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Felix Finibus

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FELIX FINIBUS

PROLOGUE: EXPOSITION, AND ALL IT ENTAILS.

Both once upon a time and long ago, there lived a man and a woman in a cabin in the woods. Now the man and the woman were very happy together, for they had found the mythical true love in the other, but they had one problem.

They were unable to fully realize that love, for they could not produce a child of their very own. For many years they tried and tried, but since the woman was of elf heritage it was very hard for her to conceive with almost anyone, let alone a fully human man.

This caused strife within their happy marriage, and despite their love for one another they both wished so desperately for a child of their own. They both hurt at the inability to produce a bundle of joy, and though the man did not blame his wife, he still felt pain and knowing he would never be able to teach a son to hunt, nor would he watch a daughter grow into a fine young lady.

Eventually, the man became desperate.

In the middle of the night, when the moon was nonexistent in the sky and the stars all hid behind the clouds, the man made a very grave mistake.

He summoned the wizard, Pitch Black.

Now this in itself was a rather stupid move on the man’s part, as the wizard Pitch Black was well known to be a creature that hell had spat out. Pitch Black, they say, was once a man.

Once.

But he was no longer, and would never be again, even as he causes anarchy and chaos across the land through use of his armies, nightmares and dark powers.

Pitch Black, they said, would steal your soul and then make you apologize for it.

Pitch Black, they said, had a piece of coal where his heart could once have been, if he’d had one in the first place.

But the man was desperate, and by god was he down to his final straw if he were willing to call upon such a monster. Desperation does funny things to the human heart, you know. So it is with such intense desperation that the man preformed a summoning ritual, one including blood, coal, fire, and sand, in the middle of a night when the moon was nonexistent in the sky.

And, unfortunately, the Wizard Pitch Black decided to heed the summons.

Pitch was a shadow in the darkness, a voice from the left and a touch from the right. The shadow listened to the man as he relayed his story. Elves were notoriously bad at producing children, though incredibly beautiful and immortal. Their immortality was the cause of the lack of little ones, Pitch tells the man with a scathing tone, as a biological cap on the population.

But the man begs and pleads with the shadow, desperate for any type of help.

And the Wizard Pitch Black sees his opening.

“Very Well.” He says to the man, keeping to the shadows. “But you will owe me a favour. In return for beginning the life of your child, I will require one. Single. Thing.”

The man had nodded along enthusiastically, bravely… or stupidly, depending on how you looked at it, declaring that he would do anything for this great feat to be accomplished.

And the Wizard just smiled.

“Once the child is eighteen,” The wizard says with joy, already weaving a secret contract between them, “I will take them as my bride. I’m in need of one, you see. A queen, if you will.”

The man stares at the wizard, who stares at the man, who stares at the wizard.

“…And if the child’s a boy?”

The wizard just shrugs and holds out a single hand. “It’s of no matter. Do we have a deal?”

The man pauses at this, thinking. Would it be better to not have a child at all, or to get attached to them only to have him or her ripped from him into a life with Pitch?

“… You have a deal.” The man murmurs, taking the offered hand and regretting it all the while.

The man’s wife soon fell pregnant. The man never did tell her why it was that it happened just as they were about to give up, or why he was always looking over his shoulder every other day.

She was too happy to care, really, as her stomach got larger and her glow more motherly.

The baby is born on a freezing cold day in late December.

He’s a healthy little thing, with his mother’s white hair and his father’s blue eyes. They name him Jack, after the lovely Jackrabbits that used to run along the fields outside their lovely cottage. And still the man keeps silent.

Jack grows. Soon he’s half a year, then a full year, then two. And still the man remains silent as he watches this child, the one he’d damned himself, grow into a lively, lovable little toddler.

And one day he just can’t take it anymore.

Mother and son find the father’s body in their little cabin in the woods, with his throat slit by his own hand. The son doesn’t see anything, the mother hiding his face away as she wails over the body of her beloved.

And in the shadows of the cabin, the wizard Pitch Black smiles.

The woman burns the house, taking her son and provisions and packing them all away into two tiny rucksacks and leaving.

Jack is only three.

He’s four by the time they reach their destination.

The mother runs to her original home in the woods, deep within the elvish woods of old and back to her old people. Her father, the lord of the very woods she’d grown up in, was happy to allow them sanctuary and care. Thus, it is there that they stay, allowing time to pass around them in the safety of the woods. That safety is but an illusion, however, that is just waiting for the day that it would snap in two.

Waiting for the day Jack turns eighteen.

And everything.

Goes.

Wrong.

