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Easter Surprise

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Sophie brushed her blonde locks out of her face. She was tired. She had been drawing a bowl of fruit for about an hour now, and she was getting sick of it. She looked at the clock. It was 10 pm. Slowly, she closed her art book and got up from her seat. Sophie sighed, going to the bathroom to get ready for bed. She knew she had to be in bed early; it was the school photos tomorrow, after all. She smiled to herself. It would also be Easter. Despite Bunny never coming to her house anymore, she still believed in him, secretly. Jamie hadn't moved on from the Guardians either; he'd manage to convince his girlfriend, Laura, that the Guardians existed. Jamie had a knack for helping others 'see the truth', as Laura would put it. It was one of the many things Sophie liked about her brother. 

 

As Sophie got into bed, she thought of the Guardian of Hope once more before finally falling asleep. She dreamed of her and Bunny meeting again and what would happen. Somehow, his emerald orbs seemed to be the main focus of the dream, though she had no idea why. 

 

Little did she know that tomorrow, she'd find out.  

Sophie was ecstatic for today. It was Easter! And more importantly, she knew  that they were going to start drafting their final piece, and she knew exactly who to draw. She smiled widely as she walked into class and sat down in her usual space. She was alone today, since Lilly was ill again. 

"Alright everyone! Today we have a new student joining our art class, named Aster. He's Australian." 

Aster? Sophie thought. She was sure she'd heard that name somewhere before. Jamie had mentioned it. It had belonged to someone they knew, but she was uncertain as to which person the name belonged to, since there were a lot of people that the Bennetts knew.

As Sophie tried to figure it out, she saw a boy walk in, presumably Aster. He was muscular, with brown skin, grey hair and deep, emerald eyes. He stood at six foot, wearing a grey suit with a black tie. The boy looked very strange. No one sniggered like Sophie expected; everyone was in awe of him, including her. His eyes locked with hers for a moment before the teacher asked, "Aster, could you sit next to Miss Bennett, please?" 

"Bennett?" he asked suddenly. It was like he recognised her name. Sophie shrugged. It was probably some other girl's name...right? 

"Yes please." 

"Oh, right. Sure." Aster made his way over to Sophie, who smiled shyly at him before opening her sketch book. She finished off the bowl of fruit that she had nearly completed yesterday before turning a new page and wrote the words, 'Final Piece' in bold letters. She then began to draw Bunnymund. After some time, she heard a gruff voice. 

"Who's that?"

"This? Oh, I basically decided to draw from my childhood and, well, I thought I might as well draw my favourite Easter figure," Sophie replied with a bright smile. She began to draw the symbol that adorned the rabbit's head when she froze, realising something. She looked up at Aster and her eyes widened. He had the same symbol on his forehead. 

How? How did he have the exact same symbol? Was it a tattoo? A birthmark, even? 

Sophie didn't realise she was staring at him until she heard him ask, "do you want anything?"

"No, I just, I couldn't help notice...never mind," the blonde mumbled, going back to drawing. 

"No, what is it?" 

"You have the same mark in your head in the same place as the Easter Bunny," Sophie explained. 

"What did you say your name was?" 

"I didn't mention my name to you, sorry. Sophie." 

Aster's eyes widened. "Sophie Bennett?" 

"Yes, why-" 

"Jamie Bennett's sister?" 

Her eyes widened. "Are you...The Easter Bunny?" 

Aster cringed. "Yes." 

Sophie dropped her pencil. 

Chapter Text

"Y-You-" 

"I'll talk to you after school," Aster cut in. Sophie nodded. She reached down to pick up her pencil but Aster got there first. Their hands touched. Sophie laughed nervously, quickly withdrawing her hand. Aster gave it to her. "Thanks," she whispered. 

"Welcome," Aster replied. She gave him a warm smile before resuming her artwork. She couldn't believe it! Her favourite Guardian was sitting right beside her. She felt something build up inside her stomach, but it soon subsided as she began to colour in the rabbit she'd drawn. Out of the corner of her eye, she was Aster look at her and smile before turning back to his art book. 

 

After school, Sophie met Aster beside the lockers. He walked over to her, running a hand through his hair. "So, should I tell you?" 

"Sure. Let me just get my stuff." In a rush, Sophie opened her locker door and got her stuff before slamming it shut and locking it. She looked at Aster. "Let's go." 

 

Sitting at the front where no one could hear them, Aster told the story. "The Moon turned all of us into humans." 

Sophie's mouth dropped open. "Wha...why?" 

"I don't know," Bunny sighed. "I think it was Jack. He was being too reckless as a spirit, so Manny just made us mortal." 

"But that's not fair!" Sophie exclaimed. A few heads turned and she blushed, quickly ducking down. "That's not fair," she repeated, quieter than before. "It should have been just him." 

"No, that wouldn't be fair on Jack himself," Bunny said with a shake of his head. "Besides, if only Jack was made mortal, he might die, and then we'd lose a guardian." 

Sophie nodded solemnly, then sighed. "I guess," she said. She looked to the front of the bus. "Next stop is mine. Where do you live?" 

"Well, North rented a house not far from here. In fact, I think it's the same stop as yours." 

"Huh," the blonde said. "Who's his spouse?" 

"Sandy," Aster replied. "We decided to go with gay parents. Nothing wrong with that, right?" 

"Right. Well, this is our stop. Come on." 

The two gathered their stuff and got off the bus. Aster grinned as they began walking. "Jack's the odd one out cause he's palest," he snickered. 

"Tooth's not white either?" 

