I know, I know, I should be updating one of my other stories, but this came to me and wouldn't go away.
It's just something I thought of when watching the film. The Guardians are leaving all these gifts for the kids – presents, eggs, coins – and in the eyes of the adults, these gifts are appearing out of nowhere. So I figured that the parents, at the very least, are semi-aware of the existence of the Guardians. They're not stupid, after all.
I'm also hoping to solve a little plot hole I saw in the movie. A day must have passed between Jack being taken from Burgess and collecting the teeth, because the Guardians start off in China...where it's night. So a full day must have passed, and since Jamie was still a firm believer by the time they reach his room, it really says something about his character – and his "I knew you'd come!" just sounds as though he was told otherwise, possibly by his friends after she didn't come the night before.
Oh, and the names of Jamie and Sophie's parents – Bernadette and Lowell – have been lifted from Mia Vaan's story 'Guardian of Light' with her permission. I just couldn't imagine the parents being named anything otherwise. And on a side note, this isn't set in the same universe as my other oneshot 'Nightmares'. I wrote that before I had this thought, as you could probably tell, since Jamie's mother couldn't see Pitch.
Anyway, I hope you all enjoy this oneshot, and don't forget to review!
Disclaimer: I don't own 'Rise of the Guardians'.
Believing is Seeing
Bernadette's belief in the Guardians was average when she was a child; she simply believed that they were there. On Christmas morning she would gleefully unwrap her presents from Santa, while at Easter she would run around the park with the other kids finding eggs the Easter Bunny had left; when a tooth fell out she would find a coin under her pillow left by the Tooth Fairy, and at night she would enjoy the dreams the Sandman gave her.
The girl's belief began to fade at age twelve, when she overheard some of her friends saying that the Guardians were only stories their parents made up, in order to get them to behave themselves; be good, or Santa won't bring you presents, and go to sleep or the Tooth Fairy won't come. She herself began to question the possibility of a man delivering toys in one night, a giant bunny hiding eggs and a fairy collecting teeth, and with this doubt, her belief had gone before her thirteenth birthday.
This period of time – between when one stopped believing and when one had their first child – was called the Dark Years, as Bernadette later learned. The period of time when wonder and hope was gone, dreams seemed so far away and memories of childhood were just out of reach. Bernadette's years of high school certainly left much to be desired, and even though she didn't want to admit it, she envied her young brother and his firm belief in the Guardians.
One day, when she'd been having breakfast, he'd run down the stairs in excitement and straight over to their mother, holding out a gold coin.
"Mummy, the Tooth Fairy came!" he told her happily, before hurrying away again to tell their father.
"You always say blackmail is wrong, Mum," Bernadette said to her mother afterwards. "So why do you blackmail him into sleeping all night by saying the Tooth Fairy won't come? And then giving him a coin?"
"Who said I was the one who gave him that coin?" said her mother.
"Oh, right. It was Dad."
Her mother just smirked – in a way which suggested she knew something, and wasn't going to tell.
After leaving high school Bernadette went on to university, where she met Lowell Bennett. Once they both left uni to get jobs, they married and settled down in Lowell's home town of Burgess, and it wasn't long before their first child was on the way. Jamie Bennett was born in January, in the middle of a cold winter which just seemed to go on and on. But apart from that, Bernadette nor Lowell noticed anything unusual for the rest of the year.
Bernadette had been clearing away the rubbish when she noticed a small, untouched present sat under the tree, wrapped in paper she didn't recognize. Crouching down on all fours, she pulled it out and read the label.
Merry First Christmas, Jamie. From Santa.
She recognized the handwriting immediately; it had always been on the presents she received from Santa during her childhood, which in her eyes, only meant one thing. She instantly called up her mother and told her about it.
"Darling, I live on the other side of the country, and I haven't visited in months," her mother explained. "How could I have done it?"
"Then who did?" Bernadette demanded.
"Santa," her mother simply replied, before putting the phone down.
At that moment Lowell wandered into the room, and noticing the present on the side, he picked it up and read the label. His eyebrows knotted in confusion.
