Disclaimer: Rise of the Guardians, in no way, belongs to me.
Warning: None, just mind the genres.
Length: 27 Pages; 10,637 Words
Author's Note: Watched Rotg about four times and instantly fell in love with its angst potential. Needed to take a break from writing IP, so this monster was born. Also made the horrible decision of listening to Skinny Love by Birdy while editing it. Did not end well. Enjoy the story; also, as usual, reviews are greatly appreciated.
The first time he had seen her, the air was frigidly cold much like the ice beneath his feet. The sky had taken a bright pastel color, and few clouds ventured near the glaring sun, but even with all its brightness, the snow always seemed to shine brighter.
For a reason unbeknownst to him, Jack had found himself to be drawn to the particular frozen lake that he arose from. When his feet touched the glossy and haggard surface, a chill ran up his spine like a frightened cat, which was odd for the Winter Spirit due to him being the cold, and therefore, not feeling its bitterness. But he felt this chill. He always felt that particular chill when his feet touched the ice.
He didn't know how long it had been since he had cracked the surface of the ice with his floating body to when he had met her. All he could recall, with some difficulty, was that he had taken off to the night immediately, letting his new friend, the ever present wind, guide him through the sky, until he reached a village, bustling with people. Only, they were people who couldn't see him.
Because, for some horrible reason that pained Jack to even hypothesize about, he couldn't be seen.
Nobody could see him.
Nobody could hear him.
The daunting realization of his transparency quickly overcame him with a flurry of panic, as he tried – tried – tried to make someone see him. But his strained efforts were futile. No matter where the wind had taken him, whether it be a small village or a bustling square, nobody seemed to be able to meet his horror-filled eyes with acknowledgment. Not one child or man or woman. No one.
The wind pitied him. It was obvious by its soft, sympathetic whistling. The wind always took him away from the people, away from the impassiveness of the world. Jack allowed it, because their empty stares that looked past him pained him more than anything – it hurt, it ached, and he hated it.
He didn't ask for this – he never wanted this.
It wasn't fair – it wasn't.
And when his emotions took a tumble, his mind fumbling for comprehension, he would find himself back at this frozen lake, looking at his distorted and scratched reflection, his confused emotions being cast back at him full force.
And as he stood, looking down with such a pitiful expression, that was when she had tumbled from behind the dead shrubs and elderly oaks.
That was the first time he had seen her. Her peculiar black clothing shined through all her white surroundings, the contrast of it making her stick out like a glacier in the ocean. Her face was numerous shades of reds, flushed at the cheeks and glowing at the nose. She ran from where she had come from, and stood just a few inches away from the frozen lake.
Jack didn't know what he was doing before she had made her appearance, but knew that he stopped all activity upon the sight of her. She was sniffling, rubbing her eyes, her small body racking with hiccups, her bright brown eyes surrounded by tears. Jack called to her, but his words flew past her. For the briefest moment, a moment of ecstatic hope, he had thought that she could seen him. But that hope was quickly dismantled when she ignored all his efforts of being acknowledged.
She remained where she stood, pitifully sniffing and wiping her outpouring tears, and Jack could only wonder what had upset her so."Why are you crying?" He asked her softly. "Why are you crying?"
The reply he received was for her to turn her around. "Don't go," Jack found himself calling back. Her black boots collected snow as she trudged through the frost. She stopped besides a clutter of rocks and picked one up. It was a ragged piece, and she looked at it as though it was made of diamonds and crystals. Confusion overcame Jack as he watched her, still wondering if she would leave him. He remained in the center of the lake, not daring to take a step closer in fear of having her walk through him – because that, that feeling was the most horrid of feelings.
The little brown eyed girl turned again, facing the lake, and Jack held his breath at the one sided eye contact. He knew she wasn't looking at him (because nobody looks at him) but it didn't hurt to pretend. Because pretending was fun.
The little girl stood straighter then. With her free hand, she wiped her eyes and with a trembling voice, said, "Come out, Jack!"
A shudder like no other overcame the frost child, and his heart leaped to his throat in an instant. "She said my name!" He said to no one in particular, his voice resounding his disbelief. The wind wrapped itself around him in that soothing matter, trying to comfort him, but why would he need comforting now? She said my name!
"Come out, Jack!" The little girl called again, her voice cracking. She bent over, the haggard rock firmly in both hands as she smashed it – smashed it – smashed it against the ice's surface. "Come out, come out, come out!"
Jack was on his feet now, a gasping smile plastered on his face. "That's my name! She said my name!" The wind was howling louder now, and it sounded so sad, but Jack was happy. Why wasn't the wind happy? She was saying his name! Can she … ?
"Can you see me?" He asked the sobbing child.
"Come out, Jack! Please!" She cried repeatedly, her words muffled by her grief.
"Can you see me?" Jack asked again, his smile faltering as she ignored his question. He walked towards her in large leaps. "Hey, can you see me?"
"Come out, Jack! Stop playing games!" She bawled, not even hesitating as she continued to slam the ice with the large rock in her hands. The surface of the lake cracked, scratched, and chipped off but didn't break entirely. "I don't like this game anymore!"
"You said my name!" Jack told her. "Can you see me?"
Her arms were trembling now, and she refused to pick her head up to meet his eyes. She smashed the rock on the ice with the strength rare to be held by a child. In between her cries and Jack's desperate questioning, in the same direction that the little girl had arrived from, a man and a woman dressed from head to toe in black emerged,their faces just as red as hers. They harbored the same brown eyes as the little girl, and Jack immediately knew there was a distinction between them.
They ran to the little girl, pulling the rock from her hands and cradling her in between them both, crying along with her. The little girl squirmed in their grasps. No, she didn't want to be held. She tried to reach for the rock that they tossed to the other side, but the two people wouldn't let go.
"Jack's still in there!" The little girl wailed, trying her hardest to escape their hold. Her words made the woman whimper and the man shudder. "He's still in there! We have to get him out! You can't have a funeral for him if he's still there! We have to get him out! He's still in there!"
