I've believed in you for a long time, okay? Like, my whole life in fact," he said as he straightened up again, picking up the rabbit as he did so he maintained eye-contact with those buttons. "So you kind of owe me now," he insisted solemnly. "You don't have to do much. Just a little sign so I know," Jamie begged.
Harry cracked the door open a little more, and though Jamie was his primary concern (grandkid and all), he also spotted the white-haired young man watching through the cracked-open window... and wondered if Jack Frost might be able to supply whatever it was Jamie needed right then.
"Anything," Jamie begged. "Anything at all."
But nothing happened.
"I knew it," Jamie sighed sadly, and dropped the rabbit off the side of his bed.
Silently, Harry and Jack both pushed open doors and windows respectively, but Harry had been watching Jack as well, and quickly backed off before he was spotted, though he kept the door open a crack to watch how it went.
He really couldn't help but smile at the interaction as it unfolded.
"He's real," Jamie breathed as Jack Frost drew pictures on a frosted window pane, and then cheerfully laughed and jumped and spun on his bed as an icy rabbit dashed around his room.
Even Jack Frost let out a bit of laughter as the rabbit dashed past him before it exploded into -
"Snow?" Jamie asked as he settled down, confused. "Jack Frost," he said a moment later.
"Did he just say -?" Jack Frost himself asked.
"Jack Frost?" Jamie asked.
"He said it again," Jack said in wonder, jumping back a bit as Jamie turned around on his bed. "He said... you said -!" he stammered.
Harry got the uncomfortable feeling that Jack Frost hadn't had much company for some time. At least, certainly not human company. Possibly any company.
"Jack Frost!" Jamie exclaimed in shock.
Harry smiled. His grandson really had a way with words.
"That's right! But- but that's me! Jack Frost!" Jack said, clearly at a loss as how to handle the situation he now found himself in. "That's my name!" He stepped a little closer to Jamie. "You said my name!" he breathed with joyful, breathless wonder and excitement at that very idea.
Harry figured he was probably fairly safe to interrupt at this point. Jamie was over his crises about the Easter Bunny, and now he was having one about and with Jack Frost.
"Wait, c-can you hear me?" Jack asked.
Jamie nodded dumbly.
"C-can you... can you see me?" he pressed, getting much closer.
Jamie nodded again, a smile beginning to spread across his face.
"He- he sees me! He sees me!" Jack rejoiced, and did a very impressive spontaneous back flip onto Jamie's desk, a triumphant laugh on his lips.
"We both can," Harry announced softly from the door.
Jack and Jamie both whipped around to look at him in shock.
"Grandpa? He's really real?" Jamie asked, then turned to Jack. "You're real?" he pressed.
"Yeah!" Jack agreed. "Who do you think brings you all the blizzards and the snow days?" he asked with a grin as he hopped down from Jamie's desk. "And you remember when you went flying on that sled the other day?"
"That was you?" Jamie asked, wide-eyed.
"That was me!" Jack answered with a grin.
"Cool!" Jamie cheered, arms up in the air even. "But what about the others? The Easter Bunny? And the Tooth Fairy?"
"Real! Real, real, real, real," Jack answered as he scooped up the discarded toy rabbit and handed it back to Jamie, clearly emphasising the Easter Bunny in this instance. "Every single one of us is real."
"I knew it!" Jamie cheered. "Grandpa, did you know?" he asked.
Harry smiled slightly. "I knew Jack Frost was real," he allowed, "and I knew the Tooth Fairy was real. I couldn't have said for sure on the others though."
Jack Frost frowned then, but in confusion more than anything else. "How -?" he started to ask.
"I saw you sitting on the fence the other day just as Jamie was heading out to play," Harry informed the winter spirit. "I'd have said 'hi', but you were already throwing snowballs by the time I reached you. As for the Tooth Fairy, well, there was no way my family was leaving me six-pence pieces in exchange for my baby teeth."
"But..." Jack hesitated. "You have to believe in us to be able to see us. If you could see me before..."
"Always believed there had to be someone taking care of me when I was shoved out of the house on cold days," Harry answered with a slightly sad, reminiscing smile. "Or cold nights. Most fun I had before I left for boarding school at eleven was when the snow was too thick on the ground for my aunt and uncle to want to risk their precious son's health by letting him outside. Sometimes I'd even swear I saw someone running around barefoot, except that saying things like that would get me beaten for being freakish," he admitted. "So I kept it to myself."
Jack stared at Harry, wide-eyed and jaw slack, just like Jamie had been staring at him not a moment before. "All this time..." he whispered in awe. "All this time someone believed in me and I never even knew!"
Harry moved quickly to wrap the apparently-not-a-teen up in a hug.
"Thank you," Harry said. "You gave me the best memories of my childhood."
Jack hugged him back.