Chapter Text

THE SINGULAR CHAPTER: DRAGON’S LAIR

E. Aster Bunnymund had always grown up being told to avoid the forest. Beware the elves, people said, if you’re not careful they’ll spirit you away. Everyone knew the elves were a solitary bunch, not really a group to meddle with the world of men or dwarves or the like. Elves, they said, could outlive fifty generations of men and still look like not a day had passed. Aster himself, being a Pooka and therefore immortal to a point knew of the burden that immortality brought.

That feeling of solidarity, of isolation, had grown even worse after his species and their villages had been destroyed by an attack by the dark lord Pitch Black for attempting to usurp the man’s power over the Eastern kingdoms. They had failed, and for that they had paid dearly.

Aster himself was the only survivor as far as he knew, and that was because of the elves his mother had warned him against. He had been felled in battle, this much he knew, and the elves had tried to pull as many survivors from the wreckage as they could. Aster had been the only one with a pulse by the time they had picked through everything, and they had done their damn hardest to keep him alive.

And for that, he was incredibly grateful.

Shaking his head to clear himself from such unwarranted thoughts, Aster returns to his current project. The leader of the elf clan, one Nicolas St. North, had asked Aster to carve a sculpture into a stump of a tree that had fallen in a recent storm. The elves were a curious lot, and refused to harm anything in nature. The tree had once stood in the middle of the elfin village, a proud monument to how long the group had lived within the neighboring trees, but had fallen and left an ugly, two meter stump imbedded so deep into the ground that it would be impossible to remove.

Thus, a different solution was needed.

Therefore, call the one guy who apparently knows how to art, and ask him to make it pretty.

Eh, it’s not like Aster had anything better to do.

He hacks away at the dead wood, slowly carving it into a less jagged shape near the top. It’s long, laborious work and it makes his arms ache by the end of the day, but he’s happy to do it. Besides, he’s got the perfect assistant.

“I got food!” A voice calls from behind happily. Aster turns around and jumps from the ladder he’d been standing on and onto the grass, brightening himself to smile at his companion. The boy returns the smile and tosses him an apple, before inspecting the beginnings of a sculpture behind Aster.

“It looks good,” Jack Frost grins with a flip of his shockingly white hair. “I think it’ll look great once you’re done.”

Aster thanks him through a mouthful of apple. Jack simply giggles and takes a bite of his own food, flopping down on the ground to eat and resting his back against the stump.  Aster sits next to him, his long grey ears perking up as he does so.

“So how’s yer birthday been then?” Bunny says to break the silence between them. Jack starts a bit, his attention snapping from a group of children playing nearby.

“Good.” He says uneasily. “Good. Grandfather got me another staff this year to help control my magic, so that might help keep everything under control...”

“But?” Aster says, noting the way Jack seems to fidget.

“I dunno.” Jack murmurs, poking at the soft forest earth under him. “I can’t shake this sense of foreboding, and I don’t know why. I’ve had nothing but a good day, but I feel like something awful’s going to happen very soon.”

Aster just nods to himself as Jack explains. Jack, he knows, had had power over the winter elements of ice and snow for as long as he can remember, but had problems keeping them under wraps. “Maybe yer gunna fall down a hole tomorrow.” Bunny jokes to lighten the mood. Jack’s face brightens and the boy’s blue eyes grow bright and happy once again.

“I would too.” The elf boy grins slightly, shaking out his slightly shaggy hair to dispel a leaf that had gotten stuck there. Aster just punches him in the shoulder, and stands as he finishes his small-but-filling lunch. Jack stands with him in a wave of flowing white fabric that was customary for the elves to wear. Aster stuck to his bandolier and bracers thank you very much.

Their conversation was cut short however, as a small roar is heard across the forest. All the elves that had been wandering around the town square stopped in shock at the noise. Many of the larger beasts had moved away from the elvish settlement, thus such a loud noise was absolutely uncommon.

All eyes turn to the sky as another roar breeches the calm of the forest, and a few elves begin to scatter into their homes in the trees. Jack and Aster don’t move, but continue to look upwards as a monstrous form flies overhead and, for a second, blocks out the sun.

As soon as the winged figure in the sky is seen, a startled call rises through the crowd.

Dragon!” One elf shrieks, “Get indoors!”

And as if a switch had been flipped, everything divulged into chaos. Elves began to scatter left and right as the dragon flew down between the trees and unleashed a fiery hell upon the village. The dragon has a wingspan of at least eight meters, and it’s body is nothing but shimmering black, causing it to stand out starkly against the blue sky.

