Author's Note: I am so sorry for only updating now. This chapter was being difficult and didn't want to be written. I would also like to apologize for the confusion in the last chapter. Yes, there are two Elsas. One in DunBroch where Merida is and the other is in Arendelle. And Anna is of course, in Corona. Thank you to all those that have reviewed, followed, and favorite-d. All mistakes are still my fault so I deeply apologize for those as well.
Warnings: None that I can think of for this chapter.
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters found in this story in any way, shape, or form; and are only borrowing them for this work of fiction. All rights belong to their respective owners and I gain no profit in writing this story.
Chapter III: The Strategy
A whispered sound rings around the open clearing as a figure leans back on the trunk of a giant tree. Her hair falls freely down her shoulders, making a silver curtain to hide her face. Her arms wrap around her huddled knees, curling herself into a ball as she continues humming a mournful tune to the wind. Her arctic blue eyes are glassy, looking into something only she can see. She breathes deeply and her voice sighs a gentle lullaby.
"Why does the willow weep?
For the snowflake that's adrift
Melts as it falls asleep
In gentle air that lifts."
The girl curls tighter into herself, hiding her being from whatever phantom horrors her mind is conjuring. A light frost starts to form on the grass below her and yet she doesn't notice any of this. She continues singing, oblivious to anything around her. Too lost inside her own mind to care.
"Why does the willow mourn?
For the crocus that still blooms
Grows in the earth of scorn
In winter wind that looms."
She exhales the last words with sadness drenched into them. A single tear falls, rolling down her left cheek. And that seems to break the dam holding her emotions at bay as a sob escapes her lips. Tears fall endlessly down her cheeks as she stares unseeingly before her. She looks broken, like a part of her is aching and nothing can make her feel right again.
The cracking of a twig beside her does not register in her mind but the gentle hand that suddenly rests on her right shoulder does. She slowly looks up to see a bear of a man giving her a tentative smile. The girl tries to give a smile as well but fails when all she does is grimace, a pained frown on her lips. The man sits beside her, not minding the frosted grass. He wraps his massive arms around the girl and brings her close to his chest. He doesn't say anything and for that she's grateful.
The girl curls herself into the man, letting herself feel the sadness and longing that she has kept inside herself for too long. Her sobs wrack around her body as the man holds her tighter. Her tears drenching the man's clothes as a light snowfall starts around them. The temperature drops, in tune with the girl's sadness, as an icy but soothing breeze blows towards the two.
After a while, her sobs slowly ends. She lightly rests atop the man comforting her as she breathes deeply, calming herself. She brings her hands to wipe the tracks of tears on her cheeks, looking up at the man with a shy smile. The falling snow ends with the last of her tears, the cool breeze stops with the end of her sobs, and the temperature rises again to a more comfortable level.
"Thank you, King Fergus." She whispers lowly. The king gives a mighty laugh as he envelops the girl in a tight hug. "None of that King Fergus business, my wee lamb. I told ya before and I'll tell it again. We are your family, Elsa. Best to remember that." He says as he lightly kisses her nose, a large smile on his face.
Elsa blushes and looks down. Even after all these years with living in the company of the royal family of DunBroch, she still sees herself as an outsider. She can't seem to cut the habit of addressing the family with their titles. And she sometimes needs someone to remind her that she is a part of their family, not just the orphan they took in all those years ago. She's glad that they don't get tired of correcting her when she forgets. "I'm sorry, dad."
This makes the man smile wider, an infectious smile that Elsa can't help but reciprocate. "Now that's my darling daughter." He hugs her again, making the girl giggle at the gesture. She rests her head on the man's shoulder and sighs. Her mind suddenly replays what had been eating at her since before her dad showed up.
"None of that, lass." The king sternly scolds the girl. She looks up to see concern with a tinge of hurt swirling inside the man's blue orbs. "I know you're confused, Elsa. And me and your mum know that ya need your space from time to time. But did ya really need to run off like that? We were worried sick, lass."
Shame paints the girl's face, her mind remembering what happened a few minutes ago. After the queen, no, after her mum handed over the invitation to her and she read over the words elegantly scrawled on the small piece of paper, it felt as if her whole world was crumbling beneath her feet. All she felt was confusion and longing. Confusion for what the invitation meant by saying a month-long celebration will be held in two weeks time for someone whose name is the same as hers. And longing, longing for the sister she knows will be attending the coronation without fail. She can't seem to shrug off that longing for her younger sibling, even after thirteen years.
Elsa did what she thought was best at the time - she fled. She ran out the dining hall, not hearing the shouts of the people calling for her to come back. She just needed to get out, to sort out her mind. She needed to be alone. She knows how unstable her powers can be, especially when she's shaken up. She couldn't risk anyone being hurt. So she ran to the only place that seems to calm her down, the clearing where she and Merida practiced earlier that day.
