Quick note: I think the italics are fixed.
We once again took the path through the workshop to the sort of "garage" where North's sleigh was kept. In a way, our powers as the Guardians were linked. In their minds, kids typically believed in either all of us or none of us, so when they began to question their belief in one Guardian, they would also question the existence of the other Guardians too. That's why we were all feeling so tired now. Sure, Bunny was hit hardest, but North was moving pretty slow and I could barely even hover anymore. It was like my wings just didn't want to work, so I walked along next to North. Normally I was able to hover at his height but walking next to him, I became very aware of just how big he really was. But he was slumped over in exhaustion. It looked like all of the troubles of the world had been laid across this one old man's shoulders and this time he couldn't just smile and laugh it away. I began to wonder if this was just going to be the end of the Guardians once and for all.
Bunny was barely as tall as the elves now and he kept having to jump over and around them. Quite a few were following us, surprised by bunny's transportation, and more than once he had to shoo them away because they all wanted to pet him. I couldn't help but smile a little and I leaned down and scooped Bunny up into my arms.
"What? Hey," Bunny started but I looked down at him pointedly.
"It's faster this way," I said, chuckling a little.
He took a deep breath like he was going to protest but then he just sighed. I didn't think he had it in him to fight anymore, and he was probably pretty tired too. "Alright," he said, "just this once. Nobody is to hear about this," he demanded, looking up at me.
All I could do though was chuckle a little more. It was really hard to take him seriously. "Plus, you're really soft and cute," I teased him, scratching between his ears
He grumbled a little but didn't protest further. When we reached the sleigh tunnel, it was already there waiting for us. The reindeer weren't stomping and snorting like before – like they weren't as eager or, more likely, they were feeling tired too. North climbed into the sleigh, and it was obvious it took more effort than usual. I reached up and set Bunny in the sleigh – this time without the fuss from him about his tunnels being faster – and then I climbed in after him. It took North a few shakes of the reins to even get the reindeer to pay attention to him but eventually they pulled into a run and we were off.
Bunny, being so small, was having a lot more difficulty holding on this time and he looked up at me and then jumped into my lap. I held onto him so that he wouldn't fly out and knew that he'd never want me to mention this ever again. Once we were out in open sky, I figured that he'd take his own seat again, but he didn't. I didn't mind – he really was soft and cuddly. North used one of his snow globes but because his powers were weakening, we came out of the portal about a hundred miles to the east of where we were supposed to be, so North turned the sleigh west. It wasn't nearly as smooth of a flight as before but there wasn't much we could do about that. We were all quiet for a while but eventually Bunny spoke up.
"I'm sorry, Tooth," he said quietly.
"What?" I said, having been thinking about Baby Tooth.
"I'm sorry. For what I said. About you and Jack."
"It's okay," I said, scratching between his ears again. "I'm sorry too. For yelling and..." I sighed and thought back to what Bunny had said, about me being the one who should've seen this coming. "... and for not seeing this coming."
"It is not your fault, Tooth," North said over his shoulder. "This is not just about Jack, this is about Pitch. Pitch has done things that none of us could have predicted."
"I still don't think we should've trusted him," Bunny said angrily, getting a bit of his old attitude back. I wanted to defend Jack but I didn't want to start a fight again and it was still hard to get the thought of Baby Tooth out of my head. I know that ultimately, it was Pitch's fault, but the fact that Jack would let Baby Tooth out of his sight in a dangerous situation like that, all to recover his own teeth and the- I gasped.
"His memories," I whispered.
"What?" Bunny asked me.
"Jack had his teeth," I said, "his memories." I'd been so caught up in everything that was happening that it hadn't even crossed my mind that Jack might have his memory back, that he might've remembered everything, including...
"Do you think he remembers who you are now?" North asked me, voicing the question that I had just been asking myself.
"I... I don't know," I said, and honestly I didn't. I didn't know if he had actually looked at his memories yet or not, or whether or not I was even included in those memories. But then, I realized... "Even if he does remember who I was as a human, he's got no way of knowing that she became me."
