A/N will be at the end of each chapter. Disclaimer: I do not own Rise of the Guardians.
Chapter One: Aquila
Jack Overland is spluttering, choking and hacking, trying to get every ounce of freezing icy water from his sore lungs. He had fallen into the iced over lake outside his home in Burgess and right now there is a tall, older man pulling him out and trying to regain oxygen into the eighteen year olds dead weight body.
The night sky is dark and the moon is a bright sphere of chilling light, bursting down in elegant rays, illuminating Jack's pale skin; near blue from the cold shudder that is spreading under his flesh. But heat and colour is flushing back as the gentleman dressed in thick, midnight blue tailored velvet presses his open hand down on the lean chest and blows fresh air into the younger man's motionless mouth.
In his own, dull mind – absent to anything but the desire to just fall asleep and succumb to the welcoming warmth of what is probably death - a light is appearing and Jack is reluctantly reaching for it. Knowing it will awaken him. He cannot help but think that his thoughts are like that of a child. It mildly amuses him as he comes to, spitting unattractively onto the frosted grass around him as someone lifts him up into a sitting position and pats his back in a warm, gentle fashion.
Everything is coming into focus, the still, grey trees around him, the splintered lake to his left and the man kneeling in front of him, the man with the dark hair that is glossy like the night sky contrasting sharply with the intense silvery gaze of his pale eyes that suit his pale flesh.
This man is trying to speak to him, well he is speaking but Jack's head is not yet clear enough to decipher words amongst the silent movement of his mouth and jaw. When he does, the eighteen year old pauses before replying, his throat still feeling coarse and dry with the icy lash of air that makes him tremble, Jack decides his simple brown cloak, trousers and shirt are doing him no good and he dearly appreciates the sudden covering of soft, hot velvet.
Man in Moon watches as the younger man takes in the heat from the jacket he just placed around his narrow shoulders and he continues speaking in a tone just as smooth as the material of his suit, coaxing the dark eyed boy into reality.
"Hello…hello, my name is Manny, can you hear me? You just fell in the lake, do you remember what happened before, slow down, breathe…breathe, can you hear me yet …I guess not, well just focus on joining the world of the living, yeah?" he repeated, adding more encouragement here and there as Jack finally nodded and replied with a rasped tone.
"H-H-Hello…I'm Jack, yes I can hear you…thank you…for…for rescuing me, did I really nearly drown?" he sounded bemused and distant but Manny couldn't blame him. He simply smiled a friendly smile and pulled the boy to his feet, for all that to happen is Jack to collapse. The dark eyed boy felt the sudden shock of snow shoot through his hands as he hit the ground. Apologies spilled from his mouth and Manny chuckled, ensuring the dark haired eighteen year old that it was fine and he slung a long, slender arm around his shoulders as Jack stood for the final time.
As they started trudging through the deep snow, the night air whipping lightly around their faces, Jack couldn't help but realise that for some strange reason, he didn't feel cold; he didn't feel tired or… like he had just drowned. His mind told him he should feel like he should at least be bothered by the fact he nearly died, but he honestly didn't care.
"So…Jack, how did you end up in the lake?" Manny inquired, smiling now that he knew the eighteen year old was well. Jack hesitated for several minutes, blinking before he stopped in his tracks and Man in Moon looked at his confused expression. Jack was shaking his head and growling slightly, like he was trying to remember something, this is what first concerned the older man. The following words alarmed Manny even more.
"I…I don't know" Jack eventually responded and as they began trekking again, Manny waited patiently for anything to spark memory in the younger man, but with no luck.
Jack Overland didn't remember anything but his name and the fact he had fallen in a lake, to which he had been given this information by Lord Man in Moon, a rich gentleman who then took it as his responsibility to take care of the amnesiac pauper boy for the next three years.
Three years later, when Jack had become accustomed to wealthy life, alone in the large mansion (although he would often go out to play with the children in the nearby village, even so Manny lived too far away from the lake to know of his old family and friends) Jack would often ask his new guardian to tell him why he was venturing out in the depths of Burgess that night, but Manny would never elucidate.
It was in March that Manny started declaring Jack Overland as Jack Winter, a new name for him to get used to, to which the dark eyed twenty one year old would become confused about but complied to nonetheless since he was genuinely fond of the older man. Who was wise as the old moon himself.
