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The Dark Guardian

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In which Jack makes a decision:

“Ah, Jack!” North greets enthusiastically when the winter spirit enters the room, “Is good seeing you.”

“Aye mate,” Bunny echoes before he is swarmed by a group of very happy fairies, Baby Tooth in the lead. He smiles at them and watches as they all swoon. “Hi to you too,” he tells them.

“Girls,” Toothiana scolds, but she looks more as if she wants to join them and is barely holding herself back. Thank goodness. Baby Teeth are one thing, Toothiana is another. And she doesn't always show this level of restraint either. “Hello Jack,” she smiles brightly.

By a chair, Sandy gives a tired wave.

“Now that everyone is here, meeting can begin,” North booms at them.

Jack takes a seat and prepares to pretend to be listening. Not that he has anything against the meetings per se , but after so many of them, they tend to become predictable. And predictable means boring so Jack usually entertains himself by daydreaming while nodding at the appropriate cues. Frankly he has a hard time understanding why they have these meetings and can't shake the feeling they are for him. After all, he doubts they had regular meetings before he joined. Too busy for children, but not for meetings?

Then again, that does sound like the kind of logic adults use, so...

“First order of business, best holiday is coming up,” Bunny interrupts with an indignant“Hey!” but North ignores him, “and we need to make super!”

Jack sighs to himself. And here we go. At least this time it is November and not any earlier. Like, oh say, April . At this point he can probably recite their argument over the better holiday. Which is an accomplishment simply because, since they are always having it, it is long and detailed . And frankly ridiculous, but what does he know?

“Should be best Christmas after what happen with Pitch,” North continues, “Need to reassure children we are real and they are remembered and safe.”

Jack fights the urge to fidget in his seat. Sure, the 'battle' with Pitch was bad and affected the other four pretty badly, but that was months ago. He's been checking up on the kids lately and they all seem fine to him. And the part about safe... it makes his stomach roll uncomfortably. He can't forget what Pitch told them in that last 'battle'. And Leo.

He can't forget that Pitch is a protector too. Maybe even a Guardian. An unusual one, yeah, but he's not sure that makes him any less valid. Look at him. All of the other Guardians have holidays and jobs they need to do. Him? He is basically free. Sure, he brings the snow, but he's not the only one. He's just the only one to play with the kids. He thought he was the only one.

And now he finds out he's not. Pitch has been with them too. Helping them. Saving them. He can't say he hates someone who looks after the kids. It always frustrated them, when they couldn't see or hear him. It meant he couldn't help them. And that's all he ever wanted to do. Play with them and help them if needed.

The other Guardians seem to have already forgotten what Pitch does. Or they are ignoring it because it doesn't fit their image of him. Either way, he is back to being the Nightmare King to them. A threat. And not only a threat to them, but the children as well.

That doesn't seem right to Jack. Sure, Pitch isn't going to befriend all the children. Not only is that impossible, it's stupid as well. Not every kid needs him. And the world needs fear. But for the kids that he does watch over, he is important. He is their Guardian. How is he suppose to hate Pitch? How is he suppose to want him gone? He can't. He is a part of their world too. A vital one.

Why can't the others see that?

“Aye mate, the little ankle biters need stability and all that, but Easter can do that too!”

“Blah! Eggs? What is eggs compared to presents? Much better. Much cooler ,” he jokes, “Right Jack?”

“Ummm,” he edges, not wanting to be pulled into this conversation.

“Oh of course he would agree with you,” Bunny rolls his eyes, “Winter, Christmas, they go together. Unlike snow and Easter,” and here Bunny gives Jack a stink eye. No question about what he's thinking about, “That doesn't mean you're right.”

“Ah, but does. Two is better than one.”

“Not if two can't measure up to the one.”

“Um, guys?” Jack asks.

“Nonsense, you are being stubborn, is all.”

“No, I'm being right .”

“Guys?”

“Is understandable. Christmas has much to be envious over.”

“No, seriously guys.”

“Envious? As if mate.”

“Of course. Colored eggs, presents, is not much of a decision, no?”

“Hey! A little attention please!”

“You're right.”