"But I'm right here!" Jack shouted at her, at the two people, at the three who couldn't see him. "I'm right here! I'm right here! Look at me!"
But they didn't look at him. They didn't even hear him. The little girl finally succumbed to their hold and cried softly on their shoulders. Jack's own shoulders heaved as he stared at the three of them, allowing the wind to cradle him just like the two adults cradled the brown eyed girl. "But she said my name," Jack said brokenly."She said my name. She knows me, she can see me ... right?"
The wind blew a sad sigh, and pulled him away from the three, just as they were making their leave. "Don't go," Jack pleaded. But they left, because they couldn't hear him.
It was after that, that the wind showed him the world. He followed its guidance and allowed it to take him away from the frozen lake. He understood now why the wind was comforting him before. It was because it felt pity for Jack Frost, because he wasn't the Jack the little girl was calling for. The girl was calling for someone with the same name, but not the same person. He wasn't her Jack. he wasn't anyone's Jack. He was simply Jack Frost, and there was no person behind that name.
The wind took him to the places that needed him, and he conceded, because he was Jack Frost. It was who he was, that much he knew. He didn't know how long it had been since he had visited his frozen haven, but he felt a visit was well underway. He was feeling homesick, and he wanted to see his home.
He touched down on the solid lake and laughed as he made the lifeless branches dance with a gust of chill air. The frost child filled the trees with lumps of snow, crystallized the fallen leaves and frosted the ground into glossing patterns. He marveled at his work, and that was when she came back.
The second time Jack had seen her, she was no longer dressed in those grim clothing, and her face was much paler than before. Her eyes remained downcast, but the brown was still as bright as ever. Jack felt giddy seeing her coming back to see him – see him! She was here to see him.
The wind curled around him with low murmur, but Jack ignored it for the little girl who knew his name. She approached the lake, but was precise to not step onto it. She bent her knees and sat herself down, her face glum with remorse and sorrow.
"Hi, Jack," she muttered, and Jack felt his heart skip a beat at the familiar word.
The wind fluttered to him, but Jack shrugged it off."I know, I know..." he said regretfully. He knew what the wind was trying to do, it was trying to protect him from being hurt. But he was already hurt. "I just ... I just want to pretend. Just this one time – I want to pretend to be someone's Jack."
"I miss you," the girl continued. "Ma and Pa miss you. Ma especially."
"I never had a family," Jack breathed, sitting down in front of the girl with sadness painted on her face. "What's it like having family?" He asked her.
"They don't know I'm here," said the girl. "They don't like it when I come here, to visit you. They think it's bad for me."
Jack tried not to look like it pained him to see her not answer his question, so he brushed it off with a smile. "What do they know," he chuckled.
"They're just being silly," the girl said. "They don't know anything."
Jack grinned. He adjusted himself to a more comfortable sitting position, putting his staff down and curling his toes. She was talking to him. His insides cackled in excitement. Someone was finally talking to him, him. "That's right," he agreed. "They don't know anything."
The girl's expression was nothing like his, still so grim and still so downcast. "But they're very sad, Jack." She said softly, suddenly. Jack wasn't expecting her to say something so irregular, but when his name escaped her lips, he felt so happy. He wanted her to smile, too. "We're all sad," she muttered.
"Don't be sad," Jack tried. "Don't be sad, it's okay."
His words went unheard as tears welled up in her eyes. She looked up, and Jack could have sworn, for the briefest of moments, that she was looking at him, and not through him. She opened her mouth, and more as a breathe than a sound, asked, "Why did you have to die?"
"I'm not, I'm not," Jack said. "I'm not dead, you just have to look at me."
"You promised you would never leave me!" Her voice was rising and Jack fell back.
"I-I Didn't!" He said quickly. "I'm right here! Just look at me!"
"But I'm right here! You just have to see me!" Jack begged, her angry, hurt eyes burning into him more than the heat of a flame."J-Just say my name, say my name!"
"You promised to always play with me!" She was crying again, and something inside of Jack twisted so grotesquely at the sight of her unspecified tears.
"Say my name, please!" Jack pleaded, his own voice breaking for reasons unbeknownst to himself. But a part of him knew that he would feel much better if he could just hear her utter his name in that precious, soft voice of her's. "Please, just one more time."
"Liar!"She screamed, standing up, not even bothering to wipe the snow from her knees. "Liar! Liar!"
Jack was no longer smiling now, he was no longer happy. Her face, it had morphed into something so pitifully. And all her anger, all her antagonism, was directed at him. (But why? Why? What did he do?)
"I'm sorry," Jack said to her, because he didn't know what else to say. He didn't know why he was sorry, but he was. He was sorry. So please don't cry. "Please don't cry, I'm sorry."
The tears wouldn't stop falling now, they leaked from her eyes and rolled to her cheeks and fell from her chin silently as she bit her lips. Her body racked in agony, and Jack didn't know why. He didn't know why and he didn't know how to fix it. He wanted to fix it, but he couldn't. He couldn't because he was invisible,because nobody could see him, could hear him.
"I don't want to be invisible anymore," he said to the moon that was still visible in the daylight. "I don't want to be invisible."
When he looked back down, the little girl was no longer there. Jack stared at the spot where she was only a few moments ago. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he sobbed to nobody, because nobody could hear him.
The wind took him away. The wind always knew when to take him away. It took him far away from the despair that was the frozen lake. It took him to the European colonies, and helped him cast winter upon the blistering towns and cities. It took him down south, down down south,where the penguins roamed and the polar bears marched lazily.
He knew what the wind was trying to do, and he appreciated the help, but no matter where it took him, Jack couldn't stop thinking about the little girl with the big, brown eyes.
More time had passed since his last visit, because the girl now had shorter hair, and seemed to be somewhat taller when he came back.
But the one thing that distinctly stood out about her was that she was smiling. No trembling lips, no watery eyes, no clenched jaw – a smile. Pure and bright like the morning sun, and Jack loved that.