Elsa doesn't know what was in the clearing but it's the only place that seems to draw her in. There's a tranquility in it that seems to resonate within her very soul. And her powers usually don't go awry here. She can cry her eyes dry and nothing but snow, the occasional frost, and the light breeze of winter appears. No deathly icicles or piercing blizzards, nothing that could harm anyone who would surely come find her, be it her mum, dad, or Merida. She actually thinks they draw straws to see who comes after her, maybe she should ask them that sometime.
She is jolted away from her thoughts by warm hands resting on her cheeks, making her look up to the father she didn't even dream to have, not after everything that happened. He smiles at her and kisses her forehead lovingly. She can't help but feel warmth at the gesture, she is still always so cool to the touch but there are times like this when she remembers what being warm feels like. "Lass, what did your mum say about thinking too much?"
Elsa laughs, a genuine carefree laugh which lightens the burden she had been feeling ever since that invitation arrived. She smiles, clearing her throat and echoing the words her mum always tells her. "Hush that mind of yours, child. You'll freeze the whole castle with all that worry you're giving yourself. Come here and tell your mum what's eating on that beautiful head, my wee lamb."
Fergus chortles, his whole body vibrating from the laughter escaping him making his daughter laugh along with him. The melodious sounds of their mirth surround the clearing, mirroring the happiness that they both feel in that moment. The two relax against the tree behind them, breathing in the peaceful silence that the clearing is giving off.
"That was a beautiful song by the way, darling. I didn't know Elinor sings lullabies other than Noble Maiden Fair." The king compliments the girl as he scratches his beard in contemplation. Elsa shakes her head, making the man look at her with confusion in his eyes.
"Mum didn't sing that song to me." She whispers sadly, the twinkle in her eyes from just moments ago slowly dulling. "My mama did. It's the only lullaby that could calm Anna down. I... It helps sometimes." She bites her lip, willing herself to not burst into tears again. She clenches her hands into fists on her lap, breathing in ruggedly as she tries to calm herself from the torrents of emotions drowning her heart.
The king immediately covers her hands in his, making Elsa smile at the gesture. "Ai, I'm sorry, lass. I didn't mean to make y-" His words are cut off by the girl's shaking head and her hands squeezing his to gain the king's attention. "You didn't, dad. I just... I miss them. I know that they're gone but I still miss them." She sighs, looking up into the sky as if the answers she had been searching for are written across the heavens. "And more than anything, I miss my sister, dad. I miss Anna."
"I'm sorry, darling. We know how much ya miss your sister but we couldn't just let ya go search for her, not with that hole on your shoulder." Elsa nods at the man's words, her left shoulder suddenly tingling. She reaches out to touch the place where a very prominent scar now lies under her clothes, a reminder of the night when she lost her family. "We tried looking for her. Ya know we have, lass. But the other kingdoms already believed the lies Weselton fed them. And for your safety, we hid ya away. Me and your mum, we didn't want to lose ya, not to that mad beast of Weselton. He can give Mor'du the hibbie jibbies."
"I know, dad." Elsa looks at her dad, gratitude and love shining within the icy blue orbs that are her eyes. Her family - King Fergus, Queen Elinor, Merida, and the boys: Harris, Hubert, and Hamish - have saved her. Not just from Weselton or Tobias but from the loneliness that would have taken her. Without them, she would have been lost to the world, a gaping hole in her chest from the longing she felt for the family she lost.
They healed her, not just the physical wounds but also the injuries her heart had. It took a while but they never gave up on her. They made her feel like she was not alone, like she was a part of a family again. She is a part of a family. And they made her believe, believe that her sister is safe and is out there in the world like her. Hiding from the clutches that Weselton have and lying in wait for the right time to reclaim Arendelle.
Elsa knows that Anna is alive, there's a feeling inside of her telling her that she is. There are mornings when that feeling is the strongest and she knows for sure that her sister is out there. And when doubt comes to fog up her mind, she hums her mama's lullaby and lets everything else melt away. Anna is alive and Elsa knows that her sister will be going to that coronation. It definitely is a trap but she doesn't care. If there is a possibility that she'll finally be reunited with her sister, she'll take it and forget about the consequences.
"Let's go back home, Elsa. I know your mum would want to speak with you about all this invitation stuff." Fergus tells the girl beside him. She nods her head and slowly gets up, smiling at her dad. He smiles back and pulls himself up as well. Together, they walk back towards the large castle they call home.
"Anna... Psst... Anna..." A low voice says to a knocked out strawberry blonde girl sprawled on a couch. After a moment with no response, the voice groans and moves away from the couch, walking towards the side table with a vase full of roses. He reaches for the vase, takes out the flowers, and places them on the table. A surprised gasp comes from a corner of the room but the guy does not give this any mind as he inverts the vase and lets the water fall on the passed out girl.
