Hello readers! Yes, I know I should be concentrating on JahB but I read Serenity Sasamoto's 'Melody Of the Heart' (which you should all totally read) and I was inspired. About 7000 words long inspired. Yes I'm as shocked as you. Hope ya'll enjoy and feel free to point out any errors. I know there must be some. I feel it. In my belly. (Might be the chocolate though.)
Disclaimer: I don't own ROTG. If I did, it wouldn't have been PG rated and Pitch would have gotten a lot more than a lost tooth in the end.
I also don't own the general idea behind the plot. That goes to Serenity Sasamoto. Thanks again for their approval and their wonderful story whch inspired the following one.
"DAMN IT FROSTBITE! DO YA NEVER LISTEN?! AH TOLD YA THAT WAS DANGEROUS!"
"OH HONESTLY YOU IDIOTIC KANGAROO! IT'S NOT THAT BAD!"
"BAD?! WHY AH 'OUGHT TA…."
North sighed as another fight between E. Aster Bunnymund, The Last Pooka and Guardian of Hope, and Jacqueline Frost, Spirit of Winter and Guardian of Fun, broke out. It was the second time in as many hours and he and the other Guardians were becoming sick of it. Bunnymund and Jacqueline had fights over everything and anything. The two barely remained civil towards each other during the Guardian Meetings and North knew physical fights nearly occurred whenever they ran into each other outside of the meetings.
The two Guardians in question had managed to put aside their differences for the few months after the Easter Pitch nearly ruined five years ago and the two managed to co-exist under a somewhat shaky truce. Then Jack's mischievous personality reared its head and while he did not know what happened, the Pooka and the Winter spirit were back to butting heads like Fire and Ice.
North rose to his feet wearily. He adored Jack like a granddaughter and Bunny was his closest friends but, the two guardians would completely wreck the Workshop if someone did not do something. But alas, it was his turn to separate the two.
Little Jacqueline Overland, aged Six (and a bit thank you very much!), skipped through the woods towards the large lake which was only a five minute walk from her cabin. It was the best spot in the whole village because she could do all sorts of things that the other children never got to do. While her Pa was out herding the goats and her Ma completing the daily household chores, Jackie (as was her nickname) was allowed to play near the lake after her chores as long as she remained on the side closes to the cabin and never ever went in or on the lake alone. Jackie was happy to obey these rules during the warmer months. Besides the lake wasn't nearly as much fun in Spring as it was in Winter!
She hummed to herself. She loved her parents and the village they had come to dearly love. It wasn't as stuffy as her last village in northern England, close to the Scottish boarder and villagers didn't scold her when she announced she wanted to help her Pa with the goats rather than her Ma with the chores. In fact one woman from the new village even patted her on the head and said she would make a great Goatherdess! The village mayor, a giant of a man with black hair and friendly hazel eyes by the name of Michael Buckman, often laughed at her spirited nature and joked with her parents that any man would have a devil of a time courting her, whatever that meant.
But as much as she loved her village, it was so inexcusably boring! There were never any bandits or outlaws that raided them, no Indians to hunt them, not even a pack of wolves (well okay there may have been one wolf but really, it was dead before it could do any harm). She huffed to herself and carried on to her favourite spot.
Jackie barely noticed the cold blue of the water before another sight gripped her eyes. A young boy, only a few years older, was laying out cold in the grass by the lake. His skin was tanned and he was taller and slimmer than most of the other young boys of the village. His body had subtle signs of muscle and he was dressed in a green shirt, dark brown pants and no shoes. His hair was also a curious shade of light black, almost grey in the sunlight. That, however, was not all Jack noticed about the stranger's appearance. Bleeding cuts and forming bruises were visible on every bare piece of skin and the child's clothing was so ragged and ripped, it was a miracle they still covered him. It was if he had been attacked.
Jackie took a deep breath and did what any shocked and scared child would do.
"MAAAA! HELP! SOMEONE HELP!"
Jack huffed as she watched Bunny growl at the door which imprisoned them in the room. Her crook was gone as was Bunny's bandolier which held all his weapons and tools. The other Guardians had decided enough was enough, stole the items in question from the two spirits and lock them in a small sitting room with no way of leaving. The windows were two small for Jack to squeeze through, let alone Bunny, and North had managed to cut off Bunny's ability to summon his tunnels.
The Winter Spirit and Avatar of Spring spent a good ten minutes cussing the other guardians before turning on each other and having a full on verbal war over whose fault it was. A note was slipped under the door afterwards that announced to them that the only way out was for them to hammer out some sort of truce and try to get along.