Then a flash of lightning and a thunderous boom – along with a gust of wind that batted at the open window – interrupted the moment, and Jack quickly pulled away to check what was going on.
"What's wrong?" Harry asked softly.
"Pitch, the bogeyman," Jack answered, just as quietly. "And probably the Guardians on their way here to protect the last kid in the world who believes in them."
"I want to help!" Jamie said firmly.
Harry chuckled at his grandson. "Shoes," he instructed. "And your jacket. Running around in your pyjamas isn't advisable. Trust me, I've done it myself." He couldn't in good conscience tell the kid not to go, after all. It would be hypocritical of him.
Jack smiled at them both and then hopped up on the window sill. "I'll meet you down there," he said, and then jumped out.
"Go on," Harry urged Jamie. "I won't be far behind," he promised. "I just want to grab a few things first. And make sure your mother doesn't wake up and find out about this."
Lily, after all, would not be happy if she found out about any late-night escapades. Even supervised ones.
Jamie smiled – sheepishly and gratefully – at his grandfather, and then rushed out of his bedroom door and down the stairs.
Harry trusted Jack Frost to keep Jamie safe while he took his time making absolutely sure that a) Lily wouldn't wake up and find out about this late-night excursion until after it was over, and b) he was properly geared up for a confrontation against an enemy of unknown strength. That meant his horntail-hide jacket and ridgeback-leather trousers, his most comfortable running boots, both wands and their holsters, and switching out his glasses (which were still prone to falling off) for his contact lenses. They were an absolute bugger to put in though, which was why he didn't wear them every day, even if his glasses were forever slipping down his nose.
Then he headed out to find his grandson. Out to where the waves of blackness were gathered around a small open circle.
"You think a few children can help you?" an echoing voice demanded darkly. "Against this?!" he added with wicked drama, and lightning flashed. "Aw. You'll protect them?" he mocked a moment later. "But who will protect you?" he demanded.
"Expecto Patronum!" Harry yelled as he marched up from behind, the great white stag erupting from his wand-tip ahead of him and charging, knocking the blackness aside until he had a clear path to where Jack Frost stood with Jamie, his friends, and... he guesses she was the Tooth Fairy, for all that it looked like her wings weren't working just then.
"Grandpa!" Jamie cheered.
"Wow!" breathed all his friends around him.
Jack and the Tooth Fairy looked pretty stunned as well as Harry moved to stand at Jack's side between the dark figure and the sickly Tooth Fairy and the children.
"Who's this?" demanded the black-clad and grey-skinned foe.
"I'm beginning to wonder the same thing," Jack admitted quietly as he watched the large white stag move to stand guard over the children.
Harry chuckled. "You were asking who would protect them?" he asked the dark figure on the rooftop, with a gesture towards the spirits.
"I will," Jamie said firmly as he stepped up to stand beside Harry.
"I will!" Cupcake added firmly, and pushed past the other kids to stand on Harry's other side.
The other kids followed their example too.
"You think there's no such thing as the bogeyman?" the dark figure demanded, just about spitting in fury at the concept.
"I do believe in you," Jamie answered, then looked up at his grandfather, back over his shoulder at Jack, and then back to Pitch. "I'm just not afraid of you!"
Harry smiled proudly and squeezed his grandson's shoulder a moment, just to let him know that.
And then the blackness was charging them. Rushing down, fast, with horrible intent. Jamie raised a hand to defend himself, but Harry's patronus was faster, leaping over them all to land in front of the child, antlers down.
The malicious black sand turned gold as it splashed over the glowing white antlers, and suddenly it wasn't attacking them. Just washing around. And the gold flowed back, up the horrible wash of blackness. For a moment, everyone was stunned as they just watched the golden sand.
It was Cupcake who broke the wondering silence. "Let's get 'em!" she roared, and charged off to attack the black sand horses that were still coming – and they all turned gold as well at a touch from the children.
The Tooth Fairy's wings started working again, and there must have been other spirits about fighting the good fight that Harry couldn't see, because the fight was fast-paced, spectacular... and mercifully both short and without any injury as unseen allies cut down the horses of black sand.
"Alright!" Harry said once the battle was over – and he could tell that the battle was over because the bad guy had been dragged down a hole by his own monsters. "All of you, back home and in your beds before your folks wake up and notice you've been missing," he ordered.
"Aww, Grandpa!" Jamie whined.
"I mean it," he said firmly as he pushed his grandson back towards the house. "You've been up way past your bedtime, and you have to be awake in the morning."
Jamie's shoulders slumped, but he headed back with his friends towards their neighbourhood and their beds, though each of the kids paused a couple of times to wave over their shoulders.
And then it was just Harry, Jack Frost, and the Tooth Fairy – as far as Harry knew, anyway – and he just stood facing them for a moment, silent.