"Nope. She's Asian. Her palace is in South Asia so...makes sense." 

"What about North and Sandy?" 

"North is still white, but Sandy's black. Diversity, right?" 

"Yeah, you don't usually see an interracial gay couple every day," Sophie said with a smile. "Oh, I really wanna see them now!" she whined. 

"You will, you will," Aster laughed, ruffling her hair. Sophie pouted. Her expression just made Bunny laugh harder. "Alrigh', see ya." 

"Bye!" Sophie called. She waved and watched Aster walk away from her for a few moments before opening the door. Her mother was greeted with a teenage daughter beaming from ear to ear. "Hi Mum!" 

"Hey sweetie, how was your day?" 

"Good, yeah." 

"Oh, did I tell you? I met this couple today in the cafe. They're so lovely. New neighbours, you know," the mother called. 

Sophie had a hunch she knew who her mother was talking about. 

"What are their names?" 

"Nicholas and Sandy," her mother replied. "They have three teenagers at school actually. One's in year 11, and the other two - the boys - are in year 12. Apparently the eldest goes to your school." 

"Oh yeah, he does. I met him today! His name's Aster," Sophie said, recalling their conversation earlier. 

"Ooh, do you like him?" 

"Mum!" Sophie exclaimed. "No I don't - we only just met each other!" 

The mother laughed. "Whatever you say sweetie," she said with a wink. Sophie groaned, walking to the phone hanging on the wall. "You know, I used to tease Jamie about Laura all the time. He kept saying 'no, no mum I don't like her!' and now, they're boyfriend and girlfriend." 

"I thought Jamie was gay until he said about Laura," Sophie said. She finished dialling the number on the phone. In a few seconds, a familiar voice answered. "Hello?" 

"Laura! Hi!" 

"Oh hey Sophie, how's it going?" 

"Good, yeah." 

"Heads up - we're going to come over this weekend. Don't tell your mum - it's a surprise!" 

"I won't," Sophie giggled. The two talked for a few more minutes before Laura handed over the phone to Jamie. 

"HEY JAMIE!" Sophie shouted into the phone. "Geez Sophie, not so loud!" Jamie said. Sophie frowned. "Oh, sorry." 

"No, no, it's fine. Ah, my ear...yep, I'm fine. How's my little sis?" 

"I need to tell you something," Sophie said eagerly. Suddenly, her mum grabbed the phone. "She likes a boy!" 

"Mum! That is completely not true! I'll tell you upstairs Jamie," Sophie said. She could hear Jamie whining. "Laura, stop poking me!" 

"She's your girlfriend, she's allowed to poke you," Sophie said with a roll of her eyes as she entered her room and closed the door. She sat on her bed. "So, here's the thing I wanna tell you. You know the Guardians?" 

"Yeah, course I know them," Jamie replied. "I believe in them." 

"Yeah, I...Jamie! This is serious! Stop laughing!" Sophie exclaimed. 

"Yes, your Majes-oh my God Laura!" Jamie exclaimed. Sophie could hear Laura laughing and laughed a little before continuing. "Anyway, get this...Manny turned the Guardians into humans." 

"What? Why?" 

"Yeah. It was Jack's fault, according to Bunny." 

"Do you like Bunny?" Jamie teased. Sophie huffed. "No. Just listen, listen. Mum met North and Sandy - they're the gay parents-" 

"North and Sandy are a couple? Can we visit them?" Laura asked eagerly. Both Bennett siblings laughed at that. 

"Yeah, sure. Maybe this weekend! I'll ask mum." 

"Sure. Oh, gotta go, pasta's done. Bye!" 

"See ya lover boy," Sophie grinned. She hung up and ran downstairs, nearly tripping over herself as she did so. She grinned at her mum, putting the phone back on the wall. 

This was definitely going to be an interesting week.

Chapter Text

"Hey Tooth, wait up!" Aster heard Jack exclaim. He hopped on one foot, finishin his apple before throwing it in the bin. The girl laughed. The former Pooka grinned as he watched Jack run to catch up with her. He turned, seeing North and Sandy. "Don't ya worry, I'll be fine," he said dismissively. Before he went out the door though, he hugged both of the oldest Guardians before walking out the door and closing it, locking it behind him. 

Aster began to round the corner. Luckily, his house was only three minutes from Sophie's. He saw her emerge from the house and turn round. "Aster!" she called. 

"Hey Sophie," the boy replied. "Ready for today?" 

"I have Sociology," she groaned. Bunny laughed at her pout and chuckled. "Come on, let's go." 

 

-

 

"Soph!" 

Sophie was suddenly tackled by a girl with black hair in a plait, deep brown eyes and brown skin. Sophie laughed. "Hey Lilly. How's everything?" 

"Tiring. I'm not sure what happened yesterday. I think I passed out...but I'm fine now! Who's this?" she asked, nodding to Aster. 

"Oh, this guy? His name's Aster." 

"Huh. Nice to meet you, I'm Lilly." The two shook hands and Aster offered a warm smile. 

"Oh look, it's Jan. Hey," Sophie greeted her other friend. 

"Hey Sophie, Lilly. Who's that?" they asked. 

"Aster," the young man said. "I'm Jan," they said, shaking Aster's hand firmly. Aster watched as Jan combed back their blue hair, looking to Lilly. "What class do we have now?" 

"Uh...geography." 

"Alright, let's go. See ya!"

The two walked off, leaving the blonde and the former Guardian to walk their separate ways to their own classes. 

 

 

After school, Aster and Sophie were on their way home. 

