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Tutelary 7
by K. Stonham
first released 21st February 2014

Barefoot

It was kind of funny, except how it wasn't, that only a handful of kids in Burgess had Easter eggs to unwrap and eat. Jamie didn't know the full story of what had happened to Easter, but he was pretty sure the Boogeyman had had something to do with it. Which made him mad, and the next time the jerk showed his face, Jamie was going to throw a snowball or a shoe or something at him. Ruining the egg hunt was just plain mean.

But once the candy eggs were gone, that was it. There was nothing, no proof that his great adventure had happened. It was the beginning of May and Jamie knew Jack Frost wouldn't be coming back for months. Christmas was months off, and Easter practically a whole YEAR away! None of his friends had any loose teeth to reinforce their belief, and they were already asleep by the time the Sandman came around.

But Jamie had a secret weapon: a photograph.

He'd woken up the morning after his adventure tucked into his own warm bed, as had his friends. It might have all been a dream. Heck, the others had already begun passing it off as such within a week. But then Jamie fished out the picture he'd taken less than five minutes after waking.

In it, his feet were scratched and dirty, the cuffs of his pyjama bottoms filthy and torn from where he'd walked on them, trying to protect his feet from the cold ground.

"Explain that, if it was just a dream," he told his friends, passing around the Polaroid.

None of them could.

It was totally worth the shriek his mother had made at the state of his and Sophie's feet, and the way she'd grounded Jamie from going out of doors after dark, to have that evidence proving the existence of Jack and the other Guardians.




Sore

One thing Jack was not, was a sore loser. Nor was he a sore winner. Jamie knew for a fact, in fact, that the winter spirit reined in his powers and abilities to present a level playing field whenever possible. Except, of course, whenever not doing so was more fun.

Specifically, fun not just for Jack, but for all involved.

Case in point: where else was anyone in Burgess ever going to get a chance to fly, unaided by machine?

Of course, Jack's ideas for games were also sometimes kind of weird and, if Jamie had to admit it, grandpa-ish.

That said, he began seeing the appeal of marbles after Jack slicked the ground and produced a handful of locked-state ice marbles out of his hoodie pocket. The low friction made the game a lot more fun, and while Jack ended up pocketing a couple of Jamie's marbles, Jamie won (probably on purpose, knowing Jack) three ice marbles that never melted, not even in the summer.

He had to wonder, though, if Jack did anything like that with anyone else. For all that he was the favorite big brother figure and winter playmate for, like, every kid in Burgess, Jamie never saw him leave them with anything physical. Anything that couldn't be explained as an overactive imagination, and a good day's fun playing outside.

So why did Jamie rate unmelting marbles, a snowflake that hung in his window year-round, and help on his homework?

The Guardians, he kind of thought, weren't supposed to play favorites. Santa gave presents to everyone (well, some of the presents were coal. Allegedly.). Tooth collected teeth world-wide. Sandy didn't discriminate on who got good dreams. And Bunny... well, Jamie suspected he had a little bit of a weakness for Sophie, since she certainly always seemed to find the prettiest eggs. But he certainly didn't slack off on everyone else's.

But if Jamie was Jack's favorite, well... Jack was his favorite too. So no need to rub it in anyone's face. Jack was the closest he'd ever get to having a brother, and it totally wasn't anyone's fault that Jamie's big brother was so much cooler than theirs.




Gossip

Jamie was fifteen when he finally figured out that gossip was the coin and currency of the supernatural world.

Or, to put it more simply, the Guardians and every other spirit he met swapped rumors like biddies over a bridge table.

Actually, he wasn't sure the Guardians didn't play bridge. He could certainly picture the other four of them at it. Not Jack, though. Card games were kind of too stationary for him.

"Well, sure we gossip," Jack said when Jamie confronted him about it. He looked a little surprised. "We're immortal. What else have we got to do? And since we don't actually run into one another all that often - Guardians excepted - it's how we know about one another. And," he said, leaning forward against his staff, "it's not like you mortals don't do the same thing."

Jamie blinked. "Come again?"

Jack snickered. "What do you think all your books about mythology are, Jamie? Pretty much they're supernatural scandal mags."