That feeling of respect and affection was broken though, when Jack found out why he had had to change his name. Why Manny took a sudden interest in his singing and taught him how to become even more impressive with his harmonious voice, or why the frame of his body had to be so lean, lightly muscled and flawless.
It was because Man in Moon was planning to sell him in the forthcoming month of July, by the time Jack realised, the date was upon him.
He opened the front doors to two men and a woman. Figuring they were just fellow businessmen, Jack greeted them and led them through into the main lounge, offering drinks out of polite nature. The largest man was an older gentleman with a long dark grey beard and arching black eyebrows, big, round blue eyes and a deep crimson coat, lined with ebony fur and covering a large belly. He had tried requesting some vodka but the young woman beside him declared against it with a wry grin.
The young woman was very pretty; she had strong dark skin and shoulder length dark brunette hair, strung with turquoise and glittering gold. Her eyes were incredible, a shimmering starlit violet that contrasted with the green, yellow and pale blue of her slightly feathered-around-the-edges dress, these members introduced themselves as Nicholas North and Toothiana.
Jack liked them, with their genuine smiles and their warm eyes. The last man though, was someone Jack would gladly avoid in the future. He was short and snide, with pointed features and an abnormally small face, with rough auburn hair; balding at the top, he had a toothy leer, a dark brown and orange jacket and too-short trousers. He claimed himself as Rumplestiltskin.
Jack was about to go to his room, when he passed Manny on the stairs who asked him to join him and his guests for lunch as they had something to discuss that included the twenty one year old. Jack blinked and shrugged with compliance, bewildered with the idea that he could join in with a business meeting as he had never been permitted to do so before.
Jack now wished he had never gone to such meeting, for it only sealed his fate, in which money was passed along the table and Rumplestiltskin (Rumple) grinned at Jack with a look of intense, gritty satisfaction. Jack Winter looked at his guardian of three years with horror and sadness out the back of the carriage as Manny closed the doors to his mansion.
North and Toothiana shuffled into the seat opposite him as Jack curled up, placing the blanket he had been given over his head like a hood and sniffling into his bent up knees, they had been travelling for hours – Jack hadn't said a word since they set off, Toothiana leant forward to press a small hand to his shoulder, he didn't make a move to shrug it off or appreciate it, he just turned away and sighed shakily.
The young exotic lady turned to North with a sad look in her eyes, one of sympathy. The Russian sighed and turned away, he couldn't do anything. Rumple was singing in the front, a distorted tune that sounded crooked and drunk. By the time they reached the ferry, Jack was solemn and just followed. North holding onto his wrist and Toothiana looping her arm through his as a sign of comfort. It was nightfall by the time they turned up in Europe.
The break of morning split through the open sky, the light dusting of clouds fading as the colours of coral and rose spilt like watercolours, Jack was wandering outside "The Rose of the Garden" the show-house that he worked in. Ironically, his walks were taking him into the; albeit neglected and dry, gardens out the back of the building. Unused since who could admire flowers by night? Since night was the only time anyone bothered to go to "The Rose of the Garden".
Jack Winter would always peek out the entrance of the show-house early in the morning, to see if Man in Moon was driving up in a silver lined carriage out the mist of the street to take back Jack and take him home. Every time the twenty four year old was disappointed he would just go into the back gardens before preparations started, being one of the main attractions at one of the best places in the city meant he didn't get much time to himself.
Oh did he forget to mention? Throughout the last three years living at "The Rose of the Garden" he had grown to be quite a favourite amongst the audience, Jack Winter, the dyed white haired, dyed blue eyed young man with purity running through his veins and a smirk on his plush lips. They say he has the voice of a nightingale, what they say is true since dear Jack Winter was a singer and a dancer.
When he had first turned up to "The Rose of the Garden" it had looked slightly too old fashioned and slightly crumbling round the edges, with ragged marks of peeling paint and dead flowers lining the crooked baskets outside of splintered windows. In other words, it wasn't doing too good.
Toothiana told him how she had just moved in with her dancers and when they all started working (including the new act of Jack Winter) money should start rolling in and the place will look great in no time and wouldn't you know it, the place looked fantastic by the end of the year with queues of intrigued customers lined up in street, illuminated by the brazen lights of the tall lamps.
Jack at first obviously refused to go on stage or even acknowledge his new position of performance but after some words of encouragement from North and a couple of threats from Rumple, he went on shakily and stubbornly and sung a simple song he knew that left the crowd impressed and eventually the glare of the spotlight and the deafening roars of the hungry audience became daily life.
