THE BATTLE FOR TERABITHIA

Disclaimer: I don't own Bridge to Terabithia or its characters.

Chapter 1

Jesse's Worries

May 11th, 2007

It was a warm, sunny spring day in the small town of Lark Creek, Virginia, USA. Many people were anxiously waiting for the upcoming summer.

The Aarons family was among these people. Jack and Mary, the parents, were feeling pretty happy that they would be able to spend more time with their children, although there was still a lot of work to do in order to fix the family's financial problems.

Brenda and Ellie, the oldest children, were struggling to manage with their latest exams. They had also been actually thinking about something to do on summer vacation with their brother and sisters, Jesse, May Belle and Joyce Ann. Ever since that one tragic incident, which had occurred just a month ago, they had been very caring towards the other family members, especially their only brother. They had been willing to take care of some of the chores Jesse had always had to do, and they weren't so frustrated anymore when they had to take care of Joyce Ann. As for summer vacation, Brenda and Ellie had been discussing it with Jesse and May Belle, and they decided to try visiting Virginia Beach. Both Jesse and May Belle couldn't have been happier to see their big sisters caring so much for them.

Jesse and May Belle had gone to the woods near their home every day ever since he had taken his little sister there for the first time three weeks ago. Every day they walked across the bridge over the creek to the magical kingdom they called "Terabithia".

Once again, they were in their imaginary castle where they ruled their kingdom. The interior of the castle looked like it was from a children's movie like Sleeping Beauty, just like outside. The main hall was gorgeous. There was a red carpet coming all the way from the entrance doors to the other end of the hall, where King Jesse and Princess May Belle sat in their fabulous, golden chairs. The hall was decorated with candles and paintings, and huge lamps were hanging from the ceiling, lighting up the entire room. There were many doors leading to other rooms, and staircases leading to the high towers of the castle.

A ceremony was taking place in the main hall. The Terabithians were honoring their rulers by dancing and playing one-of-a-kind drums and other percussion. Jesse and May Belle were enjoying their performance. The party was in full swing.

But then, Jesse started to feel a bit uneasy. He didn't know why, he just felt like he was having a little headache. He got up from his chair and started to walk across the room to the entrance. May Belle got up too, worrying about her brother. The Terabithians stopped dancing and drumming, and bowed. Jesse didn't even bother look at them. He concentrated only on his need to get away. May Belle followed him all the way to the doors.

As soon as they had left Terabithia, Jesse finally answered his sister's questions about his sudden actions. "I don't know, May Belle. I don't know why I left. I just felt like I didn't want to be there now."

"Jess, what's the matter?" she asked. But then, as she looked at her silent big brother, she had an idea about what was bothering him. "Were you thinking about her?"

Jesse quickly turned towards May Belle. He wanted to get away from that situation as quickly as possible. "Her? What are you talking about?"

"I think you know very well what I'm talking about, Jess. It's… it's Leslie, isn't it?"

When she mentioned that name, Jesse's eyes widened, he shuddered and suddenly felt angry. "This has nothing to do with her, OK? Now, I don't wanna talk any more about it!" he said and ran to their house, leaving a surprised May Belle standing on the field.

When Jesse came home, he kicked off his shoes and marched his way upstairs to his and his little sisters' room. He slammed the door shut and sat on his bed, groaning in anger. Then he looked up at his night table and stopped groaning, although he felt uneasier than in Terabithia. He stared at the picture of a blonde girl with a very happy smile that could melt anyone's heart.

"She brought you something special when she came here, didn't she?" Jesse remembered his father saying to him. "That's what you need to hold on to. That's how you'll keep her alive."

Jesse had tried to do so by crowning May Belle Princess of Terabithia. He had felt happy about that…until now. He tried to fight back the tears in his eyes. "Why did you have to go?" he said, still looking at the picture. "I never got a chance to tell you how much you meant to me."

Jesse went to sleep soon after that. He managed to drift into the dreamworld quickly and peacefully. The dream he had was a completely different thing, though.

He was standing and looking around. He could see nothing but darkness. He felt so vulnerable, so weak, so scared. He heard sounds he didn't recognize immediately, but then he knew what it was. It was the sound of rattling keys… That sound was all too familiar to him.

But then he heard something else. It sounded like somebody crying in pain. Or crying for help. That cry sounded familiar to him too. He wondered where he had heard it before.

He started to see something. It looked like…blonde hair. He realized who was crying. "Leslie!"

There was no answer. He could only watch as dark, evil creatures started to gather around the blonde girl. He saw the fear and anxiety on her face. And then, before he was able to do anything, the creatures jumped viciously at her. The girl's cries alone gave him so much pain.

"Leslie! Leslie!" he yelled, but there was nothing he could do. He couldn't even move forward to help her. He just stared as the creatures slashed and bit her. And, in the end, he watched in shock as the girl's lifeless arm touched the ground.

"Leslie!" Jesse yelled as he sat up on his bed.

He was breathing very heavily, and he was sweating. He looked around. He learned it was about six o'clock in the morning when he saw the clock on his night table. "It was only a dream…" he said silently.

But he still felt so shocked. As he put his left palm on his forehead, he suddenly remembered something. He hadn't had that kind of dream for many days. The last time he had one had been…shortly after the accident.

"It's been a month…" he said. Then he suddenly felt a bit scared. "Could this mean something?"