"Well, yeah. He said we're supposed to save the world. Something horrible has to happen before we can save the world from it," said Hiccup, shocking all of us. He hardly ever talked.
They kept fighting, but I barely heard it. My head was spinning for no reason. I felt hot. I started breathing funny. I opened my mouth to say something and fainted straight away onto the dirt floor of the hideout. I didn't feel like I'd fainted, I was just transported somewhere else. I was sitting on a chair across from a man all dressed in white. He smiled at me and I felt calmer. Nothing like that had happened since…the moon. The man had to be the man in the moon!
"Correct, although as a Guardian, you can call me Manny," said the man. The voice was the same voice that I'd heard that night at camp.
"Why am I here?" I asked.
"I have to explain something to you," said Manny, reaching out to grab my hands. I felt more calm and comforted. "You're wondering why I chose you. Why you can do exactly what Jack can do. Why you have to save the world."
I nodded, wanting him to go on again. He smiled again.
"Vanessa, every Guardian protects something valuable to childhood. Jack has fun, North takes wonder, Tooth protects memories, Sandy does dreams, Bunny covers hope, and I protect them all. You have something more special than that."
"I do? But…"
"You have strength, courage, determination, and friendship. But above all else, you have strength."
"I'm not strong."
"Yes you are. Strength is many things. You are strong enough to face your mistakes, strong enough to be a good friend, strong enough to believe, strong enough to fight your own battles. Before any child can believe in any of the Guardians, they must first believe in you. That is why you must save the world. You have only one ability at the moment, fun. But just wait. More will come."
He smiled at me one more time and I snapped back to reality, the place I was asleep. I wanted to stay asleep this time. I needed to think about what Manny had just told me. But I didn't get very long. My eyes flew open almost immediately. Apparently I was either dreaming or just subconsciously didn't want to stay in bed. Probably the latter. It was dark and everyone was sleeping in huddles all over the place, even Jack. He had to have been tuckered out, because he normally sat up half the night. I wasn't tired enough to stay in bed, so I got up quietly. Come to think of it, I was actually the only one in a bed. Everyone else was either in a sleeping bag on the floor or in a hammock dangling from the ceiling.
I looked behind me and saw a light coming from behind one of the countless doors of the hideout. I heard muffled whispers from behind it. I padded my way across the dead pine needles that littered the floor and opened the door. Two pairs of blue eyes looked up at me, one pair pale, one darker. One boy and one girl sat on a pair of chairs. The girl motioned for me to come in. I did so and shut the door behind me. They were both blond, but the boy's hair was lighter, and so were his eyes. They weren't like the other Lost Boys or Wendy or even like my friends and me. The girl's dress appeared to be made out of a leaf. The boy's whole outfit appeared to be made out of autumn leaves, his pants and over shirt maroon, his shirt pale yellow. The girl pointed up and I saw a hole in the roof. They had wings, the source of the glow, so we all flew up through it.
Once we'd landed at the top of a big tree they both sat comfortably on a thick tree limb. I had to hug the trunk to feel safe, whether I could fly or not.
"Hi, I'm Tinker Bell, and this is my brother Terence. We're fairies, as you could probably tell," said Tinker Bell. "If Tinker Bell feels like a mouthful to you, just call me Tink. Everyone else does."
"I'm V…" She didn't let me finish.
"Vanessa Frost. We know. Mickey sent us a letter. Terence lost it before we could show it to Peter."
"Oh, well that's unfortunate, I guess."
We laughed a little. We talked and talked and by the time the sun just barely started to come up, I knew everything about them and they knew everything about me, and why the others and I went to Mickey's castle in the first place.
"So, saving the world, huh? How are you going to manage that?" asked Terence.
"I'm not sure. Manny told me that he made me the Guardian of strength, so I guess that means I know what to do, somehow." I put my head in my hands and groaned. "Nope, I have no idea."
Tink reached out and touched my cheek in that comforting way that only girls can do. She looked at me with eyes that said 'It's gonna be alright.' I smiled back.
"Say, you guys can see me. Do you believe in me?"
"Yes, but not like that. We're like that too; only children can see us all the time. Adults only can if they believe in us," said Terence.
"We should head back. It's almost morning," said Tink.
We flew back into the hideout. They went back into their room and I flopped back down on my bed. It seemed like only seconds had passed before I heard a rooster crow. I sat bolt upright, wondering for how long they'd had the thing in here before I realized that it was no rooster making that noise, Peter was somehow doing that. Jack laughed at my expression. I got up and lined up with the others. It was a little bit strange, but they did that every morning, and there was actually no good reason for it. Peter dismissed us to get changed and eat up right after the last kid had fallen into the line.
"What was that yesterday? Were you overstressed or something?" asked Jack, putting his arm around me.