"Yeah, what he said," Jack said, breaking the silence.
Harry blinked. "What who said?" he asked.
Jack Frost and the Tooth Fairy both blinked in surprise.
"Wait wait wait," Jack said as he stepped forward. "You can see me, but you can't see the others?"
"You and the colourful lady hovering over yonder," Harry agreed with a nod and a smile to the Tooth Fairy. "I'd guessed from the fight earlier that there were others I couldn't see, but I wasn't terribly worried about it at the time. Who am I missing?"
"Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, and the Sandman," the Tooth Fairy supplied. "Why... why wouldn't you be able to see them if you can see us?"
Harry smiled a smile of grim humour. "Well, let me see," he said as he stashed his wand and raised his hands to count reasons on his fingers. "I went until the age of eleven without ever receiving a Christmas present, and then when I did, it was a book from one friend and some fudge and a home-made knitted jumper from the mother of another friend. Every year without fail. That was it."
Jack looked over his shoulder with an unhappy expression, and the Tooth Fairy had her hands raised to her mouth in mild horror.
"And Easter, all I ever found, if I found anything, was broken shells. As for sleep and dreams..." Harry said ominously. "Well, my relatives beat dreaming out of me at an early age."
The Tooth Fairy looked like she was about to cry.
"I'm still wondering how you can see me though," Jack said. "No one has seen me since I became Jack Frost over three hundred years ago."
"There were two places where I was safe from being chased and beaten by my cousin as a child," Harry explained. "One was the library, and the other was the snow. In the snow, there were days when it felt like someone was playing with me even though I couldn't see anybody, and nights when I was shut out of the house that I was sure that there was someone keeping the worst of the cold away. Not that I dared believe in much as a child, in case my relatives found out and beat me for that too, and I didn't actually learn of Jack Frost until I was older."
"And me?" the Tooth Fairy asked hesitantly.
Harry smiled at her. "I knew my relatives weren't the ones putting a sixpence under my pillow any time I lost a tooth," he answered her. "And I had heard of the Tooth Fairy from other kids at school. I still have every one of those sixpence pieces too."
"But... if you can see us, why can't you see North, Bunny and Sandy?" Tooth asked as she flitted closer.
"Milady," Harry said softly as he took her hands in his. "I can suspend my disbelief, but I do not think I will ever believe in your friends enough to be able to see them as I do you."
"But you saw Pitch," Jack noted. "The bogeyman," he added, just so they were clear on who he was talking about.
Harry nodded. "Definitely not the standard boggart," he agreed, "but I'm well familiar with the shape-shifters that hide in dark places and turn into whatever a person fears most. Look, you want to come around to the house and have a cup of tea or something? I'm sure you have work you have to do, teeth to collect, windows to frost, all that sort of thing, but..."
"I'd love to," Jack Frost agreed. "Tooth?"
"What about the oath to make you an official Guardian?" Tooth protested.
Jack shrugged. "It's waited this long," he pointed out dryly. "You coming?"
The Tooth Fairy sighed, but nodded in agreement.
"We'll see you guys later," Jack bid to the invisible others over his shoulder, and Harry led Jack Frost and the Tooth Fairy down the street to his daughter's home.
"So, you haven't been in the field yourself since before Jack even showed up?" Harry asked Tooth incredulously.
She shook her head a little sheepishly. "I'm embarrassed but it's true," she admitted. "It won't happen again though!" she promised with resolve. "These past couple of days, I've been reminded just why I loved being the Tooth Fairy, and what I loved most about my job."
"To say nothing of how out of touch you were with the kids," Jack added with a chuckle. "You should have seen them when we found Sophie in the Easter Bunny's Warren. Not one of them had any idea how to handle a kid. I mean, I did, but she couldn't see me."
"Yeah," Tooth agreed, a smile spreading on her face. "It was embarrassing at the time, but looking back..."
"Oh yeah. North was all 'We are busy bringing joy to children! We do not have time -'"
"And that was right when he realised what he was saying," Tooth interjected softly.
"'- for children.'" Jack finished. "Really. Even Sandy never really got up-close-and-personal with the kids when he's working, for all that he's actually personally out there every night."
"Ah, but that's at night," Harry pointed out. "The kids are all asleep or nearly so."
Jack and Tooth both nodded.
"And I play with the kids every town I stop in," Jack said. "Just... hoping that one of them will see me," he added a little despondently.
"And one finally did," Tooth reminded him gently as she rested a comforting hand on his shoulder.
Jack smiled back at her gratefully.
Harry watched them a moment before he asked: "Is Cupid real too? Because if he is, I know I didn't see him in the room just now."
Jack and Tooth both blushed, and the fairy took her hand back from Jack's shoulder as she stuttered out a negative in answer to his query. Jack spotted the teasing smile on Harry's face though, and conjured a snowball in his hand.