"Well, maybe now Manny will let you tell him," North said.
I tried to smile, but it was hard. My emotions were too messed up and at the moment I wasn't really sure if I actually did want Jack to know who I was. I couldn't help but be a little curious but now wasn't the right time. There were too many other things at stake. Hopefully the boy, Jamie, would be able to help us. I wasn't sure what he'd be able to do, but he was our only hope left.
The reindeer's flight grew more and more erratic and turbulent and I was beginning to wonder if we'd even make to Jamie's house but we finally reached his neighborhood, and just in time. We dipped dangerously low over the rooftops, barely missing power lines and streetlights until we came crashing down in front of Jamie's house, the sleigh coming to a grinding halt. Bunny was knocked out of my lap and we all tumbled to the floor of the sleigh while the harness holding the reindeer to the sleigh came undone and they went running off down the street. "Ah, moi deti! Come back!" North called after them as he pushed himself to his feet. He seemed very unsteady so I tried to help him.
"North, are you okay?"
"Is official," he said sadly, "my powers are kaput."
The sleigh settled a bit and North toppled over but then I noticed someone leaping down from Jamie's bedroom window. It was Jack! "Look!" I cried out. I was surprised to see him there – but he was probably kind of surprised to see us too. What was even more surprising though, was that I felt really happy to see him. Whether he remembered or not, and even though I was still upset about Easter and Baby Tooth, I knew that he'd be able to help us and we needed all the help we could get. "Jack!" I said, making to fly off of the sleigh, but though my wings worked for an instant, I'd forgotten how much strength I'd lost and I tumbled to the ground.
Jack leaned down and helped me to my feet. "You okay?" he asked me.
I felt a little embarrassed as I smoothed my feathers back down and was saved the task of commenting further by North who had climbed out of the sleigh and came forward, leaning heavily on his swords. "What are you doing here?" he asked Jack.
"Same as you," Jack said with a little smile as he turned and looked behind him to where Jamie was coming running out of the front door of his house, still in his pajamas and bare feet.
"The last light," North said as Jamie came over to us.
"Wow," the boy said, his eyes wide, "it is you. I mean, it is you!" He looked around at all of us with a big smiled and I noticed the gap where his tooth had been knocked out. He laughed happily, reaching out to touch North's hand. "I knew it wasn't a dream!" and then he turned and looked straight at Jack.
"Jack," North said, "he sees you." I couldn't help but smile now because I knew what that must mean to Jack. The first child in 300 years to see him.
Jack smiled and nudged Jamie who smiled back, but then Jack looked at us. "Wait, but where's Bunny?" Despite the fact that Bunny had almost decked him last time they'd seen each other, Jack seemed genuinely concerned.
I realized Bunny was still in the sleigh and wondered how Jack was going to react. "Losing Easter took its toll on all of us," North said seriously, "Bunny most of all." We turned and looked over our shoulders at the sleigh where Bunny hopped up onto the handrail and then out onto the sleigh's flight-fin.
"Oh no," Jack said and I was surprised that he didn't take the opportunity to take a shot at Bunny, but then I remembered that while Jackson was a trickster, he also knew when to take a situation seriously – I had to remind myself that Jack Frost wasn't quite as cold-hearted as I'd believed for so long.
Jamie chuckled though, walking over to Bunny. "That's the Easter Bunny?"
Bunny stood up on his back paws, though the effect wasn't quite as impressive as it was when he was six feet tall. "Now somebody sees me!" he said in exasperation. "Where were you about an hour ago, mate?"
"What happened to him?" Jamie asked. "He used to be huge and cool. And now he's..." he scratched Bunny's chin, "cute."
Bunny got distracted for a moment, enjoying the attention, but then he waved Jamie off in frustration with his furry little paws and turned to Jack. "Did you tell him to say that? That's it!" He jumped off the sleigh and kicked at Jack's legs, hopping around with his paws up like a boxer. "Let's go! Me and you! Come on!"
But Jamie came over and knelt by Bunny. "No, actually, he told me you were real!" he said. "Just when I started to think that... maybe you weren't..." he said, sounding ashamed that he'd ever doubted.