"That's my father's handwriting," he said. "The one he used on my presents from Santa. But it's impossible because he died last year."
Bernadette gave him a look of surprise.
"I thought it was my mum's handwriting," she told him.
After exchanging glances they decided to unwrap the present themselves, and inside they found a beautiful Christmas decoration in the shape of a snowflake, with the words 'Baby's First Christmas' carved into it. They tried searching online for the store which sold these decorations, but they never found any matches.
The couple remained confused for the months that followed...and when Easter arrived, it made things worse.
Lowell led Jamie around the park on his first Easter Egg Hunt, basket in hand while the little boy toddled as fast as his little legs could carry him. He had only just learnt to walk a few weeks before. Bernadette watched from the sidelines, and soon found herself talking with the organizer of the event.
"It must have taken a while for you to hide all those eggs," she told the man. "Even with help."
The man only blinked in surprise.
"They were already out," he said simply.
"What?" said Bernadette with surprise. "How can they already be out?"
The man looked over at where Lowell was helping Jamie, and then turned back to Bernadette again.
"Is he your first child?" he asked.
"Jamie? Yes," replied Bernadette.
"I see. Well, you'll figure it out soon enough."
Bernadette, confused by this comment, turned back to watch Lowell and Jamie. Once the hunt was over she told her husband what the organizer had said, and he was just as confused as she was. Something was going on, and although they were beginning to suspect what it was, neither of them could bring themselves to believe it.
Until Jamie lost his first tooth.
He was four, and while many Christmases and Easters had passed – all with presents and eggs appearing out of nowhere – it was this lost tooth which made both Bernadette and Lowell face what was right in front of them.
The tooth had fallen out in the playground, and when Jamie ran up to his mother with the little white object between his fingers, Bernadette couldn't help but smile.
"If you put it under your pillow tonight and go to sleep, the Tooth Fairy will come and take it, and leave behind a coin for you," she said self-consciously.
Jamie went to bed earlier than usual, too excited to stay up any longer, and before Bernadette and Lowell went to bed, they crept into their son's bedroom in anticipation. No words needed to be exchanged; they knew it would be this which convinced them. They crouched down next to the pillow, and taking in a deep breath, Bernadette reached out and lifted it ever so slightly so as not to disturb Jamie.
And there it was. A bright gold coin awaiting to be discovered in the morning.
Bernadette lowered the pillow down again before she and Lowell retreated from the room, and once outside, they glanced at one another. They knew the proof was right there in front of them, but neither of them could believe it.
After all those years of not believing...
Unable to wait until morning, Bernadette called her mother and put the woman on loud speaker, so both she and her husband could hear. They explained everything to the elder woman, and after a moment of silence, she just chuckled.
"I was wondering when you'd both figure it out," she said. "Although I have to admit, it took me some time to figure it out as well."
"Mother?" Bernadette questioned after exchanging a confused look with Lowell. "You knew?"
"Every parent knows," said her mother. "We just never talk about it."
"Why?" asked Lowell.
"It's an unspoken rule," she explained. "You see, these icons of childhood – the Guardians, they call themselves – follow the 'almost' rule; almost seen, almost found, almost proven real. Their job is to not only bring joy to the children of the world, but also to guard them from harm, and they can't do that if they're being hassled by everyone. Us parents respect this, and we never talk about them unless it's important."
"So we don't let the kids know that we know?" Bernadette wondered.
"Oh no," said the elderly woman with a chuckle. "We let the kids have their little secret."
The concept of the Guardians being real – when for a good ten years Bernadette thought they weren't – was hard to grasp, but it became easier for them both when they took Jamie to his first day of school and met the parents of a girl named Pippa. They had a few older children who were in both middle and high school, and had already faced what the new couple were facing.
"It just becomes part of routine," said Pippa's mother. "Part of life. You'll see."
She was right. Both Bernadette and Lowell grew used to the unseen presence of the Guardians; the flicker of wings whenever Jamie lost a tooth, the trails of sand at night coming from the Sandman, the sleigh-bells echoing through the night on Christmas Eve, and one Easter, Bernadette even felt like she was being watched by the Easter Bunny himself.
