My child shuddered into the wooden panelling, her eyes filled with pain. Always pain: the rejection, discrimination, the white-hot hate of the Spirit world; that which continually blamed her – for their every annoyance, their passing fancy.
My snowflake: who even now came to the North Pole, unaware of who, precisely, the Guardians were.
But I did.
They were the ones who had sworn to protect her, the child of this realm, this Spirit world. Daughter of mine, daughter of Winter, of Winds, Ice, and Snow.
They failed. They let her be hurt. Because of them Jack Frost was hunted – and what for? Why? Because the Guardians deigned themselves far too mighty to care for the insignificant fact of Jack Frost: he who was she, he who was Jokul Frosti, Flame, and Storm –
The Guardians had failed my child in every name, every change she tried to incite. New names, same place and face: and still my daughter hoped – pleaded with tears of ice – for respite, for friends to play with.
And – they – had – ignored – her. Had called her a liar, said it was all her fault that people died – that Nature in its most perfect balance existed. Life and Death, and they expected her to tip the scales? To please them?
It wasn't fair. It wasn't fair that my daughter suffered so, with nary but Wind curling through her hair as an embrace, no music but for accusations, no love but for the absence of it, and no sight except the cold of night.
What burned as fire was that they had invited her to come to their home when they knew her as Storm, had carelessly labelled her friend as though it were a given: a simple title worth nothing more than the air wasted to breathe it; it was all she'd ever wanted, and it was thrown at her so much as if it were garbage – all that want, that need, that desperate despair … and it was all for nothing, as the title was worth not a second of her pain.
In finding out her name – Jack Frost – the first of them all, the most infamous, they'd turned on her as dogs on the weak, the sick, and that self-same illness was reflected in their eyes, their shouting, reverberating voices echoing around her and I angrily –
ANGRILY, as if they deserved an explanation – and how laughable was that, that they expected one? Thought themselves entitled to one, when for hundreds of years they'd denied my daughter one, had ignored her?
And these proudly proclaimed Guardians – false though they may be – were circling my daughter like the hounds of hell, sniffing and snarling for blood, snapping their jaws as their eyes flashed with rage.
The fairy-bird-that-hummed and the bunny-creature ceased all motion, their eyes fixating on each other in horror, the sound-within-their-voice-box crying out into the world-glitter-light-room at the same time, as the lights-that-shone-at-night glow at the same time: 'The Spirit corpses at the lake!'
Mummy's had enough, I thought grimly.
This had gone on for too long; their blind accusations and dizzying, intoxicating emotions.
Enough of the pain, the hate, therageandangerthatneverstoppedhowitalwaysconsumedanddevouredjustenoughstopstopenough.
'Enough!' I thundered, raking myself across the windowpanes (panes for pain, for watching hope and joy scurry), the cool-strong-transparent-sheets, much like the surface of the lake. 'I said no,' I told them, circling Jacqueline, my child, my daughter, my Snowflake of a Flame, burning bright in the Storm; embraced her, loved her, and what wonder lit in her eyes, awe in her smile – flaring with a luminescence long since not seen. She had heard me, yes she had, this little Winter Spirit, but they hadn't, not the Guardians; "This is Man in Moon's will", indeed; yet a boy's will is the Wind's will, and I am ever-changing; each twist and turn is borne from me, despite Nature: for I am Nature, am balance, and the balance is upset – upset – upset –
There was the sound of a sonic boom as I spun, draping myself across Flame's shoulders – You'll always be my Flame, little flickering fire of icy desire, no matter what colour your body, what shape your form – and my child's eyes were wide with shock as she took in the papers that settled after the destruction wrought by me, the overturned furniture, the very energy that sizzled within the room, powerful and unpredictable.
The bunny-creature froze, fur bristling with indignation as he rocked gently backwards on one hind leg, pulled taut and ready to spring. 'What was that?' he breathed, and I was filled with pleasure – Respect, respect me, tiny being, infinitesimal, wickedly small grain – as I watched him scrabble at his back for another weapon, something to replace the L-shaped piece of wood I'd torn from his hands.
Thud – thud – thud clamoured the fairy-bird-that-hummed's wings, violet orbs riveted on mine (mychilddaughterFlameloveminecan'ttakeherIwon'tletyou) and I trembled with fury, drew myself together. Turned to Flame, Jacqueline, my only, and breathed within her as she so often did I, felt the pulse as her breath whooshed, her blood flowed.
I was within her, dancing to the beat of her heart (thud, thud-thud, thud, thud-thud), giving her oxygen – life! – and what a heady, intoxicating feeling, being of worth – worthy of her – of helping her, loving her as she unknowingly had adored me for eons, had borne my sorrows, my joys as leaves to the Wind, to myself.