If not for them, then for the Children.
The two Guardians scowled at that line.
Now here they were, two hours later and no closer to a truce. Granted they hadn't spoken since their latest fight.
Jack sighed and ran her hand through her long snow-white hair. Looking around, she decided the room was actually quite nice and she might have even attempted to claim it for her own if it was wasn't currently impersonating a jail. The room wasn't very large, similar in size to North's office. One wall held a large marble roaring fireplace with bookshelves filled to the brim standing sentinel either side. Two three-person sofas in dark brown faced each other, perpendicular to the fireplace with a small earthy coloured coffee table in the centre. In the opposite wall to the fire, two large arching windows allowed copious amount of sunlight through, however, they were divided into sections, some of which opened, much like the cathedrals of the Church. A couple of paintings depicting the change of the seasons decorated the wall to the left of the fireplace while it's opposing sister wall stood bare. The walls were painted a light mint green with thin ice blue swirls scattered through. The carpet was a dark mossy green and the door stood next to the bookcase closest to the Paintings Wall as Jack mentally dubbed it.
Jack herself lounged on the sofa closest to the 'Painting Wall' while Bunny sat ram-rod straight on the opposing sofa. 'Honestly,' Jack thought, 'Bunny's temper is so much like…NOPE! NOT GOING THERE! DO NOT GO THERE FROST!' Jack shook her head slightly. It was no use dwelling on a past 300 years old and it would dredge up pain that she had no desire to publicly express, even if it was only Bunny.
It was thinking along that brief line of thought though, that made her realise just why she acted up so much around Bunny.
Pain and heartbreak.
It wasn't fair on Bunny or the other Guardians that she acted out to protect herself from the Ghosts of a past Jack only recently remembered.
"I'm sorry." The two simple yet powerful words tumbled from her lips before she could stop or think about them and startled Bunny out of his single-sided death glare match with the door.
"I'm sorry. I really am. It's just …. It." Jack cut herself off with a frustrated exhale. "You know how I got my memories back?"
Bunny tilted his ear to show he was listening. Sandy had, somehow, managed to discover that the Guardians had turned their backs on Jack during that fateful Easter and promptly sat them all down to demand the entire story. It was then that the whole spectacle of Pitch's mind tricks came out, including Jack's lack of memories and retrieval of them in an Antarctic abyss with Baby Tooth's assistance. It was that, along with apologises from both, which allowed Jack and Bunny to co-operate for so long before it all went to pieces.
But at this point, Bunny was still in shock from Jack's apology and apparent inability to explain.
"I'm still dealing with some… revelations and I'm taking it out on you. Everyone I ever loved, my entire Family, my village, my…" Once again Jack cut herself off abruptly, unwilling to share that particular aspect of her mortal life with anyone just yet. "They're all dead and gone and I forgot them all. I don't even know what happened to them. It's hard and I'm sorry for taking it out on you." By now, Jack was sitting straight up with her hands twisting in her lap, her head hung low and frustration, pain and sorrow radiated from her form.
Bunny took immediate notice of all these things and had a revelation of his own.
"Ah'm sorry too. You remind meh of someone very special to meh and ah hated ya for it. Ah know what it's like ta not know what happened ta people from ya past." Jack pondered that for a moment before shaking it off. It wasn't her place. "Ah took out mah own pain on ya as well."
Jack gave him a shaky smile which was tentatively returned. They sat in silence for a few minutes, an unspoken bond of shared pain and new understanding passing between them.
Bunny thought for a moment then shrugged. He'd be a dingo's breakfast if he knew. Jack, on the other hand, had a sudden idea. She rose from her seat and crossed the small distance from her sofa to Bunny's.
With an easy grin and a cheeky twinkle in her eye, Jack stuck out her hand in front of a confused pooka. "Hi. I'm Jack, Guardian of Fun and Spirit of Winter."
Twigging on to the thought, Bunny smirked and shook her hand. He was all about new beginnings afterall. "G'day. Name's Bunny. Ah'm The Easter Bunny and Guardian of Hope. Nice ta meet ya mate."
It'd been a whole day since Jackie had found the strange boy by the lake. Her ma and Mr Buckman, who had been checking his traps on the other side of the lake, came running as quick as a fox after her screams. Mr Buckman had taken one look at the boy and immediately took him to Jackie's home while Ma went to prepare some clean cloths. Pa got quite the shock when he found a strange boy in Jackie's bed and Mr Buckman standing at the table, helping Ma with the bloody clothes. Jackie slept on the floor by the fire that night (which was lots more fun than her boring old bed).