And with this presence, the Guardians brought comfort; comfort in knowing that Jamie was being watched over by beings far more powerful than his parents, and this put them at ease. It even convinced them to try for another child, and when Jamie was seven, he found himself with a little baby sister named Sophie.
At the same time, Lowell received an offer for a job he couldn't refuse – which required the family to move half way around the world. Bernadette disagreed with him on this, for she felt it would be too much stress for the kids.
That's when the arguments started. And in the space of a few months, Bernadette and Lowell had divorced.
Jamie hardly spoke after that, and Bernadette wondered if he'd ever go back to his lively self again. But then she noticed him getting more exciting dreams than before, special gifts from the Tooth Fairy, and at both Christmas and Easter, he was left with a huge smile on his face from special presents and eggs which had been left. The Guardians were certainly doing their job.
Things after the divorce continued on as normal. Then Jamie turned ten.
It was late March, almost Easter, when it happened. Jamie was going out sledging with Caleb and Claude, and Bernadette gave him his hat to wear.
"You don't want Jack Frost nipping at your nose," she said.
"Who's Jack Frost?" asked the boy.
"No one, honey," Bernadette replied. "He's just an expression."
For a moment, she almost swore she heard the voice of a boy say something in response to her comment, but when she turned she saw no one. And things got stranger when a snowball came flying out of nowhere and hit Jamie in the back of the head.
After looking around with confusion, Bernadette just shook her head and went to help Sophie build a snowman.
Later than day Jamie came home with a lost tooth in his hand, and spent the rest of the afternoon telling his mother and Sophie what had happened. Bernadette had to wonder whether any of it was true, but a phone call from Pippa's worried mother confirmed the story. It made her wonder; were there any other beings out there?
Her words about Jack Frost came back to her, and when she was putting Jamie to bed that night, something in the window caught her eye. The face of a young boy peering in upside down... But when she turned to look, there was no one there.
She kept pondering this, and was still doing so the next morning. But this pondering stopped when she saw Jamie walk slowly down the stairs, his eyes sadly averted to the floor.
"What's wrong, honey?" she asked him.
Jamie simply opened up his hand to show her the tooth.
"She didn't come," he said. "Even though I went to sleep."
Bernadette froze at his words. The Tooth Fairy hadn't come? How could that be?
"Maybe she was just busy last night?" she suggested.
"Maybe," said Jamie, his face brightening up at this thought.
Later on, Bernadette's brother phoned her up; he had discovered the reality of the Guardians after his first child had been born, and Bernadette had gotten a kick out of seeing the shock on his face. It had been a freaky coincidence when he'd told her that his daughter's tooth had fallen out on the same day as Jamie's, but his further news disturbed her.
"I found her sobbing on the bed, holding the tooth in her hand," he said. "What's going on?"
"I don't know," said Bernadette. "I thought maybe she could have been busy, but that's never given her trouble before."
That night, Bernadette found herself waiting up to see if the Tooth Fairy came, for Jamie's sake mostly, but out of her own curiosity as well. It made her nervous, thinking what she was going to ask the fairy – if she was going to ask her anything at all – and the phone ringing caused her to jump in shock.
It was her brother again.
"Did she come?" Bernadette asked him.
"I went up to check, and...well, you're never going to believe this."
"We're waiting up to see the Tooth Fairy. Try me."
"I think Santa visited our house."
That certainly knocked Bernadette off-guard.
"Santa? But it's not even Christmas."
"I know, but when I went up into her bedroom, there was a Christmas tree, a huge pile of presents; the works," her brother explained. "Do you think something's happened to the Tooth Fairy and the others are filling in for her?"
Bernadette was about to reply when she suddenly heard Abby barking in Jamie's room, followed by several loud bangs and crashes.
"I think I'm just about to find out. I'll have to call you back," she told her brother, before hanging up and hurrying up the stairs.