“Ha!”

“Eggs are much better.”

Jack gives up. They are going to be at it for a while. Again. And this is exactly why he hates these meetings. They are a waste of time. One would think, with how busy they are, they wouldn't have them at all. But no, they must have official Guardian meetings every month. Please. He hopes they drop this soon. He's not exactly one to sit around like this.

He's fun times, not work and schedules. He told them that even before he agreed to this. He thought they understood. He's not like them. He never has been. He never will be. Manny chose him because he was different from the others.

Maybe. He assumes. He's not exactly sure why Manny chose him at this point. Shouldn't the Man in the Moon know what Pitch was doing? Shouldn't he see that he was helping the kids too? Or does he hate him, like the others? No way to find out that one. It's not as if, now that he is a Guardian, the Moon talks anymore than the previous 300 years.

“You didn't have Pitch ruin your holiday!”

My holiday is not so fragile. No fault of mine eggs break.”

Jack winces.

Sandy nudges him.

He looks over, surprised. Normally Sandy is asleep by now. It's not as if he's not use to the yelling to keep him awake. And he has to have heard this argument a million more times than Jack had.

'You can go,' he signs, 'they won't notice.'

Jack grins. He has been learning sign language lately, so he can talk to Sandy better. It also helps because one of his more recent believers is deaf. And Sandy appreciates having someone who both understands him and is easy to catch their attention.

'You don't mind?'

'I plan on sleeping. They don't even notice when I'm awake most of the time. No one is going to ask if I saw you leave.'

'Thanks Sandy.'

'It's not as if anything will get solved. This argument is as old as the chicken and the egg question.'

Jack stifles a laugh. He knew it. 'Thanks Sandy. See you around.'

'Bye snowflake.'

Jack flies out the window and into the sky. Now where to go? As he flies away, he can still hear strands of North and Bunny. Pitch's name comes up again.

That's a thought. Maybe it's finally time to go see Leonardo and his kids. That should help put things in perspective. Maybe he can make up his mind about Pitch that way. And he does have an open invitation to visit. It can't hurt.

Decision made, he is off.

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In which Halloween is celebrated. In style:

“What's your favorite holiday?” Jack asks.

Pitch raises an eyebrow at him.

“I'm serious!” Jack tells him, “I know you don't like a few of them, but that doesn't mean you hate all holidays. You have to have a favorite.”

“Isn't is obvious?” Pitch answers, “Halloween.”

Jack laughs at him. “Stereotypical much?”

Pitch shrugs elegantly. “You were the one who asked, I merely answered. It is not my fault if you do not like the results.”

But the boy shakes his head. “I get it, I get it. Fear and all that. But what do you do?”

“Mainly travel across the country, seeing the sights, scaring the unsuspecting, stealing the snacks from various festivals and such. Occasionally I travel farther out, across the world. Mexico is an obvious choice. London has some truly marvelous spots to haunt. Ireland, being the birthplace of the holiday is always on the list,” he shrugs again, “I never plan overly much for it.”

“Can I join you this year?” he asks hopefully.

“You would want to spend Halloween with me ?”

Yes ,” he replies excitedly, “Who better to spend it with then the Boogeyman? If it's your favorite holiday, you have to know all the best places to go. I bet it's a blast.”

“I don't know,” Pitch hesitates, looking at Jack warily, “are you sure you can handle it?”

“Hey!” Jack pouts, indignant, “I'm not a little kid,” he tells the older spirit, “I can handle it.”

Pitch's lips twitch in amusement. “Are you sure?” he asks again.

Oh. He realizes Pitch is teasing him. Jack sticks out his tongue in answer.

“True maturity Frost.”

Jack grins. “Eternal teenager, what do you expect?”

Pitch sighs. “I do believe that would be too much to ask, yes.”

Jack grins wider. “So can I?”

“I suppose you'll find a way to join me, even if I say no?” he raises an eyebrow at the younger spirit.

“Would I do that?”

“Yes,” Pitch deadpans.

Jack tries to look innocent. It doesn't work very well.

“I suppose I have no choice then,” he sighs.

