Disclaimer: "Rise of the Guardians" is owned by Dreamworks. "A Midsummer Night's Dream" was written by William Shakespeare. This is a fanfiction.

A Midwinter Night's Dream

During the Winter Solstice, the Fae welcome all for the Solstice Gathering. Queen Titania orders that the winter faerie, Jack Frost, must attend this year.

...

The Winter Solstice was the longest night of the year. And on this day, the Fae invited all to celebrate the Solstice Gathering in their world.

As far as Jack Frost was concerned, Solstice was just one big uninteresting party. It was, after all, boringly predictable. The unending feast would be delicious. The sweet faerie cider would be free-flowing. And everyone would dress in their most elaborate winter costumes of delicate snowflakes or glittering icicles or stunning blue frost. Just as they had last Winter Solstice, and the one before that, and the one before that.

So it was fair to say that he was not looking forward to tonight.

"Jack! What are you doing here?"

Jack winced and reluctantly ditched his plan to run away as fast as possible. Instead, he sighed and turned to face the frowning face of his little sister.

"Hey, Olive."

Jack couldn't help but grin as his sister very-pointedly placed her hands on her hips and looked at him expectantly.

"You said you weren't coming again this year." Olivia's finger pointed straight into Jack's face.

"Err…" Jack scratched at his head with the end of his staff. "I may have...kind of...been...ordered to attend this year."

Olivia gasped, her doe-like eyes widening in triumph.

"I knew it!" She all but screamed. "I knew that was from Queen Titania! Who else would write using silver leaves!"

"SHH!" Jack slapped his hand right over her big fat mouth, wrestling her into submission as she struggled to break free. "Not so loud!"

She bit him with her sharp, pointy little teeth.

"OW!"

Jack immediately let her go and closely inspected his hand for injury.

When he looked back up to glare at her, Olivia gave him a smile. All teeth.

The other faeries didn't even pay them any attention, passing the siblings as the elaborate procession excitedly moved through the Faewood, all of them heading for the Solstice Celebration.

Jack watched them go for a moment. All of the Fae were laughing and grinning and literally sparkling. Jack just felt washed out and tired just from his mere anticipation of the event. It was going to be a long night.

"You don't even look like you're going to Solstice!" Olivia continued to whine beside him, ignoring the fact that he wasn't even paying attention to her.

Jack looked back at his sister. Olivia was an autumn faerie, with rich chestnut hair, and eyes of late-afternoon sunlight streaming through a forest. Small and petite, she had dressed in a flowing gown of gossamer silk made from the purest snow. And she had pestered Jack to adorn it with a design of ice crystals to look like overlapping snowflakes. And then moved on to their mother until she had been allowed to wear one of their heirloom tiaras, a delicate little one of silver and moonlight, just for tonight.

"You look beautiful tonight, Olive." Jack told her. And he meant it.

Olivia blushed, embarrassed but inordinately pleased. But even compliments weren't going to distract her tonight.

"And you look like you're going out flying." Olivia stomped her slippered feet on the ground in protest. But as with all Fae things, the silk slippers wouldn't feel it any more than it would be affected by a stray breeze.

Jack hadn't bothered to get dressed for the Solstice. He wore his usual leather-wrapped trousers and a dark blue jacket that had seen so much wind and flying that even its faerie craftsmanship hadn't kept it from looking worn and weathered.

He was also barefoot and carrying his staff, which he could have enchanted to look like anything, but which he kept looking like the shepherd's crook of an ancient sheepherder. Something which always put a dissatisfied crinkle on Olivia's button nose.

"Hey, I was given the Royal Command to attend. It didn't order me to dress up." Jack threw his staff over his shoulders and hung his arms from it. Another thing his little sister fussed entirely too much about.

Olivia threw up her hands in exasperation. Far be it for her to try to turn her brother into a respectable and presentable young Fae.

"I just wish that you would learn to enjoy these things, Jack." Olivia sighed.

"Stop worrying so much." Jack assured her, light-heartedly poking her in the forehead. She should always be holding her head up high, and lamenting over his perceived shortcomings. Jack wouldn't want her any other way.

Olivia glared at him petulantly, rubbing at her forehead.

"I enjoy plenty of things. I'm always having fun." Jack grinned at her, adding an eyebrow wiggle for effect.