"Those girls seemed nice." 

"Ah, I uh, forgot to tell you...Jan is non binary."

"Non binary? Wha's that?" 

"It's basically where you're neither male nor female. You use they/them pronouns." 

"So they were born non binary?" 

"No, no! Well, there is the case of intersex people. Jan isn't intersex though." 

"Intersex is when you're both male and female, right?" 

"No...alright, you're coming with me." Sophie grabbed Aster's arm and dragged him to her house. 

"W-Where are we going?" The former Pooka asked, alarmed. 

"YOU are going to learn a lesson." 

"But we just had school!" 

Sophie rolled her eyes. "It's not a school subject, unfortunately."   

 

Five minutes later, the two were sitting on Sophie's bed. "Intersex is a term used when people's genitalia identify as neither male nor female." 

"That's a thing?" 

"Yes...why are you writing it down?!"

"You said it was a lesson!" Aster protested.

"No, no. It must be learnt by the mind." 

"Well, look at you being the wise one," Aster chuckled. Despite herself, Sophie couldn't help but giggle at that. 

"Alright Pooka, let's carry on. Non binary is when your gender identifies as neither male nor female."

"Oh, so it's the gender, not sex. Right." 

"Yep. Aaaaand we're done!" 

"Phew! Need to go home now. Tooth will be so worried," the former Guardian said.

Sophie led Aster downstairs and to the door. He paused, looking at Sophie. "Thanks for the lesson ankle-biter," he said softly. "It...it really opened my eyes." 

"Was that a religious experience for you or something?" Sophie asked with a slight laugh. 

"In a way, yeah." Aster looked at Sophie, who had now gone quiet, watching him for a moment before smiling brightly. "Well, I'm glad you're better for it." 

"Jack wouldn't have done so well teaching me this, you know." 

"Why Jack?" Sophie asked as she unlocked and opened the door. Aster stepped out. "Oh, he probably forgot to tell you. He's pansexual, and Tooth is gay." 

"You're a very diverse family," Sophie said. "I wish my family was like that." 

"Maybe they are and you don't realise it," Aster shrugged. "Anyway, see you." 

"Bye." Sophie gave Aster one last smile before closing the door and locking it. She didn't take any notice of his second last sentence. After all, no one in her family was part of the LGBTIQ community...right?

Chapter Text

Jamie was in the kitchen, cooking dinner. He felt someone wrap their arms around his waist. "And what do I smell that's so delicious?" He heard Laura's voice and chuckled. 

"Beef and onion stew with carrots and turnips," he replied. He could feel Laura grin and she kissed his cheek. "It looks good! Oh uh, you've put the heat a little too high." She took her arms away from Jamie's waist and turned down the heat on the stove a little. The young man frowned slightly at the loss of contact. He looked at his girlfriend, who brushed some of her light brown hair out of her hazel eyes. Laura's eyes were beautiful. Maybe that was what attracted him to her so much. He paused, his gaze lingering on her for a moment before he jumped, feeling heat burn his hand. "Ow," he said. Laura looked at him. "You okay?" 

"I think I burnt my hand. Could you take over?" The eldest Bennett sibling asked, going over to the sink to run his hand under cold water. 

"Sure." Laura continued to stir the stew until she recognised it was fully done. She switched off the cooker and put the pan on the side, getting out two bowls and pouring an equal amount into each bowl. She looked into the pan to see if there was any left. "Wow. Jamie, you've cooked more than usual. I know! We could bring it round to your mum's this weekend!" 

"Huh? Oh, sure." Jamie smiled. "That sounds like a good idea." He took the bowls and put them on the mats at the table. 

"Thanks. Is your hand better?" Laura asked as she sat down.

"It was just my thumb actually, but yeah, it's better." Jamie saw Laura looking at him. Then, she reached over and grasped his hand. "I love you Jamie Bennett," she said softly. The brown haired man smiled gently. "And I love you, Laura Archer." They leaned over and shared a quick kiss before separating and beginning to eat. 

 

 

Sophie had made supper for herself. Her mum had said she was going to work late tonight. She'd managed to ask her mum if the five could come round next week (she called them 'the Guardians', since according to Aster, that was now their surname). Mum said yes and once again teased Sophie about Aster, and once again, Sophie had whined about not liking anyone at the moment and hung up with a huff. 

 

The blonde was getting comfy on the couch when the phone rang. She paused, looking at the object before going over to it. "Hello?" 

"Hi, Sophie?" 

"Tooth!" she exclaimed. "How are you?" 

"Good, yeah. Listen, uh...we need your help. North and Sandy are out and Jack needs another person to help him up to take him home." 

"Where are you?" Sophie asked, going to the hallway. "We're at Sydney's." 

"Oh no, is he drunk?" 

"Yeah." 

Sophie sighed. "Alright." She fished out the keys from the key bowl and opened the door, going out before closing it and locking it behind her. She began running to Sydney's, looking at the time on her watch. It was 7. What was Jack doing, getting drunk at 7? "Everyone knows you drink late at night, not at dinner," Sophie muttered, opening the door.

She looked around the bar, seeing only a few people there. It was easy to spot Jack. He was giggling hysterically, latching onto Tooth's arm. Sophie walked over, surprising Aster. "Here I am. Need some help?" 

"Yeah. Thanks," Tooth smiled. She grunted as she, Aster and Sophie dragged Jack out the club, but not before the former winter spirit whacked a girl's butt. Sophie had rolled his eyes at his immaturity. She'd seen this girl around; her name was Anna, and she was usually at the bus stop, waiting for another bus that Sophie knew she herself would never get on. She was pretty, with strawberry blonde hair, vibrant blue eyes and freckles adorning her face. It was strange seeing her at a club like Sydney's. Sophie knew she'd have to apologise on Jack's behalf tomorrow. 