I was nestled there, pulsing within her throat, a tiny extension of myself, and that self-same tendril gently tapped her box-with-voice, swayed around flesh and life, blood and bone, furrowed deep within tissue and vein. And I was her, she was I; this still moment, there was us, my child and I, she who held me as I'd held her.
We spoke: 'The Spirit corpses at the lake.' It was the sound of sounds, of overlaying powers, strengths hidden shown the light. It was us, Spirit and Wind, she whose might had not been seen for hundreds of thousands of years (they had forgotten us, Winter Child and Wind, had left us to the Night, the Moon maleficent, wearing a mask of benevolence; had forgotten the Spirit Wind, the power of two beings who understood the depth of loneliness, who heard and heeded each other's voices, listened to it and melded, formed one as only those of the same heart could, family, mother and daughter, no more weakness, only the power of our vengeance) and we would no longer grovel in despair (my child never fear Mummy's here for you yes she is to save you she will I'll be strong for you keep you safe dear dear dear child o' mine, the voices roiled, twisting together into an indiscernible mass of determination, of will and conviction), no longer wait for the next blow (thestingthetasteofcopperitwasbloodnomoretothehatebecausebecause – because – because?
Because Mommy said so, said no more,
Mommy said no,
MOMMY SAID NO!)
'You will leave us, leave us be, my child and I,' we said, swaying to the beat, to the music roaring in the air, chanting with rage, with love and hate and joy, screeching NO MORE, stop – it, the lyrics called. 'I have waited – we have waited – for an end to your blatant selfishness, to your continuing flagrant disregard of right and wrong, and you have shamed Nature itself. We have done no wrong' – no wrong! no wrong! no wrong! whimpered the voices of the innocent – NO, they yelled it; cacophonous chaos birthed anew – 'and I bid you, Guardians, one law to listen to above all others: you will leave this Spirit alone, no matter her name, for she is my daughter, an extension of myself, and we have had enough.'
– mummysaidnomummysaidno –
Their mouths opened, stances shifting into defence, eyes hardening with resolve. The fairy-bird-that-hummed and the bunny-creature drew closer, one inviting, the other threatening. 'Wait,' called the one with wings, 'please – '
The snap of strong white teeth, the bristling of coarse hair. 'Oi, mate, oo'ever ya are, ya owe us an explanation!' Then, beneath his breath: 'And what's with the creepy voice?'
Flame shifted her feet, jaw clenching, and I absently stroked a strand of hair, tucked it behind her ear. Spoke for her – with her – in her – 'You will not follow us, nor will any of your influence do your bidding, if it pertain to us – ' we drew breath, and the room exhaled with us, recognised who we were, and the reverent respect of Earth, Air, Water and Fire rejoiced in our return – in Spirit, their sister, the completion of the Circle, of magic long since forgotten (forgottenlikeusbutit'salrightwe'llmakethemrememberacknowledgeus).
The red-white-giant stoked his beard, combing through it gently. There was something odd about him, we mused, watching as one hand rested upon his sword – and yet – his eyes twinkled … he was an enigma; a puzzle; contrasting, as his arms so aptly reflected – Naughty, Nice. 'Or what?' he asked, and any amusement Jacqueline and I might have felt disappeared. 'Or what?' he persisted, ignoring the golden-dust-man that frantically – warningly – tugged at his coat sleeve.
A snarl rendered the air into fractures, a snarl of Ice and Wind: 'Or what?' we challenged, stalking forwards – and what a vision we were, clothing torn asunder, hair flaring brilliantly, gleaming white and shining with the same intensity as the lights-which-glow-bright-at-night did. There was danger there – oh, so much danger, provocatively whispering nomorenomorenomore – enchanting, otherworldly danger. 'Nature itself will hunt you down, and we will rip your soul from your bodies, leaving them but a shell of their former' – a sneer – 'glory. Leave us be, leave us be, and we will let you live, though your crimes leave the taste of tar in our mouth. No more. My child must be kept safe, and she has resolved to keep safe those whom you have failed; that which my child wishes, so, too, do I; leave us be as we do that which we will … '
– mummysaidnomummysaidno –
That said, we turned, lazily raised our hand and gave a flick of our wrist – the shattering pane of glass, of pain breaking free – and the window's glass broke, the cracks spider-webbing desperately. We were lifted by Wind, by me, and lovingly carried from the room-with-the-false-earth-that-was-covered-in-lights into the white expanse of the snow of the North Pole.
With a single look back at their gaping maws, and pale, terrified expressions, we graced them with a smile of pure satisfaction, oozing smugness (no more, we'd said, and they'd yelled back: no more! no more! no more!) and filled with contempt. Wait, said the voices; speak this and leave: obligingly, we spoke once more, the tenor reverberating in the stillness: 'After all …
… a boy's will is the Wind's will.'