“Holy shit!” Jack cries as the fire hits a few trees and instantly send them up into an inferno. He stands in shock as the dragon completes one pass around the village and begins to turn around for another. Aster grabs his arm and pulls, yanking Jack out of the range of fire as quickly as he can. They run through the trees towards Jack’s home, which was closer and thus the better option.

However, it seems that Jack’s house is currently on fire, which is decidedly a bit of a problem. Before Aster can stop him Jack’s running forwards, screaming for his grandfather as he does so. Aster’s relieved to see North attempting to fight the blazes, spewing spells at a mile a minute to stop the fires from spreading.

Jack sprints towards his grandfather, but forgets to keep an eye on the sky.

And this proves to be his undoing.

Because before anyone can do anything to stop it, the dragon soars through the clearing they’d found themselves in, and snatches Jack up in one fell swoop.

The elf prince shrieks in shock as he’s suddenly grabbed from behind by a massive weight and hefted into the sky. Jack’s shriek turns to full on screaming as he notices the scaled, clawed paw currently wrapped around his entire torso.

Aster’s already moving as Jack’s feet leave the ground, but he’s not fast enough to grab at Jack before the boy’s already out of reach. However, he is close enough that Aster gets an undisturbed view of Jack’s terrified face as the dragon flies up and above the tree line.

Aster!”  Jack shrieks, reaching for Bunny with one hand and clawing at the paw holding him with the other. The dragon is decidedly undisturbed by this, and continues on his merry way. Eventually the hulking mass of the beast disappears above the trees and into the sky, taking Jack Frost with it.

Aster stands in shock, watching the place that Jack had disappeared into the trees. He can barely hear Jack’s screaming now as the dragon flies off, and it eventually gets drowned out by the crackling of the burning tress and houses around him. Bunny’s stock still and unresponsive as he tries to wrap his mind around what exactly had just happened.

Jack had just been carted off by a dragon. Dragons were supposed to be long dead, and even the oldest of elves had trouble remembering when they had last flown the skies.

A dragon had just showed up out of the blue, lit half the village on fire, grabbed Jack, and flew away.

Well there’s really only response to something like that.

“What tha fuck?!”

***

Jack’s not having a very good birthday at this point. All things considered, up until around noon it had been a wonderful birthday really, but then the dragon had showed up and kind of ruined the whole thing.

Yeah.

They’ve been flying for hours, Jack and his abductor, and at this point Jack’s positive that he’s not going anywhere other than where the dragon’s taking him, so at this point he’s stopped clawing at the dragon’s scaled paw and had taken to watching the world pass underneath him. He watches rolling fields and forests from a view he never thought he’d get to see, which is admittedly very interesting to watch.

Eventually he notices that the land underneath him begins to blacken, as if charred by an outside force. Fields and forests turn dead and unnatural, and the smell of smoke and magic reeks through the air.

It is then that the dragon takes a sharp right and Jack, who’d been unable to twist around for fear of falling, got a good look at their destination for the first time.

A tall, imposing castle looms in the distance, all black stone and reaching spires that really shouldn’t be able to stay up on their own. It hovers over the neighboring countryside with a dark aura, and it seems to radiate magic in waves that are so strong Jack can almost feel it in his bones.

Yeah, that seemed like the proper, cliché place for a dragon to live.

The hulking black beast flies around the castle once or twice before landing on one of the tallest towers with a deafening roar, clutching at the top of the tower with the tree paws not holding Jack. The elf has to shove his hands over his ears to block out the sound, for fear of going deaf.

Once the beast is done... roaring to the heavens or whatever it was that it was doing, the dragon snuffles around a large hole in the top of the tower that Jack hadn’t noticed before. The pit seems bottomless and black, seeming to go on forever.

Which is why Jack protests vehemently as the dragon moves the paw holding him above the hole, and proceeds to try and drop him into it. Jack clutches at one of the dragons fingers as the beast’s paw goes lax, doing his best to scramble out and away from the hole. The dragon just huffs and shakes it’s claw slightly, jarring Jack into letting go and plummeting into the darkness with a shriek.

His back slams into a metal surface that is on an angle, and he begins to slide down at a quick pace. Jack will deny it later, but he screams quite loudly as gravity pulls him down what could only be described as a very fast, very disorientating, slide. Darkness covers everything, making it hard to see when the next gut wrenching turn was coming. He knows he makes at least ten rotations of the tower fully, but that’s all he can tell as he grows more and more dizzy.

Eventually he is spat out onto a stone floor, bringing the hellish ride to an end, but his mind is still jumbled and his vision spins from the hectic ride. When he finally regains himself the first thing he’s met with is a set of bars. The room beyond is barely lit, casting long shadows against black walls. Torches glow in the darkness, reflecting slightly on the heavily polished marble flooring.