 

Once they'd got him home, Jack fell onto his bed. Tooth, Aster and Sophie watched over him worriedly. 

"You can go Sophie," Aster said. "I think your mum's gonna be worried about you if she doesn't see you there to greet her." 

"Alright." Sophie got up. Tooth showed her to the door and suddenly hugged her. "Thank you for helping us," she said. Sophie hugged back. "You're welcome," she replied. She waved to the girl before walking off. Sophie sighed and jogged home. When she got there, her mum still wasn't back. She checked the clock. It was half 8 now. Just then, she heard her mum open the door and smiled. "Mum!" 

"Someone nearly crashed into me. I had take the long way." 

"Oh God, are you okay?"

"Yeah." 

The mum sat down on the sofa. "Did you make supper?" 

"Yes, I did. In fact..." Sophie rushed to the kitchen and placed two pieces of pizza on a plate. She heated it in the microwave before giving to her mum, who smiled and thanked her. Sophie returned the smile and sighed, going upstairs to her room and sitting down on her bed. Hopefully, Jack would be alright tomorrow.

Chapter Text

On Wednesday, It was an inset day, so no one went into school. At home, Sophie hung up the phone on the wall. She had been listening to a voice message left by Jamie and Laura, who had all these plans for Mrs Bennett's birthday. Sophie realised she hadn't brought a gift. She grabbed her keys. She needed to do something else first. 

 

The blonde made her way to the bus stop. However, what she found was surprising; Jack was apologising feverishly to Anna. She noticed he was tired. Hangover, she thought to herself with a small smile. After he walked away, Sophie approached Anna. "I was going to apologise on his behalf but...looks like he's already done it." 

"Yeah," Anna smiled slightly. "He's not like the other boys I've seen in Sydney's. He's...different." Her smile widened when she said that. "Oh, my bus is here." She signalled for the bus and when it stopped, she got on. "Well, see you," Sophie said. Anna smiled warmly in reply and waved as the doors closed and the bus sped down the highway. 

With a sigh, Sophie turned and walked, crossing the road and going up the high street. She looked into one of the stores, New Look. She walked in and looked around for some jewellery to buy for her mum. She bought a necklace and some earrings. She'd managed to find her favourite type. With a smile at the cashier lady, she collected the gifts after paying for them and walked out, going down the street and back to her house. 

 

Once she'd dumped the items in her room where they wouldn't be seen, Sophie sighed. She decided to go meet the Guardians, well, what was left of the siblings anyway. Aster was probably lonely. As she went downstairs, she thought of what they would do. It was kind of awkward now, since he was human and not a bunny anymore, so they couldn't go around and look for different animals like they normally did. 

Suddenly, just as she was about to unlock the door, the phone began to ring. 

Sophie bit her lip, looking in the direction of the living room, unsure of whether to answer it or not. However, the ringing seemed to get more insistent, and with a somewhat irritable sigh, Sophie stalked to the living room and answered the phone. 

"Mum, I'm just-" 

"This is Sophie, isn't it?" 

Strange unknown man, deep voice...I should hang up.

"No, sorry bye!" she said quickly and hung up. After all, she didn't want to be killed. She decided to talk to Aster about this. 

 

Ten minutes later, Aster and Sophie were talking about the strange encounter she had. The former Pooka seemed curious. 

"What did his voice sound like?" 

"It was all strange and velvety and just plain confusing. I don't know what he wanted." 

"Hmm. Well, I don't know either, so...the important thing is, if he calls again, contact us immediately." 

"What about my mum?" 

"I'm scared she'll be worried to no end," Aster confessed. "She is a strong lady though." 

Sophie smiled at that. "Yeah. She is." 

-

A grey hand put down the phone. Behind the figure came a muffled cry as his prisoner tried to get free. The man turned towards his captive with a sickly smile. "Well, looks like Sophie isn't too thrilled about the weekend either."

He walked over and hunched down, reaching out a hand. The person tied up seemed to whimper and withdrew from him. The man stood up. "Oh come on! You can't be that scared!" A smirk suddenly formed on his lips. "Is it because Laura isn't with you? Is that right? Well, she certainly is a beauty..." he chuckled, going over to a wall and pulling a lever. The wall turned round.

An unconscious Laura's arms and legs were spread, with the wrists and ankles clamped to the wall. Luckily, the man had made no attempt to undress her. The prisoner's eyes widened on seeing his girlfriend like that and struggled more, determined to free himself and Laura. The man chuckled and turned to him.

"Oh Jamie...you're going to need more than an oblivious sister to save you."

Chapter Text

When Sophie got back from Aster's, her mum was rushing off to work, her brown bag slung over her shoulder. She looked really stressed. 

"Mum?" 

"I'll talk to you later honey. Bye!" She ran down the street. Sophie gasped, seeing she was about to run into a bus. 

"Mum!" she screamed, rushing after her and pulling her back forcefully. She put her hands on her face. Her mum had gone completely pale. "Alright, you're taking a day off work." She tried to get her back to their house, but her mum was resisting. 

"No! No I can't-" 

"You're ill-" 

"I'm fine-" 

"Mum!" Sophie ran a hand over her face and sighed. "Please. You look unwell. I'll look after you, okay?" 

This time, her mum didn't reply. She just weakly nodded as Sophie gently took her hand and led her down the street. 