She reached her spot, a few inches away from the bank of the frozen lake, her hands behind her back, smiling at the lake – smiling at Jack, and Jack smiled back with all the joy his small body could muster.
She plopped down on the pillow of snow and said, "Jack! Jack! You wouldn't believe what happened to me today!"
"What happened? Tell me, tell me," Jack immediately replied, her excitement reflecting off of him.
"Ma and Pa took me to this fishing bank today, and I caught the largest fish in all of the waters!" She laughed, demonstrating just how large the fish was with her hands. "And then Ma taught me how to cook, and I cooked it! All by myself! It was the most delicious fish I have ever tasted." She giggled and then sighed loudly, "I wish you could have tasted it."
Jack smiled softly. "That's fine, I don't like fish, anyway."
The little girl with the large brown eyes giggled again, "But you wouldn't like it, since you hate fish and all."
Jack breathed a laugh, the joy that came from that one sentence escaping him much quicker than he could anticipate. He turned to the wind that surrounded him from all sides, "Did you hear that? It's like she's actually talking to me."
The wind didn't say anything, but continued to try and pry him away, its efforts resulting in the least success as Jack stayed where he sat, listening intently to what the girl had to say.
"After dinner," she continued, "I played with these group of kids, and they were so nice, letting me into their game! We played all night, even after the torches went out. One of the boys said it would be most fun to play when it was dark, and it was! I had such a good time!"
"That's good, that's good!" Jack praised.
"We're supposed to start our new game in a few minutes," she said, standing up, brushing off any snow that stuck to her.
His smile fell from his face. "You're leaving? Already?"
But her smile remained. "I'll see you tomorrow, Jack!" She yelled to the lake, running off.
"She said my name again," Jack breathed. "Did you hear that? She said my name! She was talking to me! And she said she'll be back tomorrow – We have to be here tomorrow, Wind!"
The wind hummed sadly, pulling its friend away from the lake and towards the world.
And she kept her word. She was back tomorrow. And the day after that, and days and days after those days and days. Some days she would smile, some days she was stoic, but in between all those days and days, she would never shed a tear. Her hair was growing at an alarming rate,and Jack was no longer able to keep track of time. But he cherished each day where they each held their one-sided conversations, and he had never been happier.
The next time he had seen her, she was almost as tall as him, but he wouldn't dare venture close enough to her to test that theory in fear of chilling her. He always remained in his spot in the middle of the lake, and she by the banks of the river, never on the ice. But today was different. She was sitting by a tree, her back against its ancient bark. In her hands were a pencil and a wide book, and as Jack came little closer to her to see it, he saw it was a sketch book. She was drawing.
Jack laughed at the doodle, because it wasn't a masterpiece, nor mediocre, but because of what the drawing actually was – a brown haired girl and a brown haired boy on a circle of ice. By the odd shapes of their shoes, Jack guessed it depicted a day of ice skating. On top of the girl, the word "me" was scribbled, and atop the boy was the word,"Jack."
"Is that supposed to be me?" Jack laughed. "My hair's not brown, silly."
(Or was that the other Jack? The real Jack that she cried for and talked to? Oh, how Jack wished he was that Jack so he could receive the love that was given to him by the brown eyed girl. No matter - he could always pretend.)
The girl put the pencil down with a sigh and leaned her head back against the tree. Two hands came from behind the tree and covered the girl's brown eyes. She giggled and asked playfully, "Oh, I wonder who this could be."
A boy with equally bright green eyes rounded from behind the tree, shared a giggle with the girl, and sat down beside her. Jack frowned at the stranger, and wondered who this person was who was interrupting their time.
"What are you drawing?" He asked, leaning over to see what was drawn on the small canvas.
She held the book to her chest. "Nothing."
The frost child, who was standing beside the two sitting children (no,not child. She's not a child anymore, she's almost as old as he) frowned."Yeah, nothing, now go away," Jack caught himself saying.
The boy reached for the book again with a playful smirk. "Come on, lemme see."
A quick swipe, and the book was now in his hands. "Hey!" The girl cried, but a smile was pulling at her face, even though she was so adamant at not showing him the book beforehand.
"Oh, this isn't that bad," said the green eyed boy with a hint of sarcasm.
"Is that supposed to be an insult or a compliment?" She asked.
"Whatever you want it to be."
Jack grimaced. "Is he trying to be funny?" He asked no one in particular. He did not appreciate the close proximity between the girl and the boy. He didn't appreciate how he was talking to her and laughing, or the fact that he was here. This was their spot. He didn't belong here. This –this trespasser.
It was quiet all of a sudden, where Jack held a one-sided glare with the green eyed boy and the green eyed boy stared intently at the girl's drawing. "Is that your brother?" He asked quietly, cautiously.
The girl didn't answer right away, but when she did, her voice was as soft as the snow beneath her feet. "Yeah … " She looked at the drawing of hers with such sadness that it made Jack boil over in rage –how dare he make her sad. He had no right. She was happy before – smiling and laughing! Now look what he did!
Jack silently fumed, and then loudly showed his rage. He waved his staff above him, and the snow that piled atop a branch slid down and dumped itself on the boy.
The green eyed boy yelped at the sudden chill and weight and wetness, jumping to his feet and shivering. Jack laughed, and laughed even louder when the girl laughed along with him."Looks like somebody doesn't want you here," she said, and Jack laughed harder.
"How mean." The green eyed boy pouted, cleaning himself of the snow. He looked to the sky and said, "It's almost dark. Want me to walk you home?"
Jack blinked. "Home? No, don't make her go home." He turned to the girl. "Don't go home, not yet."
"I'm not afraid of the dark," she said bravely, standing up. Then teasingly, added, "Unless you are, Mr. It's-Most-Fun-To-Play-When-It's-Dark, or was that all an act?"
The boy bristled."Oh, come off! We were children back then." He reached for her hand and she allowed him to take it.
"No," Jack whimpered. "No … don't take her. She's my friend– my friend!"
"Some of us still act like one, even now," she replied mischievously.