"No, that wasn't it. Manny wanted to talk to me."
"Who's Manny?" He actually seemed confused.
"You know, the man in the moon?"
"Oh, him! Continue."
I told Jack everything that Manny had told me and his eyebrows had knit together (did I ever tell you how much I love that?) by the end of it.
"He never explained that much to any of the other Guardians."
"Well, I'm a special case, I guess."
I was, kind of. He'd made me to be exactly like Jack, but I had to be able to do something else. In fact, he had outright said so himself. If children had to believe in me above all else, then I had to be able to do something else. Maybe not, but if I was so special, then probably.
"Okay, well, since all of you are here, we might as well put you to good use," said Peter. He tossed each of us a sword, except Jack, he didn't need one, and miraculously didn't take anyone's eye out. "We're fighting the pirates right now. You help us win this war, we'll help you whenever you need it."
That sounded like a fair enough deal. We left the hideout twenty minutes later, each of us camouflaged to look like a part of the foliage. We stayed down and watched the bay where the Jolly Roger was sailing. They didn't appear to be doing anything worth fighting.
"What's the point of this?" asked Merida.
"I know they don't appear to be very evil, but wait until they see us," said Wendy. She had a British accent, like me. "They have absolutely no qualms about killing children."
We all turned toward the ship as we heard a loud BOOM!
"Scatter!" exclaimed Hiccup. We all dove left or right to avoid the cannonball that was hurtling towards us.
"What did I tell you?" asked Wendy, crouching down.
The cannonball hit a big tree behind us and it toppled over. We all drew our weapons and rushed for the cove where the pirates were disembarking from their ship. I was the last one to the fight because I saw what the others didn't. A whole bunch of pirates went around the sides with nets. They were catching mermaids and throwing them up onto the deck of the ship. I ran not towards the fight, but to a pirate capturing a mermaid with a pinky-orange tail and black ponytail. I cut off his peg leg and he stumbled, dropping the net and letting the mermaid escape. I saw her face and her smile for a minute and she winked. I knew her. She swam away and I stared after her for a minute. Then Rapunzel was pulling on my arm, leading me into the fight.
I'd never killed a person. I'd hardly killed anything but hobogoblins and trolls and one giant, but they weren't people. But when I saw Hiccup laying on the beach, eyes wide open in fear as the pirate with a hook and red hat and coat raised his sword, I ran forward with a blind, white rage. I swung my sword and the pirate fell. I saw blood and looked away. The fighting all around me stopped. The pirates looked from me to the body, the body to me, and then retreated to their ship in fear. The others from the Academy ran over to me, Merida to Hiccup. None of the others moved, they just stared in fear at the dead pirate.
"Are y'alright, Hiccup?" asked Merida. He nodded. She punched him in the arm. "That's for scarin' me witless, ya daft old gammy."
"Vanessa!" called a voice in the distance. Over in the bay, the mermaid I'd saved waved to me. I went over.
"Are you okay Melody?" I asked, wading into the ocean without thought. But she was definitely Melody. "And what are you doing here?"
"That's not important right now," said Melody, waving away my question.
"One more question. Why are you a mermaid?"
"I was always a mermaid. In water. But they took Ariel!"
"Ariel was here too?"
"Yes, we always come here. Our dad is King Triton. You know, the king of the whole ocean? They took the mermaids to find our treasure, but when they find out that they took the heir of the ocean, they are going to hold her for ransom."
"We'll get to that in just a moment Melody. I think those Neverland guys died standing up or something."
They'd not moved at all. I went over to them and waved my hand in front of Wendy's eyes. She didn't even blink.
"Years…" Peter said softly. "We've been fighting each other for years and neither of us has ever come close to even capturing each other. You'd only seen him for three seconds and you killed him."
"Why is that such a big deal? All I know is I killed some pirate guy!" I exclaimed.
"He's not just some pirate guy," said Tink. "He was Captain James Hook, the pirate who's been hunting Peter for decades, the pirate Peter cut the hand off of and fed to a crocodile."
Peter knelt down next to the body and seemed to be fixing it's hat, hair, and clothes.
"We have to bury him," said Peter.
"Peter…" Wendy began.
"Get digging Lost Boys!" insisted Peter.
They began immediately. Before I had blinked twice, they had a man-sized hole ready. Peter Picked Hook's body up and laid it softly down in the hole. Then the Lost Boys covered the hole back up just as quickly as they had opened it.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like for you to join me in a moment of silence," said Peter. "Join hands with me and let us all pray for the soul of the most formidable foe in the history of foes."
I bowed my head and reached my hands out to both sides. Jack took one, and Terence took the other one. In an instant we all held hands and stood in a circle around the hastily made grave of the fallen pirate. We bowed our heads and shared in the moment of silence. (Except for Melody, but she was silent with us.)