"Emily! Are you alright?" 

Said woman turned round and saw North, who looked worried. She just smiled. "I'm fine Nicholas." 

"If you're sure," Nicholas said. He cast a gaze at Sophie. It wasn't one of pity, but of empathy. Like he knew what it was like to care for someone in Emily's current condition. 

Then, he walked off the opposite direction, and Sophie resumed getting her mother into the house. Once she had, she sat her down on the sofa in the living room and made her some tea. She gave the cup to her. Hands shaking, Emily took a sip and placed the mug on the table beside the couch, putting her hands on her thighs. She began drumming her fingers and changed her position so she was more comfortable.

"Mum..." Sophie started quietly. "What's wrong?" 

"It's just that...well..." Emily sighed and looked away. "At work, there's this new employee, and, well, he's quite narrow-minded. He says lots of racist and homophobic things." 

"Mum, that's awful." But why is it affecting you so much? Sophie thought. 

As if reading her mind, her mum answered. 

"I'm not...I'm not straight."

She didn't break down into sobs like Sophie expected. Instead, she just looked down, and Sophie watched as tears began to silently fall from her mum's eyes, like raindrops, and onto the onto the blankets. She took her hand. 

"Mum...I will always love you, no matter what you identify as." 

Her mum smiled through her tears and sniffed. "I feel a little bit better now." 

With a slight laugh, Sophie hugged her mum, who hugged back.

The phone suddenly rang again. The two looked over to her Sophie's iPhone that was across the room. Slowly, Sophie got up from the sofa and answered it. "Hello?" 

"Sophie, you remember me, don't you?" 

"Who are you?" 

Her mum made a motion to give to her. Sophie quickly did so. 

"Why, I'm the Bogeyman." 

"Really? Well Mr Bogeyman, I'm Sophie's mother, and if you could stop harassing my daughter, that would be great." 

"But Mrs Bennett, wouldn't like to say hello to your son?" 

"Yes...wait. Why do-" 

Immediately, Jamie's voice came on. Her mum put it on speaker. 

"Mum?" 

"Jamie! Oh my God, are you okay?" 

"He kidnapped us." 

"W-Where are you?" 

"We're at-" 

"You'll never find them." The voice switched back to the captor. 

"Pitch! Give my brother and his girlfriend back!" Sophie shouted.

"Oh, you remember my name? Lovely."

"What's his name?" her mum asked, grabbing a notepad and pen from the table. 

"Pitch Black," Sophie recalled. She glared at the phone as Pitch repeated his name at the same time as her. 

"You know, you're telling us all your details," Sophie said, watching as her mum got up to get the phone from the kitchen. 

"And you're calling the police, correct?" 

"Yes," her mum replied. 

"Mum, don't! He'll move to a different location otherwise!" Jamie's voice could be heard in the distance as Pitch laughed. 

"Are there any other contacts?" Emily asked desperately. 

"Actually, there is," Sophie said with a slight smirk. 

"Wait, what do you-" Pitch asked, but was cut off as Sophie ended the call. She turned to her mum. 

"The Guardians can help us."

Chapter Text

"Aster!" 

"Sophie?" The former Pooka looked up and saw his friend running towards him. Also, was that...her mum...? 

They stopped in front of him. Emily breathed heavily. "Sophie said you could help us." 

"What with?" Aster asked, curious. 

"Jamie and Laura have been kidnapped by Pitch." 

Aster's eyes widened. "Oh no." 

"Wait, you know the kidnapper?" Emily asked as she and Sophie followed Aster inside his house. 

"Unfortunately very well, Mrs Bennett," he replied. He called North. "Dad...Pitch is back." 

"Pitch? What's he done?" North's thick Russian accent could be heard on speaker mode. 

"Jamie and Laura have been kidnapped." 

"But Manny turned us hum-"

"Dad I know. Just...can you get Sandy on the phone?" 

"He can't talk Aster."

"Oh right, yeah. Forgot, sorry." 

Before Aster could say any more, Sophie snatched the phone from him. "Mr Guardian, is there anything you can do to help?" 

"I can ask Manny, but it might be difficult. We need to get through someone first, and she doesn't please easily." 

"Who is it?" 

She heard North take a deep breath before answering. "Mother Nature." 

 

 

The next day, Sophie and Aster went to school, but on fifth period, they both snuck out to try and find Aster's car. Sophie easily found his green car among the other cars in the car park and got in with Aster. 

"I can't believe we're doing this!" she exclaimed as she fastened her seat belt. 

"Neither can I. Your mum still in denial?" Aster asked as he started the ignition. 

"Yeah."

After Emily had been informed on what was really going on, the brown haired woman couldn't believe her ears. 

"Maybe 'the Bogeyman' is just his public name," she said. Sophie didn't know what to say after that. Laura would probably agree, but secretly seethe. Jamie would outright scream. Sophie was glad she wasn't Jamie herself. She wouldn't know how to handle the whole situation if she was. 

Jamie...

 

All of a sudden, Sophie began to cry. Aster quickly pulled over next to a forest, looking at her. "Sophie?" he asked worriedly. 

"I miss Jamie!" 

She sounded like a child, and she felt even more stupid for shedding tears, but she couldn't hold it back anymore. 

As the tears flowed, Sophie couldn't help but wonder what was happening to Jamie and Laura. Hopefully nothing bad.

Yeah right. 'Nothing bad'. What's wrong with me? 

 

Sophie looked up and through her tears, she saw a figure. 