"Yeah, by yourself!" Olivia pouted. "Friends, Jack. You don't have any friends. You need friends. Fae need each other."

"Well, I'll always need you." Jack hooked her arm through his and began dragging them both back into the procession. "So let's get to this party then, shall we?"

"Just try to have fun, Jack." Olivia continued nagging, though she soon became the one dragging them both along, faster and faster towards the Solstice Gathering. Jack nearly lost his footing.

"I will, I will." Jack assured her.

He laughed at the entirely-disbelieving look on Olivia's face.


Of course, the Royal Party would be at the very center of the Solstice Celebration. Jack should have figured as much, since that was the one place he had to go tonight. And if he had to go there, then it would undoubtedly be at the one place he didn't want to be.

There were no clear dividers between royal and regular party, but it was known. And so Jack ventured further. Through a frost-covered forest glittering under the moonlight. Past curtains of fluttering, shimmering silks hanging over tree boughs. Under tiny glowing lights floating in the air, which cast more light than should be possible when looking straight at them wouldn't even give you the illusion of brightness.

In a large, open clearing under the glinting night sky, the grass was emerald green, and colorful flowers bloomed all around, and the trees were lush with silver and gold leaves rustling in a winter-summer breeze. There was a reason why the Royal Procession of the Fae were called the Summer Court. Around them, it was always summertime. The true season admired, of course, but from an acceptable distance.

(Personally, Jack had never liked the summer. Too hot. Too humid. The flowers too heavy with perfume. Not a hint of ice or snow or frost or even a chilled breeze to be found.)

The King and Queen were lounging under the silver and golden leaves of a large tree that leaned gently into the clearing, perhaps for this sole purpose. The rest of the Court were scattered amongst the field, enjoying the festivities.

Jack made his way immediately towards the Royal Couple, not even bothering to respond to the offers of food or drink or whatever. After all, Olivia was frantically and politely refusing for him (after she had stopped gaping, of course). It was as if she didn't know that everyone was too happy to be offended anyway.

"Ahh! Jack Frost, the winter faerie." A smooth, melodious, wondrous voice noticed Jack before he had reached his destination.

Jack stilled immediately.

Queen Titania smiled at him, eternally calm and all-knowing. Her bright, diamond-sparkle eyes were alight in amusement, as if she had been expecting him to arrive at precisely this moment.

Jack nervously cleared his throat before sweeping into the perfect arc of a respectful bow.

"And Olivia, the autumn faerie." The Queen turned to address her other guest, luminous and welcoming. "I have you to thank for the olive harvests, and for the wonderful colors of the leaves last fall. Happy Winter Solstice."

Olivia stared, wide-eyed, before dropping forward into an exaggerated curtsy just a beat too late. She was too in awe to be able to curtsy properly.

Jack resisted the urge to roll his eyes at her.

"My Queen, My King," Jack greeted. "I hope this Winter's Solstice brings you much joy and merriment."

So, Jack had been in the presence of the King and Queen before. (So he had broken a few rules a few times. It had all been in good fun.) His awe may have faded, but the impressions the rulers of the Fae made upon their subjects ran deep.

Queen Titania was ethereal in her beauty, perfection beyond possibility. All of the Fae were beautiful, but no one more so than their Queen.

Tonight, she had long dark hair as black as night, as smooth as silk. Her eyes were as bright as stars. Her dress crafted from starlight reflecting off freshly fallen snow, surrounded by a veil of glittering ice which fell at her feet. And her crown had been made from delicate snowflakes—a crown just for tonight, to disappear in the morning—adorned by winter roses of the purest white and the palest gray.

King Oberon sat beside her, courtly and ceremonious and grand. Tall and regal, his majestic presence commanded the Court simply by being. His hair shone bronzed gold, his eyes the same endless green-blue of a deep ocean. The King's Solstice robes were golden threads of sunlight and the white-bright light of summer. And his crown was a ring of the most beautiful flowers, fully bloomed at the height of the eternal summer in which the King lived.

Jack caught the gaze of the King moving from Olivia onto him, and sent the monarch a wry grin to lighten the mood.

King Oberon's expression didn't change in the slightest. But Jack knew that the king was amused, even if Jack had never actually heard the man talk before.