Jamie turned to stare at his bookcase. He looked at the shelves and shelves of books of mythology, of religion, of fairy tales. His collection ranged from kids' books to college texts.

His face met the palm of his hand as he groaned. "I've been reading The National Enquirer back issues."

"Yup."




Cryosphere

Despite being the master of snowball fights and the undisputed king of sled run design, Jack was pretty much homeless. He hadn't really ever thought about it before; Burgess was home, and a tree branch or rooftop quite comfy enough for a nap when he needed one.

"But North keeps ragging me to settle down and put up a base somewhere," he told Jamie. "And Bunny just makes these snide remarks about not trusting a gypsy."

Jamie, twenty and in college, paused in his sculpting and looked up at Jack, frowning. "That's kind of racist. Which is not what I'd expect from a giant Australian rabbit. Glass houses and all that."

Jack waved a dismissive hand. "He doesn't mean it like that. Hey, what if we add a loop here?"

"Maybe." Jamie used his fingers to carve through the snow, Jack freezing the resulting track solid. The 1/36th scale sled run was of the Suicide Hill near Calvin's house. Jack had taken it as a personal challenge to turn Calvin's hair white by the time he was thirty. Jamie doubted he would succeed. "So what do Tooth and Sandy have to say about you having a home base?"

Jack shrugged. "Tooth hasn't said anything to me. And Sandy wouldn't."

"Tooth's probably too busy to even consider it." Jamie sat back on his heels, contemplating. Then he looked at Jack again. "I can kind of see North's point, though. You're only here for, what, five months a year? You need like a business office or something where people can leave messages for you."

Jack snorted. "I think I can do a little better than that. The problem is, where?"

"North Pole?"

"Don't want to tread on the old man's toes."

"South Pole?"

Jack shuddered. "Bad memories," he said.

Jamie looked at him, but didn't press. "...Right," he said. A moment of silence ensued, before he asked "Siberia? Everest?" He laughed. "Heck, Canada?"

"Too remote, too touristy, too many Mounties." Jack sighed, looking at their sled run layout but not really seeing it. "Problem is, anywhere it's cold enough for me to set up a base year-round, there's no people."

Jamie huffed in exasperation, blowing his bangs upward. They settled right back into his eyes. "And people are your thing."

"Yeah."

"Hmm." Jamie considered Jack's dilemma for a moment, then shrugged. "Maybe I could get you a post-office box or your own voicemail."

Jack laughed.




Legacy

Jack looked at the little girl as she wobbled her way unsteadily out onto the ice, her legs bent inward and her knees nearly touching. Then she looked up at him, and Jack stopped breathing.

She had his sister's face.

"Jack," she said, "I'm scared."

The words were the same. Jack glanced up from her, at her dad, Jamie, where he stood at the edge of the pond. Jamie was different now, older, taller, but his eyes still held the rock-solid confidence in Jack that had seen their friendship through nearly twenty winters.

Jack swallowed, and looked back at Emily. "It's all right," he reassured her, and wow, deja vu. "We're just going to have a little fun." He reached out, took Emily's hands in his, steadying her. Slowly, he moved backward, pulling her after him.

Jamie had already known how to skate when he'd first met Jack, but Jack had taught Sophie by this same method, and so many other kids since. It had always been assumed, always been understood, that he'd be Emily's skating teacher when she was old enough.

Good God, she looked like Phillipa had. Jack risked another glance at Jamie, who was standing relaxed now, smiling as he watched his supernatural brother make his little girl laugh.

Jamie looked a little like Phillipa too. Jack had never thought about it before. The brown hair/brown eyes combination was so common as to be the standard in Burgess. But now he wondered....

Somewhere back in the Bennett family tree, was there ever a Phillipa Frost?

*~*~*


Author's Note: Wow, it's been nearly six months since I posted any fanfiction! But I have by no means fallen out of the RotG fandom, and I do actually have a good excuse.

About a week after I posted my last story, I gave birth. And no matter how prepared you think you are, babies have (1) a steep learning curve attached, and (2) a way of taking up all your time! So writing has been more problematic than before. But now that my son's a little older, I hope to continue the stories I left on hold.

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