A sputtered yell escapes the now drenched girl, immediately sitting up and looking for the reason why she suddenly feels as if she's drowning. Muffled laughter is heard to her side and she sees a blond guy clutching his stomach in mirth. She rolls her eyes and punches the guy's shoulder, making him yelp in pain. She laughs as she tries to push her drenched hair away from her face.
"Did you really have to throw water on her face like that, Kristoff?" A stern voice says behind the two. Anna turns to see who it was, smiling as she sees Rapunzel and a grinning Eugene beside her. The brunette girl shakes her head as she walks over to Anna, sitting beside her and helping to clear the girl's wet hair from her face. The younger girl smiles sheepishly, knowing that she must have worried Rapunzel and everyone else for something she can't seem to remember at the moment.
"Sorry about that." Kristoff says, scratching the back of his head guiltily. The girls give him identical looks of disdain. He cringes, knowing that he's just digging an even bigger hole for himself after everything that happened earlier. "Look, I was worried, okay? You were passed out for a while, Anna. And I just didn't know how else to wake you up. Sorry."
Anna nods, accepting Kristoff's apology. Before she could ask what happened and why her head feels like a hammer fell on top of it, a door opens and two figures enter. Anna's face immediately lights up and she rushes towards them, throwing herself to the woman who entered the room first and grinning at the man behind her. "Gerda! Kai!"
The couple laughs at the girl's enthusiasm. Gerda pulls back and looks at Anna. The younger girl smiles at them, her wet hair falling back into her face and making the two adults see that she is clearly drenched. The older woman looks up and sees Kristoff trying to subtly place the vase back where he took it. Shaking her head at the boy, she turns to her husband who saw what the boy was trying to do as well. "You better tell me you're not the reason why your sister is wet, Kristoff." The voice of the man echoes around the room.
Kristoff bows his head in guilt. "I said I was sorry, pops." Eugene chuckles at the younger guy's predicament, moving towards the couch and plopping down beside Rapunzel, cringing at the slightly damp spot he sat on. He wraps his arm around the girl, bringing her closer to him. Rapunzel smiles, resting herself on Eugene's torso.
Gerda ushers Anna out of the room, telling the others that she'd just have the girl and herself change clothes, and that they'll be back soon. True to her words, the two come back moments later with Anna in a new dress and her hair in her signature braided pigtail, and Gerda sporting a variation of the dress that she was wearing earlier. The strawberry haired girl smiles sheepishly at the other occupants of the room and sits on the chair nearest to her. "So... What happened?"
"Well, why don't you start, sweetheart? Tell us what you remember and we'll fill you in." Gerda says, walking towards her husband but looking at the younger girl with worry in her eyes. Anna nods and absentmindedly fiddles with her fingers. "The orphanage is opening so I was there and oh! Congratulations for that, Gerda. You too, Kai." She smiles at the two, happy for them especially since they have been like parents to her while growing up and they deserve to have their dreams come true.
"I was in the hall, the children were playing. Kristoff comes up to me and he's looking for his crush." Anna continues, oblivious to the fact that the comment garners a groan from the blond and a teasing laugh from Eugene. The other occupants only shake their heads at the two. "And Eugene asks who had a crush on who so Kristoff was all like no-no. But I wanted to tell so I tried but he was gonna cover my mouth so I ran off while he ran after me. The kids were running after me too but they got scared with the angry-looking reindeer king running after me so they left me alone and then I saw Eugene so I ran to him thinking he'd protect me but then bam, I crashed into Rapunzel. And then there was this invitation and all became black. And I think I have a knot in my head."
Anna looks up expectantly at the other people, hoping that they'd fill her in as she gingerly touches the place where she thinks she has a knot. She cringes as she feels it beneath her fingers and groans, knowing that it will take a while to heal it. Kai clears his throat, making the girl look at the man. "You passed out, Anna." She nods her head, already piecing together that she did. "You read the invitation and blacked out. Kristoff carried you to our office while Rapunzel and Eugene told us what happened. Gerda said you'd be much comfortable lying down so we brought you here. We do need to put ice on that knot though."
The girl nods her head, already thinking of going to the market to see if they still have ice. If not, she'll just ask Kristoff to get some for her. She looks at the man, thinking that there is still some piece of information that she's missing. She raises her brow as her electric blue orbs swirl with curiosity, silently asking Kai to just tell it to her straight. "The invitation is for Princess Elsa's coronation."
Anna immediately stands up at hearing Kai's words. "Elsa!" She begins pacing the floor, muttering under her breath. Her brain working its way to understanding how all of this is possible. How is Elsa in Arendelle and having a coronation. How is her sister in that place where that monster is. How or rather why didn't her sister go look for her after all these years. Or maybe it isn't Elsa at all. Maybe Tobias just wants her to go to Arendelle so he can finally finish what he started. Or maybe Elsa is really in Arendelle and being held hostage.