“Yes! Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Jack says excitedly. So excitedly in fact, he starts dancing.

Pith watches, amused. “Dare I inquire of the level of excitement?”

“I've never celebrated a holiday with anyone before. And now I'm going to join you for your favorite, so it's going to be awesome.”

“Is that so?” Pitch has an odd look on his face, “In that case, I do believe I have some planning to do after all. I will meet you at your pond on the day. Now, if you'll excuse me.”

“Bye Pitch,” he waves and grins, “see you then!” This is going to be the best Halloween. Ever.

---

October 31st comes and Jack waits excitedly for Pitch to show up. He is bouncing on his feet, unable to keep still. He really is excited for this. He told Pitch the truth that this would be the first time he has celebrated a holiday with someone since he became a spirit. Plus what's not to like about Halloween? No snow, sure, but still lots of fun.

“I am beginning to regret this already,” a voice comments from the shadows.

“Pitch!” Jack calls, “you're here!”

“No, what you see is merely an illusion,” Pitch draws as he comes forward.

Jack laughs. He doesn't care how sarcastic Pitch gets tonight, nothing is going to ruin it. “Ready?”

“I do not believe I have a choice any more,” the older spirit informs him, but there's amusement hidden in his eyes, so Jack counts that as a win.

“Come on then! Where first?”

They start by staying local first – still in the country. They go to the obvious places such as Salem and New Orleans and Anoka, Minnesota, the so called Halloween capital of the world. But they also stop at small places as well – a horror movie marathon in Florida, the small urban legend centers across the states. Then they go to London for one of the many ghost tours, they stop to eat in Mexico, they stay for a bit in Colombia and Hong Kong, they explore other 'haunted' locations across the world. Occasionally Pitch is the 'haunted' part of their tour and after the first time, Jack joins him. Their last stop is Ireland, whose celebration goes on till November 2nd.

Jack drops down onto one of the rocks scattered along the ground, grinning from ear to ear. He looks up at Pitch, who is also smiling. It's not a big smile. Nor is it a particularly reassuring, but it is a smile nonetheless. “Thanks Pitch,” he says.

“Someone had to show you how it is done.”

He smiles, “Maybe we can do this again. How do you feel about Thanksgiving?”

“Don't push your luck Frost.”

Jack just laughs.

.

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In which Jamie helps a friend:

“Pitch Black, Pitch Black, Pitch Black,” Jamie mutters under his breath one night, lights off and window covered. He has no idea how to actually contact Pitch, but this is worth a try. He doesn't want to wait until Jack comes to visit to relay his message. This is too important.

“You called?” a dark voice asks.

“Pitch, you heard me,” Jamie says, relieved.

“I could hardly ignore you, with how determined you were.” It's too dark to see more than the outline of the Boogeyman's figure, but Jamie gets the feeling Pitch is raising an eyebrow at him.

“I didn't know how else to call you.”

“And what is so important that you have been repeating my name for the last ten minutes?”

“There's a new boy in my class. His name is Tyler. He's really shy, so I don't know him that well, but something seems... off about him.”

“Off?”

“He came to school the other day with a black eye. He claims he was playing with his soccer ball and managed to hit himself in the eye when it bounced off the wall, but...”

“But you don't think that's what happened?”

“This isn't the first time. When he first arrived, he had a broken arm. Said he fell out of a tree. Another time it was a skateboarding accident and another-”

“I believe I get the point,” Pitch interrupts, “I will look into it.”

Jamie smiles, relieved. “Thanks. Maybe he is as accident prone as he says, but I'd rather know for sure. He's a cool kid. The pictures he draws are wicked.”

Pitch nods. Or it looks as if Pitch nods, it's hard to tell. “Good night brat. I would wish you pleasant dreams, but I would be lying,” he chuckles as he fades from view entirely.

---

The next day, Tyler tells Jamie about the interesting visit he had from the Boogeyman and how he promised to protect him from his Mom.

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.

In which there are more introductions:

When Jack lands in Leo's garden for another visit, it's not Leo or his husband Draco that are out watching the kids, but another man. If it wasn't for the fact that the man was pale with straight hair, he would almost say it was Pitch. Then the stranger turns and looks at him with piercing black eyes. No, definitely not Pitch.

