Once upon a time, there were two mothers.
The first one made a wish.
She wished for a child with skin as fair as snow, hair as black as ebony and lips as red as blood. On the coldest night of winter, she walked out into the snow, pricked her finger, watched the blood drip red upon the ice, a scarlet rose blooming upon the white and made her wish.
There were other wishes that she had made too, for her husband to find peace from the demons and the nightmares that had made him cry out at night, for her son to be spared a similar fate. She stood for a long while, wishing and hoping, for she would not despair. She would not bend. She would not break.
The cold had never bothered her anyway.
Her child would be born, a healthy boy, and her wish would be true - skin as fair as snow, hair ebony-black and lips as red as blood. His eyes were the color of the frozen winter sky and like his mother, the cold would never harm him. Winter would be kind to her son and he would grow and thrive even under the harshest circumstances.
The second mother dreamed.
She would dream of a Moor, of an enchanted place where no human was meant to walk, where the Good Folk gathered to frolic. She would dream of flowers that bloomed nowhere in the waking world, of water clear and clean and the air cool and sweet.
She would dream that she wore a crown of flowers and that she was proclaimed Queen of this land and that once she slept a cursed slumber and was woken with true love’s kiss.
She was not awakened by a Prince.
They were dreams. They were truth. They were somewhere in between.
When her son is born, with her fair hair and his eyes the color of the Moor’s sky in summer, she would hold him close, whisper to him the old stories. She would teach him to respect the Fair Folk, the Good People. She would take joy in her boy’s pure, kind heart and the strength of spirit that far outstripped his poor, frightfully weak body.
And in the worst of his many childhood illnesses, she would take him into her arms so that he could hear her beating heart, remember to breathe in sync with her own breaths. And she would whisper, “Godmother, my son, please, my sweet boy, don’t let him die.”
And he would sleep, cheeks flushing with health again and be wakened by his mother’s loving kiss.
One day, the children of Winter and Summer meet.
Summer’s Boy is still frail, still prone to sickness. But he still possesses that pure, kind heart and that strength of will, that fierce sense of justice and a need to stand for what is Right. He is bright and ever-hopeful, even when most men will break.
It is this that makes Winter’s Child love him.
Winter’s Child is strong and hardy, fair of face and sweetly charming. He is careless of his affections, bestowing smiles and kisses where he wished. His heart, however, is carefully guarded and his loyalty, once won true and fair, doesn’t break. He gives both to Summer’s Boy, his best friend, from their childhood onwards.
It is this that makes Summer’s Boy love him as well.
Both of them protect and defend - Summer’s Boy fights for those as weak and helpless as he is. Winter’s Child for his dearest friend.
When they are young men, things change.
They call each other “Punk” and “Jerk.”
What it really means is I love you.
They live together, in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer. They make their vows, with only themselves to witness. Not without you. ‘Till the end of the line.
One day, War comes calling.
Winter’s Child goes unwillingly, for he would not leave his beloved to fend for himself.
Summer’s Boy yearns to go with him, for while it is true that he would fight for Right and there is Right to be found here, he too did not want his beloved to fight by himself, to perhaps die far from home.
One day, Summer’s Boy will be pricked by needles, though not from a spindle. He will wake to find his weak body transformed into one that will match the strength of his heart and his spirit. He will finally come to War not as the perfect soldier everyone wanted, but as a Good Man.
They will call him the Captain.
He will fight at the side of his beloved, the Captain and his Soldier. The Captain will watch his beloved fall and think him dead and he himself will make a hero’s sacrifice and sleep frozen for nearly a hundred years.
He won’t be wakened with a kiss, but he will wake, out of time, without his beloved at his side, called to be a hero once again.
When Winter’s Child falls, sacrificing his life for his Captain and love, he would be found by wicked men. They would feed him poison, though not from an apple. They would wield him as a weapon. They would keep him frozen in a metal coffin, instead of a glass one. They would take his memories and his true name. They would make him the perfect weapon of War, no longer a man, but an Asset.
They will call him the Winter Soldier.
He will be sent with orders to kill the man he had once loved. He will fight and he will wound and hurt the face and the body that he had once worshiped with his hands and lips.
He won’t be wakened with a kiss, but he will wake, with his name, his own true name, spoken from his Captain’s lips, called to life once again.
Your name is James Buchanan Barnes. You are my friend.
(my heart, my love)
The Winter Soldier will scream: You are my mission.
(to protect, to defend, not to kill, no no no no no no)
These are both true. It is somewhere in between.
So this is why Summer’s Boy, Steve Rogers, son of the woman who named herself Sarah in this lifetime, will go to a Certain Tree in Central Park. This tree is an ancient oak and it has always stood here, the secret heart of the city, a doorway and a path. A throne.
And he will kneel and he will ask a favor, respectfully, his heart aching and full of hope.
"Godmother, my beloved is alive and lost to me. Please, godmother, help me find him. Help me show him the way home."
And his Godmother will descend from Her Throne, still tall, still beautiful, still terrible as the Dawn, treacherous as the Sea, strong as the foundations of the Earth. She will lift his chin with a slender finger and then she will bend and whisper her response. An answer. The key.
This is the beginning of ever after.
- end -