The boy looked much better with his wounds cleaned and dressed in her Pa's old nightshirt. Jackie was watching over the boy while Ma was out giving Pa his lunch when the boy stirred. Jackie sat on the side of the bed near the boy's bandaged ribs. His eyes flickered open, revealing the greenest eyes Jackie had ever seen. The boy moved as if to raise his arm but Jackie spoke up before he could.
"I wouldn't do that. You're really hurt."
The startled boy turned his head towards Jackie, taking in her simple brown dress, her brown eyes and hair with a smattering of freckles across her nose, and relaxed slightly.
"Who are ya?" The boy's accent was like nothing she'd ever heard before. It was like a whisper of pure wildness had taken a voice and given it to the beaten child. Jackie gave an easy grin.
"My name is Jacqueline Viola Overland, but you can call me Jackie. Who are you?"
"Ah'm Aster." Jackie giggled lightly behind a hand and the boy scowled lightly.
"You have an odd voice," The frown deepened, "and a really nice name, Aster." Aster's cheeks pinked slightly. He tried to move but winced as the movement pulled on his wounds. Jackie's grin dropped and she looked at Aster with a worried expression. She looked around and saw a cup with the water bucket nearby.
"How'd you get like this?" asked Jackie, as she gave Aster a drink of water.
A look of confused and fear past over Aster's face and he turned to Jackie with a wide-eyed expression. "Ah….Ah….Ah don't know. Ah can't remember."
Several months passed since Bunny's and Jack's renewed truce and two were making remarkable progress with their new friendship. The two Guardians easily slipped into easy banter and the bond between them got stronger with every moment that passed between them. The other guardians breathed sighs of relief and prayed to MiM that this new friendship wouldn't break fall into pieces like the last one. Though it did surprise everyone that the two bonded properly so quickly, as if they had know each other a lifetime ago.
It was after Easter that Bunny admitted something that would change Jack's, and his, entire perspective and either create an unimaginably wonderful future for both of them or tear their already tender hearts apart.
"Ah was human once."
"What? You were human?"
The two companions sat side by side watching the quiet almost-glow that bloomed in the Warren due to the belief filtering down from an Easter brilliantly executed. North, Sandy and Tooth had already left to fulfil their own duties (well, rather Sandy and Tooth had. North was an entirely different matter which resulted in his very amusing eviction from the Warren). The topic had somehow turned to species and while Jack knew Bunny was the Last of the Brotherhood of the Pooka, it stunned her to learn he had been human.
"Yeah, mate. Ah was human. 'Bout 300 years ago. 'Round 'bout the time you appeared." Bunny gave Jack a half-smile (Jack's stomach tumbled. She ignored it.) and leant against the Egg golem behind them. Jack mimicked his movements.
"But you said you were older than dirt! Still tryin' to wrap my head around that one." Jack muttered and Bunny gave a sharp bark of laughter. "How does that work?"
Bunny smiled bittersweetly and gazed at the sky, oblivious to Jack's stare. "Ah was finishin' off Easter in America, Ah think, when Ah was attacked by a spirit. Ah think it was a demon. Eitha way, Manny saw tha whole thing and cast a spell on me. When Ah woke up, Ah was 'bout a 10 year old anklebiter wit' no memories."
If it was possible, Jack paled to a lighter shade. 'It couldn't be….' Jack didn't think her heart could take it if it was. Trying to act casual, she managed to get out; "What happened?" The words didn't sound right but Bunny was too lost in the past to notice.
"Ah was found by a small sheila. Feisty woman, all grown up. Could out-trick anyone and was wonderful wit' tha village kids." Bunny's voice turned heartbroken and pained, eyes locked on the sky and far in the past. "Ah fell in love wit' her and we planned ta marry but Ah was killed by wolves tha winter before tha marriage. Manny gave me back mah old body but it took 'bout three months fer me ta recover. She disappeared durin' that time and Ah don' know what happen ta her." Bunny took a shuddering breath.
Jack asked in a small quite voice, "What was her name?" 'Please, I don't know if I could take it. I can't take it. '
"Jacqueline Viola Overland."
Jack rose and fled the scene, leaving Bunny locked within bittersweet memories of a past that was about to catch up to him.
Years had passed since Jackie found Aster by the lake. They had determined that Aster was ten years old and had no family from the brief snippets of memories he had.
When Aster had recovered enough from his ordeal, he had been adopted by Michael Buckman who was a widower and had no children. Aster flourished under Michael's parenting and while a few of the village children teased him for his strange accent, they soon learned to fear Aster's quick tongue, sharp wit and red hot temper or worse, Jackie Overland's.