“Hi,” Jack waves awkwardly.

“Jack Frost I presume?” he asks in a deep, smooth voice.

“Yea- um, Yes. That's me. Jack Frost,” he gives a nervous grin.

The man snorts, “I am Severus Snape, Leonardo's adopted father. Both Leo and Draco have other business to attend to, so I am in charge today.”

“Oh, cool,” Jack says, still unsure. He's not exactly sure why he is so nervous, but he bets it has something to do with that dark, intense stare.

“Articulate I see,” Severus says dryly.

Jack isn't sure what to do. He hasn't been visiting very long yet and none of the kids have seen him so far. He sighs to himself. Children are easy to deal with. He gets them. Adults? Not so much. But then he notices movement behind Severus' leg ad looks down. There is a young boy hiding behind the man's leg. His hat is pulled so lower over his face, his bright blue eyes are almost hidden. He can't be more than two, if that yet.

Jack kneels down and waves at the little boy. He makes a startled noise and hides behind Severus' leg again. Slowly he peeks out at Jack, thumb in his mouth. Jack smiles. “Want to see something neat?” he asks before scooping up some snow and carefully shaping it into a butterfly. He breathes on it and launches it into the air. The butterfly glides gracefully over to the little boy before landing on his nose.

He lets out a surprised yelp, but quickly begins to giggle. It flies off his nose and into the air. The boy gives chase. The snow butterfly goes slow enough and low enough so little legs can keep up with it, staying just out of reach. The little boy giggles all the while as he runs after it.

Jack grins, feeling accomplished.

“That is Gabriel,” Severus informs him, “Upon arrival he has attached himself to my side and has not left it since. This is the first time he has been more than two feet from me.”

Jack shrugs. “Kid just needed the right kind of fun, that's all.”

“Indeed, is it?”

Jack nods. “He must feel safe, with you,” he adds then, not knowing what else to say.

“I believe he has added another name to his list.”

“What? Me?”

“It would not surprise me in the least. He is a rather determined little brat.”

“He's grown on you, has he?” he asks cheekily.

“In a literal sense, yes.”

Jack laughs. “Defeated by a toddler.”

“The defining feature of my life, forever surrounded by mini dunderheads.”

The words sound harsh, but Jack can hear he doesn't mean it. Much. “Sounds like a good job to me.”

“Oh the naivety of youth,” he comments idly.

They continue to watch as the small boy cases Jack's creation, a wide smile on his face and he tumbles after it.

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In which the last Guardian meeting is called to order:

“Jack, you is being early today,” North greets in surprised when he walks into the meeting room to see Jack already there.

“Hi North,” he says, pausing from his conversation with Sandy to turn around and wave. Then he turns back and continues to have his conversation with Sandy. 'She didn't . How did she think that would work?'

'When it comes pixies, one is better off not knowing,' Sandy tells him wisely.

Jack nods in agreement.

“Is everything good?”

“Yeah North, it's fine,” he reassures.

To be fair, North has reason to ask. Jack is never early to a meeting. He's more likely to be either right on time or a little late. But today, he is bored. Leo is busy. Draco is busy. Severus is busy. Pitch is busy. Jamie and his friends are busy. Everyone is busy. Sure, he could have flown to a number of other places, but he didn't feel like it. At least if he is here, he can talk to Sandy.

“Good. Is good to see you taking job more responsibly,” he tells him before leaving the room again, muttering to himself.

Jack doesn't say anything to that. For one, he doubts North would have heard him. And he doesn't want to know what he was muttering either. Another thing one is better off not knowing. For other, it's not true. Not in the way he means. He does take his Guardianship seriously, but it takes a different form than they are use to, so they don't see it.

Probably why they don't agree about Pitch either.

Sandy gives him a consoling pat on the arm. 'They're never going to understand, are they?'

'Give them time,' the Sandman reassures him, 'We've all been around a while. We don't change quickly like you do.'

'What's the point of winter of you never change?' he complains, more to himself than anyone. It's not Sandy's fault. He knows he is trying. He knows they all are. But some days, it doesn't feel like they are trying hard enough.