"Not inside unless you want to find out if I can turn you into a rabbit," Harry warned.
Jack stopped abruptly, blinking in surprise. "You can do that?" he asked.
Harry withdrew his wand and pointed it at one of the napkins on the table. It folded itself into a rabbit, and then that rabbit hopped a couple of steps before turning into a proper rabbit, all fluffy and nose-twitching and everything. Grey too, rather than staying the same yellow as the napkin had been.
"Huh," Jack said as he and Tooth both stared in amazement at the rabbit that was sitting on the table.
"How'd you do that?" Tooth asked.
"I'm a wizard," Harry answered. "It's a fairly complicated transfiguration, I'll grant you, but..." he left off, just giving a shrug. "Still the sort of magic that I learned in school."
"Jack, you've been the one out in the world," Tooth said softly as she continued to stare at the rabbit that had been a bit of tissue-like cloth just a moment ago. "Did you know about this sort of thing?"
"I've left snow in some pretty interesting places," he admitted, "but... I don't remember seeing anything like this before."
"Jamie... doesn't see me any more," Jack Frost said by way of greeting as he settled down on Harry's window ledge. "None of the kids..."
Harry sighed sadly. "Jamie and his friends are of an age where they thinks themselves too old and too mature to believe in childish things any more," he explained.
Jamie was only fourteen. There hadn't been a letter for him to attend a magic school of any sort, and he'd focused on science. He still believed in yetis though, and was determined that he was going to find one and prove they existed. Never mind that one had signed his book back when he was seven.
"And don't say none of the kids," Harry added. "Sophie still believes in you."
Jack sighed sadly. "But how long before she decides I'm just a childish fantasy as well?" he asked, almost desperately. "None of the other kids around town believe in me, and this is the only place I've been, whole world over, where anyone has been able to see me."
Harry reached out to lay a hand on Jack's shoulder. "I will always see you," he promised.
"Uh, no offence meant or anything, but you're not a kid," Jack said awkwardly.
Harry chuckled. "True," he allowed. "But I am immortal, same as you. So when I say I'll always believe in you, Jack Frost, I mean always."
Jack blinked in surprise. "You're -?"
"The title is Master of Death, not very nice, but there you have it," Harry said. He supposed he probably was more like Jack Frost and all the others than he was a human, really. He'd died, he'd come back, he had a title... but no one had told him he wasn't human any more, and so many people had believed in Harry Potter – including his enemies – that it hadn't been an issue.
And since he went on leading a normal life, he accidentally had people casually believing in him and his existence, so they could see him, just like they were supposed to.
"Jack," Harry called softly, snapping the apparent teen out of his thoughts, whatever they might have been. "I'm volunteering at the library to tell stories to the kids. Want to come?" he offered.
Jack looked between Harry and the late autumn landscape outside. Cold snaps and frosts were all he could really bring right now. He'd given up on unseasonal weather after the blizzard of sixty-eight hadn't worked to get believers (and had pissed off Bunny).
"Sure," he agreed.
"Mr Potter, are all those people real?" asked one of the children who had been gathered around to hear his story.
"Which people?" Harry countered with a smile.
"The Sandman!" piped up a little girl.
"Real," Harry agreed with a smile.
"The Tooth Fairy!" called out another boy.
"Real," Harry repeated, his smile stretching. "And always very busy, but I got to share tea with her once."
"What about Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny?" another little boy asked.
"And... Jack Frost?" asked a little girl.
"A personal friend of mine," Harry answered. "And," he added, leaning forward as though to share a secret with the children.
They all leaned in as well to hear it.
"He was born here, in Burgess, just a little over three hundred years ago," Harry confided.
Eyes went wide all around him.
"Really really?" a little girl asked.
"Really really," Harry answered with a chuckle.
"Of course, I was 'born' as Jack Frost from the pond when it was frozen over," Jack quipped from where he was perched on the window ledge.
Two dozen little heads whipped around suddenly to focus on him.
Jack froze where he sat for a moment, then released a strangled chuckle of delight and stood up from his perch. They could see him.
"Thanks," he said softly to Harry over the heads of the kids who had started to swarm towards him.
Harry nodded, and pushed himself out of the story chair. He waded through the kids towards Jack and wrapped an arm around his shoulders.
"It's a little early for snow-ball fights," he said, "so how about you all go outside and play in the leaves, and if you ask nicely, maybe Jack here will show you how he paints frost over things," he suggested.
"Yeah!" the kids cheered, and one little girl came forward to tug at Jack's hand and drag him outside.
"Your hands are cold," she informed him.
"Well, I am Jack Frost," he answered as he let himself be dragged outside through the building, rather than just jumping out the window as he would normally have done.