The two children instantly bonded even with the four year age difference. It wasn't hard to see that the two were best friends, always encouraging each other and teaming up to play with the other children. Together, they played innocent tricks to cheer the children, Aster's logic tempering Jackie's mischief and Jackie's ability to bring a smile to anyone's face encouraged Aster's sense of Joy. Even throughout Aster's transition into adulthood, he never once left Jackie behind.
Of course, with any relationship, there were arguments but they always seem to be resolved by the next day (typically when Jackie pouted up at Aster and he visibly crumbled beneath her look). All the village children loved the two friends and they loved the children. During the Easter weekend, Aster and Jackie would gather as many eggs as possible and make a huge game of dying the eggs and hiding them. It was always a source of mystery to the two that the most brilliantly painted eggs they had never seen before popped up during the egg hunts, but that was put down to the mysterious Easter Bunny.
Now at eighteen years old, Aster was leaving the village. Work was hard to obtain in the small village that only had seventeen families and Aster had decided to try in the nearest town for a few years before returning. The closest town was a week's walk away so random visits would be difficult to make.
Jackie, on the other hand, was deeply upset but understood her friend's decision. At age twelve, her pa had given Jackie her very own shepherd's crook to help with the goats after her new baby sister, Maria Rosemary, had turned two. The goats adored Jackie and it was often joked down in the local tavern that Jackie would drive her own father out of the business with just how good she was with the animals. Now she was fourteen and other men were beginning to sniff around her as a marriage prospect. After all, she was very pretty and was good friends with the son of the Village Mayor. But as was with most things romantic concerning Jackie, all flirting and such went straight over Jackie's head. If they could get past her Pa and Aster Buckman first.
Jackie stood looking thoroughly miserable surrounded by the village children as Aster finished loading up the cart which would take him into town. Mr O'Brynie, a laughing Irishman who acted as a merchant and trademen for the village, offered to take Aster with him on his next run as to save him a week's walk. On the cart, it would only take five days. Aster turned to Jackie and took in her despondent slump.
"Hey, chin up Jackie. Ah'll only be gone fer three years tops." Aster said as he drew Jackie into his arms. Aster had shot up, easily hitting six foot two. This meant Jackie, at nearly five foot but still growing, was dwarfed by Aster but easily lifted into his arms. She giggled lightly and burrowed into the last hug she would have from Aster in a while.
"Promise you'll write?"
"Every month. We'll drive O'Brynie crazy wit' our letter's."
Jackie giggled again as she was set down. Looking at each other for a brief moment, Aster then turned and jumped on to the cart which set off. The village children started waving manically and calling out goodbyes. Jackie merely waved her hand until the cart turned a corner and went out of sight. She sighed to herself and brushed away the errant tear that raced over her cheek. This was going to be a long three years.
Something was wrong with Jack. It was plainly obvious to everyone, especially Bunny. She was avoiding all of the guardians and often had tears in her eyes when she couldn't. Talks with Jamie and Sophie revealed nothing. Except one little facet.
"Jack's just having a bit of trouble with her memories and she's had a nasty shock. I'm not saying anything else. Sorry Bunny. You'll have to ask her." Sophie looked up apologetically at her childhood hero as he sat slumped on her bed.
Bunny tried everything he could think of to try and corner Jack but each attempt failed. Eventually he decided to go to the source of the problems.
"No! Absolutely not! It's a serious breach of trust Bunny! We can't go through her memories!" Tooth flittered nervously around. She and the rest of the guardians, bar Jack, were by one of the large pillars that held the children's teeth. Bunny had announced his idea to the Guardians only to be immediately put down by Tooth.
"But Tooth, Jack has been avoidin' all of us and this is tha only lead we've got." Bunny pleaded with Tooth, his arms folded defensively and his ears flattened against his head, giving away just how much this was affecting him. It was him that Jack was avoiding most and the only thing he could think of that might have set her off was their talk about his past as a human. Not that he wasn't a bit grateful for the reprieve of Jack's presence. Emotions he was trying to suppress had been doing their best to clamber out of the deep dark hole he had flung them into and refused to evaluate.
Tooth sagged in mid-air. "I'm sorry but I can't allow you to do this. Jack trusted me with her teeth and I can't betray that trust."
It all came down to trust.
He slumped and North patted him on the shoulder only to be shrugged off. Tooth hovered, looking apologetic.
"Was worth a try any.. What tha?!"
The Four Guardians hadn't notice the Moon rising, observing their conversation and coming to the conclusion enough was enough. A single moonbeam rushed down and enveloped the spirits within it's grasp before shooting upwards and into a single box of teeth with a picture of a mischievous girl on it.