He smirked at her. "Now you're just being cheeky."
"Wait," Jack tried as they walked away. "Don't go! Not yet! Wait, please – don't leave!" But they couldn't hear him, and the green eyed boy took away the brown eyed girl away from the frozen lake.
Time passed on again, and during that passing time, the girl had not visited the frozen lake where Jack Frost waited for her to have their one-sided conversations. Jack waited. He sat in the center of the solid water, waiting. But she didn't come.
(Did she forget about him? Did the green eyed boy take her away from him? Did she forget about him?)
The wind would whistle for him to go spread his frost to the world, but "Not yet" he would reply. "Not yet."
The wind would murmur for him leave, that staying here would only make him feel worse, that the little girl wouldn't come because she is not talking about you, frost child. She is yearning for another, not you but Jack would reply, "No. She'll come. I just have to wait."
And he did wait, but she didn't come.
The wind was very persuasive with its silent words. It was able to pull him away from loneliness and into the rest of the world. Jack loved how much his transparent friend would go for him, to keep him company, to keep him occupied.
He loved making it snow, loved watching the children play with his creations and all the things they could come up with with his snow. But the brown eyed girl would never leave his thoughts. He always saw her in the other children's faces.
He decided it had been long enough – for both of them. She can't stay away forever, just as much as he can't stay away.
"Wind, take me to her," he told his friend, and the wind obliged with a sad sigh.
When he saw her again, after all those years (because now he knew that it had been years that passed, because her hair reached her chest, and her face was more narrow, and she was the same height as him, maybe taller) it was like the first visit all over again.
She was dressed in all black. Even with the veil covering her face, the redness was too acute to hide away. Her shoulders were trembling and the tiny clouds of breaths that escaped her mouth too quickly spoke volumes.
"No … " Jack blanched, his face crumbling along with hers. "No … you're not supposed to be sad. Don't be sad. Don't be sad."
A whimper escaped her mature mouth, and she stared at him with her sorrowful brown eyes. "Stop," Jack begged. "Please don't cry– please!"
Finally, as if they had been struggling this whole time, her legs gave out and she buckled to the ground. Jack made a movement to go catch her, but stopped as his mind cruelly reminded him that there was nothing he could do.
She wailed softly to the ground, holding herself because there was no one to hold her this time – because Jack couldn't hold her. But he wanted to – he wanted to hold her and tell her not to cry because she's not supposed to be sad anymore she's supposed to be smiling and laughing and not crying.
"It's not fair," she moaned, shaking her head. She sucked in a breathe and shuddered, her emotions tumbling off of her body like falling rocks. "It's not – It's not."
"Please don't cry … "
The brown eyed girl clenched her fists and slammed them to the ground."She was supposed to be getting better – better. Why didn't she get better!?"
"I don't know, I don't know."
"Oh Ma … " she cried helplessly. "Oh Ma … Oh Ma … please don't do this to me."
Jack wanted to touch her, to hug her, anything – anything to comfort her. But he couldn't. "Why won't you let me help her?" Jack cried to the moon. "I just want to help! Let me help her! Please!"
"I'm sick of this," the girl said quietly, suddenly. "I'm sick of this." She snarled at the snow, glaring at it with such irrational hatred and muttered to it, "This is all your fault."
Jack paused. "W-What?"
"This is all your fault!" She bit out between clenched teeth, grabbing the snow with her bare hands and throwing it at the frozen lake – at Jack. "You did this!"
"N-No,I didn't … I … "
"You took my brother and now you've taken my mother!"
"No, not me!"
"You made it cold – You made her sick! This stupid, stupid cold! I hate the cold – All it does is kill, kill, kill!" She screamed. "No more! I don't want it anymore!"
Jack took a step back, his mouth opening and closing, but no words coming out. The wind was pleading for him to leave leave leave, do not listen to her, she does not know what she is saying but Jack couldn't move, couldn't speak.
"I hate this town – It's always cold here, always snowing - I hate it," she was saying as angry tears poured freely down her face. She grabbed more snow and threw it at the lake with such heated anger that it could have melted the ice. "Make it stop! Stop taking everyone from me! Stop it! Make it stop!"
"I didn't mean to!" Jack cried, finally regaining his voice. "I didn't mean to, really! Not me!"
"Stop it! No more! I don't want this anymore! I want – I want – !" She was breathing heavily now, and the wail that escaped her mouth made something crumble inside of him.
"I want them back," she cried brokenly, voice thick with emotion. "I want them back. I want Ma back. I want Jack back. Give them back … "
"But I'm right here," Jack cried back. "I'm right here! Please, just look at me. I'm right here...!"
But she didn't look at him, she didn't hear him, because she can't, and she never had. Never. Not from the beginning, not now.
"She hates me … " Jack breathed, his voice as broken as his fragile heart. "She hates me."
The wind tried to whistle a soothing lullaby to calm his trembling nerves, but Jack would have none of that. "No!" He cried."You lied to me!"
The wind shrunk back at the accusation, and a tiny gust of a whimper could be heard through the sky. "You said," Jack continued with angry, confused eyes that dipped in agony. "You said she wasn't talking to me – that all this time, she was talking to another Jack, but she wasn't!"
No, little frost child, no, the wind begged helplessly.
"But she wasn't! She was talking to me! She hates me!"Jack choked. "You heard her, didn't you? You heard her?"
Yes … yes I did …
"You told me that everyone would love what I do – you told me everyone would love my snow and my cold and my storms."
She is different, she does not understand.
"I don't understand!" Jack exclaimed. "I don't understand any of it! I don't want any any of it!"
No, frost child, child of the moon, child of winter. Do not say such things.
"I don't want to be alone anymore, Wind," Jack silently lamented."I want people to see me. I don't want to be alone anymore."
Jack did not venture near the frozen lake for many years after he had seen the brown eyed girl dressed in black and grief. He was afraid to hear her cruel words. They pierced through him with more pain than anything solid. Her words were like cold daggers, colder than anything he had ever made. He did not want to feel that again.