Bunny looked up at him in surprised. "He made you believe?" he asked. "In me?" Jamie nodded and Bunny looked over at Jack and smiled. I couldn't help but smile now too. I knew that Bunny wouldn't forgive Jack just like that, but this was a good start.
Just then, thunder cracked across the sky. We all moved closer together instinctively and turned, looking upward to see Pitch Black there, hovering on a huge cloud of black sand. Jack stepped forward. "Get Jamie out of here," he said over his shoulder to us. My first thought was, No, we're going to fight too, but then I remembered that North, Bunny and I, were all quite weak, and without our powers, we'd be no help.
"Be careful, Jack," North said.
I watched a moment more as Jack flew up into the sky and headed straight for Pitch. I just wanted all of this to be over. I wanted us all to be safe again. Because maybe Jack did remember now. Maybe he did remember Tabitha. Maybe after this, we would talk and I could finally tell him... tell him who I was and how I had felt that way all those years ago. Then I turned to follow North and Bunny who were hurrying away with Jamie. We needed to find somewhere Jamie would be safe and where we could help protect him, somewhere that Pitch wouldn't be able to find him. Bunny, who was the fastest out of all of us at the moment, was leading the way. North was hobbling along, leaning on his swords and going as fast as he could, and it was taking me some time to get used to actual running on the ground.
Bunny turned corner after corner, saying, "This way, this way!" and eventually he accidentally lead us into a small alley with no other exit. "Ahhh, dead end! Other way, other way!" he shouted, turning around. North sighed as Bunny ran back past him. Jamie and I turned to follow him but then we heard a crashing sound. We turned in time to see Jack come crashing down onto a dumpster lid and then falling onto the asphalt face-first.
"Jack!" Jamie cried, running over to him, with me following close behind. Jack climbed to his feet with Jamie's help. He didn't seem too badly hurt.
North patted his back. "That was good try, Jack. 'A' for effort," and I almost chuckled. North was ever the optimist.
Jack's tone took the humor from me though when he said, "He's stronger. I can't beat him." North looked at me seriously because we both knew that if Jack couldn't get to Pitch, we were all in deep trouble.
I began to panic a little now, and then a laugh echoed through the alleyway, a sound that we all recognized too well. His shadow crossed over us and then his voice rang out. "All this fuss over one little boy and still he refuses to stop believing," Pitch said. The shadow of Pitch riding a Nightmare appeared momentarily on the side of a parked semi-truck and then he said, "Very well. There are other ways to snuff out of a light." Another shadow passed through the alley and as it did, the light bulbs keeping the area lit burst one by one, emphasizing Pitch's point.
Jack and North both protectively moved in front of Jamie while Bunny leapt forward saying, "If you want him, you're gonna have to go through me." Unfortunately, that was a little less intimidating with Bunny in his current state.
A shadow in the shape of a hand stretched across the ground toward Bunny and Pitch's voice sounded amused now. "Ah, look how fluffy you are! Would you like a scratch behind the ears?" His voice had the tone of someone talking to a small child or a pet and Bunny leapt away from the shadow and up into North's hand.
"Don't you even think about it!" he said indignantly.
"I can't tell you how happy it makes me to see you all like this," Pitch's voice rang out, more sinister now as suddenly Nightmares appeared and advanced on us. And there Pitch was, riding one. "You look awful," he said. Thunder crashed behind him and more shadows stretched out toward us. I didn't know what we were going to do. We couldn't win.
"Jack," Jamie said quietly as the shadows reached his feet, "I'm scared."
Jack knelt down and put his hand Jamie's shoulder, as though to comfort him, but his eyes went far away for a second, like he was remembering something. I couldn't believe that at a desperate time like this, these warm memories of my own were coming to mind, but I couldn't help imagine Jack with Pippa and the way he'd always taken care of her – and then I thought, The memories from the Tooth Box! Maybe he's remembering Pippa too! "I know, I know, but you're gonna be alright," Jack said, sounding a little distracted, looking down. "But we're gonna have a little fun instead." He looked at Jamie and his eyes widened. "That's it! That's my center!" Jamie looked at Jack like maybe he was losing his mind but I vaguely remembered North talking to me about his center and me finding my own centuries ago and I realized that Jack had just figured out what his was.