The memories of Jacqueline Frost, formally Jacqueline Viola Overland, were about to be revealed.
Just over three years had passed and Jackie had grown into a beautiful young woman. She herded her goats with her father, knew how to run a household and still made time for the children. Jackie was considered a prime catch with only the minor flaw that she remained as wild and as untamable as she was as a child. Worse since Aster was not here to reel her in. Any and all suitors were turned away, either by pure mischief or by her father, except one Jacob Talmon, the preacher's eldest son who was twenty-three years old. Jackie tried to avoid him as he always scolded her for wearing men's clothing and tried to imply that if she had a husband then everything would be so much better for her.
It was Easter Monday when it finally happened. Jackie managed to avoid Talmon while collecting some cloth from a housewife when she noticed a cart making its way into the village center. On the cart was Mr O'Brynie and three young men. One man had dark blonde hair and a full beard with laughing hazel eyes. He was well built, obviously a man who spent his time doing labours and was little taller than Jackie at her 5ft 2. The second man was shorter, barely 5ft tall, but round. He had brown hair and grey eyes. The two men seemed to be currently teasing the last man who was alternating between giving them highly familiar death glares and searching for something in the village. He was extremely tall and his dark hair, that gleamed a grey colour in the light, lay messy around his ears. A week's worth of scruff adorned his cheeks, adding to the element of danger and wildness the man's intimidating figure emitted. It was the forest green eyes that Jackie recognised though.
Jackie smirked and walked up to the cart, unseen by the three young men but spotted by Mr O'Brynie. Gesturing for him to remain silent, she piped up behind the three men. "Hello, Aster. I thought you said you'd be back BEFORE Easter." The emphasis was clear on the before.
When Aster arrived in the village, he'd hoped to have a few moments to clean himself up and shave off the week's worth of scruff on his face before finding Jackie. Samuel, the blonde he'd met in a bar, and Thomas, the brunette who was a tailor, were being no help, teasing about him and his worry for Jackie. Yes, he was quite aware she was now seventeen and most likely had a husband but Jackie had made no mention of any favoured suitor and often complained about them. Aster was lucky to have found a job as a police officer soon after he got to town. His ability to bring in even the most resistant of people and his compassion for others made him a favourite among the citizens and he was once again the most idolised person within the eyes of the children. He managed to obtain the rank of Junior Deputy and was one of three working in the sheriff's office. He generally did most of the paperwork but the Sheriff and his Deputy were just, hard working men and Aster admired them.
So when he heard a slightly different but still familiar voice scold him with a hint of laughter in her voice, he winced a bit at the reminder he was late. But even the noted reactions of Samuel and Thomas, whose jaws had dropped at the voice's owner, it didn't prepare him for just how much little Jackie Overland had grown in the space of little over three years.
Jackie's hair flowed freely over her shoulders, the colour of milk chocolate he had seen in a store once, and trailed down to rest by the small of her back. Eyes still a bright chestnut and sparkling with mischief shone out of an oval face, freckled lightly from the sun and tanned from the same object. Pink, full lips were pulled into a smile that boarder on a smirk. Aster absently noticed she wore a modest white cotton shirt and a pair of loose men's pants, a large brown cloak neatly thrown over her shoulders. But it honestly did nothing to conceal that Jackie had curves. 'Where in God's name had those sprung from?'
"Jackie?" was the strangled sound from Aster's throat. He wished it hadn't sounded so shocked when he spotted Jackie's grin turn into a full on smirk. She opened her mouth to say something which surely would have embarrassed him when a sharp voice he really hadn't missed interrupted them.
"Jacqueline! I thought I'd told you to stop wearing clothes which are clearly not for young women such as yourself. Honestly, you are lucky I've taken an interest in you. Many women would be honoured and flattered to have someone of my station courting them." Jacob Talmon was short, thin and looked as if one good punch would flatten him (it did as Aster found out when he was thirteen and being teased for being adopted. Talmon's nose was still crooked). His hair was lank and dark while his eyes were a cold muddy brown. He had a superiority complex that none knew where it had come from. His parents were kindly folk and his two other brothers were modest and welcoming.
"Ah think she looks fine and Ah feel sorry fer whatever poor woman deludes herself inta feelin' flattered by yer terrible attempts at courtin', Talmon." Aster stated as he pulled Jackie into a hug which coincidently gathered her out of Talmon's reach. He kept Jackie in his arms and glared at the paling man who'd realised whose reunion with Jackie he'd interrupted. Nose twitching and a hand moved as if to touch it in remembrance, Talmon turned on his heel and stalked away, muttering things that would have his poor mother crying and his father wondering where'd they had gone wrong.