"Jamie?" she whispered. Maybe she was delirious, but she was sure it was him. "Jamie!" she exclaimed. She got out of the car. 

"Sophie!" Aster called. He jumped out of his car, taking his keys with him and stuffing it in his blazer pocket. He grabbed his phone. "Jack, Sophie's entered the forest near Oak School." 

"On it." 

He hung up after she did, and continued running towards his friend.  

 

Meanwhile, Sophie kept running. As she neared the figure however, she realised that the figure didn't look like Jamie at all.

She slowed her pace to a halt as she looked, standing some feet away from the figure. 

"Jamie?"

 

She suddenly fell to the floor. Sophie looked up on seeing a young woman looming over her. She was about 16, with black hair down to her feet, deep brown eyes and olive skin. She wore a dark green dress, made of moss. 

"Who dares come into my forest?" 

"Me, I-" Suddenly, she cut off with an exclamation. 

"Where were you going?" 

"This way!" an Australian accent said. 

"I thought you were going the other way." 

A growl. "Jaaaack-whoa!" 

The two teenagers were suddenly tied and lifted up by vines. They were both hanging upside down. 

"Who are you?" 

"Seraphina, it's us! Aster and Jack!" 

"The Guardians? Strange." She immediately dropped them. Aster got up, pushing Jack down further onto the vines as he did so. The former winter spirit glowered and made a face. Sophie couldn't help giggling at the spectacle. 

Seraphina rolled her eyes. Suddenly, a voice called, "Jack! Aster!" 

The four looked up. Tooth stopped, looking at Mother Nature in slight shock. Seraphina was staring at her.

"Tooth?" 

"Hi." The girl adjusted the strap of her yellow bag on her shoulder. 

"Oh, I can uh, I-I can explain..." she stammered. "It's fine. We're trying to find Pitch." 

Seraphina grimaced at the name. "What did he do?" 

"He kidnapped this girl's brother and his girlfriend." 

Seraphina frowned. "Right. Well...I know where he is. I've tracked his movements." 

"And?" Aster asked. 

"He's in um...France." 

"France?!" Jack exclaimed. "How do we get there?" 

Sophie paused. "I know a way."

 

 

Emily came back from shopping. She paused as she looked at the photo of Jamie and Laura in the hallway. She sighed and carried on into the kitchen. What she saw made her drop the groceries. 

 

It was a big rabbit hole, with a note at the side. Being careful to not fall in, she picked up the note. 

'Jump in when you're ready. Faithfully, MiM' 

"'MiM'?" Emily said aloud to herself. She was sure she'd heard that name before; from her childhood, perhaps. Her childhood...

 

She ran upstairs to the attic. Rummaging through the clutter, she grabbed a picture from the trash. It was a picture of a small man dressed elegantly, with a cane and a moon symbol on his head. Was this MiM? She hoped it was. 

She also hoped that Jamie and Laura would be okay.

Chapter Text

Jack sat down next to Aster and smirked, deciding to scare him.

"You get the window seat, so you get see just how high up we are, Cottontail!"

Aster paled noticeably and almost passed out with the realisation. Jack was grinning like a madman. The only thing that brought back Aster to consciousness was Sophie's voice.

"We ready?" the blonde asked everyone. They had their seat belts on, looking forward as they waited for the captain to confirm the start of their flight. 

"Yes," everyone else chorused, all except Seraphina, who was in the air, set about on directing the plane to France. 

"Hello passengers! This is your captain," a familiar voice cheerfully commentated. "We'll be taking off in five minutes. Please keep seated." 

"Anna?!" Jack exclaimed. "How-" 

"Oh it's fine, her father's a pilot. She completed training ages ago," Toothiana said with a casual air. Jack calmed down after that.

"This is my first flight, so there might minor turbulence." 

"What?" 

"Or major turbulence."

"Oh crikey!" Aster exclaimed. Sophie giggled. The former Pooka looked up at her and smiled. Sophie smiled back, blushing and cast her eyes down to the ground. Aster smirked slightly.  

"So, we all ready?" 

"Yes!" Everyone except Aster chorused. 

"No, no no no! One more min-" Aster was cut off by a happy call of:

"Here we go!" 

"Aaahhhhh....!" Aster's scream rose in volume as the plane made its way down the highway. 

"Aster, shut up," Seraphina called. 

The former Guardian shut his mouth. He didn't want to get on Seraphina's bad side. Jack had once and the consequences hadn't been pretty. 

 

On takeoff, Aster whimpered, squeezing his eyes shut. His hands curled into fists as he counted from a hundred, backwards in tens. It helped calm him down as the feeling of weightlessness overcame him. He felt like he going to be sick as he felt his stomach lurch forward. He let out a curse. Sophie reached from the opposite side, over Jack, and gripped Aster's hand. His breathing steadied. He mentally noted that the thought of Sophie managing to calm him down would have to wait for later. Right now, the coping mechanisms that he usually used for flying weren't helping. Luckily, due to Anna's careful steering of the plane and Seraphina's control over the weather, there was no turbulence. He was thankful they had such a good pilot. In fact, maybe he should tease- 

"C'mon! Look out the window, get a load of the view, it's awesome!" 

Aster got a tiny 0.5 view of the window. All he saw was clouds and vapour. He immediately clenched his eyes shut, shaking his head rapidly, squeezing the life out of the armrests. 

Jack laughed at his 'older brother' and his misfortune. "Oh Manny!" he said. "You are the BIGGEST coward when it comes to heights and flying!" 