Jack pants and gasps for breath as he tries to get his bearings, eyes darting around the room from his newfound cage. He refuses to address the shaking in his hands, nor the frightened tears making tracks through the inevitable grime on his face. He’s on edge, and he knows his nerves are shot to hell.

Which is maybe the voice from the darkness startles him as much as it does.

“Well would you look at what my pet has brought me,” A sultry voice whispers from the shadows. “A little elf. I wonder where she could have found that?”

Jack shudders but tries to remain strong, glaring out into the shadows even as he swears they begin to move. “Who are you?” He shouts apprehensively, “...Where are you?”

He presses his back against the bars of the circular cage as the voice begins to laugh sadistically. He rather regrets speaking at all.

“My dearest boy,” The voice chuckles from right behind him. Jack whirls around to come face to face with a grey face with a shark-like smirk. “I’m right here.”

Oh. Oh god.

Pitch Black.” Jack breathes, fear overriding his senses. Because he’s heard of Pitch Black, it’d be hard for anyone to not have heard of the sorcerer. The wizard smiles at this and displays his rows of pointed, obviously sharpened teeth.

“Always glad to meet a fan.” The wizard chuckles. He reaches a grey hand towards Jack, but the elf tries to dodge it as much as he can. He fails though, as Pitch grabs a hold of his chin with bruising force. Jack shudders at the contact but refuses to back down his glare, staring at the wizard with a determination many would have lost at this point.

Pitch seems amused, even as he brings his other hand up to lie flat in front of Jack’s face, palm up. With a blowing motion a sudden cloud of dusty sand flies from his once clean palm and covers Jack’s face. With a sudden cough a drowsy feeling overtakes the elf, sending him deep into the realm of sleep.  Pitch chuckles darkly as the boy falls unconscious, already in the middle of opening the cage door.

His bride had finally arrived.

***

It had taken them a good few hours to put the fires in the forest out. Aster had been forced to break his reverie in order to keep any more homes from going up in smoke. He’s still trying to get over the shock of it even as he sits in the mud after all is said and done.

But then he begins to think.

The elves were a pacifist culture, the ultimate “hippy” types due to their woods going natures. How were they going to get Jack back from a dragon of all things, when they refused to even chop down a tree?

Answer: They weren’t.

However, Aster was a warrior. Sure he was a warrior that was almost five years out of practice, but a warrior nonetheless. Thus, he’s pretty sure that if anyone was going to get Jack and bring him home then it would have to be the rabbit.

Who knew what the beast was going to do with Jack? It was said that dragons had a thing for kidnapping pretty virgins, both of which Aster knows Jack is, but literally every elf in the village was pretty. There had been a million other targets running around, many in much easier positions for grabbing. That, and the beast had retreated as soon as it had snatched Jack.

Thus, it had been searching for the boy, and thus had been sent specifically for him.

Question was, who had sent it?

And that’s where everything began to break down. Because Aster had no real idea who the hell had a dragon, let alone who could control one. Bunny had rather been left twiddling his thumbs as he helped put the village in a semblance of order once again.

“Bunny!” A loud voice booms behind him, startling the rabbit from his thoughts. “Just ze rabbit I vanted to see!”

The Elf King Nicolas St. North was from a far off land, and was about as old as dirt, but was still a formidable fighter, actually, having been born long before the elves had adopted the peace-love mindset. North was a strong leader, and had been a great influence on his grandson after the boy’s mother had died of sickness.

“Yeah, North. What’s the chatter?”

“I know why ze dragon took my Jack.”

Needless to say, that got Aster’s attention. “Who!?” He asks loudly, causing a few startled heads to turn towards the two. The hulking elf just sighs and pats him on the shoulder.

“I am afraid it is an enemy you’ve already faced, my friend.”

If he hadn’t had fur, anyone could have seen the colour drench from Aster’s face. “Pitch.” He shudders, remembering the screams of his people, the fire, watching his family burn alive-

“Dah. I do not know if we will be able to retrieve Jack if Pitch has taken him. I am too old to go against Black on my own, and you know of the nature of these new elves. Not a malicious bone in their bodies.”

“Ya want me to go get Jackie, then?” Aster asks, cutting right through the fat.

“Only if you wish. I will not force you, nor will no one look down if you refuse, you’ve suffered greatly at that monster’s hands, and-”

“I’ll do it,” Aster responds instantly. He’d be skinned before he left poor Jack in the hands of that rat bastard. “I’ll bring him back, North.”

North’s face instantly brightens, and he wraps Aster in a massive bear hug. “My friend, you are doing a great favour to my family and people both! I will have to find way to repay you.”