"I hope, too, that this Winter's Solstice brings you much joy and merriment, Jack Frost."

Jack turned back to Queen Titania, suddenly very attentive to her presence. If he had been ordered to attend by Royal Command, surely there was a reason.

But instead, the Queen gracefully brought her elegant hands up and, surprisingly, conjured something into existence.

It was a crown. Of flowers. Similar to the crown the Fairy King was wearing, only missing the famous golden flowers which produced their own golden magic to float eternally in serene radiance through the air. (That magic surrounded the King's crown like a magnificent halo. And it was magic only King Oberon possessed.)

The bright, colorful, sun-warmed blossoms Queen Titania had conjured were the kind of perfect bloom that only magic could make, each petal and leaf vibrant and passionate and alive. And of course, they were summer blossoms.

Without even realizing it, Jack had responded to the Queen's unsaid wishes and had dropped down to one knee.

She placed the flower crown upon his winter-white hair, making him look outrageously out-of-season.

As Jack rose back onto his feet, he looked at her questioningly.

The Queen remained diamond-bright and glittering with the depths of hidden knowledge. Knowledge that she would be keeping secret from him.

Confused but possessing enough awareness not to question her, Jack just accepted the gift of whatever-it-was-this-is.

"Thank you, my queen."

Queen Titania smiled, dazzlingly radiant.

"Perhaps we'll even meet a human tonight." She remarked lightly.

Jack stared at her in wild bewilderment.

With one last, glimmering smile, Queen Titania blessed their leaving with a gentle wave of her hand, and dismissed them from her audience.

King Oberon remained as steady and silent as always, allowing Jack and his sister to depart with one last glance in their direction.

"I can't believe we met the Queen and King!" Olivia squealed as soon as they were out amongst the general Fae gathering.

Faerie lights twinkled. Lively fires danced and burned. And there was even more food and drink and music and merriment here than amongst the Summer Court.

"And Queen Titania gave you a gift!"

Jack's eye twitched and he felt itchy enough to rip the crown from his head. But that would be rude and ungrateful of him.

Besides, Jack was too distracted in his confusion over the strange non-command-ness of the Queen who had commanded him here in the first place.

"Jack! We have to go find my friends!"

Jack grimaced immediately. He had been around Olivia's friends enough times to expect a lot of giggling and gushing and incomprehensible girl stuff.

"Err...I have to...go..." Jack looked around for a suitable excuse.

He pointed in a random direction.

"This way!" Jack grinned at her before rushing off in a literal rush of wind.

Some of the hanging icicles twinkled like wind chimes, and the snow kicked up in spiraling swirls behind him, but Jack's swift disappearance barely even touched the stunning robes and appearances of the other faeries.

"Jack!"

Jack ignored her. He was making great time gliding with the wind currents at the moment.

"Jack Frost, you coward!"

Better a coward than stuck with your little sister and her seemingly-endless supply of friends, Jack thought.

Once out of danger of annoyed sister, Jack alighted atop a large tree branch covered in frost.

Natural winter frost this time. Not the enchanted, showy, maybe-a-glamour sort which decorated the Solstice Celebration for the faeries. He could still see the lights of the party from his current place along the edge of the celebration, could even hear enchanting music in the distance.

Looking around and seeing no one at all, Jack breathed a sigh of relief.

He did, however, see a faerie ring.

Faerie rings were the gateways into the Faeworld. The Fae had placed them all over, rings of flowers or rocks or even mushrooms. This one lay sharp and distinct within the snow, demanding attention.

This one was made from winter flowers. The tiny, bright red flowers were arranged in a perfect ring within the untouched, snow-covered clearing.

Faemagic was particular and surprisingly formal about invitations. But magic never really did have to make sense. Tonight was Solstice and so, there was an open invitation. The red winter flowers glowed bright and magical under the winter moonlight, just waiting for someone to cross over.

Jack dropped into a sitting position on his branch with a dramatic eye roll.

Humans had forgotten about the old traditions a long time ago. Even those who remembered didn't think anything more of it than as a fairytale. There hadn't been a human at the Solstice Celebrations in decades, maybe centuries, even though these Gatherings had always been held in goodwill between Fae and Human kind.

The faerie rings were waiting for no one and nobody.

And Queen Titania had… What? ...Covertly told Jack to find one? Why? Humans weren't even interesting. Who would want to hang out with one?