He traveled the world and gave snow and cold to the people who appreciated and adored it. He gave it to the people who smiled at the white, soft substance. He gave it to the people who enjoyed the chill that came with the wind. He gave it to the people who laughed and played and smiled at the winter weather. He did not give it the brown eyed girl who's frame shook with impeccable sadness.
But, oh, how he wanted to see her smile. He yearned to see her happy. Because it wasn't fair for someone who can be seen to be so sad. She was supposed to be happy, because she had a family, friends. She was never supposed to be sad. It wasn't fair.
The wind didn't want him to go, but he wanted to. He wanted to see her. He wanted to see her again. "Maybe she would be smiling this time," he tried to convince the wind, to convince himself, but the wind was humming for him to not go. Do not go, little frost, the wind pleaded. You only hurt when you go.
"Not this time," Jack replied. "Not this time."
Why do you go, little frost? Why do you go? All she does is steal your smile, steals it like a tigress steals a fawn from its mother.
"Let her steal my smile," Jack said. "I just want her to wear it."
She can not wear it, winter child. She can only wear her own.
"Then I will make her wear her own."
His bare, pale feet touched delicately on the iced water, and he felt that same chill run up his spine that he always felt when skin touched ice. Even though he had not been here in such a long time, the lake was still as solid as he remembered it. Thawing was never an option for it. It remained as cold as Jack Frost felt.
She came, like always. From the same spot. But she was different. Jack didn't understand why he was so confused by that. He knew that people changed when years passed. He understood that.
(But he didn't understand why he didn't change. He remained the same. The same Jack Frost. He was different than other people, and he didn't know why.)
But he was still surprised to see her so different. Her hair that matched her eyes was cut short again, and her eyes that matched her hair was harder than before. They lost their glistening sparkle of innocence, replaced with the cold hard truth. But to Jack, even with her maturity and height, she was still that little girl with the big brown eyes.
"Hello, Jack," said the girl with a voice that still held its original softness, even with the firmness that wrapped around it. Jack's smile, that formed onto his face the moment she said his name, exhilarated with all the happiness he didn't know he still had. He opened his mouth, and breathed back a greeting.
(she doesn't hate me anymore, he thought. she doesn't. she doesn't. she said my name. she said it!)
"I'm sure you have noticed," she said slowly, wrapping her tender hand around her belly that seemed much larger than before. No, it didn't seem. It was. It was much rounder than before. Why didn't Jack notice when she first walked towards him?
(Because he was so excited with the idea of seeing her beautiful, childlike face to even notice anything else.)
"I'm pregnant," a sort of giddiness was hidden behind her voice as she said those two words with a suppressed smile, but Jack saw it. He saw her joy. Saw her happiness. Felt it. Felt it all.
"You're pregnant..." he echoed with a breathe.
"Almost six months now," she continued, cradling her stomach like a mother would with a child, looking down with the same fondness. "Haven't been down here in a while. Augustus is afraid I might slip and fall on the snow. He's always been such a worry-wort, that silly man."
"With a baby..." Jack whispered.
"But the doctor had suggested that walking around will do me some good," she shrugged. "And I could do me some good, what with this little one always flailing about."
"With a baby," Jack laughed.
"He's kicker, Jack," she chuckled. "Always causing a ruckus in there. Reminds me of a certain someone, don't you think?"
Jack cocked his head, not quite understanding what she was saying. She giggled, just like she did when she was younger and came by the frozen lake to tell him stories of her day. "We've decided to name him Jackson, after you, of course. Fitting, isn't it?"
At first he didn't understand, but when he did, a sound of absolute shock and joy escaped Jack Frost, and his wide eyes that were filled with so much awe shined in the tree-shadowed area."After me?" He asked her, because he wanted to hear her say it again. He wanted to make sure he wasn't dreaming. Was this really true? "Your baby ... after me?"
"Although, the town is a little wary of having another trickster running a muck and causing trouble, but they'll just have to deal with that, won't they?" She asked with a smirk.
"Yes, yes, yes," Jack answered all too quick.
She cringed then, holding her belly, her face in a pained grimace. Jack faltered in his happiness. Did he do something? Did he accidentally make it too cold. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" He apologized, feeling so despicable for ruining such a blithe occasion."Are you okay? I'm sorry, I didn't mean to. I'm sorry."
She puffed a laugh with the shake of her head, and that gesture was enough to calm Jack down. She looked down at her unborn child."Rambunctious, aren't we? I suppose it is time we go home and rest."
"No," Jack said with no hesitation, no resistance, no holding back. "Don't go. No. Tell me more - tell me more about your life. Tell me more about your baby. Please, talk to me. Keep talking to me. Say my name. Say my name again."
She waved back to him as she left with her legs that were so much longer than before. "Goodbye, Jack," she said.
"I just want to be happy, Wind," Jack cried to his ever present friend. "Why don't you want me to be happy? Why won't you let me be happy?"
Because you are going to hurt yourself, the wind hummed, it's voice reflecting Jack's pain. I do not want you to hurt yourself. I do not want to see you in despair.
"But you're the one who's making me sad, not her!" His voice was cracking, always did when he thought of her when he hadn't seen her in a long time.
No, frost child. I am protecting you. I want to protect you.
"I just want to pretend. Why can't I pretend to be her Jack? I just to belong to someone – I just want a friend."
A gust of wind ruffled his hair and it stroked and petted the crying boy, its words as soft as clouds. I know, little one. I know.
"No. No, you don't. You don't know anything."
Alas, but I do. Please, little one. Heed my words. You are not like her, not like them. You are special. You are the child of the moon, the child of the frost, the child of the winter. You are not like them. You are special.
"I don't want to be special. I just want a friend. I just want them to see me. I just want her to see me."
In due time, they shall. But her – it is too late for her. She has grown. She cannot see you, Jack. She sees another. She sees a Jack that no longer is with her. She mourns for her Jack. She mourns because of her loneliness, just as you mourn for your loneliness. That is the only thing you both share.
