Well...I have no excuses. Simply apologies for my delay. I will admit it will be a while before the next chapter again. BUT I promise to try. I think this leaves things in a decent place though. :) please review, favorite, tell your friends!
Sophie hopped from rock to rock over the unpainted eggs. They would run in all directions to try to escape her. Jamie could be heard talking loudly around the next corner. As she reached him, she found Bunny had gotten to him first.
"He made a frosted bunny. Then it hopped around my room! I thought it was you." He sat on top of one of the warrior eggs and picked at the moss. "Do you really paint all of these yourself?"
Bunny squatted on a rock adjacent to Jamie. His ears twitched reflexively to the noises around them. An egg was in his hand and he idly painted on its surface.
"Haven't you noticed the feet, mate?"
"They decorate themselves." Sophie picked up one of the white eggs as it passed and wiggled a finger at what could be assumed as its stomach. The little feet jerked around and she smiled. "I still remember that part."
"Oh, like in your stories. I figured you were just being creative. So, that's a memory too. Between your memories and everything I've told you, I don't think you really have any imagination at all, Soph." Jamie laughed at Sophie when she glared at him.
She sat down on the grass and watched the flowers bounce in the breeze. It was hypnotic to watch and almost put her to sleep. Bunny distracted her though.
"You write stories about my googies, do ya?"
Sophie smiled. "Yes. I have dreams of this place too. And the majority of my stories from here are original, Jamie! You know that. I only have one memory of this place so it just sets the stage.
Sophie looked slightly confused. "What?"
"Your stories, I want to hear them." Bunny looked at her, genuinely interested. She blushed a little.
"Ya! Sophie, tell him the one about the warrior eggs! I love those stories." Jamie patted the large egg below him and got comfortable in anticipation.
Jack dropped down to a rock behind Sophie and watched her tentatively. Bunny noticed him briefly and smiled as he stood to lean against a boulder.
Sophie made herself comfortable and began her story. Initially, her voice was shaky from having an older audience. However, it didn't take long before her instincts took over and she was standing. Her arms moved through the air and her face displayed the emotions of her characters. Jamie watched Bunny become more and more interested with each plot point. His ears perked when she would describe him and when his triumph was revealed he stood tall and proud. The energy from them fed Sophie's imagination and her spirit. Her ability to portray the story was astounding, they could almost see it play out in from of them.
As the story came to an end, Sophie sat down. Telling her stories always brought her a sense of tranquility. The feeling wrapped around her and made her feel so safe. Everyone sat quietly, soaking in the lingering tale.
"You have a true gift." The words left Jack's mouth before he could stop himself and his cheeks turned a light shade of pink. Sophie turned slightly to face Jack and gave him a fond smile that reached deep into her eyes.
"It's been a long time since I've seen your kind of talents. You really are special." Bunny nodded in approval of his own words. "Well, as nice as this is, Easter is tomorra, and I have work to do. If you are going to stay…don't mess with my eggs. Jack." He pointed to him with a warning glare and hopped away.
Jamie slid off the rock and clapped his hands together. "Ok! I vote we take part in this egg decorating. Who's in?" He danced in place as he waited for their response.
"Enjoy yourselves. I've spent enough time in such close proximity to the rabbit. Catch ya later." Jack bowed and gave Sophie a quick wink before flying off.
She watched after him and a bashful smile formed on her face. Her mind became disconnected as she slipped into a daydream of her and Jack.
"It's you and me, Soph. Hey? Sophie? Seriously, earth to Sophie!" Jamie squatted down in front of her and tried to get her attention. "Come on, Sophie. Man, you've both got it bad."
He shook his head and walked away. As he did, he picked up a small rock and chucked it over his shoulder towards Sophie. It connected with her head and pulled her out of her daze. She yelled at him as she tried to catch up and they continued through the valley and followed the eggs.
"Don't wake her."
Jamie knelt on the ground in front of Bunny. Sophie was asleep in Bunny's arms in a similar way to when she was a child.
"Easier said than done, mate. This wasn't a problem a few years ago."