Jack is unfocused the entire meeting. He can't seem to concentrate on what anyone is saying. Not that it really matters. There's never anything important said. The only fortunate thing is that Christmas is over, so North is slightly less manic than usual.

“Are you sure everything is good Jack?” North asks part way through, “Normally you are not this quiet.”

“Yeah frostbite, ya ain't yourself today? No one's bothering ya, are they?”

“No, I'm just feeling restless, that's all.”

“Ya sure? Pitch ain't giving you no trouble?”

Jack wants to say he's surprised at this question, but he's not. They are still convinced he is a threat. And yeah, maybe he is to them. But he's not to Jack. And he's not to the kids he helps. The world needs fear to survive. It's not as if he is blind. He knows Pitch isn't all rainbows and puppies. “No, Pitch has been great. He never gives me any trouble when I'm visiting.”

“What do ya mean visiting ?” Bunny asks incredulously, “Ya spending time with Pitch ?”

Jack crosses his arms, feeling defensive. “Not specifically, no. But I can hardly ignore him when we are playing with the same kids.”

“Oh Jack,” Toothiana frets, “are you sure that's safe?”

“Playing? Ya tryin ta tell me Pitch plays , actual games ?”

“Jack...”

Yes ,” Jack hisses at all three of them. “It's perfectly safe playing at Leo's Manor and yes , I do mean play . We even had a snowball fight one time. Which Pitch was involved in. I know you guys don't like him. I know he can't exactly be labeled a 'good guy',” he air quotes, “but that doesn't mean he is pure evil either. There are layers involved. Like... like... onions!” he points, “That's the quote. Pitch has layers like onions.”

The three of them look at him skeptically.

“He does,” he insists, “Back me up Sandy,” he requests.

'Snowflake is fine.'

“But it's Pitch ,” Bunny argues, “You never know when he'll turn on ya.”

“He's not like that,” Jack defends.

“Ya don't know that. Ya don't know what he's like.”

“I know enough. I know he isn't going to turn on me or brainwash me or whatever else crazy thing you are thinking.”

“Is nothing personal Jack, is just the way Pitch is.”

“He's not like that. Why can't you see that?”

“Cause there's nothing there to see,” Bunny answers.

“Jack,” Tooth says, “I know you can... identify... with Pitch. But that doesn't mean the two of you are the same. You're both on different sides.”

“No, we're both on the same side – the one the helps children. We just do it differently. We all do it differently. I have a different method from you guys. Pitch has a different method from any of us. Neither of us fit your mold of being a Guardian. The only difference is that you accept me and not him.”

“And ya ain't evil,” Bunny adds.

Pitch is not evil !” Jack shouts. His powers respond to his anger, freezing the room. It is then he knows he has to get out of there. He might freeze the entire building if he keeps this up. “That's it, I'm done,” he declares, “I'm done with this argument, I'm done with these stupid meetings where we never do anything and I'm done with no one listening to me when I speak. I did that for three hundred years, I'm not going to do it now that I have people I can actually talk to.” He shoves his chair away and takes to the air.

“Jack,” someone calls, but he isn't listening. He's just done.

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In which Severus takes up the mantle:

Severus watches with sharp eyes as his students brew their potion. This is his first year of teaching and he is determined to do things correctly – regardless if he wants to be here or not. It is his job and he takes pride in doing his job well. Rather unlike his Father, who never held another job after he was unemployed when the Mill laid him off.

Tobias was a worthless waste of a human being and he is determined never to be like him. How unfortunate that he inherited the old man's temper. A fact he is very well aware of.

“Miss Maycomb, what, may I ask, are you doing?” he stalks up to the girl and asks.

“Adding the dragon's blood?” she makes it into more of a question than a statement.

“Are you asking or telling me?”

“Um, telling Sir?”

“Because, if you happen to be asking me, I would tell you that adding the dragon's blood before your potion properly cools will result in a rather... painful explosion.”

She gulps. “Yes Sir,” she squeaks as she quickly sets the blood back down on the table.