"It's not fair," Jack wept. "It's not fair."
The wind kept him away from the lake for a long time. For a very long time. When he would begin to think about the brown eyed girl, the wind would quickly sweep him off his feet and into new lands for him to explore and spread his wonders.
He kept the wind's words from earlier years close to mind. His friend was wise and as old as the sun and the moon. The wind had seen everything there is too see in this world. It was all knowing, all seeing. Wise as the stars and patient as the clouds.
But Jack thought that this time, the wind might be wrong. Maybe just this one time, it might be wrong. Deep inside, deep down, hidden in his core, a part of Jack that inhaled and exhaled hope, wholeheartedly believed that the brown eyed girl was talking to him. And even if that pulsing part of him was not right, Jack still believed that she was his friend. And he was hers.
Jack Frost just wanted a friend.
He touched down on the frozen lake, and for the first time in the many years that he had touched down on the frozen lake, he was not the only one who stood on it.
Children, three lovely, laughing children, slipped and slid on the ice with large grins on their faces, their laughter echoing through the forest that was Jack Frost's birthplace.
Jack laughed at the children, laughed at their fun and excitement, at their bright faces and broad smiles. He laughed as the tallest boy grabbed the smallest girl by her shoulders and pushed her along the ice, her feet motionless as she slid and ultimately fell with a grin. He laughed when the smallest boy dropped snow at the tallest boy's head and then attempted to escape his clutches.
Jack laughed even louder and happier when he saw their eyes – big brown eyes, all three, shining and glistening just like all those year sago. These children, Jack realized in wonder and joyousness, were her children.
And then she came, and Jack became even more happy, which he didn't even think would be possible. But she came, and Jack was happy, because now he can talk to her, and she can talk to him, and he can talk them.
But her face – it was difference. He had never seen it that way before. It was frightening him. Her face was one she never bore before. He had seen her consumed in grief, consumed in mirth, consumed by confusion and anger, but never this.
"What do you think you're doing!" She shrieked in a voice Jack didn't even know she was capable of creating.
The three children stilled in their game, recognizing their brown eyed mother's voice, and shrinking back at recognizing the tone. The tallest boy, one who's eyes held fear and confusion, answered in a tiny voice, "W-We're playing in the ice, Ma. We were just playing."
Jack was frightened. Why was she acting this way? Why was she making that face, that voice? This isn't the brown eyed girl Jack remembered. His brown eyed girl was full of sweetness and kindness and innocence, but this woman, at this moment, was nothing but rage and fear and fear.
"I don't want to hear it!" She snapped, her voice raspy as she shouted. She made her way to the children in angry large steps, but did not take one step onto the ice. No, she was cautious not to step on the ice. Always had been. She was shouting at the children again,"Get back here this instance – have you all lost your minds? Get back here now! Away from the ice!"
"We just wanted to play, Ma," the littlest girl whimpered.
"Get over here, now! All of you! Now!" She screamed regardless of her daughter's frightened mewls. As the obedient children that they were, they slowly stepped off the ice in small steps and stood before their mother, with their heads bowed in shame.
"What were you thinking!?" The brown eyed girl – woman, adult –exclaimed, her voice a messy mixture of fear and rage and confusion and horror. "Do you understand how dangerous it is there? Do you know how unsafe that is? You could have been hurt!"
"The ice was thick, Ma!" The smaller boy cried. "It was thick as stone! We were just playing!"
"It's ice!" She shouted. "It's ice! Do you understand? Ice! It could have broken – you could have fallen in! Have you gone mad?"
"I wouldn't have let them fall in!" Jack said, coming to the children's defense. "I wouldn't! Really! I wouldn't! I would never let them fall in!"
"You could have fallen in!" The woman continued, her shoulders shaking with emotion as she scolded her three children. "You could have fallen in! The ice could have broke, you could have drowned, froze to death!"
"We just wanted to play a game," the oldest boy tried. "The ice looked thick. We were just playing."
"You could have fallen in," she went on, her voice thicker now, tighter now. "The ice could have cracked, you could have fallen in! You should know better. You should have known better. You could have fallen in. I could have lost you. All three of you!"
The kids were confused now, because their mother was no longer screaming at them, but crying. She sobbed as she spoke, the tears slipping down her face as she scolded them and scolded them.
"We're sorry," the little boy said. "We're sorry."
"You could have fallen in," their mother sobbed. "I could have lost you."
"We're sorry," the little girl moaned.
"I wouldn't have let them fall," Jack said.
"The lake could have taken you," their mother cried. "It could have taken you all away from me. Not again. Don't ever do that again. You could have fallen in."
"Please don't cry, Ma," the oldest boy begged, crying along with his mother. "We're sorry. We didn't mean it. We won't do it anymore. We're sorry. Please don't cry."
The woman's words jumbled in her mouth, and she couldn't get them out, but her children knew what she wanted to say and apologized even more and hugged her, crying with her, encased with confusion as to why their mother was so distraught.
"I wouldn't have let them fall," Jack said as the four left the woods in tears. "Please don't cry. I would never have let them fall."
"I'm leaving," the brown eyed girl – woman, adult – said the next time Jack decided to visit his frozen lake. He wasn't gone a long time, but he missed her calm voice and calm face regardless. She wasn't with her kids this time. She was by herself, eyes seldom,expression somber.
Jack blinked at her words. "Leaving?" That can't be. She usually began their conversation with a greeting.
(This wasn't right. She wasn't supposed to be this serious. Why wasn't she smiling?)
"I spoke to Augustus about it, and he agreed," she went on. Her voice was tight. No rise in volume. Complete monotone. Fully indifferent to the effect her words had on the invisible boy. "This place holds nothing but horrid memories for me. The longer I stay here, the longer I live in the past."
"I've always wanted to leave. A part of me always wanted to leave. But I was a child back then, and too afraid to commit to that decision. I was too afraid to step out."
"You're… leaving … ?"