Bunny shuffled closer and managed to ease Sophie onto Jamie's back without disturbing her. She nestled against her brother as he stood straight. Jamie turned to Bunny and grinned.
"This was great. I can't wait to watch the kids hunt for them tomorrow. Maggie is your second biggest fan." He gestured to Sophie to note his number one fan.
"Heh. Well, you are certainly my oldest fans. Frost found a couple really unique kids. In all my years, I've only ever known one child that believed well into their adulthood. She was a lot like you two."
Jamie's already big smile grew larger. "Something worth believing in is worth forever."
Bunny nodded and stomped his foot to the ground, summoning one of his rabbit holes. Jamie chuckled softly and dropped into the hole with a still sleeping Sophie. The travel was brief and in a blink Jamie stood in Sophie's room. He slipped Sophie down onto her bed as gently as he could and left without a sound, closing the door behind him.
From a dark corner, Pitch appeared and slowly ran his hand over the books on a shelf next to him. He smiled as he grabbed her nightmare journal.
"Oh Sophie, your stories have been lacking any conflict. Have you forgotten what a good nightmare is like? What it can truly do?"
He moved closer to her bedside and hovered his hand above her hair.
"Just a little longer, then everything will be ready. In the meantime, why don't you try and remember what wonderful fear you can create. Remember what it is, and surrender it to me."
He brushed his hand over her temple and touched her brow. She twitched slightly in her sleep and rolled to her side. Pitch stepped away and tucked her journal into his robe.
"Give me the nightmares the world will fall to, Sophie."
He slowly laughed as he backed into the shadows again.
"This is so nice."
"I knew you'd like it."
Sophie sat in the middle of a vibrant winter wonderland. The trees were caked with heavy snow. The ground cover was soft and flakes spun in the gentle breeze. She ran her hand over the smooth ice of the pond. The surface had a reflective quality and she could see Jack standing above her.
"You can create such magical things, Jack. It's beautiful."
Sophie looked up at Jack and smiled at him sweetly. He held his hand out to help her stand. She met his thoughtful gaze and squeezed his hand tight.
"I want to show you something. It's for you."
Jack pulled her along behind him. They walked through the deep snow with ease. The bowed limbs dusted her clothes with fresh snow and the breeze pushed her hair back as they climbed a hill. Jack stopped as they neared the face of the stone ridge and pushed a rock away to reveal a small dark hole. From the hole, Jack pulled out her dark journal. Sophie frowned at the book in his hand.
"I don't understand."
"I've been guarding them. You don't have bad dreams that way. But I had an idea. We could get rid of them. I figured out how." Jack smiled at her encouragingly.
"Get rid of them? Jack, do you really think its possible? For good?" Her voice became hopeful.
"For good. Just say you don't want them anymore. You'll never see your bad dreams again."
Sophie stepped back and dropped her hands to her side. "It sounds too easy. What happens to the dreams?"
Jack snorted. "Does it matter? Do you really want this lingering so close to your subconscious?"
He opened the journal and the nightmares started to flood her surroundings. All her worst fears circled around her and her heartbeat started to pump in her ears. She took a breath and stood tall.
"Close the book, Jack. I don't want to see these again."
The images bent to her will and disappeared as Jack closed the book. He held a steady gaze to hers.
"Well? What'd you say? I can't hold them at bay forever. They will destroy you, I've seen their desires."
Sophie frowned again and looked at the dirty melted snow around her. "They won't be able to get to me anymore?"
"If you say the word." Jack stepped closer and held the book out to her. "Say you don't want them anymore. Tell them to go away."
Sophie looked at the cover hesitantly before taking the book in her hands, the grainy feel had returned and it even felt prickly to the touch. She looked at the book and back at Jack. He nodded at her. She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly.
"I don't want you anymore. I have no use for you and I never will."
The book trembled in her grasp and became instantly hot. She dropped it and gasped as it vanished before hitting the ground. Jack grabbed her hands and pulled her into a hug. He stroked her hair as a smile spread across his face. His eyes turned from his brilliant blue to a piercing gold and the surrounding skin turned ashen.
"They aren't your dreams anymore."