“Ya don’t need to pay me North,” Aster chides, “Ya already saved my bacon on more than one account.”

“Bah, is customary to repay in some way. Usually one would offer the hand of the rescued in marriage to their saviour, but I do not know if you wish to have it.” North waggles his eyebrows suggestively, knowing of Aster’s not so secret crush on the elf prince. Aster just scoffs and shoves at the king, acting like a giant child but whatever.

“I’ll do it for free.”

He’ll do it for Jack.

***

The elf prince comes back to consciousness slowly, with small things filtering through at first. The very first sensation that comes through is the feeling of something very soft under him. He mumbles and shifts slightly, trying to slip back into the world of dreams but failing as more sensations begin to leak through.

He was wrapped in sheets. There was a slight smell of smoke, which was an oddity because elves were a typically vegetarian race and lived in hotter climates, thus never really had any use for fires. He could feel a pulse of magic in the air, and for once it wasn’t his own.

So he wasn’t home.

With a sudden gasp he snaps upright as the events of the past day suddenly snaps into focus in his head. Oh, oh shit. Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit oh SHIT OH SHIT OH-

He needed to get out of here.

He quickly swings his legs off the bed, noting with disgust that his outfit was decidedly not the one he’d been wearing when he’d woken up. The new thing was a flowing bunch of black fabric which was gaudy and wasteful and it rather made Jack sad to see such a massive waste of fabric. He’d almost forgotten how utterly wasteful the humans could be.

It also revealed way too much skin, the pants sinking low on his hips and the shirt only covering down to just under his pectorals.

Jack scans around the room, scoffing at the overabundance of fineries. Silks and rosewoods and other such useless things decorated the room, which was windowless. The only visible exit was a solitary doorway, hopefully leading to a hall.

With a small sprint he reaches the door and rips it open, ready for it to be locked but is surprised as it opens with ease. Peeking out into the halls he notes that there’s not a soul in sight. With footsteps that are as light as a feather he creeps out into the hallway with apprehension littering his form. This was way too easy.

Which is why he almost expects Pitch’s voice from behind.

Almost.

“Ah, awake, are you?” The wizard says happily, grabbing Jack around the shoulders before the boy can bolt away. “Perfect. You’re just in time for dinner, love.”

Jack tries fruitlessly to pull himself from the wizard’s grasp, but fails, and thus is forced to follow the man as he leads the boy down multiple winding halls. Jack can barely keep everything straight, and eventually loses any hope of being able to navigate this literal labyrinth.

Pitch leads him down into a lavish dining hall, which is already stocked high with exotic foods Jack can’t even pronounce the names of.

He forces Jack to sit in one of the chairs at the end of the table farthest from the door. A chain and shackle burst from the leg of the chair on their own, clasping around the prince’s foot before he can so much as protest, forcing him to stay seated and in place.

“A matter of precaution. Can’t have you running off.” Pitch snickers, taking his own place at the other head of the table.

Jack doesn’t even look at the food, instead focusing on his captor as the man makes a show of helping himself to the ensemble before him.

“Why am I here?” Jack finally asks, breaking the awkward silence between them.

“Because you’re mine.” Is all that Pitch says, taking a rather large bite of lamb that almost makes poor vegetarian Jack want to hurl. “You were promised to me, and I have claimed you.”

The answer confuses the elf, who prods further. “What do you mean yours?” He says, rather affronted by the whole situation. “Grandfather would never-”

“It was your father. In order to allow your mother to get pregnant in the first place.”

Jack’s eyes widened in shock, knowing that for all Pitch Black was known to lie it made sense.

“Is that why-”

“He killed himself? Indeed it was. Couldn’t take that he’d damned you to a life with me.”

Jack just runs his fingers through his hair in disbelief, before finally coming to rest over his mouth. It. It was impossible, who would promise away their own child who could ever-

It made sense.

And that’s what scares Jack the most.

“No.” He says before he can stop himself. “No. I won’t go along with this, it’s unsound, you can’t just expect me to buy this shit!”

Pitch just smiles as Jack snarls from the other end of the table, still chewing away at his dinner. Jack continues to rant at the man, but eventually runs out of steam as the minutes tick by.

“Well that was quite the performance.” Pitch sneers as Jack glares. “But it doesn’t change a thing. You were promised to me, and I shall have you. In fact, I would say that I already do. Because if you look around you’re not really going anywhere in the near future.”

Jack hisses at that, trying to keep his face stoic as he begins to channel his powers into the manacle holding his foot. The metal grows cold, then brittle, and eventually falls off as Pitch continues with his own rant. 