Pitch just laughed evilly, coming closer and closer, and said, "So what do you think, Jamie? Do you believe in the Boogey-argh!" he shouted as he was suddenly hit in the face with a snowball that Jack had seemingly conjured out of nowhere.
I snorted and Jamie burst out laughing but then closed his mouth and looked around like he was worried he'd get in trouble for laughing at the Boogey Man. North and Bunny and Jack were all laughing too and Jack looked behind him at a pile of stuff that people had thrown out, and then looked at Jamie. "Now, let's go get your friends," Jack said. Jack quickly grabbed a few of the things and handed them to us – a short ladder for Jamie, a wooden crate palette for North, a big plastic bin cover for me and what looked like a wok for Bunny, and with a smile he said, "Hold on," and before I knew it, we were all sliding along a stretch of ice of Jack's creation. We slid right past Pitch who was still trying to get the snow off his face, and on down the street, back through Jamie's neighborhood.
Jack made the ice go up and down and in loops even as he began throwing snowballs at kids' windows. Now that he knew what his center was, I think he had even more control over his powers – I glimpsed snow through bedroom windows and saw kids waking up, trying to figure out what was going on. He grabbed hold of Jamie and flew him up in the air so that his friends would be able to see him. One girl stuck her head out the window. "Jamie, how are you doing that?"
"Jack Frost!" he shouted happily. "Come on, we need your help!"
A few more kids leaned out their windows and North shouted, "Merry Christmas!"
"Happy Easter!" Bunny called.
"Don't forget to floss!" I added.
In a few moments, we had a bunch of kids in their pajamas sliding along behind us.
"The Easter Bunny's real!" one shouted.
"And the Tooth Fairy!" another one said.
"They're all real!"
I was excited, and we were all having fun, but then Jack slid to a stop and so we all did, and when I looked up, I knew why. With a backdrop of huge thunder clouds and flashing lightning, there came a huge tidal wave of black sand and there was Pitch, on a Nightmare on a rooftop. "You think a few children can help you? Against this?" he shouted. I was instantly filled with dread because he was right. Pitch was so powerful now and all we had was about ten kids and three guardians who barely had any power left, and Jack, who couldn't just beat Pitch like he did before. The black sand roiled and crashed, coming closer to us in every direction. North lifted a sword like he was ready to fight, but he could barely keep it aloft, letting it drop down and leaning on it heavily. Who were we trying to fool? We were powerless now. I quickly steadied North, and I heard Jamie gasp. Jack turned to him.
"They're just bad dreams, Jamie," he said, trying to comfort the boy.
"And we'll protect you, mate," Bunny said, sounding a bit unsure but still much braver than I think any of us felt right then.
"Aw, you'll protect them?" Pitch called. "But who will protect you?"
I was at a loss and I think the others were too. Thunder crashed and all I knew was that I was scared and I didn't know what chance we had. Jack turned and looked from North to me. He took a deep breath but didn't say anything – but I saw it in his eyes.
There was my Jackson Overland, who cared more about other people than he did about himself. Jackson Overland who would do anything to cheer someone up, who would help anyone who needed it, who would make a fool of himself to make someone smile. Jackson Overland, who had saved his sister from a cold death under the ice at the cost of his own life. My Jackson, who would give up himself in an instant if it meant keeping someone else safe. And that was what he intended to do: fight Pitch even if it meant his own destruction. Jack was going to give himself up to save us all.
North shook his head and I stepped forward, reaching out. "No," I said quietly. It couldn't end this way. Jack couldn't beat Pitch, he would be destroyed, like Sandy was. But he couldn't. I hadn't told him yet, who I really was. I didn't know yet if he remembered Tabitha, I hadn't told him yet that I loved him, that I did 300 years ago and that I still did now. He'd been taken away from me before, before I'd had the chance to say it, and now that was going to happen all over again. "Jack, no," I said, tears springing to my eyes.