“Ten points from Gryffindor for inability to read simple instructions.” And for almost causing an explosion that could have destroyed this entire classroom. Merlin, how do other people teach this? The old man is going to owe him for a lifetime for taking this position. It was a horrible idea when he first proposed it. It is an even worse idea now.

Him? Teach? And not only teach, but teach little dunderheads as well? He's almost the same age as his Seventh years. And he has neither the patients nor the skills to teach at this level. But, no , this is a perfect opportunity. He could 'spy' on the old coot and report back to his 'Master'. As if either of them can hold either his loyalty or his respect.

And now his old 'Master' is dead, so none of this matters.

Defeated. By a baby, of all things. And not just any baby, but Potter's brat... Lily's little boy.

And isn't that an open wound still. Lily. He still misses her, after all these years. Still wishes they never had that final fight. That he never said what he did. She never did forgive him for that. And now she never can.

Because of him.

No, not just because of him. Yes, he did play a part in it. He isn't going to deny it. But he is not the lone cause. There is Dumbledore, for one. Honestly, who holds a job interview for a school in a pub of all places? Does having them at Hogwarts make too much sense for the old man? There's the blasted seer who gave the prophecy to begin with, although she holds the least amount of blame. Seers can hardly predict when they will have the vision. A large part can be placed firmly on Black's shoulders. And what a mix of disgust and satisfaction that is.

But the person with the most blame and the most guilt the Dark Lord. Not that he would feel guilt over this, but the thought remains. He was the one who interpreted the prophecy. He was the one who went after the Potters. His wand cast the final curse.

So yes, while Severus carries part of the blame for that night, he is by no means the only player.

Now if only his heart would remember that.

He carefully eyes his students as he walks around, keeping an close eye on one in particular. Not because he is bad at potions. No. For another reason entirely. There is something about that boy that sets him on the edge. It is the way he moves, the way he assesses his surroundings, the way he jumps too easily. It is suspicious. It is concerning. It is, unfortunately, very familiar.

All of his instincts are practically screaming at him when he looks at this boy. But he has to approach this correctly. He cannot leap into it, as if he was a Gryffindor. He has to take care. He has to be cautious. And he has to be sure.

So far, the only thing he has are his suspicions. Take it, he has a very good reason to be and very good instincts besides, but that does not change the fact that he does not for sure yet. It would be foolish to confront the boy without proof. And there is a way to confirm for certain, but frustratingly, he hasn't been able to see it yet. If the boy is one of Pitch's, then he should have a bracelet. But he keeps his wrists covered. To an almost unreasonable degree. That is a sign in and of itself.

But even if he is not one of Pitch's yet, Severus is determined to know. And to do something about it. He refuses to turn a blind eye, like others did with him. With him, as with so many others, only Pitch cared. He will not be added to the category of the uncaring. He will not .

Then, at the end of class, he sees what he has been searching for for months now. The boy flinches away from a classmate too quickly and the edge of his shirt sleeve raises. Not much, but just enough for Severus to see the bare edge of a similar black bracelet.

There is a cold sort of victory of the sight. Frankly, he would have rather have been wrong than not. He is correct, but there is no joy in it. But now he can proceed. He can do something about it.

“Mr Chase,” he calls, “stay seated. There is something I need to discuss with you.”

He might as well do some good while he is stuck here, even if it is not originally in his job description.

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.

.

In which a very important question is asked:

Draco bites his lip nervously, trying to calm himself down. It is fine. Everything is going to be fine. After all, what is the worse that could happen? He bites his lip hard enough to make it bleed. Oh Merlin, he knew this was a bad idea. He knew it.

What made him think it wasn't? He has already asked Severus, that should be enough. Damn his sense of tradition and honor. So many things can go wrong. So many things. He's never interacted much with the spirit after Leo introduced them. He didn't have much reason to. Even after they began dating, he still didn't see him much.

But he knows how important Pitch is to Leo. He knows he views him as another Father, alongside Severus. He knows he loves him as fiercely as Leo loves him, if in a different way. So he needs to do this. He does. It's only right.

“I can feel your fear a mile away,” Pitch says unexpectedly from behind him.