Snorting with derision, Jack abruptly stood up and called forth the wind.

Since he was all the way out here, on the right day, at the right time, he mind as well confirm what he knew for sure.

He landed at the very center of the faerie ring, bringing him out into the Humanworld.

The lights and sounds and merriment of the Solstice Gathering faded away, existing in another world. And Jack stood upon fresh snow on the other side of the faerie ring.

Frost glittered in the silvery moonlight. The wood of the trees were dark and bare. And all that could be heard was the passing winter wind and the faint hoot of an owl.

Jack stared at the blank emptiness of the forest, realizing belatedly that he had been expecting...something when he had impulsively leapt into the faerie ring.

There was nothing here. And Jack had known this, had come here for the sole purpose of proving it. Of course there wouldn't be anything.

Scowling, Jack turned his ire upon the softly glowing winter flowers. He glared at the faerie ring that had taken him here, as if this were somehow their fault.

Of course, the faerie ring didn't care. Flowers didn't care about something as trivial as how Fae felt.

Realizing how stupid he was being, Jack groaned and pulled his hands over his ears.

"Why? Why me?" He bemoaned in dramatic anguish. "Am I really this much of an idiot?!"

Out there, an owl hooted.

Immediately, Jack gave up on his breakdown and straightened properly. (He didn't need an audience, even if it was only an owl.)

He hadn't been in the Humanworld in a long time. The Humanworld had different rules than the Faeworld did. Their seasons didn't depend on the magic of specific fairies dedicated to each season. Their seasons just...came...from...something. And since Jack wasn't needed in the Humanworld—hadn't even ever been that interested in it, in fact—he hadn't stepped foot here for a few centuries now.

It didn't look all that different. Still blank and bare and empty. There was cold and snow and frost and wind, but not the same kind as the Faeworld. In the Faeworld, all of the elements, all of nature, was created by Faemagic. It connected all of the Fae together. Sometimes, if the faeries were very close, they could feel the magic of the faerie who created it. Jack could tell which olives Olivia had coaxed into growing, which leaves she had changed the colors of. Just as she could tell the snow he fell or the frost he spread or the wind he'd conjured.

Jack looked at the snow and the frost and the trees, and didn't feel any magic in it. Not Faemagic, at least. It seemed like the faeries hadn't been here in a long time. The only Faemagic nearby was the faerie ring, and that was faint even during tonight's magic-boosting solstice.

Sighing, Jack crossed his arms. The familiar, almost-unnoticed length of wood pressed along the top of his sleeves.

Well, he didn't know what to do now.

Jack didn't want to go back to the party. But being here was beyond boring.

So he really didn't want to do either.

He must have stood there for an indeterminate amount of time, before the sudden rush of winter wind brought forth his answer.

"What?" Jack turned in a swift half circle, head tilted in the direction of a strange sensation.

His eyes glanced down at the faerie ring, still softly glowing with Faemagic.

But this wasn't coming from the faerie ring. It was something else, something further away.

Once again throwing caution to the wind, Jack flew up and away with the next winter chill to cut through the woods.

It was a short flight. Jack only had to change currents twice before he landed along the edge of the forest.

There was a town in the distance. Jack at least knew enough to recognize a town.

It was familiar in that there were houses and buildings and streets. And there was the warm glow of lights scattered all across it (though they weren't fires as far as Jack could tell). It seemed that the humans had advanced past simple fire. Finally. (Jack had always felt bad that he could use sophisticated Faelight when the humans were still struggling with fire.)

The familiar feeling he was chasing had certainly originated from that town. There was a lingering concentration within the township. But the trail had drifted away from town sometime tonight. Back into the forest.

For a moment, Jack stood very still and reached outwards for the Faemagic. It was faint, fainter even than the little-used faerie ring he had left behind. But it existed, had been created by a faerie, and Jack was going to find it.

Picking up the trace, Jack followed the fading trail as fast as possible. If he wasn't quick, the trace would disappear and never be found again.


There was a small, brightly-clothed child standing amongst the snow.

"Spht! Spht!"

Well, he might have fallen into the snow. The kid was currently spitting out snow.