"It's gonna be ok," he said quietly, but even he looked a little scared. He turned and took a step toward Pitch...
But then Jamie stepped forward and said, "I will."
A tough little girl pushed ahead of the others and stood by Jamie. "I will," she said.
Then two more boys, brothers, came forward too, both saying, "I will."
"And me," said another girl.
"I'll try," said a nervous boy in glasses.
North and Bunny and I all looked at each other. We weren't sure what the children would be able to do, but they had just as good of a shot as we did at this point.
"Still think there's no such thing as the Boogey Man?" Pitch shouted, menacingly as a tidal wave of black sand came rushing toward us, busting out light bulbs as it crashed down.
But Jamie and his friends stood firm and he said, "I do believe in you. I'm just not afraid of you!"
The sand rose up into the air and twisted together, diving straight down at Jamie before any of us could really react. Jamie raised a hand to protect himself and the sand came crashing into him...
And where it hit his hand, the sand suddenly turned gold, like Sandy's dreamsand. We all gasped in surprise and the children began to laugh as the gold sand tendrils stretched out and swirled around us. I felt a sudden rush of warmth and tingling and my wings started beating – I could fly again! I didn't know what exactly had caused it but North's suddenly regained color too and he stood up straighter, hefting his swords with ease.
I heard Pitch cry out, "No! Get them! Do your jobs!" and suddenly there were Nightmares everywhere, but with my powers back, I could fight again. I saw a few chase Bunny under a car and receive a heck of a surprise when they pulled out not the cute little miniature version of Bunny but the full six-foot-one and full-of-attitude version. North pulled out a couple snow globes, opening portals and summoning yetis from the Pole who came marching out, ready to fight. A few of the more gung-ho elves came along too. Bunny opened a few tunnels and his big egg statues came out and leapt into the fray with their angry faces forward.
"Let's get 'em!" shouted the tough little girl, and her and her friends leapt into action, diving right and left at the Nightmares. Wherever a child touched one, it turned into gold dream sand. Yetis and egg statues smashed the Nightmares into nothingness right and left, Bunny and his boomerangs were taking down one after another, North's swords took down several more, and I was bursting through them too, finally able to fly at full speed again. Out of the corner of my eye I saw blue flashes of light and saw Jack shooting ice at the Nightmares around Pitch. The yetis, statues, and kids seemed to be handling things on the ground, so North, Bunny, and I headed up to the rooftop where Jack and Pitch were fighting.
Pitch was trying to get away, dashing across the rooftops and behind rooftop structures, but right as Jack came around a corner, Pitch send a bolt of dark sand at him. I darted toward it, causing it to dissipate as I burst through it. "Thanks Tooth!" Jack called to me and I smiled. We could win now, I knew it! I burst through more Nightmares and Bunny took out more with his boomerangs. Bunny and I tried to corner Pitch but he darted away from us, still riding a Nightmare, and attempted to leap to another rooftop, but North was there jumping toward him. He swung his sword and burst the Nightmare, leaving Pitch to fall down into the street.
Pitch formed a huge, scary-looking scythe out of black sand and tried to hit us, but with the four of us all working together and moving around so fast, he didn't managed to land a blow. Finally, we managed to corner him between a couple buildings and against a bank of parked school buses. As we advanced on him now, Jack said, "It's over, Pitch. There's no place to hide."
We've won, I thought. But then Pitch laughed evilly and sunk into a shadow on the ground. We all looked around as multiple shadows played across the walls of the houses around us but then Bunny turned and shouted, "Jack, look out!" I looked in time to see that Pitch had reappeared where he'd been standing before. He deftly deflected one of Bunny's boomerangs and made to swing his scythe at Jack. I went to fly forward, but suddenly, a tendril of gold sand wrapped itself Pitch's hands and scythe and pulled him backwards over the school buses and into a small park beyond.
