Title: The Boy From the Back of the North Wind
Warnings: ... mentions of death? It's pretty tame
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the idea
Summary: It was cold, and it was dark. This is his last memory, but also his first
"It is a hard thing you ask of him"
"He is strong enough to endure it"
"His road will be long and hard"
"But he will not walk it alone"
It was cold, and it was dark. That's the last thing he remembers. It was cold, and it was dark, and he was scared. And then suddenly he isn't, anymore.
Jack stands blinking and staring at the huge galvorn doors before him. They are ornate and forbidding, and he cannot help but notice they have no way of opening (from this side, at any rate). Wasn't he somewhere else just a moment ago? He frowns, puzzled by his lack of ability to remember - somehow, whatever it is he is forgetting, he knows it is on the other side of those doors. Reaching out to touch them he pushes, experimentally, but they do not yield (they are so huge, he thinks to himself, that he would likely not be able to budge them anyway).
"Jackson Overland Frost"
The Voice (and it definitely deserves capitalisation) is deep and authoritative and sends a frission of something less than fear but more than joy through him. Spinning around Jack sees that he stands in a great hall, with bright tapestries on the wall, and approaching him is a Man. As he comes closer Jack has to crane his head up to meet eyes as grey as the sea but lit with something old and aweful as he looks at Jack (it isn't pity, but perhaps something higher). He is dressed all in black and grey, with his dark hair worn long and a silver circlet around his brow, and the emblem of the sun in eclipse on his breast. Jack might almost be afraid, but he smiles, and it is the warmest thing Jack has ever seen (it reminds him of his father, that proud look).
"A friend" That is definitely amusement in those eyes, Jack notes, and pride too, and gentle fondness, as that of a proud parent. "Can you not guess, Jack?"
Frowning, Jack stares at him, and cannot shake the nagging feeling that he should know who this is. Also, there was something important that he was supposed to be doing, wasn't there? Someone important he's forgetting.
Jack, I'm scared!
Hey, it's okay, it's okay. It's gonna be alright. You... you've gotta believe in me.
Memory returns like a blow and he staggers, driven to his knees as he begins to hyperventilate. He was (is) drowning. Immediately the man is beside him, a calming hand on his head.
"Peace, Jack." He soothes, and begins to hum an ancient lullaby.
Gasping, Jack reaches out blindly, fisting hands in silken robes and feeling arms come around him. Slowly, he calms, and looking up into Death's grey eyes he flushes in embarrassment & scrubs the tears from his cheeks.
"Hush child" He places a finger to Jack's lips from where he kneels before him. "Death is often a shock, but I assure you that you are among friends here."
"Is well, child, and no longer your concern."
"I... did I save her?"
"You did, Jack. Your courage does you credit."
"I... I saved her. I saved her!" Smiling Jack looks up and finds that he is no longer afraid.
Nodding in approval Death offers Jack his hand and helps him to his feet.
"And was it worth it, Jack?"
"Yes" There is no hesitation and Jack stands proudly. "As long as she's safe, I would do anything."
"Well said. And it has accorded you a special task, Jack."
"A task? ...Sir?" Jack says, realising belatedly that one should probably be more polite to Death.
"I have been approached by an old friend, Jack. Requesting that you be asked to serve as one of his guardians."
"Who? And... guardians of what sir?"
"You would call him the 'Man in the Moon', I believe. And 'who', not 'what' - a guardian of childhood."
"The Man in the Moon is real? Sure, whatever, and a guardian of childhood? But... I'm dead."
"You are. Right now, anyway. But Jack, if you do this - it will not be easy. You will return not as Jackson Overland, but as one of the beings of myth. You will forget your mortal life and family, and you will have to endure much sorrow."
"Forget? I would... I would forget her?" Forget his little sister, with her trusting brown eyes, Jack, Jack, come and play! Forget his father, with his calloused hands, stern but gentle, and such pride in his eyes Well done Jackson. Forget his beautiful mother and her gentle smile Be careful Jack. "I..."
"If you do not wish it, I will tell him no, and you may pass through my Halls to your rest."
"And... if I say yes?"
"Then you will forget this conversation, and your mortal life, until such time that you need the memories. And you will wake as someone new, whose life is to watch over the children, even though they will not see you."
"Will I... will I be alone?"
That gets a smile, sad, but proud, as if he guesses Jack's final answer. "No, never, Jack." He beckons and a lady steps from the shadows to smile at them. She is tall and ageless, with bright eyes in a pale face, and her hair streams down her back like a dark cloud.
"Hello Jack," she says and kneels to clasp his hands in her own. "I am the North Wind."
Blinking he stares at her and says the first thing that pops into his head "You don't look like wind."
She throws her head back and laughs as he blushes, and Death joins in, and their laugh is like the ringing of bells, as if joy itself gave voice. Smiling despite his embarrassment, Jack cannot help but laugh as well.
"And you have seen the Wind then," she teases him, smiling "that you know what I look like?"
"You can't see the wind!" Jack responds, still embarrassed, but smiling now.
"Not normally, this is true," she says "And I don't always look like this, of course! But I have work to do in the world, and would not mind a companion."
"Have you been alone this whole time then?"
"No, Jack. I have my orders from my Lord, of course, but I have all the world and its people as well, even if they cannot see me, and there are the other Winds as well. So you see, I have never really been alone, not truly."
"But you have been lonely."
She starts at that and smiles at him "Yes, I suppose I have been, sometimes."
Nodding, Jack looks up at Death. "Then... if it will help Wind and I can protect the children. I will do it."
The smile he gets in return is proud and sad all at once. "So be it"
And Jack's world goes white, and the last thing he hears is Death telling North Wind to take good care of him, and then he sleeps, and forgets.
It is dark, and it is cold. That's the first thing he remembers. It is dark, and cold, and he is afraid. And then he sees the moon.