Aster glared at him. Suddenly, he had an idea. He grabbed one of Jack's scrawny hands and squeezed the life and blood out of it. Jack gave a yelp of pain, trying desperately to pry his hand from Aster's death grip.

The former Pooka leaned close to him, growling in a low, threatening tone, "ya wanna tease me about my fears of flyin' then I get ta squeeze ya hand till we land which is anotha, hm, thirteen hours." He then lay back in his seat with a triumphant smirk on his face. Jack blanched at the thought of not having a working hand when the gang got to France. 

 

 

Emily brushed her brown fringe out of her face. She had found all the drawings of the Guardians in her childhood, including the one of MiM. She had laid them out on her bedroom floor. Each drawing was part of a larger one, and eventually the puzzle had been completed. It showed five Guardians bowing to the man with the crescent moon on his head. Who was he? Their leader? 

 

A phone call interrupted her thoughts and she answered it after three more rings. "Hello?"

"Hi Mum." 

"Sophie?" 

"Don't get angry at me...but we're on our way to France." 

"What?!" Emily exclaimed. "Alone?!" 

"With friends," Sophie answered, though she was definitely more timid than before. 

"With the Guardians. Of course," Emily sighed. She rubbed her forehead. This was all too much to take in. She looked at the picture and gasped. It was glowing. "Mum?" Sophie asked worriedly. "What's going on?" 

Emily then explained to her daughter what was happening. The phone was then passed on to North. 

"Emily! The picture is glowing?" 

"Yep." The woman made her way towards the drawing. "It's just a collection of some of my childhood pictures," she said. "What does it mean?" 

On the other side of the phone, North's eyes widened. "It means...it means..." 

"Yes? Go on," Emily urged. 

North took a deep breath. This wasn't going to be an easy message to deliver.

"It means you have the power to defeat Pitch."

 

Chapter Text

It took a few moments for it to sink in. To say Emily was shocked was an understatement. She decided to dissolve herself from the situation immediately.

"No. No, that's not possible. I refuse to believe-"

"Emily-" 

"Goodbye Nicholas. Have a nice evening." 

North rubbed a hand over his face. "She's still in denial," he said. Sophie sighed, leaning back in her seat. "Jesus. I wonder what Jamie would say." 

"Well, I'm pretty sure she's going to call the police or something like that," Tooth said. 

"WHAT?" Everyone turned to her. She shrugged. 

"It would be plausible. After all, you are flying to France without her permission. She's probably worried sick." Sophie's heart sunk. Of course she was. Emily was her mother - she'd do the only logical thing in her mind, which was essentially to halt her daughter from flying to France. And what better way to do that than the police? 

Shoulders slumped, she looked out the window.

Suddenly, she frowned. "Guys...There are black horses with yellow eyes outside." 

"What?" Tooth looked outside her own window and her eyes widened. Over the intercom, they heard Anna gasp. "Looks like she can see them too," North muttered, staring out at the horses. He turned to Jack. "What do we do?" 

Jack had wrenched his hand out of Aster's grip ages ago, since the former Pooka had fallen asleep. However, he immediately woke up as Anna screamed, "the plane's going out of control!" 

Sophie undid her seat belt and ran to the cockpit. She stared at the spectacle before them. "Oh God," she whispered. 

A whirlpool made of nightmare sand was pulling the plane forcefully downwards. Anna was desperately trying to manoeuvre the plane upwards, but to no avail; the plane was sucked in. Sophie closed her eyes and everyone screamed as the plane tumbled through the whirlpool. Sophie felt like she was going to be sick as the plane continued to spin downwards. Outside the plane windows, a mixture of black and purple with hints of dark blue surrounded the group. Seraphina was hanging on desperately to the plane.

 

Finally, the plane landed. The last thing Sophie heard before falling unconscious and slumping to the ground was the laugh of the Nightmare King.

Chapter Text

Jack woke up. He was tied to the wall. The former winter spirit looked at the people beside him. The rest of the others, including Sophie, Seraphina and Anna, were all pinned to the same long wall. He began to try and find a way out. A laugh echoed around the dark place. Jack's head snapped up and he looked around. "Where are you Pitch?" he shouted. He awoke the others, and they all looked to where Pitch emerged from the shadows. The Nightmare King chuckled. "How quaint. All of the Guardians, the Bennett children and oh! Who's this?" He walked slowly over to Anna, who was watching him, eyes wide as she struggled. Pitch smirked. "Is this your pilot?" "Leave her alone Pitch," Jack growled through gritted teeth. Pitch tucked a strand of strawberry blonde hair behind Anna's ear. The teenager glared and kicked him, hard. Pitch shouted out and fell to the ground. Everyone else laughed. The Nightmare King snarled and got up. He walked slowly towards Anna, axe at the ready. However, before he could raise it to kill her, a branch wrapped around his legs and pulled him back. Anna looked up and saw Seraphina glaring down at him. "You know, Dad, if you could stop being a douche, we wouldn't be so mean to you." 

She broke herself free and wrapped Pitch around in twigs and leaves and all sorts of plants. Sophie watched the scene. She now understood why Seraphina was so bitter towards Pitch in the first place. 

At the side of the lair, Jamie woke up to a woman pulling him to his feet.

Laura was freed and she dropped to the ground, breathing heavily. Jamie ran over and helped her up. The lovers embraced. Seraphina freed the others too. Sophie ran over to Jamie and Laura, who hugged Sophie tightly. She looked at Seraphina. "Thank you," she mouthed. Despite her usually cold demeanour, Mother Nature gave her a warm smile. The Guardians, the Bennetts and the others all stood around Pitch, who was now at his weakest. Jack stepped forward. 