Jack, once freed, leaps from his chair, grabbing the wooden monstrosity as he does so, and throwing it as hard as he can at the wizard. Pitch’s eyes widen in shock as he is forced to slink into the shadows to avoid the projectile, and the wizard almost misses the blur of black, white, and blue that sprints towards the door in a futile attempt at freedom.

Before Jack can actually get to the door of the room a sudden tentacle-like object wraps around his torso, and pulls him backwards. Jack kicks and screams as he’s pulled backwards, his feet just barely skimming the ground. He swears a blue streak as Pitch’s face comes into view, and hisses as the wizard’s face contorts into a smile.

“I knew you might be a bit apprehensive.” The man shrugs as another group of shadows comes and holds Jack’s face in place. The elf continues to try and struggle, but eventually everything from his hips up is held in place by the shadows, which slam him into a nearby wall harshly.

“So I brought a bit of a backup plan.” Pitch finishes with a smirk, holding up a strange stone of blood red colouring. The rock seems to pulse with power, looking more like a gem or a fist sized chunk of red glass, and within it the colours seem to swirl and meld together. Pitch holds it up in front of the struggling elf, forcing the boy to stare deeply into it.

Jack twitches slightly as his eyes begin to burn, and even more so as his head begins to have a large pressure build up within it, but he never takes his eyes from the stone. He begins to feel drowsy, almost drunk, and blinks stupidly while staring at the rock with such concentration.

“That’s it, Jack.” Pitch murmurs, watching Jack’s once vibrant blue eyes begin to cloud over into a pure grey. “Just give in, it’s just like falling asleep.”

Jack barely even notices the words being spoken, so engrossed in the pounding of his eyes and the pressure in his head, wrapped up in the drunken, high feeling that’s very quickly taking over his thoughts until , suddenly, he feels his mind go blank.

And nothing really matters anymore.

Pitch grins as Jack goes completely lax within his bonds, and gently places the boy back onto the floor. Jack sways slightly but holds firm, and stares at Pitch with unseeing eyes.

“Jack,” Pitch says with glee as the boy perks up and smiles at him with a dopey expression, “Who holds your heart?”

“You my king,” Jack breathes out, stepping forwards and wrapping his arms around Pitch’s neck. The wizard can’t help but smirk as the elf pushes himself into Pitch’s arms, which fluidly wrap around his queen.

“And will you become my queen?”

“I would be honoured, my king.” Jack murmurs, leaning close for a kiss that Pitch is more than happy to smirk into.

 Breaking the kiss, Pitch tightens his grip on Jack’s waist. Consent or no, Jack is his.

After eighteen years of waiting, Pitch has his queen.

***

Bunny had been walking for days. He knew where Pitch’s fortress was, and he knew how to get there, but god it was a long walk. North had given him more provisions than Aster could carry, but it was still a long road. The only thing that kept him going was the thought of Jack locked away in the darkness, for what purpose Aster didn’t know, but thinking of how –for lack of a better term- pretty Jack was, it was probably for something less than valiant on Pitch’s part.

And boy, didn’t that just make Aster want to vomit.

All of those thoughts aside, Aster’s been approaching the castle for a good couple of days, and only now is it becoming slightly visible, a very small, pointy silhouette jutting out of a far off mountain. It’ll be another two days walk, and that makes Aster nervous. That would make five days for Jack to be trapped with the mad wizard, and that was a very long time for Pitch to get up to some less than savoury tricks.

Bunny mulls over these thoughts as he approaches the final town before the wasteland surrounding the castle. The town was a dismal little thing, all dank colours and even danker personalities. Aster would be rather happy to just leave it behind and be done with it, but something catches his eye.

A sharp golden light sparkles out from an alley, flickering slightly. Bunny peers around the corner of the alley, expecting a trap, but finds none. Just a small, portly man painted gold. Upon closer inspection, Aster finds that he is the source of the glow, and that the little man is made of sand of all things.

The man waves to him and disappears into an uncovered window. Aster knows better to follow, but does so anyways.

The little room beyond is a damp, dismal little place, but it’s warmed slightly by the array of candles and blankets of various colours strewn around. The man-of-sand is there, as is a rather brilliantly coloured woman who looks to be half hummingbird.

“Are you the pooka that’s going after Pitch?” The bird woman asks cautiously.

“I am.” Bunny answers gruffly, fingering his boomerangs for good luck. The woman’s face brightens at this, and she and the man of sand look at each other excitedly.

“My name is Toothiana,” She says happily, “And this is Sanderson.” The golden man waves at that, which Aster awkwardly returns. “We’re what you would call a resistance force. We want to help you.”