There on a small hilltop, a bunch of the gold sand was swirling together. It can't be, I thought, but then, I really didn't know exactly how the whole 'immortal' thing really operated. And then, out of the cloud of gold sand, came the Sandman himself. "Sandy!" I shouted.
"He's back!" North said.
"Yeah!" Bunny said.
Sandy had caught Pitch with a sand-whip, pulling him close and shaking a finger at him like a parent with a naughty child. Then, the quiet, sweet little Sandman gave Pitch an almighty punch, sending him straight up into the sky.
The children rushed over and Sandy conjured a sand-hat, tipping it in introduction, before giving the whip (still wrapped around Pitch) a yank, bring him crashing back down to earth.
We all rushed over to Sandman and everyone was cheering. I couldn't believe he was back and on top of that, he had just saved us all. "Mate, you are a sight for sore eyes," Bunny said happily. Sandy nodded and then floated upward on his cloud of dreamsand, releasing more tendrils of gold sand like he always did before, sending them off to bring good dreams to children.
North and Bunny and I looked at each other and I think we all were feeling more and more of our strength returning. Sandy was making kids dream about us, I realized. I felt a slight fluttering in my heart then, unsure of what it was until I realized that somewhere, my fairies were still alive, getting their own powers back and opening hundreds and hundreds of tooth boxes. I smiled and whispered, "They're alive. My fairies are alive!" Bunny reached over and hugged me and Jack smiled at me. Everything was going to be ok. All around us, the dreamsand was taking the shapes of the good dreams of children everywhere. Stingrays floated through the air with schools of fish and paper cranes, and dinosaurs roamed the streets. I even saw a unicorn trot past.
Before I knew it, Jack had started a snowball fight and we were suddenly surrounded by kids laughing and throwing snowballs. Jamie's little sister, Sophie, quite the curious little girl, had come running out of her house and joined in the fun too. Baby Tooth came zipping out of nowhere, crashing into my feather crest and nuzzling me before landing in my hands. "Oh, I'm so glad you're ok!" I said, ruffling her little feathers. She informed me that all the others were ok too – I noticed a few of them zipping around – and that the rest had begun the long task of returning all the Tooth Boxes to the Tooth Palace where they belonged.
North and Bunny and I were just joining the snowball fight when Pitch, all but forgotten, climbed to his feet, and shouted, "You dare have fun in my presence? I am the Boogey Man, and you will fear me!" He headed toward Jamie menacingly, but Jamie didn't notice at all, and actually ran straight through Pitch. "No!" Pitch shouted. "No..." In that moment, I almost felt bed for him. After all, he just wanted to be believed in. But my heart hardened when I thought of all he'd done to achieve that. He'd ruined Easter, destroyed Sandy (albeit temporarily), and he'd imprisoned my fairies. He'd made us fight amongst ourselves and he'd terrified and broken the spirits of children everywhere. I almost felt bad for him, but not quite. And then, he turned and ran.
That coward, I thought, and we all darted after him, managing to cut him off at a lake. He had been looking over his shoulder and didn't see North until he ran straight into his belly and toppled over. "Leaving the party so soon?" North asked.
"You didn't even say goodbye," I said, flying forward. I wasn't the type for a big grand revenge scheme but I owed him something. I tossed a quarter into his hand.
"A quarter?" he asked, looking up just in time to see my fist as I punched him full in the face, hard enough to knock out one of his teeth.
I shook out my hand – I'd never punched someone before so I didn't know how much it was going to hurt – and said, "And that's for my fairies," finally feeling satisfied. A bunch of the girls flew forward, squeaking angrily at him.
Pitch scrambled to his feet. "You can't get rid of me! Not forever," he said, trying to sound intimidating. "There will always be fear," he said, but none of us were worried anymore.
"So what?" North said. "As long as one child believes, we will be here to fight fear."
"Really?" Pitch said with that annoying smarmy tone. "Then what are they doing here?" He gestured to the Nightmares that were gathering around the edges of the lake.
"They can't be my Nightmares, I am not afraid," North said with a shrug. We all looked at each other, agreeing that none of us felt afraid anymore, and Jack stepped forward.