"It's over Pitch. Give up." 

For a few moments, the Nightmare King didn't answer, and lay still. "Never..." 

Suddenly, tendrils shot up and grabbed Seraphina's wrists. A nightmare sand cage formed and she was thrown into it. A wave of nightmare sand surged upwards, and Jack was briefly reminded of what happened back when he was yet to be a Guardian, and Jamie was still a child. Unlike last time, Jamie's touch did not work. The nightmare sand slammed into the group, sending them flying back into the walls of Pitch's lair. The Nightmare King stood on the wave and looked down on the people who had tried to stop him. "You children," he snarled. "You're not mature enough...you never were. Give up!" 

Right there and then, North felt like saying it. They were human, without powers, and Pitch had the capability to kill them instantly. He took his decision. Slowly, he got up, using the wall for support, breathing heavily. "Fine. You win." 

Pitch's mouth turned upwards into a smug smile. "Excellent. I knew you children would-"

He was cut off as footsteps walked his way. He spun round at the sound. 

"You may have dealt with children...but have you ever faced a MOTHER?" 

Pitch looked horrified as Mrs Bennett held up the completed picture. It glowed and the Nightmare King shouted out, stepping backwards as the light engulfed him. 

"Mum!" Jamie exclaimed.  

"Jamie! Jamie it's okay-" 

"MUM!" His voice rose to a scream as in a momentary flash of light, everyone in the room apart from Pitch vanished, leaving behind only a nightmare sand cage and an exhausted and unconscious Nightmare King.

Chapter Text

They had all gotten back to the area in which they lived. Aster grinned at Sophie, who smiled shyly back at him. "Food is on me!" Emily said, leading them all to her house. Laura gasped. 

"Hang on." she looked at Jamie. "Did you get the stuff?" 

"Right here," Jamie said, holding the plastic bags up. "What's that?" Tooth asked curiously. 

"It's a surprise!" Laura sang. "Come on!" she skipped inside. Jack placed a hand on Jamie's shoulder. "You did good kiddo." 

"Thanks Jack." 

Seraphina watched Tooth for a moment before walking over. "Mind if I join you?" she asked. 

"Not a problem." Tooth gave the young woman a warm smile before following the others inside, Seraphina right behind her. 

 

At the table, Jamie and Laura revealed presents, a birthday cake and a big pot of stew. Emily gasped. "Thank you so much!" she exclaimed, hugging Jamie and Laura in turn. Sophie fiddled with her own present in her hands. "Mum." 

"Yes? Oh sweetie, thank you!" Emily took the earrings and put them in. She was given a locket. She smiled and opened it. What she saw inside made her start crying. There were three miniature photo frames inside the locket. One side had a picture of Jamie, the other was Sophie, and in the middle...

"Stephen," she whispered. Sophie was silent. Her father had died before she was born. She'd never got to meet him. 

Tooth placed a reassuring, comforting hand on Emily's shoulder. The woman then looked at Sophie. "Thank you," she whispered. She wiped her tears away.

Jack smiled small when Emily had recovered. She stood up. "Alright. I'll put some pizza in. Everyone can tuck into the stew." 

"Are you sure?" Laura asked, concerned. Sophie looked at Laura. Jamie definitely did well, she thought. 

The Guardians, Seraphina and Anna sat at the table. Sophie sat beside Aster. Each person had a decent helping of stew. "Wow, this is really good Mrs Bennett," Anna remarked. 

"Oh, uh, actually, Laura made it. Are you Jack's girlfriend?" 

Jack blushed at that. Aster sniggered.

"Oh no, no! I know Sophie from the bus stop." 

It was true; Sophie and Anna would often talk while waiting for the bus, then go their separate ways. 

Sophie nodded with a smile. 

Halfway through the stew, Aster passed a note under the table to Sophie, who opened it in her lap and read it. 

Sophie, I know we're friends but...will you be my Sheila? 

 

Sophie was shocked. She looked at Aster, then nodded. "Yes, yes yes yes!" She hugged tightly so that Aster nearly fell over. Jamie grinned and Tooth clapped. She nudged Seraphina, who soon joined in. 

"What's this?" Emily asked. Blushing, Sophie told her the news. Emily literally screamed and hugged Sophie tightly. Sophie laughed and Laura smiled. Jack and Anna clapped. 

"Also, pizza's ready!" 

"Yay!" Everyone said loudly. Laura laughed. She sat Emily down and took the two pizzas out of the oven. Everyone was served a slice. Jamie couldn't stop smiling. Suddenly, Sophie's eyes widened. "Sophie?" Aster asked.

"I haven't finished my draft for my final piece!" she exclaimed. 

"Alrigh', calm down. What do ya-" 

"Aster..." Tooth said, scared. "Why are we glowing?" 

"I-" 

Before Aster could answer, there was a flash of light. Everyone was back to their Guardian selves. Anna was just staring at Jack, wide eyed. "What just happened?" "Seems like Manny reversed us back to normal," North chuckled. Sandy nodded happily in agreement. 

"Wait...are the actual Guardians sitting at my table?" Emily asked, shocked. 

"Yes," Jack said, timidly. 

"Wow...that's just..." 

"You okay?" 

"Yeah, I just...I thought I stopped believing." 

"Mum," Jamie grinned and kissed Laura's cheek. Emily gasped as she noticed a ring on the brunette's finger. Everyone looked at it and Sophie smiled widely at Jamie's next words. 

"A Bennett never stops believing."