Glancing down at the woman (for Jackie was most definitely a woman now) in his arms, he gave a mock-scowl, "Ya didn' tell me that it was Talmon who was tryin' ta court ya."
Jackie merely grinned and hugged her friend closer, perfectly happy to be in his embrace. "If I had, you would've come straight back home, broken his nose again and then dragged me back to town with you, no matter what anyone else would've said." Aster had to concede to that point.
Jack sat by her lake, tears falling in rapid succession as they had done for weeks now. She was tired from all the emotion running through her but just when she thought she might be able to see North or Tooth or Sandy or maybe even Bunny, she'd burst into tears all over again from what she had lost and found again but could never have as she once did.
It was a terrible shock to discover that Bunny didn't just remind her of Aster, he was Aster. Her brave, bad-tempered, stubborn, kind fiancé who made her weak at the knees whenever he smiled at her or made her feel like the greatest thing in the world when he kissed her was the same person who she had verbally battled with for the better part of three centuries and almost started punch-ups with.
But that was just it, wasn't it? He was still the same after three hundred years. A little sadder, more defensive, and she was on the wrong side of his temper but still the same.
Still hot tempered.
Still made her weak at the knees.
Jack laughed bitterly at that thought. Her heart had known what her mind forgot. Why she sought out Bunny even as an amnesiac winter spirit. She still loved him.
Human, Pooka or Easter Bunny.
He was still her Aster.
But he wasn't her's any more, was he.
A soft glow caught her attention. Jack sniffed a few times and looked up. "Hey, Manny." She said thickly, trying to clear the signs that she'd been crying. The Moon glowed brighter in response before pulsing a few times, reassuringly and almost smugly.
Jack frowned slightly and stood up. She tilted her head, "What are you up to Manny?"
The Moon merely glowed brighter.
Months had passed and it was now the height of summer. Aster had returned to town once to arrange leave so he could stay in the village for a few months. Aster went back to his childhood home, Samuel and Thomas joining him. The two men became great friends with Jackie even if Thomas had to be growled at by Aster a few times for attempting to flirt with Jackie. He was an outrageous womaniser but he seemed content to laugh at Aster's attempts to keep Jackie away from him. Besides, a farmer's daughter, a sweet young thing with blonde hair and blue eyes, had caught his eye in a serious way and she was happy to accept his attentions.
Jackie and Aster's previous relationship was much the same as it was before he left but now there was a subtle undertone. Both parties were now very much aware that the other was a fully grown adult and highly sought after. Talmon was keeping his distance, but still circling Jackie like a shark. Aster had ladies batting their eyes and swooning over his tall built form every time he ventured into the village, annoying Jackie incessantly.
It was during the end of summer which the Village had a small festival to celebrate the summer that things finally came to a head. The Festival was fantastic as it always was. There was an abundance of wonderful food and numerous games and dances. Jackie loved it all.
For the festival, by her Ma's request, Jackie was wearing a new dark blue dress with a dark green boarder across the bottom of the skirt, along the top and bottom of the bodice and on the edge of the elbow length sleeves. Her hair was washed and braided into a style that circled her head. Simple brown shoes, comfortable for dancing, adorned her feet. It was misfortunate that Talmon managed to snag her for the first dance that evening after the afternoon games were complete. It seemed that he had finally gathered his courage again.
Or it might have been that Aster hadn't been spotted for the majority of the day.
Talmon held Jackie as close as the dance allowed and rattled on about the benefits of being his wife. He had not stopped since the dance began and Jackie was beginning to lose what little patience she had left. She hadn't seen Aster all day and was hurt and confused. Aster had promised to be with her all day. Talmon's voice penetrated her thoughts as the dance ended and Talmon dragged Jackie away from the other dancers, no matter how hard Jackie struggled."You really should consider my offer, Jacqueline. Many women would be happy to be my wife. If you would just stop…"
A tanned fist cracked across Talmon's cheek and strong arms pulled her into a familiar embrace. "Ah thought Ah told ya ta stay away from Jackie. If she wants ya, then she'd have accepted ya offer by now. It's obvious she doesn', now RACK OFF!" Aster's growling accent was furious and Jackie felt herself go weak at knees. Talmon skittered off back to the village square where the other villagers continued on obliviously and Aster rumbled, low and almost beast like, deep in his chest. He gently turned Jackie in his arms. One large hand brushed over the red mark on her forearm where Talmon had grasped it while the other brushed Jackie's cheek tenderly. "Are ya alright? Did he do anythin' ta ya?"