"Looks like it's your fear they smell," he said.
Pitch whimpered a little and then turned and ran as the Nightmares suddenly chased after him, disappearing into the forest beyond the lake. We could hear him screaming for a while, and then silence. Finally, the fighting was over. Pitch was gone, the kids were safe, we were safe, Jack was safe.
I laughed joyously and flew over to Jack, hugging him tightly. He hugged me back and smiled at me and for a moment, it was just us, kids again. Carefree and happy and together, like we used to be. Jack Frost and Toothiana, now Jackson and Tabitha again. For a moment, I thought he was going to kiss me and all I could do was smile. Then, I suddenly remembered that everyone else was there, and one of my fairies flew in between me and Jack, chirping at me. I blushed and back away but Jack just laughed.
North stepped forward. "Are you ready now, Jack? To make it official." Jack nodded and one of the yetis brought forth the big book that held the Oath of the Guardians. "Then it is time you take Oath," North said. He leafed through the book to the right page. As he began to read the Oath, the yetis, egg statues, kids, and elves all began to gather around us as well. "Will you, Jack Frost, vow to watch over the children of the world, to guard them with your life, their hopes, their wishes, and their dreams, for they are all that we have, all that we are, and all that we will ever be?"
Jack looked over his shoulder at Jamie, who smiled wide and nodded, and then turned back to North. He was ready now, ready to be a Guardian. "I will," he said, smiling.
"Then, congratulations, Jack Frost, for you are now, and forever more, a Guardian!" North said proudly. Everyone cheered, and North picked up Jack, kissing him on both cheeks.
I laughed and noticed my fairies floating in a heart shape as they stared at Jack. "Keep it together girls," I chuckled, even though I barely was. I still just wanted to kiss Jack.
Suddenly, North's sleigh came out of the sky and landed on the frozen-over lake, his reindeer somehow hitched back up to it again. All of the children stared in wonder. They were all saying things like, "Wow, look at that!" and "It's real!"
"Everyone loves the sleigh," Bunny chuckled.
North put a hand on Jack's shoulder. "Time to go," he said.
He then looked at Sandman who, with a flourish, made several fireworks of dreamsand explode overhead, raining down dreamsand that would eventually help the children fall asleep. It was, after all, the wee hours of the morning now, and the children had been up for most of the night. Bunny went to say goodbye to Sophie and the rest of us headed toward the sleigh. But Jamie stopped Jack.
"You're leaving?" the boy said. "But what if Pitch comes back? What if we stop believing again? If I can't see you..."
"Hey, slow down, slow down," Jack said with a smile, crouching down and putting a hand on Jamie's shoulder. I smiled. Jack would always be a big brother, always. "Are you telling me you stop believing in the moon when the sun comes up?"
"No," Jamie said.
"Okay, well, do you stop believing in the sun when clouds block it out?"
"No," Jamie chuckled.
"We'll always be there, Jamie," Jack said, "and now, we'll always be here," he pointed to Jamie's heart, "which kind of makes you a Guardian too." I smiled. Jack always knew just what to say to kids. Jamie was beaming.
Jack stood and turned to walk over to the sleigh, but suddenly Jamie called out, "Jack!" Jack turned and Jamie ran over and hugged him. Jack looked surprised and I just about cried then and there. It was probably the first time a kid had hugged Jack since the last time Pippa had hugged him, 300 years ago. Jack leaned down and hugged Jamie and I sniffled a little. Bunny looked at me and chuckled, patting my knee.
"A happy ending for the kid," Bunny said quietly to me. "But how about you? Are you going to tell him?" I chuckled and rolled my eyes. I still wasn't sure what I was going to do. But right now, I was just glad to see Jack happy.
Jack turned then and jumped onto the sleigh's flight-fin. With a crack of the reins, North spurred the reindeer into flight and we took off into the sky. We'd defeated Pitch. Everyone was safe, Sandy was back, the kids were ok, and I couldn't stop looking at Jack, all the way back to the Pole.