Jack carefully studied the human child. Dark brown hair. Dark brown eyes. And a puffy snow jacket and sturdy snow boots over what appeared to be pajamas. Jack only assumed as much because the rest of his clothes didn't look to be made for the snow.

Curiously, the Faetrace was originating from this obviously human child. Jack tilted his head just so, trying to figure out what about this child was Fae.

"Stupid woods!" The kid shouted in frustration, waving a fist in the face of the general area around them.

"Stupid boots!" The kid kicked at the ground, sending snow flying under his foot. "Stupid roots hiding under the snow! Stupid snow!"

"Hey, you don't need to blame the snow." Jack called out. "No one's making it do anything."

"Who said that?!" The kid yelped, tripping over (presumably) the same root again as he scrambled backwards.

Jack rolled his eyes. But he wasn't really in the mood to mess with the kid, so he glided down from the treetops and landed a comfortable distance away.

And because the moonlight was bright as it reflected off the snow, but not so bright that Jack was sure that he would be visible to humans, he waved his staff and conjured some Faelights.

The dozen or so tiny pinpricks of light burst into existence, slipping jerkily in the air before finding their footing. Jack waved them off, sending them floating throughout the air to illuminate this part of the forest.

The kid was staring, wide-eyed, open-mouthed, and still sitting on the ground.

Jack didn't get any closer, maintaining his distance. But he crouched down to the kid's height, his staff thrown over his shoulder.

"You should probably get up, kid. Even I know humans don't like the cold."

The boy sputtered, choking on air, but wisely scrambled to his feet.

Jack nodded with approval, getting to his feet as well.

He whistled as he threw his arms over the staff slung across his shoulders, looking around casually.

Bare trees. Snow. Some frost. Gee, just like every other part of the forest.

"What are you doing all the way out here, kid?" Jack asked curiously, turning to observe said kid again. "Shouldn't you be in that town, sleeping or something?"

The boy just stared at him in disbelief.

"Shouldn't you?!" He exclaimed, pointing one mittened hand straight at Jack.

Jack was oddly at ease with this. After all, Olivia had just done the same thing earlier tonight.

Jack sent the kid a jovial grin.

"Nope." He made sure the end popped obnoxiously.

The kid frowned at him.

"I'm Jack." Jack grinned, a trickster's grin.

The kid looked at him suspiciously, before reluctantly replying,

"I'm Jamie."

Jack briefly considered teasing the kid about giving Jack his real name (and therefore, power over him), but threw away the idea in favor of getting an easy answer. Besides, he only had half a name anyway.

"What are you doing out here, Jamie?" Jack asked, making a show of looking around the middle of nowhere where they were standing.

The look Jamie gave him then was much too serious for a kid. Jack noticed Jamie's hands close into fists at his sides before Jamie steeled himself to answer.

"I'm looking for fairies." Jamie told him, back straight and voice steady. The stiffness of his posture and the slight waver in his voice gave away his nervousness though.

Now, it was Jack's turn to stare at Jamie in disbelief.

Jack laughed. Held his arms over his sides, doubled over, staff positioned awkwardly, laughed.

Jamie looked entirely offended.

After he finished laughing, Jack stepped up and opened his arms wide.

"Alright," He announced. "You found me."

Rather than clap or cheer or whatever kids did in the flush of success, Jamie just frowned.

"You're not a fairy."

Jack was mildly offended.

"You're normal-sized." Jamie continued, looking at Jack with open suspicion.

Jack's mouth dropped wide open, catching on to the implication.

"Of course I'm normal-sized! What were you expecting? A sprite? A pixie? A cornish game hen?!"

Jamie frowned in the direction of Jack's back.

"And you don't even have fairy wings."

Jack actually turned back to look over his shoulders.

"I can still fly." Jack asserted grumpily, crossing his arms over his chest. "Obviously, I don't need wings."

"You're also…" Jamie trailed off, simply waving his hand in Jack's general direction.

"What?" Jack asked, glaring at the kid.

Jamie shrugged.

Jack glared harder.

Jamie sighed.

As if Jack wasn't the one who should be exasperated right then.

"A boy."

Jack fell on his face. He literally fell. Into the snow.

Jamie didn't care, of course. Only looked at him like Jack was crazy.

"I did fly in front of you, you know." Jack pointed out, casually waving his staff in the direction of the kid's face.

Jamie frowned, and crossed his arms petulantly.