Aster blinks at that. “I thought Pitch’d killed you all with my clan.”

Tooth grins at that, but nods. “Not everyone. We’re scattered, yes, but not dead.”

“And you want to help me?”

“You’re going to get your friend back, right?”

Well Jackie was more than a friend if Aster would stop lying to himself, but-

“Yeah basically.”

“You know Pitch won’t let him go, right? Not willingly. You’d have to kill Black for your friend to really go free.”

Aster sighs and nods. He had been trying to deny that, but having it shoved in his face like that was rather hard to ignore.

“Yeah,” He concedes. “I know.”

Toothiana and Sanderson are welcoming and kind, and it’s a lovely rest from the road to spend the day with then planning on the proper way to break into the dark palace of the nightmare king. Together they come up with a plan that sounds a lot better than Aster’s original walk in and pray idea.

Sanderson, it seems, is a wizard himself, the light to Pitch’s darkness. Thus, what would have taken Aster two more days to walk took them half an hour of flight all thanks to Sandy. Tooth shows them a hidden tunnel that had been used for flooding, but due to the castle having no rain in the past forty years it was rather useless.

the tunnel is damp and disgusting, and due to his lack of shoes Aster can feel every single squishy step he takes as they make their way down the tunnel for a good thirty meters.

The tunnel takes them to a wine cellar. It is there that they split into groups, each taking a different route to their final destination.

Aster, apparently, was the distraction because he couldn’t fly.

While he jogs through the castle corridors he can’t help but think of Jack, trapped and alone, in this dismal place. The elf boy was always so bright, and a place like this could easily snuff such a light out.

Eventually he comes to a small overlook above what must be the main throne room. It’s a crowded place, full of the darker beings of the world. Aster spots harpies and werewolves, amongst other monsters that go bump in the night. The room itself is massive, square in shape and nearly fifty meters in each direction, with one wall being made of nothing but glass.

And at the head of it all, sits Pitch Black himself.

Bunny glares at the man, trying to project his hate across the room, but then notices something with shock.

Jack sits on Pitch’s lap, with Pitch sitting to face the center of the hall and Jack sitting so that he faces the wall that Aster’s outlook rests on. The boy’s dressed in skimpy, black clothes that Jack wouldn’t be caught dead in. Bunny watches as Jack curls into Pitch, holding running pale fingers through the man’s hair and occasionally pressing small kisses along the grey jaw line near the top of his white hair.

You can almost hear Bunny’s heart breaking.

No. No. Jack would never love someone so... so... foul. He wouldn’t!

...Right?

Right. Bunny wouldn’t accept anything more. Bunny attends to the task at hand, deliberately not watching as Jack begins a full on make-out with the snake he’s sitting on. With a gruff flourish Aster pulls multiple bombs of his own design from his bandolier, and without any further ado tosses them into the crowd below.

They go off with a massive bang that echoes around the entire castle, sending guests and monstrous guards alike screaming and running for cover. Aster watches as Tooth and Sandy rush in through other openings in the wall, and mimics them by leaping from his own perch and grabbing a hold of a nearby banner, using it to slow his descent all the way to the floor.

As they approach Pitch and Jack, who hadn’t moved a muscle, Aster can see the multiple differences between this Jack and the one he’s seen a few days ago before this all began.

The Jack he’s presented with is more like a painted doll than the one Aster knows. This Jack wears a ridiculously skimpy belly top and harem pants, all covered with jewels and diamonds and other things Aster knows Jack considers wasteful, along with a tiara like crown of obsidian and diamonds atop his head.

But the most glaring difference is the eyes.

Jack Frost has the most amazing, enchanting blue eyes, that are always awake and playful, with a spark of mischief and fun.

This Jack’s eyes are not only such a light shade of grey that they almost blend in with his sclera, but they also lack any emotion whatsoever. They stare at Bunny, Tooth, and Sandy blankly, regarding them with indifference.

Pitch, right behind Jack, begins to laugh, the noise taking up the entire vacated room.

“Well this has to be the most pitiful rescue mission I’ve ever seen.” Pitch says through his chuckles. “I mean, are you kidding me?”

Jack just continues to look blankly, but Bunny watches as a small amount of twitching happens in his eyebrows as his eyes pass over Bunny.

“We’ve come to get Jack back.” Bunny hisses, slightly delighting as the twitching of Jack’s face gets a little more intense. “And I ain’t leaving without him!”

The smallest hint of blue begins to leak through grey.

“I’m afraid Jack’s rather content where he is.” Pitch responds dully, “Isn’t that right, love?”

