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The Winter Wraith

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Jack didn’t so much feel the raindrop as see the wisp of mist rising where the water landed on his skin. Looking up, he noticed that while he’d played the day away with Jamie and his friends, the sky had grown dark and heavy with storm clouds threatening an imminent storm.

Aborting the sneak attack he’d planned to get Jamie with, Jack stood up from behind a snow fort and called out, “Hey kids, I think time to get inside,”

The collective groans of six children rang out, but they respected Jack enough to listen to his advice. They knew that if Jack was the one to cut off a game, it was only with good reason. Instead, the children made their own games, lightly teasing and joking, as they walked together toward their homes, quickly at Jack’s behest. They, too, had noticed how the sky threatened to soak them through if they didn’t hurry.

Jack had just finished escorting everyone home when the rain really started coming down. He watched from under Jamie’s porch as the world around him drank in the water in preparation for spring. Contrary to what one might think, the winter sprite always enjoyed a good rainstorm. Perhaps it was the novelty; usually, if it was warm enough for rain, Jack’s presence was no longer necessary and therefore no longer there. It wasn’t that Jack hated the warmth either, but he preferred the cold and it was always snowing somewhere.

He suspected he also enjoyed the rain for its calming presence. When it rained the world around him was subdued. Everything became vague and hazy through the drops of water; it was the closest thing Jack ever got to dreaming. Best of all, though, was the noise. A symphony of music echoed throughout the streets as rain bounced off roof tiles and splattered on the asphalt, each drop adding its own bit to the song.

Jack loved snow and frost, but, except when the wind participated, snowstorms were not particularly known for their noise. Winter had always been a season for silence, sound muted by the powder always dusting the ground. It was a time for hushed reverence and evenings spent with the family. The winter sprite tried to fill the silence with games and laughter, but never were his attempts as natural and easy as a single clap of thunder ringing through the sky.

Very occasionally, Jack envied the other seasons.

Shaking the quickly darkening thoughts from his head, Jack stuck one hand out from under his shelter. Instead of soaking in the rain, he produced small curls of hazy mist every time a drop touched him. Soon a thick fog was rolling between Jack’s fingers, languidly making its way for the ground.

Well, it wasn’t often Jack got to play in the rain. He’d might as well make the most of it while he could.

That thought in mind, the winter sprite stepped away from the porch and began his dance through the city.

 Tonight was Pitch’s favorite kind of night. Overhead, clouds blocked out the stars and accursed moon. Intermittent flashes of lightening provided teasing glimpses of the things lurking in the shadows, and a thick fog twisted through the streets, obscuring friend and foe from view. It was the kind of night that provoked merciless imaginings of darker things among children and brutal dark realities among adults. After his...defeat at the hands of the Guardians a mere two years ago, this kind of night was exactly what was needed to cheer him up.

He was about to leave the relative shelter of the copse of trees he was standing under when Pitch picked up a faint noise as of someone humming. The sound was eerie and carried easily though the downpour. It rang with familiarity, but for the life of him, the King of Fear could not recall who this voice belonged to.

Curiosity getting the better of him, Pitch temporarily put aside his nightly meal in search for the ethereal entity haunting the streets of Burgess.

When he found what he was searching for, Pitch’s breath stuttered out in something akin to awe. He instinctively hid in the shadows as he observed the new discovery. 

The figure was indistinct and blurry. At best the Nightmare King could only say the being was humanoid and possibly male. The being was obviously the cause of the fog pervading the town, the heavy mist twirling and tumbling down his body like water spouting from a fountain and obscuring any features that lurked underneath. 

The wraith was standing still in the middle of a human street, enjoying the feel of rain that appeared to never quite reach him and humming to a song only he heard.

And evidently, the being’s eyes had been closed because when they opened they pierced through the fog like a beacon. Pitch’s next breath came out a hiss. He knew those eyes. Knew them anywhere. Jack Frost’s distinctive icy blue orbs took in the city around him before the boy began walking—almost floating, almost dancing—through the streets.

Normally, the sight of the child who’d dared to reject Pitch’s offer would incite fury, but tonight the King of Fear couldn’t seem to find that fire lurking beneath his skin, not in the face of such beauty. How could the boy not see? How was it possible that he didn’t realize how well he fit in with the darkness of the night around him? Why wasn’t he by Pitch’s side when every aspect of the young spirit was so obviously meant for it? 

The young spirit gave a little twirl and began dancing in earnest. It was slow and melancholic, a waltz dedicated to the rain and its single, unknown spectator. With each turn and twist, the fog swirled around Jack like some spectral dance partner.

To Pitch the lonesome scene was beauty incarnate. He’d never seen anything so perfect as this—this one winter sprite who danced with the dark even as his eyes penetrated it, who added to the voices of the night while cloaking himself in a garment of ghostly mist.

Golden eyes glinted in the shadows.

Pitch would have this wraith.

If it were the last thing he did, Pitch would take this boy and make him his.