"I saw you fall."

Jack's eye twitched. The brat.

"I did magic!" Jack pointed up at the floating Faelights he had conjured earlier.

The kid only glanced at them, dismissing the lights with a casual wave of his hand.

"There's a lot of stuff you could do with lights nowadays. Maybe you're using secret military technology or something."

Alright, Jack had no idea what humans had been up to for the last few centuries. But what had they been up to?!

"I don't even look like a human!"

Jack knew this for a fact. Humans didn't have white hair and ice eyes or did they walk around barefoot in the middle of winter.

But Jamie only looked at him for a moment. And scoffed.

"So what? You have funny clothes? Put contacts in your eyes? Dyed your hair? No, wait, maybe your hair just turned gray at a young age. Genetic disorder or whatever. Sorry. I didn't mean to be insensitive."

Jack bristled. The apology was even more insulting than insultingly-questioning him somehow.

"My hair's not gray! It's white!"

Jamie just shrugged.

Jack scrubbed his hand over his face.

If this was what humans were like nowadays, no wonder they didn't believe anything at all.

"I can call forth snowstorms. Conjure ice. Spread frost, and call the wind, and spread winter throughout the land. That's what winter faeries can do. That's what I can do. That's magic! Faemagic!" Jack was nearly screaming, pent up with rushing frustration.

"How do you explain that?" Jack asked. Immature, but he didn't even care by this point.

Jamie tapped one fingertip against his chin thoughtfully.

"Timing?" He offered, utterly unimpressed.

Jack's jaw was going to fall off his face.

"Or maybe you're just crazy." Jamie added with another shrug, as easily as commenting on the weather.

Jack could not believe this. This was maybe the one single human to still genuinely believe in Fae, and the kid wasn't believing the one that was right in front of him!

Giving up, Jack just dropped onto the ground. He lay there, spread eagle in the snow, groaning at the loss of generations.

Jamie shuffled forward until he was standing right above Jack, looking down at him curiously.

"Aren't you cold?"

"No." Jack replied, still down and dying. "I'm a winter faerie."

Jamie scoffed.

"Yeah, right."

Jack didn't even bother correcting the kid.

They remained there for a moment, silent and unmoving.

"So, what are you doing out anyway?" Jack asked, realizing that the kid never answered his question. "Tonight's Winter Solstice. I would understand if you were heading for the Solstice Gathering, but you're nowhere near that."

When there was no immediate response, Jack looked up to see surprise flicker across Jamie's expression.

"You know about the Solstice Celebration too, Jack?"

Now, that was a surprise.

Jack immediately sat up, sudden enough to cause Jamie to flail backwards.

"You're actually looking for the party?" Jack asked. "You're crazy, kid."

Jamie glared at Jack, all tiny bravado.

"No I'm not!" He exclaimed, fury coating his words. "Don't call me that. It's true! Fairies exist!"

Jack blinked at the show of rage, then snorted.

"I know." He reminded the kid. "I am one."

Jamie frowned and turned away from Jack, but the anger seemed to have melted away.

"Are you looking for it too?" Jamie inched closer to him, voice lowering to a whisper as if they were sharing secrets.

"What?" Jack asked, genuinely perplexed by the question.

"The fairy ring." Jamie stressed the words, whispering them harshly into the cold winter air.

"Kid, I told you already. I'm a faerie." Jack rolled his eyes for the hundredth time. "I had to cross the faerie ring to get here. Because I'm Fae."

Jamie sighed with immense exasperation.

"Hey! I'm the one who should be exasperated, you know!" Jack reminded him.

"Alright." Jamie gave up, obviously still not believing him. Jack knew.

"If you came from there, then you can show me the fairy ring, right?" Jamie questioned him, suddenly looking very serious.

Jack looked back at him just as seriously.

"I could lead you there." He answered carefully.

"You're not inviting me?" Jamie asked him, looking sharply for deceit.

Jack grinned. The kid knew his stuff.

"Solstice. Open invitation." Jack explained, getting to his feet and dusting away the snow from his clothing. Snow never melted on Jack, but it was still mildly annoying.

Jamie accepted this explanation, nodding and standing up as well.

"I would fly there, but I have you with me." Jack explained, tossing his staff over his shoulders. "And since I'm not the one inviting you, you'll have to make your own way."