Jack Winter may never even admit that he began to enjoy the excitement and smoky adrenaline of it all when he knew he was enthralling people with his clear, clean voice that was as smooth and cool as silver. It even gave him a spark of satisfaction knowing the rhythmic movements of his body would entice the unreachable customers, it was fun and…empowering.
A controlling notion that he thrived in since he didn't have control of anything else, where he lived, his food, his clothing, when and where he could go out, who he could go out with. It was the submissive life of a glamorous slave. So every morning he would wait for his old guardian who would never turn up, so he would venture into the gardens and stroll with a sigh over the dry, crusted lawn.
Except this time, he noticed a few pale purple flowers popping up from a patch of renewed, emerald tinted grass in the corner under a bare tree; considering that it was March and it had not shown life, showed how little anything cared about anything round here, even the trees were bored. But these…lovely, unusually shaped flowers that bloomed in the depths of the garden coaxed Jack over and a smile danced on his pale lips as the colours lightened his sombre mood.
He would have to ask someone what the flowers meant, Toothiana might know since she was always dressed in some kind of floral attire, or maybe North had a knack for gardening – such a thought amused Jack as he knelt down to gently press long fingers against the silky feel of lilac petals, when a sudden voice made him jump back and land on the now softened grass with shock.
"Hey, careful, those av' just blossomed!" the voice said and Jack looked around wildly for the owner of it eventually to find himself staring at a man who had emerged from the undergrowth of a tree further away.
It was a tall gentleman wearing pale brown and green clothes, a jacket and trousers. Thick brown boots and a few grass stains marking the elbows and knees of his outfit. His skin was tanned and calloused with fine scars from hard work. Muscled arms and broad shoulders leading up to a carved chin and cheekbones, a strong nose and thick eyebrows, somewhat thin but dark lips that were curved into an "o" of surprise, he also had long, velvety ears of a pale blue shade that matched the white strung locks of his silky hair that curved back with the hint of sideburns.
But the feature that Jack was most attracted to was the intense shade of green his eyes were, a luxurious, enlightening emerald that stared at Jack with an unfathomable strength and hidden affection. After what felt like a ridiculously long time, Jack blinked twice and cleared his throat.
"H-Hi, I am sorry about that…I was being careful! Err…my name is Jack…Jack Winter, what's yours?" he inquired as he got to his feet and brushed off his thin dark brown trousers and pale blue shirt that was tousled and un-tucked.
"E-Aster Bunnymund, new gardener…hey I've heard of ya, ya one of those performers in the big house, and you betta' have being careful round my Iris'…" his accent was distinctively Australian and Jack was momentarily impressed with how exotic this apparently new member of staff was…and how…handsome. But his interest was sparked at the end of the Aussie's words.
"Iris, is that the name of the plant?" he inquired, turning to face at the pretty lilac flower with renewed liking, a smile twitching on the end of his lips. Bunnymund noticed this and moved forward, coughing and speaking with a 'yeah-I-know-my-flowers' tone.
"Yeah, nice isn't it?"
"…It is…w-what does it mean?"
Bunnymund cocked his head to the side but replied nonetheless.
"Well the Iris means 'inspiration' whilst the lilac iris means 'first love'"
"Oh…that's pretty cool" Jack chuckled and looked up at the Australian with appreciation. Bunnymund couldn't help but smile back at the light features of the younger man. But just before either could say anymore, Rumple called out angrily from the high window for Jack to get his "scrawny white ass" inside before the short man had a chance "to beat it" this was a considerable threat so naturally Jack complied, nodding once more to the Australian before darting back over the lawn into the "Rose of the Garden".
A/N:Y'all like the play on words with "Rise of the Guardians" and "Rose of the Garden"? Bunnymund is half human; purely in interest of the context. Also this is set in the late 1800's. I hope that any accents used come through clearly and aren't too exaggerated as well :)
A big thank you to "That-Cheeky-Bat" for the assistance regarding my poor grammar, I am really taking the comma advice into consideration and I hope you notice it in my following work, love chatting to you!
Thanks to "slyangelfox" for all the ideas and conversation, it is so inspirational and utterly wonderful messaging you, so thank you so much, I wish you all the best of luck on your new upcoming stories!