Jackie shook her head mutely. Aster was looking more handsome than ever. His dark green vest brought out his eyes and his white cotton shirt emphasised his tanned muscles. His hair was curled lightly around his ears and he was clean-shaven. Dark, deer skin pants revealed strong legs and boots encased his feet. The entire outfit screamed an aspect of wildness and strength. Vibrant green eyes looked down at Jackie and he relaxed, one hand still on her cheek. Jackie could feel the heat crawling across her cheeks the longer Aster stared at her.
The two were startled out of the moment when a splatter of water splashed Jackie's forehead. Then another and another until the heavens had opened completely and they had to run for cover. Rather than running to the Village Hall like the rest of the Village did from the square, Aster and Jackie ran for the Village Barn where the harvest was stored in the winter and where they had played together as children.
As they closed the door behind them and Jackie lit one of the lamps, the two were utterly soaked and breathless from the laughter which had bubbled up during the mad dash to shelter. The laughter tampered off once they got a good look at the other. Aster's wet shirt did nothing to conceal the hard-earned muscles of his torso and Jackie's wet dress clung to her form like a second skin, the dim light of the single lamp making the scene all the more alluring to both young adults.
Jackie screwed up her courage and reached up to touch Aster's cheek, trailing a finger under his eye. Aster shuddered as he closed his eyes, his arms reaching around to encircle her small waist. Jackie's left hand reached up to squeeze Aster's bicep while the other continued it's exploration of Aster's face. Aster growled again, low and deep with a hint of wildness. He grabbed both of Jackie's hands, stilling them.
"If ya continue like that, Ah may do somethin' Ah'll regret." Aster opened his eyes to reveal blown iris'. Jackie swallowed at the almost dangerous look Aster was giving her and felt heat coiling rapidly between her legs.
"Like this." With that, Aster slowly lent down and pressed his sun-chapped lips to Jackie's own slightly chapped ones. It was like a dam broke loose and tidal wave of lust and love washed over the two.
Jackie returned to kiss eagerly and it soon developed into nipping and sucking. From there, the two relocated into the hay loft of the barn and indulged in a night of primal pleasures of the flesh, complete with declarations of love for one another.
The next morning, Aster went to Jackie's father for permission to court her. His response was surprising to both Jackie and Aster.
"Honestly Aster, your father and I have been betting on this since you were twelve and punched the blacksmith's son for trying to kiss Jackie. You're the only one I trust with her and the only one who can handle her."
"Just marry her already." The man said with a twinkle in his eye and a serious expression.
Bunny and the rest of the Guardians gasped as they hit the floor of Tooth's palace after their sudden viewing of Jacqueline Overland's, no, Jack Frost's memories. They all got to their feet except Bunny who crouched low and held his head in his paws.
"Bunny?" North's voice rattled across Bunny's mind but he ignored it. Jack was his Jackie. His brilliant, independent, mischievous, caring would-be-mate. Jackie had been, was, his entire world. Jack was his friend.
… A friend who stirred feelings long forgotten in him and who was undeniably Jackie.
They had the same humour, Jack's a little more bitter due to three hundred years of loneliness. They had the same expressive eyes and the same smile. She was still independent and caring, the image of that Easter so long ago when they sat together with Sophie in his arms blooming in his mind. The more he thought about it, the more the two images of Jack reconciled.
Jack was Jackie.
And she was currently avoiding him.
She had figured it out.
Jack knew he was Aster and she hid from him.
"…She's had a nasty shock." Sophie's voice echoed in his mind. Well, he was shocked too.
His beloved Jackie was alive and hiding from him and he didn't know why.
"Bunny?" It was Tooth this time and Bunny came to a conclusion.
He had to talk to Jack. Alone.
"Ah need ta talk ta Jack."
"But Bunny, that man. Jack's fiancé…." Tooth started.
"Was me." Bunny finished, turning to face the others. North looked shocked, Tooth bore a similar expression while Sandy's eyebrows rose.
"Ya know Ah was human few centuries back?" Mute nods. "That's what happened. Ah never told ya 'cause Ah never knew what happened ta Jackie." The old nickname came easily. " And Ah didn' want ta talk 'bout it. Now if ya excuse me, Ah got a Frostbite ta talk to and an Intended ta properly explain ta." Before North's stance could become protective, Bunny opened up a tunnel and leapt down it.
He knew exactly where to find Jackie and he'd sooner be turned into a Fearling than miss out on the second chance the Man in The Moon had given both him and Jack.