"Just show me to the ring," Jamie commanded blandly, before hastily adding. "Please."

Jack snorted. That was the most insincere 'please' he'd ever heard from a human.

They made their way through the forest in silence but for the snow crunching under Jamie's boots. Jack didn't make a sound at all, not on snow and ice. And he didn't even need to ask the wind where to go. There was only the faerie ring here to give off Faemagic.

Since the Faeworld was surprisingly proper and formal, especially about invitations, one had to be invited to enter the Faerealm. And the faerie who had issued the invitation had to show their guest out too, unless another faerie took upon the role of hospitality. If unwelcomed, the human might just disappear. Forever.

Jamie knew enough not to accept Jack's invitation then, whether or not he believed Jack was a faerie. But he believed enough not to give Jack his name though, Jack thought maliciously.

Anyway, tonight, there was an open invitation. Any human was welcomed in the Faeworld, with or without an individual faerie's invitation. During Solstice, the Faeworld had given its hospitality.

It felt as if they had walked for hours before Jack finally couldn't take the silence any longer.

"Why do you want to come to the Faeworld anyway?" Jack asked, glancing behind him at where Jamie was steadily marching to Jack's lead.

"I promised my grandma." Jamie replied, kicking away at a random branch along the path.

"That you would find faeries?" Jack asked in surprise.

"No, of course not." Jamie snapped, glaring up at Jack.

Jack rolled his eyes. Like he could read minds.

"One of my ancestors found the fairy ring and went to the Solstice Gathering." Jamie explained sullenly. "They met the King and Queen and everything. And my ancestor was given a gift and told to come back within the next 300 years if we wanted to keep it. But we never found the fairy ring again. So if I don't find the fairy world tonight, then the gift's gone."

It was rare, and obviously not done anymore, but faerie gifts to humans were usually blessings. Faeblessings for happiness or health or fortune. It was a great honor. And Jack couldn't believe he was talking to the descendant of a worthy human.

Jack whistled appreciatively.

"Your ancestor must have been great beyond belief."

Jamie looked up at him, surprised for some reason.

"You believe me?" Jamie asked him.

"Of course. We don't bestow Faeblessings upon just anyone, you know. And you've been touched by Faemagic. It leaves a trace where you've walked. It's really weak though, like the magic's running out."

Jamie began to lift his arms and inspect himself, looking for what Jack was talking about.

"I doubt you'd be able to see it. You're more likely to see my trace, with how faint yours is." Jack pointed out.

"Is that how you found me?" Jamie asked him.

"Oh, so you believe me now?" Jack teased him, grinning.

Jamie looked genuinely sorry, and opened his mouth to apologize, but Jack waved it off.

"It's fine. I'm not offended or anything." Jack told him. "Just tell me what your blessing was and I'll forgive all."

Jamie nodded, entirely serious again.

"Luck."

Jack froze in his tracks.

"Luck?"

Jamie nodded.

Jack burst out laughing.

"Looks like it's still working tonight." Jack laughed, wiping away tears. "Actually, I can even understand how your ancestor got Blessed if he's anything like you."

Jamie still believed in faeries even though no one else did. And Jamie was also reckless enough to go stomping through a forest at night looking for something his family hadn't been able to find again for three centuries. That was the kind of impressive recklessness that Fae encouraged.

Jamie wasn't offended by Jack's outburst this time. He even cracked a smile.

"That's a powerful blessing though." Jack admitted thoughtfully. "Only someone of the Summer Court could bestow something like that. And to have it last three hundred years, passing on through a bloodline...probably a Royal Blessing."

Well...Queen Titania's cryptic command made a lot of sense now.

"I don't remember which fairy blessed us, but everyone in my family's always been lucky when it counted most." Jamie agreed enthusiastically. "That's why I have to find the fairy ring and go back."

"Yeah, yeah." Jack nodded. "That's a pretty good reason to come party with us."

Jamie huffed, but Jack just grinned.

It was still a long trek to get to where they needed to go. But this time they weren't marching silently through the forest. Jack cracked jokes and told funny stories. Jamie laughed and chattered some more about the more-impressive streaks of luck in his family tree. They even ran around throwing snowballs at each other at one point, Jamie managing to hit one straight into Jack's face.

