Bunny hated the cold with an absolute passion. He loathed it. Despised it. He tried to avoid it unless absolutely necessary, so him hiking through Antarctica was more than a little out of character. He did have a reason, though: a rare type of magical snow flower was due to bloom for the first time in two hundred years. It had properties that could preserve his googies, allowing him to spread the workload over the whole year, as opposed to a hectic two months before Easter. It was definitely worth it; at least, that was what he was telling himself.
If only he could have taken his tunnels. It would have saved him an incredible amount of time, effort and body heat. Unfortunately, a key element of magical vegetation was that no magic could be performed near it. That meant no magical flying sleigh, golden sand or, in Bunny's case, tunnels.
He glanced around and nodded to himself, beginning to recognize where he was. It might have been two hundred years since his last trek, but he was good with directions. It had something to do with his Pooka heritage. Once he reached the top of this slope, there was an ice sheet that was about half a mile across, another small slope, and he was there.
His memory flashed back to the last time he had crossed the ice sheet, and a small smile tugged at his lips. He had been startled to find a group of about a dozen ice sculptures just randomly standing in the middle of the field. Now, though, he supposed he could work out who had done it. He climbed a bit faster, wondering if they were still there. Reaching the top of the slope, he froze.
There were dozens of them, at least a hundred, scattered around the ice sheet, along with frozen props and furniture. A woman in an ankle length Victorian dress and bustle stood clearly talking to a gentleman in a confederate uniform. Their faces were animated with happy laughs. A little way on there was a man in a ragged outfit and a cloth cap leaning against a shipping container squinting at a book. Concentration lines were etched on his face. Off to one side was an ice tree, every branch and leaf in place, with two children swinging from the branches. An ice child played with a puppy. A group of hippies sat in a circle, one of them clutching a guitar. A bride and groom kissed. A mother rocked her infant child.
Bunny had marvelled at the detail, and thought about the time Jack must put in to each and every one. They were beautiful, and it pained him to think that they were languishing here in the Antarctic, hidden from the world.
He wondered how Jack had made them; did he carve them out of an ice block, like North did with his prototypes? Did he trace them out with his fingers, ice forming from thin air? The Pooka wanted to know: he was an artist, and these were beautiful.
Suddenly his delighted smile faltered as an unwanted image came to mind: Jack, all by himself, working hour after hour to make these perfect. Carefully correcting tiny blemishes, smoothing down the ice, fixing up little bits he didn't like until they were flawless. Then leaning back to admire his work, knowing he was the only one who would see it. Telling himself 'good job, Jack' because no one else would. Talking to the sculptures, because there was no one else to talk to. Safe in the knowledge that no one would notice his absence. No one would care if he disappeared.
Bunny's smile disappeared completely as he walked through. There was something eerie about it. The animated smiles on the sculptures' face coupled with the absolute silence made Bunny feel uncomfortable. He thought about three hundred years of it, and he shuddered. The sculptures were still beautiful, still flawless in every way, but now just looking at them made Bunny's heart ache.
He turned his gaze down as he walked through, trying not to dwell on it. Trying not to think about the absolute isolation, and the silence that was screaming at him. Finally he reached the end of the field, where he paused in surprise.
There was Sandy, perfectly rendered in ice, sitting conducting streams of frozen dream sand. His face was peaceful, and a small smile played around his lips. Bunny could see each individual grain of sand. Next to it was North, who was examining the cogs of a toy. His tattoos were carved onto his ice arms, and Bunny could almost believe the hairs in his beard were real. Sitting on his head were two of Tooth's little fairies, one of whom was clutching a tooth in her lap. Bunny remembered that Tooth and Jack didn't meet until they brought him to the pole, but obviously Jack had seen the fairies as they went about their jobs. The feathers were beautifully spun and looked as though they might snap at the slightest touch. Bunny was afraid to even breathe on them. He turned away, only for his eyes to settle on an ice version of himself.
Ice Bunny was sat on his haunches, ears relaxed as they flopped slightly to the side. He was gazing into the distance, a content smile on his face, tribal markings slightly raised compared to the rest of his fur. Real Bunny followed the gaze, and realized that his effigy was watching two small children pull an Easter egg out from underneath a bush.
An emotion that he couldn't name washed over him as he looked at the sculpture's expression. He had never been kind to Jack. He had never even been civil. He and the boy had done nothing but argue before the child became a guardian. Yet Jack hadn't made him angry. Hadn't made him mean, didn't sculpt his face contorted into a snarl. He had put time and effort into making the sculpture, and he made the sculpture at peace. Bunny was touched.
With a sigh he turned away; glad to be leaving but glad to have seen it. The frozen smiles unnerved him. The total solitude of the place made him feel sad. The sculptures made him feel uneasy: a standing reminder to the isolation Jack had to bear. The Pooka shook himself and continued on his journey. Once the flower had been picked, he'd be able to open a tunnel and go home the easy way. He was grateful for that. He hoped that when he next passed through, in two hundred years time, no more sculptures would have joined the ranks.
As he walked, he considered telling the others about it. They would all want to see it, and he would have to be the one to show them where it was. Tooth would probably cry. North would be overawed. Sandy... well, Sandy would probably shake his head and turn away sadly.
But Jack hadn't shown it to them, he hadn't even mentioned it. It probably held a lot of painful memories for the child, and Bunny knew Jack didn't like talking about his emotions, especially the negative ones.
So Bunny decided against it. He decided to leave it as it was, sheltered from the Antarctic elements by the mountains that loomed around most of it. If Jack ever wanted to show them then he could. Until then, Bunny vowed to never mention the tribute to isolation.
Wow! Four followers, three reviews and two favourites, and it's only been a couple of hours! I'm flattered!
I was so flattered that I decided to do a second one today, seeing as it's that last few days of holiday and then I'll only be updating once or twice a week. So here, have a nice bit of depression!
(And in case you were wondering, it's the blooming flower that prevents magic. That's why Jack could create the sculptures even though they were so close to it)