She blinked slowly, straightening her shoulders. "But now I know better. I hate this place, Jack. This town – it's too cold. Too cold. It took you away from me. It took Ma and Pa away from me, and I refuse to wait for it to take my new family away."
"You're leaving me?"
"But it wasn't just this town. It was you, Jack. It was always you. I've never come to terms with that day. I've never come to turns with what happened."
"There wasn't a day that passed where I haven't blamed myself for what happened. It ate away at me. It ate away at me, Jack. Your death, this town, it's eating me alive."
"I can't stay here any longer. I just can't. And I can't get over your death. Ma's and Pa's – I've accepted their's. But yours … I can't."
She was crying now, and so was Jack.
"I don't think I'll ever get over your death … I know I'll never get over it. But my kids – have you seen them? Isn't Jackson beautiful?"
"Yes, he's beautiful, just like you. They all are," wept Jack Frost.
"I'm doing it for them. I can't keep living in the past. I need to move on. I need to think of them. I need to live in the present – for the future."
"You don't have to leave."
"But it'll be hard," she cried. "I know it'll be hard. Because I love you too much to just forget about you and move on."
"Don't move on – stay with me. Stay with me, please."
"But I have to try. For my children. For them." She took in a large, shaky breath, her whole body racking with agony and indescribable sadness. And all of a sudden, she was that little brown eyed girl from all those years ago, dressed in black, crying for her Jack who was no longer with her. The body of an adult, but the eyes of a child. She will always have the eyes of a child.
"Please," Jack begged, pleading with his voice that couldn't be heard. "Please don't go. Please don't leave me. I don't want to be alone … please don't leave me alone. I just wanted a friend. I just wanted you to say my name."
Her face crumbled as she more sobs overtook her, but she kept her gaze at the frozen lake. She held the tearful gaze for a long time, staring at the empty space (staring at the grieving frost child) but broke it when she walked away. "Goodbye, Jack."
It was years later that Jack finally built up the courage to apologize to his first friend. "I'm sorry," he told the wind. "You were right. You were right."
The wind didn't gloat, only embraced him as affectionately as it could.
"You were right," Jack repeated, voice tight. "She was never talking about me. She was never talking to me. I'm not her Jack. She's not my friend."
His voice was trembling now. "You were right. Nobody can see me. I belong to no one. I'm just Jack Frost, and I'm the only one who knows that."
He looked to the wind with such despair that it made the current shudder. "Why can't anyone see me? Why is this happening to me?"
The wind did not have an answer to his question.
He visited the frozen lake every day.
Every day for years and years he visited the frozen lake. But no brown eyed girl came from behind the dead shrubs and elderly oaks. No brown eyed girl came bouncing with excitement to tell him about his day and about the green eyed boy she had met. No brown eyed girl came to cry to him about her passing mother. No brown eyed girl came to him to announce that she was with child. No brown eyed girl came to gather her children from the cold clutches of the frozen lake.
No brown eyed girl came.
"I don't want to be invisible," Jack told the wind. "I don't want to be invisible," Jack told the moon.
The wind murmured a sad song in his ear. Not for long, frost child. Not for long.
"It's been long enough already," Jack told the wind. "I don't want to be invisible. I want to have friends. I want someone to talk to me. I want someone to say my name. I want her."
Not for long, frost child. Be strong, frost child.
So he went to the frozen lake.
How could he not? How could he stay away? It was his home – it was where he belonged. The decaying trees, the melting snow, the chilling brisk; it was all his. It was all Jack Frost's. That was all he had for his name. How could he stay away from it? It was his home.
And even after all those many, many years he had been away from his home, it had not changed in the slightest. The lake was still frozen – frozen solid like stone. Even the spot he arose from had frozen over. Snow was still splashed on the ground and on the trees, just as Jack remembered it. All the trees were still intact, all leaves still cracking, all the bushes still bare, the stones still cold. His home had not changed in the slightest, and neither had Jack.
But all those many, many years had been cruel for Jack Frost, for he had to witness the darker side of the world – the wars and the blood and the tears and the fires and the sicknesses. Jack didn't want to see that. He never wanted to see that part of the world. All he wanted to see was the white and chill of the world – all he wanted to see was the playfulness and fun of the world.
But the wind was with him during all those many, many years, guiding him and teaching him and cradling him and murmuring soothing words of comfort and love to him. The wind never left his side. The wind was always there, always present to aid him when he needed aid. The wind adored him, and Jack greedily took in that love.
But Jack wanted more than the wind's love. For all those many, many years, he yearned for her love. For her smile. Her laughter. He missed her. He missed her like a turtle misses its shell, like an ocean misses its fish, like a sky misses its cloud. He wanted to see her, ached to see her. But she never came to the frozen lake. For all those many, many years that Jack waited, she never came to the frozen lake.
So when Jack heard that voice say his name after all those many, many years, his face lit up like a candle in the dusk. All the breathes in his prone, little body escaped in one large gasp of astonishment. Tears were swelling in his eyes when he turned to look at her, and those tears spilled faucets when he saw her.
It was her. It was the little brown eyed girl. His little brown eyed girl. Only now, she wasn't little. Only now, she wasn't a girl. She was old – she was a woman – she was shriveled – she was gray haired – she was seasoned – was hunched over on a cane – she was wrinkling – she was a grandmother.
But she still had those beautiful, sparkling brown eyes. She still had those stunning, innocent brown eyes.
"You … came back," Jack tearfully chocked out, looking at his little girl. Looking at his friend.
"It turns out I couldn't stay away forever," she replied in her new voice. Her new voice – scratchy and rusty with age, ragged and haggard with sickness. Her new voice – filled with wisdom and clarity, filled with compassion and history.
"You came b-back..." Jack laughed, his eyes flooding.
The brown eyed girl looked around with her ancient eyes, a smile tugging on her wrinkled face. "This place hasn't changed a bit."
Jack laughed. "It hasn't, it hasn't," he agreed excitedly.