She reached the top hall just in time to see Sophie disappear inside Jamie's bedroom, and slowing her pace, Bernadette eased her way forwards. She peeked into the room and saw Sophie disappear into some kind of portal. Bernadette then noticed the other Guardians asleep in the room, and in the same moment Santa sat bolt upright, causing her to retreat out of instinct.
After the Guardians left, panic crept through her; she didn't know what had happened to Sophie, but if the little girl had been taken to the home of one of the Guardians, she knew she shouldn't worry. It wouldn't be long before her daughter was returned safe and sound, at least she hoped so.
Bernadette was half asleep when she finally heard a thud coming from the bedroom of her youngest.
"Sophie, is that you?" she called.
There was no reply, so Bernadette went to investigate. She smiled at the sight of her daughter fast asleep on the floor, a blanket tossed over her and a stuffed animal by her side. The Guardians had obviously been in a hurry since she'd been left in that state, although Bernadette couldn't blame them; even she had trouble putting Sophie to sleep. Staring out the window at the rising sun, Bernadette hoped that things would go back to normal.
The egg hunt was cancelled because there were no eggs. Jamie and his friends went at it anyway, but found nothing; Bernadette watched as her son refused to stop believing in the Easter Bunny, despite what his friends said, and gently held Sophie close to her as she wondered what this could mean.
She met up with the other parents later in the afternoon.
"First the Tooth Fairy and now this," Bernadette said. "Something's up; I called my brother and he said the same thing happened where he is. No eggs."
"But what could possibly be causing all this?" asked Claude and Caleb's father.
"When I first realized that these beings existed, I did some research," Monty's mother spoke up. "I was looking for other possible beings who could exist; one was the Boogeyman."
"You mean the one who gives kids nightmares?" Cupcake's father asked.
"I guess he could be a possible enemy for the Guardians," said Pippa's mother. "But there's really not much we can do other than hope that the problem will be sorted."
As much as they didn't like it, the parents agreed.
They were right about the problem being sorted. Things appeared to go back to normal in the morning, apart from the kids sleeping in later than usual; Bernadette wondered if Jamie and Sophie had somehow been involved in fixing things, and her suspicions were confirmed as true when they both woke up and told her about their battle with the Nightmare King.
Jamie also told his mother about Jack Frost; the Spirit of Winter and the new Guardian of Fun. At this, Bernadette remembered what had happened days prior, and felt bad about what she'd said.
Things got a lot brighter since that day. Bernadette would see Jamie playing with the white haired boy she presumed was Jack Frost, and would sometimes see Sophie playing with the large rabbit she assumed was the Easter Bunny. The Guardians had somehow become part of her children's lives, and it lifted a burden from her heart she didn't even know was there.
She even found herself calling up Lowell again after years of not talking to him, telling him the story of what their kids had done.
"I would love to have been there," he said. "This job is just... It's nothing compared to what I gave up."
Even over the phone, no words needed to be spoken.
A week before Lowell's return home, Bernadette heard several footsteps coming from her son's room, along with the laughter of both her children and other voices she somehow recognized. A smile lit up her face...and for some reason she couldn't explain, she suddenly had the urge to go meet the Guardians personally. Not just get a peek at them; see them for real and introduce herself. After all, her children obviously knew them on such a level; she supposed it wouldn't hurt.
"Jamie?" she called, walking up the stairs and stopping outside his bedroom. "Jamie, can I come in?"
She heard several whispers, followed by her son explaining to his friends that his mother couldn't see them. Bernadette just smirked at the statement.
"Sure thing, Mum."
Bernadette opened the door and stepped inside. They were all there; Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman and Jack Frost. Her eyes scanned over them all quickly before – with the smirk never leaving her face – she turned back to Jamie.
"I didn't know you had friends over. Would they like a drink and some snacks?"
At that moment she wished she had a camera, for the shocked expressions of Jamie and Jack, the oblivious look from Sophie, and the snickering of the other Guardians made the entire scene utterly priceless.
OK, I swear, I never meant for it to be that long! It just...ran away with me.
I hope you all liked it, and please leave a review! :D