By the time they got to the circle of red winter flowers, they were both exhausted and laughing and had snow in their hair.

"That's it?" Jamie asked in amazement, staring at the ring of glowing flowers in the distance, the red color blazing against the backdrop of dark trees and white snow.

"Yep." Jack made sure the end popped obnoxiously.

The two of them grinned at one another. And then began a mad dash for the faerie ring.

It was only then that Jack felt a rush of...something. And it hit him hard that it was the silent call to return.

"No!" He stumbled on the snow, jerking his head up to look up past the trees and at the sky.

"What?" Jamie asked, picking up on Jack's panic.

"We need to get to that ring right now!"

Jack didn't give Jamie a chance to reply. He just reached out and grabbed Jamie by the back of his collar.

"Jack!" Jamie cried out in outrage.

Jack ignored him, concentrating on calling the swiftest wind he could, hurtling them across the last remaining stretch of forest.

The winter chill knocked straight through Jamie's lungs, a shock of ice and cold. Jack pressed them forward without even recognizing the sensation, bodily throwing Jamie into the faerie ring before he crash landed beside him.

When the snow cleared, Jack looked up frantically. He expected to see dancing fires, floating lights, maybe hear the twinkling whispers of Fae music.

But instead, they were just lying in the snow in the middle of a forest.

And Jamie was staring at Jack, shocked and unmoving.

The first rays of dawn touched the sky. And the winter flowers had stopped glowing, returning to regular flowers.

Winter Solstice was over.

Jack's fists clenched, overwhelmed by the flooding sensation of failure.

They had been so close. If only they had been a minute faster. If only Jack hadn't thrown that snowball. If only…

Jack didn't even know why he cared so much.

But as infuriating it had been to meet Jamie who hadn't believed he was a faerie, Jack had grown to like the kid. And Jack had wanted Jamie to see the Faeworld, because there was just no way of describing the magic there. Jamie had to see it for himself, feel it for himself. Jack wanted Jamie to know the joy and wonder and sheer amazement of a world created by Faemagic. It was their joy in sharing their world that had begun the tradition of the Solstice Gathering in the first place.

"I'm sorry, Jamie." Jack sighed.

"Why?"

Jack turned to look at Jamie, who was genuinely surprised to hear Jack apologize.

"I wouldn't have even gone in the right direction if you hadn't shown me." Jamie told him. "And you tried your hardest to get me here. Obviously."

Jamie gestured to where they were sprawled across the snow, within the faerie ring.

Jack laughed.

"So, you know...thanks." Jamie stared down at his boots, not quite hiding his disappointment.

Jack felt disappointed too. He wouldn't have minded spending Winter Solstice with humans...if humans were like Jamie.

"I have to go back." Jack told Jamie. "It's part of the rules. They're already calling me."

Jamie nodded, looking even more disappointed to hear that Jack had to leave than he had been in missing the deadline.

Jack grinned and reached forward, messing with Jamie's hair.

Jamie yelped and immediately made to grab Jack's hands and stop him from messing with his hair.

Jack just laughed again. He couldn't help it. It was fun to mess with Jamie.

"I can't give you luck," Jack told him, entirely serious now. "But I am a winter faerie and it's Winter Solstice. Since this is when I'm the most powerful, I'm capable of a blessing too. Just one, and only upon one person."

Jamie stared at him, open-mouthed and wide-eyed and not-at-all-believing-Jack again.

Jack grinned.

"I, Jack Frost the winter faerie, bless you, my friend, Jamie the human, with a faerie's gift." Jack reached up for the flower crown Queen Titania had given him what felt like ages ago.

He let it fall neatly atop Jamie's ruffled hair, slightly tilted, drooping over one eye, ending it with a shared grin over a shared secret.

"May you always find your way."

And then it was time to go. Jack leapt up and jumped back, further into the ring, already fading away and returning to the Fae.

Jamie waved goodbye with one hand, the other clutching at the flower crown, still sprawled over the snow.

Jack left with a wink.

THE END

Author's Note:

This fanfiction is a gift to my little sister, whose only request was that I write a Jack Frost fanfiction with lots of imagery.

And I wanted to Thank You! for reading the story. I'm always glad to share another story with everyone. I hope you've enjoyed it!

2015.12.22 (Winter Solstice)