It was the nearing the end of winter and nearing Jackie and Aster's wedding day. The two had decided they wanted to get married on Easter Monday as homage to their childhood and the day Jackie found Aster.
Snow was scattered around and the ice on the lake was thick enough to skate on as long as they avoided the middle. Aster, Samuel and Thomas had headed back to town little near a fortnight ago, the snow making the cart impossible, to gather up some things for the Wedding. Aster refused to tell Jackie exactly what is was and stated it was a surprise. Jackie waited anxiously for their return. A rumour of wolves had spread around the village but Jackie ignored it. Wolves hadn't been in the woods since she was a child.
Jackie sat at the table with eight year old Maria, going through her letters and helping her learn. Maria wasn't as wild as Jackie but they both had the same wit. Jackie adored Maria and the sentiment was returned. Maria also loved Aster, he was the older brother figure she had desperately missed.
"Jackie, when is Aster coming home?" Maria looked up at Jackie and smiled. Her Ma rolled her eyes and smiled fondly while her Pa tried to conceal his chuckles. It had become something of a joke within the family that Jackie was counting the days until Aster got back to the village.
Jackie merely smiled and patted Maria on the head, "He'll be home in two days time. I can't wait to see what the surprise is." Maria's giggling was interrupted by a knock at the door.
Jackie rose to answer it as her Ma was tending dinner and her Pa had his hands full with his gun. Jackie's face split into a grin at the man at the door.
"Samuel! You're back!" The grin faltered and dropped as she took in Samuel's ripped and blood soaked appearance. She glanced around desperately and faced Samuel who was holding a small item in his hands with a stricken face. "Where's Aster? Samuel, where is he?"
Samuel shook his head numbly, "I…I'm sorry Jackie. There… The wolves…. We couldn't… He…" He handed Jackie a silver locket, engraved with an interlocking 'A' and 'J'. "I'm so sorry Jackie." With that, Jackie collapsed into her father's arms, who had come up behind her, and released a high pitch keening sound. Samuel looked apologetic as Jackie began to scream denials and sob into her father's shirt, all while clutching the locket to her heart.
It was a week later that Maria dragged Jackie out on to the ice to take her mind off of things for a few moments. Jacqueline 'Jackie' Viola Overland fell through the ice, saving her sister, and from the dark cold depths rose Jack Frost, a single name fading from her mind.
Bunny arrived by the lake in Burgess and immediately spotted Jack sitting on a small pile of boulders who remained ignorant to his presence. He observed her for a few moments, drinking in her pale hair and visible skin. Jack was slumping and miserable, Aster could see the tear tracks from where he stood.
Making up his mind, he snuck up behind Jack and locked his arms around her quickly. "Ah know."
Jack made to struggle out of the embrace before hearing those two words. She froze, her heart beating double time and light blue frost raced across her face in an imitation of a blush. She wanted to deny it but she and Bunny both knew exactly what he was talking about. Instead, Jack just whispered a sad, "How?"
No wonder he'd been looking a bit smug twenty minutes ago.
"Why didn't ya tell me?" Bunny's voice was thick and hurt. He couldn't understand why Jack hadn't told him.
"Would have believed me?" The sharp retort came. Hurt and trapped, Jack reacted in the only way she knew would keep her safe. Harsh words and stabbing remarks. She scowled and resumed her struggles
"Probably not at first, but Ah would've come 'round, Jackie." Bunny kept his arms locked around Jack as she continued to struggle. He pulled her to his chest and buried his nose in her hair causing Jack to freeze again. "Three hundred years and all this time, you were righ' here."
Jack drew in a shuddering breath, "Let me go."
"No." Bunny nuzzled her head and Jack could feel her desire to leave fade.
"Please, Bunny. I can't do this. Not again. I…" Jack trailed off as she felt a pair of fuzzy lip press against her temple. Bunny then nuzzled the spot he had just kissed and his arms loosen slightly so he could rub his paws up and down her arms.
Jack sighed and relaxed into the embrace. If she remembered correctly and from what she had rediscovered as Bunny's friend, it was better if you just gave in as he was twice as stubborn as she was. Or maybe she just couldn't resist him. "How is it you know me better than myself?" she mumbled.
Bunny let a deep rumbling laugh out and nuzzled her again. She thoroughly melted into the affectionate action and turned in his arms to return the hug.
They still had issues to talk out but here and now, sitting by the lake she'd found him by all those years ago, with the they thought had been lost forever in each others arms, it was nothing short of perfect.
There we are. Hope you all enjoyed!
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