First Edit: 4/5/14
Second Edit: 10/23/14
I wrote this around three years ago, and edited it again the last time about two years ago. I've improved greatly in that time, and I'm hoping after this most recent rewrite, I'll be content enough to leave it as is.
Disclaimer: As much as I would like to say otherwise, I claim no ownership to any content that is recognizable.
Final Edit: 3/12/16
There is one sole word that comes to mind when describing my existence, a word that fills me with such despair and loathing that it can only barely be stifled by my complete resignation to it. Cold. No superfluous words to dress it up, no romanticizing imagery or excuses. To sum up my very being, one need never look past the simple fact of cold. Everything I touch meets my same fate, reduced to a drop in temperature and a coating of frost. My clothes are permanently cold, ice and frost falling free with every movement. My staff, my one source of comfort for the past three centuries – even that, my one possession, repulses me. The grooves are filled with a sheet of ice, light reflecting off the frost, all because of me.
Everything around me is cold, because I am cold.
I'm the personification of winter. My name is the first to come up when speaking of snow and ice, so it comes as no surprise that I'm surrounded by the cold, a creature of my own making. I'm the personification of winter, yet I despise the cold and everything it stands for. I've spent the past three centuries with nothing but the wind and the accompanying freezing temperatures as my companions, supporting me, comforting me, repelling me.
The Guardians, though I can see them trying, don't understand. They want to accept me, want to get to know me, but how can they, when they can't comprehend a fundamental part of me? They believe that just because I herald the snow and ice, I'm immune to the biting sting of the cold. I want to tell them I'm not, that just once, even for a short while, I would give anything to feel the warmth of a fireplace wash over me.
However, I know that no matter how strong my desire for a such a thing is, I can't ever get close enough to a flame without it flickering and dying out, frost crawling over the ashes. I didn't mind so much before regaining my memories, before I remembered what being warm felt like. Now it's all I can think about.
The thought of it keeps rolling about in my mind now, as I watch the other Guardians lounging in front of North's ornate fireplace, sipping at hot chocolate and eggnog. My chest feels hollow as I ache to join them, but I only curl up tighter in my chair. I've secluded myself at the back of the room, as far away from the tempting flames as I can be. I have to consciously restrain myself from joining the others, knowing that if I do, the fire will fade and the comforting warmth will be no more. This way, as long as I stay separate from them, the Guardians can enjoy the fire. For their comfort, I can suffer the cold I constantly feel in silence.
I'm used to it, after all.
Bunny willingly leaves the cozy cocoon of heat encasing the others in favour of approaching me in my dark corner, a blue mug dwarfed in his paws. Automatically, I straighten in my seat, wiping all traces of brooding thoughts off my face. Foolish hope blooms, but whether it's from the presence of the Guardian of Hope himself or a symptom of my own feelings, I'm not sure.
"Got ya some hot chocolate," Bunny says, holding out the mug to me.
I hesitate briefly as the mug hangs there in front of me. I have to wrestle with the hope that threatens to overtake my common sense, but it's not easy. I can't help but think that maybe, just maybe, I can have a moment of warmth as I drink this most precious of beverages. I've never had hot chocolate before, and a part of me is desperate to try it. It won't last long, I know, but perhaps, if I'm lucky, I can get in a few sips before the wondrous liquid solidifies.
Almost against my will, my hands float up to wrap around the mug, leaving my staff leaning, discarded, against the chair. Bunny grins at me, friendlier than usual now that he's cozy and fed, almost lethargic, and as such less easily antagonized. Under his anticipatory gaze, I lift the mug to my lips, impatient to try the treat. Except –
"Cooled it down for ya, of course," Bunny explains conversationally, smiling proudly as if he's done me a thoughtful favour. Of course, I think, heart sinking. The Guardians assume I dislike anything associated with warmth, a belief that probably is only strengthened by my own isolation now. I should've known.
"Thanks," I say despite my disappointment. It's not Bunny's fault that I'm cursed to be eternally cold, after all.
Bunny ruffles my hair and moves back to the others, collapsing back into his chair and into the bubble of warmth. I ignore the urge to join them and instead look forlornly into my mug of frozen chocolate. I have no desire to consume it (I'm not even sure how. Do I drink it? Eat it?) so I start playing with it, tipping the mug upside down and catching the cylinder of icy chocolate. It doesn't melt in my hand, even though the cold bites into my palm.
Miserably, I let the ice slip back into the mug. When Tooth peeks over the back of her chair to check on me, I force a smile and pretend to sip from the mug, lips tingling at the contact with the ice. Reassured, Tooth leaves me be, drawn back into the conversation with the others by something North says.
Not for the first time, I wonder what I'm even doing here. Had I truly been stupid enough to think this meeting would be any different from the others? If anything, this is more miserable than the last get-together.
For a split second, I wonder what it wouldd be like if I told the Guardians the truth about my aversion to the cold, but I immediately dismiss the idea. Why would they believe me? A winter spirit who hates the cold? Right.
I sigh and busy myself with twirling the mug around in my hand. It's grown increasingly cold in the time spent in my hands, stinging my fingers, but I ignore the pain. I'm too used to it to care much, and my staff's usually colder, so what difference is a ceramic mug?
A particularly loud and booming laugh from North draws my attention back to them, and I watch them enviously. North and Tooth's cheeks are glowing a rosy red from the heat I long for, reminding me of my own pallid appearance. Coldness, at least initially, can bring out redness in skin, but mine are so cold that feeling any warmth, even from my own blood, has been bleached from them. Sandy's fallen asleep, and without his conscious control, tendrils of his dream sand are snaking through the room, concentrating on the others, whose eyes are starting to droop. I don't move, not wanting to disturb the blanket of warmth that protects them from the vicious cold I bring.
Within minutes they are all deeply asleep, North snoring fairly loudly.
I take it as my cue to leave.
I carefully set the mug on the ground before standing and grabbing my staff from its position at the side of my chair. I'm at the window in seconds, and I throw my fellow Guardians one last regretful look before asking the wind to take me somewhere far away.
I don't think I'll be able to handle another visit like this one.
I'm planning on going through every chapter and editing them, which will obviously take a while. I'll also shuffle the chapters around so that the connected chapters, the arcs, are in order, so they're easier to keep track of while reading. Some chapters, especially the early ones, make me cringe, so they'll be completely rewritten.