Draco jumps. He can't help it. It seems Pitch takes vicious pleasure in scaring him. He never appears in his line of view. Oh no, it always has to be behind him or beside him just out of view or some such. Leo, the traitor, only laughs or rolls his eyes when he does. It makes sense why he does it. But that doesn't mean Draco likes it anymore. Or that Pitch doesn't always seem savagely happy when it occurs.

Oh Merlin, this is not going to end well.

“Shall I wait for you to muster up the courage to ask your question, or shall I skip right to my answer?” Pitch asks dryly.

That makes Draco bristle. He is a Malfoy. Malfoy's do not cower in fear – no matter how afraid they might actually be at the time. He straightens his shoulders and lifts his head. “Do I have your permission to marry Leonardo?” he asks.

Pitch tilts his head. “Are you finally going to ask him? It's taken you long enough. I was planning on this day since the two of you started dating.”

Draco... doesn't know what to say to that, so he just nods.

“I'm rather tempted to make you wait, but Leonardo would murder me, or attempt to, if I did so. You are lucky I am as fond of him as I am. And do not wish his wrath for upsetting his boyfriend. So yes , you have my permission to marry my son. Finally ,” he adds.

Draco grins broadly.

“And Mr Malfoy, I do not believe I need to tell you what I will do if you dare break his heart,” he says pleasantly before vanishing again.

Draco gulps. Worth it. Terrifying, but worth it. Then he grins again. Time to make some plans...

.

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.

In which another holiday is celebrated:

Jack fidgets with the box in his hands, hoping this is okay. It should be, right? There's never been a reason to think it would be unwelcome. And it's not too soon. Three years isn't too soon is it? Some might argue it's a long time in coming. But Jack didn't want to rush into this. He wanted to make sure. This is Pitch, after all.

Pitch, who the other Guardians still don't like or accept. They've finally accepted the fact that Jack likes Pitch. That Jack will continue hanging out with Pitch. Not happily, or gracefully, but they have... after a number of fights. And if they knew what he has planning on doing now...

He shakes his head, it doesn't matter. Sure, he is a Guardian. And sure, he is sorta, kinda friends with them. Or at least with Sandy. But they aren't the only spirits he knows. Or the only people. After three hundred years of being invisible, he finally has people he can talk to and rely on.

It's an odd feeling.

But Pitch was one of the firsts. And one of the ones he feels closest to. Obviously, or he wouldn't be planning what he is. It's another odd feeling.

It's odd in general. When he first started this, he never planned on getting as close to the older spirit as he did. He hadn't planned on getting close at all. He only went for the kids. But slowly but surely, that changed. He started to seek Pitch out and he has never regretted it. No matter how grumpy or sarcastic the Boogeyman got.

And now it has come to this.

And he makes it sound so dramatic when he puts it like that. As if this is some big, life changing moment or something. It's just a gift. That's all. Just something he made Pitch. A little something he just happen to spend hours and days on, making sure it was perfect. No big deal. It was just a gift.

On this certain day. The reason he made the gift in the first place. Because of today.

Right. Stalling isn't going to change anything. Time to get this over with.

He takes to the air and flies off in the direction of Pitch's lair, where he will be right now. Hopefully. Maybe if he isn't there, he can just leave it. That would be fine, wouldn't it?

But no, he wants to give it to Pitch himself. He does. He's just a little nervous, that's all.

When he enters the hole in the ground, he finds that Pitch is home right now. Good.

“Jack,” Pitch greets, “to what do I owe this pleasure?” he asks and it sounds slightly sarcastic, but Jack isn't expecting anything less.

“I have something for you,” he admits, “here,” he thrusts the neatly wrapped box into Pitch's hands and jumps into the air, “Well that's it, see you later,” he calls as he flees.

He does not stay to hear Pitch chuckle at his antics.

He does not stay to watch Pitch unwrap and open the box to reveal a beautifully made ice sculpture. It is of a small child, riding a Nightmare, while other children surround it.

He does not stay and see Pitch read the tag 'Happy Father's Day' and smile.

He does not stay to hear Pitch say quietly, “Thank you son.”