A Midwinter's Tale
A/n: This... I don't even know what happened here. This is a weird medieval fairytale that's kind of a deranged mutant hybrid of "Jack Frost" the cartoon, "The Little Mermaid" and "City of Angels." The characters are ridiculously OOC. Some basic elements remain more or less true to the original works, but really, the world of story is super different. Also the very beginning might be a bit confusing because pronouns. :S
So let me warn you... this is going to have period dialogue. Like. Not really ye olde English shit, and it's not going to be super accurate, oh hell no haha. But it's just not going to have a modern American feel. At all... I'm trying to make it as simple as possible while still being passably period (sort of). So the characters will speak pretty differently from the originals... I want to capture as much of their original portrayal as possible, but this is a very different world of story. Also, when they say "yea," in this context it isn't pronounced like "yeah," it's the one that sounds like "yay."
-Chapter 1. The one-legged horseman-
He first fell for the human's smile, and the way laughter leapt from it in short, gentle spurts, as the black stallion nudged its snout against his slender shoulder with an insistent snort.
Then it was his hands, small but coarse from working in the stables, grasping eagerly at the air when he spoke to the animals, running in such fond circles along the horses' thick necks, and tightening steadily round his hammer when he replaced the beasts' shoes.
Next to seize him was the young man's hair when he rode on horseback, flying back from his full, beaming face, like a cascade of whipping flames – almost so bright and red as a blaze when the sun glared against it.
And the freckles, laid out upon his roundish, rose-tinged face like a map of stars made from his skin – he drew constellations from the assembly of russet specks, and tried to number them, but he always lost his count to the young man's hazel-green eyes.
But what kept him coming back to the human, day after evermore-lonesome day, was the story that came in pieces. It came with every secret the equestrian youth entrusted to his tall, unspeaking companions, and with every bare, unhindered sentiment crossing his features – for here in the village stables, he never hid from the wide, forgiving eyes of his closest friends, and he never saw the ghostly blue gaze following him from a realm beyond mortal senses.
The invisible watcher began to build from the many pieces he found, until they made a boy who lived in his father's vast shadow, a soldier made too young in a desperate time, a dreamer who wandered through maybe's like fields, an outcast in a land where might was right, a thinker who tracked logic through fogs of passions, a child's sanguine heart, and a veteran's cool wisdom.
And his story went something like this.
Once there was a boy that other youths took turns knocking down, because his shape was small and his speech was broken. Adults disliked him too, because he stammered childish nonsense and never paid heed longer than a giddy sparrow could sit still. They had a nickname for the unlucky boy, one that even his burly father called him when he returned from questing with the other knights. His Christian name they no longer spoke, and he became known only as Hiccup, God's scrawny little blunder.
One day the King's war reached Hiccup's village, and called away every man and boy old enough to carry a weapon. He might have died a hundred times, were it not for a youth with a soft face, who parried the weapons aimed at the clumsy boy's head, pulled him onward when he couldn't walk, and pushed him back when he couldn't defend.
The foot soldiers ran ahead of the horsemen, always first to fight, and first to die. Only the nobles could claim a horse and fine armor, while the peasant recruits met the foreign enemies with little more than their fists, and whatever scrap of armor or shoddy weapon they could pilfer from the dead. But the fair youth who watched out for Hiccup tore into his opponents with deathly precision and speed. He did not appear much bigger than the other boy, under all his furs and a few mismatching plates of metal, but he possessed the heart and skill of a fighter.
Hiccup had never commanded such possessions. In his enemy's eyes, he found only his own trembling reflection.
There came a day when the foreign forces overtook them. It was a misty dawn, made of gray-shrouded havoc. The boys were separated, and Hiccup just ran, as fast and far as he could, until the screaming died to a distant wail, and he could hear no more than an echo of clanging of steel. But just as he collapsed against a tree to rest, another sound approached – that of clapping hooves.
Suddenly something huge and shrieking erupted out of the thick smog, nearly slamming into the startled boy. A warhorse, riderless, black as night, and decked in enemy colors, reared on its mighty legs and screamed ferociously into the murky air. The boy fell to the ground, gasping up at the beast's madly swerving neck and the rippling mane. Its hooves smashed into the dirt just a hair's breadth from the boy's feet, but just as the boy began to scramble back, the beast suddenly swayed. All at once, its wild wrath died, and the creature dropped heavily to the ground.
Hiccup could have let it be. He could have kept running even farther from the gory mayhem raging in the distance. But curiosity and benevolence together conquered fear, and so he approached the fallen animal.
The stallion breathed, long and slow, eyelids batting wearily. It bore red stripes all along its hide, through the blue and white cloth draped over its back. A small, coarse arrow impaled one of his hind-legs, spilling blood into the grass beneath the lightly twitching hoof. Instead of painted goose feathers, the arrow bore four precise copper vanes at the end of its shaft, a deadly design for armored enemies.
Hiccup knew this arrow.
It was his own make.
The boy had flinching aim, and wielded his bulky crossbow clumsily. But his cleverly crafted arrows flew fast and true, even if they only struck a knee, or a shoulder.
Or a limb.
As he regarded the bloody fruit of his smith-work, illness grew from the hollow of his belly, reaching down to knock at the meeting of bones in his knees, and rising up to clench around his skinny neck. So he sighed out his quivering breath, and knelt beside the massive steed.
Not only could Hiccup smith, he had also learned from the battlefield a few surgeon's tricks. Withdrawing a small knife, he gently held the stirring leg still, and cut through the wood on one side of his arrow. The horse whined and shook when he carefully pulled the weapon out, and he whispered to it without thinking, senseless offers of solace and soft hushes. From his own tunic, he severed a long strip of pale cloth, and secured it thickly round the gushing wound.
Hiccup stayed with the ailing animal all that night, wandering only when the mist cleared in search of the stream he could hear tripping delicately in the final quiet of a decided battle. He gave the beast drink from his replenished waterskin, and moved his hand soothingly against the beautiful mane.
That day, he made a friend like none the uncommon boy had ever hoped to find.
The rest of the story, the watcher only knew in the smallest fragments. He knew the stallion mended, and started to follow the boy with that unparalleled devotion only a creature so childlike, so unaware of mankind's sins, could ever bestow. He knew the boy found his fair brother in arms again, who still fought in the King's name even now. And he knew Hiccup no longer served the King's army, not since somewhere in the scatter of this tale's end, he gave his country all the flesh from his left knee down, a cold metal peg where there was once blood and bone.
The watcher never understood grief the way mortals can. He knew little of the gamut of sensations humans know – only play and delight were his. But for the first time in his boundless existence, he felt drawn to the tumult of humanity, because somehow, out of that wreckage, this one-legged man was made. For the first time, he found a gem in the jagged rock, never before thinking to look. And when he found it, explored the textures of each gleaming side that comprised the beautiful whole – for the first time, he fell in love.
And Jack Frost, the simple winter sprite, who danced around Death's bony clutches, and flitted easily from Pain's searing embrace – he craved what he could barely understand, this gift of change and growth humans knew, the depths of doubt and the peaks of faith, the short life they both cherished and deplored in measures. Above all, he longed to inhabit the world where Hiccup could be found, where his love for a being he could never reach could at last know heat. He would abandon his entire eternal existence, for a single lifetime with this one intricate young man.
-To be continued-
A/n: You made it through this mush! Well done then. :B
Reviews sustain my being. Please fortify me. Kthnxbai.~