All attention turns to Jack, who seems to be conflicted. “B-Bunny?” He mumbles as if unaware he’s even saying anything at all. Pitch’s face darkens instantly, and the man harshly grabs Jack’s hair. Jack goes along with the motions even as Bunny yells his protest, still somewhat under whatever spell Pitch had placed him under.

Pitch stands, shoving Jack behind him as Aster makes to rush the two, his face contorted into a scowl. He rather dramatically raises the hand not holding onto Jack’s shoulder and snaps his fingers, the noise from it rings louder than any snap has right to. Bunny sneaks a look at Jack, and notes that the blue is creeping back in.

A thundering roar echoes through the castle, and Aster can barely brace himself before the windows burst inwards as the dragon that had started all of this slams through them. Pitch and Jack are protected by the shards by way of force field, but the others are forced to duck for cover elsewhere. Aster mostly makes it out unharmed, and looks up quickly enough to see Pitch dragging a rather reluctant Jack towards a door to the left of the throne. The dragon roars as it begins to trash the room, nearly knocking Tooth from the sky.

“Go!” She cries as she dodges a swipe of claws, “We’ll handle this!”

Aster nods, already running for the door. Once slammed open he can see it leads to a long set of spiraling stairs, and Bunny can barely hear muffled cursing and protesting from the top. Jack’s yelling gets louder the higher Bunny gets up the stairs, and the rabbit only increases the pace as Jack’s screaming goes fearful instead of angry.

Jack!” Aster yells as he bolts up the stairs.

Aster!” Jack calls back, sounding much more pleading than Jackie deserved to be.

Once Bunny hits the top of the stair, he can see why.

Jack stands, still trapped in his stupid skimpy outfit, chained to the center of a circle of runes. A binding circle, Aster’s brain supplies, even as he rushes to Jack’s side intent on breaking the chain around the boy’s wrists. The open air and sky is dark behind him, making Jack almost seem to glow.

He’s so wrapped up in that particular task that he nearly misses the strike of pure shadow aimed for his heart. He does notice though, and barely gets out of the way in time. It slams into the wall behind him, cracking the stone into multiple sharp shards of stone.

Jack screams at him to run as the figure of Pitch Black materializes between Bunny and his elfin prince. The wizard wields a nasty looking scythe, made of blackened sands and shadow all stitched together. Bunny stands, pulling out his boomerangs from their holsters. The two circle each other, twitching and waiting for the other to make the first move.

Pitch eventually slashes forwards, and Bunny just barely dodges before throwing a perfectly aimed boomerang at Pitch’s head. The wizard turns it to ash in one fell swoop, though Bunny barely has time to mourn it before he’s forced to dodge another attack.

It goes like this for a while, both parties landing dodging and landing shots on the other. The wind howls as they do battle, growing ever louder.

Eventually Pitch gets Bunny on the ropes, the wizard landing a lucky shot that sends Bunny into the wall protecting the staircase. Aster lands with a muffled grunt, forced to catch his breath as Pitch descends upon him. The shadow man looms from above the rabbit, unknowing as Bunny grabs a particularly sharp shard of stone from the broken wall, the wizard too busy gloating.

“You will not take my queen from me.” Pitch hisses, raising his scythe high, leaving his chest unprotected.

With an inhuman yowl Bunny rises up and stabs the shadow man in the heart with the shard, driving it past the man’s ribs and deep into his heart. Pitch shudders and stumbles backwards, clutching his wound in shock. Golden eyes meet Bunny’s unfeeling green ones, and Pitch drops to the ground, dead.

Aster hears another gasp of shock, this one from Jack, and watches as the boy’s chains instantly crumble to ash. Jack looks at his free hands in shocked joy, turning to Aster with tears in his perfectly blue eyes. The boy sprints over to Bunny and throws himself into furred arms, sobbing in joy.

“You came for me,” Jack hiccups, “I knew you’d come from me, I knew it!”

Bunny just holds him tight, content to have Jack safe and sound. Jack suddenly pulls back, still in Aster’s arms but not pressed as close as possible. Aster watches in shock as Jack leans forwards and kisses his nose, then his cheek, and then buries himself back into Bunny’s arms.

And it’s all Bunny can do to wrap them around Jack firmly and enjoy the moment.

***

Aster and Jack get married in the spring. Bunny had actually taken up North’s offer of reward, so long as Jack was up for it. Jack had declared that he’d be offended if they didn’t go through with it, and thus a simplistic little ceremony had been put together. Tooth and Sandy had been invited as bridesmaid and best man respectively, and North had only cried a little bit.

And not a single dragon was present.