She smiled fondly at him. She was smiling – smiling at him. Her eyes were looking at him – she was speaking to him. The wind did not say anything about Jack's joy. The wind was not with him at the moment. The wind had let him be, had let him be with his friend.
"I, on the other hand, seem to have changed quite a bit, don't you think?" The brown eyed girl chuckled, looking at her pale, furrowed hands that involuntarily shook.
"Yes – you changed. But you're still the same – you're still the same."
She inhaled deeply. "Ah, the years have been doing me good. My health may be deteriorating, but my life is still blossoming."
"Tell me about your life – tell me about your life and your family." Jack approached her. She was standing where she always stood. A few inches away from the frozen lake, never on the ice, never daring to touch the ice.
"Jackson is going to be a grandfather in a few months," she reminisced with sweet nostalgia lacing her voice. "And little Benedict is the head priest at the church. Margret is expecting her third child, soon. Ah, they make me feel so old."
Jack laughed with her. "It's okay, old is good. I'm old, too. Old is fine."
Her smile turned bittersweet, then. Her fragile body shuddered as she sighed. "But I can't help thinking about what kind of life you would have had, Jack."
"I had a good life – still am having a good life," Jack told her.
"Even after all these years, I still miss you."
"Don't be sad," Jack told her quickly. "Don't be sad. You don't have to miss me – I'm still here. I'm right here."
"Never have I stopped thinking about you," The brown eyed girl said, her voice dancing with melancholy, her eyes shining wistfully. "Never has there come a time where your beautiful face hasn't come to mind."
Jack's eyes were wide with awe at her words – she thought of him. She was thinking of him. He knew it – he knew that this whole time, all these years, she was talking to him. Not the other Jack – not the other Jack, but Jack Frost. Him – him.
"You would have loved the world, Jack."
Jack nodded vigorously. "I do. I love the world – it might be scary, it might be lonely, but I love the world. I love it."
"You would have gone so far, done so much."
"I do a lot," Jack told her. "I do so much already." He raised his beloved staff above him, (to show her that he did so much, that he had gone so far.) and shook it with tenderness. And in that instant, drops of snowflakes as precise and detailed as the rings of the trees fell all around them.
The brown eyed girl laughed, and Jack laughed with her. "I always did love the snow …" She breathed thickly with emotion and sweet sentiment. "Whenever I felt lonely, I could always find comfort in the snow. I always did love the snow."
"Really – do you really mean that?" Jack was holding his staff to his chest with indescribable pride and marvel at the words he did not expect her to say.
(because all those years ago – all those cruel years ago, he was so confused. So bitterly confused. Her words had been painstakingly horrible to hear – but now – but now –)
She was crying now as she caught the delicate snowflakes in her hands. "Oh, Jack … Oh, Jack," She moaned brokenly, just as she moaned for her mother all those years ago. "I've wanted to see your face for so long now."
Jack cried too. He cried with her, because her sadness was contagious, and he was easy prey to emotions. "But I'm right here," he cried. "You just have to see me. I'm right here."
Her words were shaking with heartache. "I've wanted to talk to you for so long now. It hurt so much – " she paused to take a quivering breathe. "It hurt so much to not hear you talk back when I came by all those years ago. It hurt so much."
"I know, I know, I know," Jack sobbed . "I know it hurt. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I know it hurt."
She shook her head, her smile showing through the tears. "But now I won't have to feel that hurt. Soon, I'll see you, Jack."
Jack froze, his body more still than the lake beneath his feet. "Y-You'll see me?"
"Ah, yes. It's almost time for me," she looked to her hands with dreadful fascination. "Soon, I'll be with you soon, Jack. Soon, we'll be together."
"R-Really? Really?" Jack sputtered, "You'll be with me? Me?" He turned to look for his friend, the wind, but he was nowhere to be found. The wind had let him be alone with his friend. The wind was letting him be with his friend. Jack turned to the brown eyed girl and asked tentatively,"Does that mean you'll finally see me?"
She smiled with a nod. She looked down at the ice that was only a few inches away, and anxiety and anxiousness clawed at her furrowed face as she lifted her foot and placed it on the frozen lake. A shaky breathe later, and she placed the other foot as well. She marveled at her feet, that were standing on the ice, the horrible, horrible ice. She marveled at her accomplishment. She had bested the beast. She had conquered her fear.
"Soon, I'll get to see you, Jack."
Jack breathed a laugh. "And you'll talk to me? Will you finally talk to me? Will you talk to me?"
"And we'll talk – we'll talk for days end and nights beginning."
Jack was giddy now, unable to control his bouncing excitement. "And play? Will we get to play – can we play games together? Me and you?"
"We'll play all the games we never got to play during the years you missed."
"And laugh? Will we laugh together?"
"We'll laugh until our breathes give out. We'll laugh like the children we once were."
"Will you let me hold you?" Jack asked her. "Can I finally hold you? And make you stop crying? Will you be my friend?"
"And I'll finally get to hold you, and love you – oh, Jack, is it so selfish of me to say that I've been longing for this day to come?" She asked the lake – asked Jack.
"No, no, no, no, no it's not," he answered her quickly. "It's not, it's not."
"All I ever wanted was for you to talk back to me," She admitted, she admitted with all the honesty her ancient heart could release in one sentence, she admitted with genuine tears that spoke no lies.
"Me, too." Jack whispered, because he didn't trust his voice any more. He was at a loss for words. She was going to see him. She was going to talk to him. She was going to play with him. She was going to laugh with him. She was going to hold him. She was going to love him. "Me, too. Me, too."
(finally, after all these. After all these years. After all those years and years and years and years of being so lonely, so, so, so, very lonely.)
"Can't keep you waiting, can I?" She asked with a chuckle of mirth. She straightened her frail, old body, her cane shaking as she put her weight on it. She looked to the invisible frost child, child of the moon, child of the winter. "Wait for me, Jack. I'll be coming soon."
And Jack did wait.
He waited for her after she slowly made her way out of the snowing forest –
– and waited for her when she didn't come back.
- fin -