Anna stops her pacing, her head throbbing with all the possibilities her mind is thinking of. Not to mention how it was already hurting with the fall she had earlier, making her have a massive headache. She feels a hand touch her shoulders, looking up to see the concerned face of Kai. She lets him pull her to the couch, Rapunzel and Eugene scooting a bit to make some room for the girl. She sits beside the two, groaning as she holds her head in her hands.
"I don't understand what the big deal is." A voice suddenly rings around the room. Anna looks up to stare at the owner of the voice, confusion in her eyes. Rapunzel looks back with the same confusion swirling in her emerald gaze. "I mean, my parents told me that Arendelle has shut the gates for a long time now so inviting all the other kingdoms for the coronation is a good thing, right?"
Anna's eyes widen, her mind telling her that something is not right. The clearing of a throat draws her attention and she stares at Eugene who suspiciously has a guilty look on his face. He rubs the back of his head as he sheepishly says, "Rapunzel doesn't know anything. And before anyone of you yell at me, let me explain." Eugene looks at the girl beside him, pleading in his eyes. Rapunzel nods her head, he smiles and holds her hands in his as he continues, "It's not that I don't trust you, Rapunzel. It's just not my secret to tell. I didn't want my sister to get mad at me. I hoped she would tell you what her secret is herself. I didn't know she didn't say anything."
Rapunzel squeezes Eugene's hands, making him look at her. She smiles and kisses his cheek, making him blush. "Thank you for being honest but can I know what is going on now?" She turns to look at the girl beside her, silently asking Anna to tell her what Eugene is talking about.
Anna sighs, she doesn't like opening up old wounds but she knows Rapunzel isn't a person who will just spill her secrets to anyone who would dare to listen. Not to mention she used to have a secret of her own, with the magic hair that glows when she sings and all. The younger girl nods, telling herself that nothing bad will happen if she tells Rapunzel.
"I already told you about my sister, Elsa." Rapunzel nods at this. "I kinda sorta unintentionally decided to leave an itty bitty detail out of the story." Anna wrings her hands in front of her, suddenly nervous at what Rapunzel's reaction will be. She breathes deeply, trying to calm her heart as she says, "We'retheprincessesofArendelleandthepapaandmamaItoldyouaboutwerethekingandquueen."
"Can you repeat that?" Rapunzel says, her eyes twinkling with mirth at Anna's flustered state. The younger girl pouts but repeats what she said more calmly, "We're the princesses of Arendelle. The papa and mama I told you about were the king and queen." Rapunzel's eyes widen, looking around the other occupants of the room for confirmation to what she just heard. Eugene nods and her eyes swirl with more questions.
"This is going to be a long talk." Kristoff sighs, lying on the floor and staring at the ceiling. "Tell me about it." Eugene says agreeing with the blond as Anna tells her story to Rapunzel. Gerda and Kai filling in the other details to the tale being told.
"What are you doing?" A girl with platinum blonde locks drones out. She's looking at a scar faced man, throwing whichever trinket he gets his hands into. The once organized study is now littered with various books and broken glass haphazardly strewn along the floor. The man huffs, his mercurial eyes glinting with annoyance from the interruption. "What does it look like I'm doing, princess? This room direly needs a makeover and I'm doing the staff a favor by ruining whatever useless thing I find."
The princess doesn't give any acknowledgement to what the man said. Instead she looks out the large window in the room, staring at the clear blue sky. A loud thud is then heard accompanied by a sickening laughter. She turns back to see the man in the room holding a piece of paper. The man looks at her with madness in his eyes as he smirks at the girl before him. "Look what I found, Princess Elsa."
The man stalks over to the princess, waving the paper teasingly. When he's finally in front of the sitting girl, he shoves the paper in her hands. Elsa brings it to her face only to immediately crumple it, her right eye twitching suddenly. The usually stoic girl stares at the man, anger quickly brewing beneath icy blue orbs. This makes the man smirk wider as he sits next to the princess, his own gaze challenging.
"How dare you?" Elsa hisses, her hands slowly tearing the paper into shreds. The man laughs at the girl's reaction, enjoying the temporary albeit strong emotion Elsa is showing. He deeply enjoys shaking the girl up from the cool untouchable exterior she has. He sits languidly on the chair as he continues to stare at the princess. "What, princess? Didn't you like me giving you that sketch of your father?"
"Listen hear, Tobias." Elsa says menacingly to the man. Her body shaking with unrestrained fury. She leans towards him, grabbing his collar and pulling him close. Tobias's eyes reflect mirth, his smirk still in place as the girl before him gazes at him with murderous intent. "I have no father. That man forfeited his right to be called as such a long time ago." Elsa sneers, spitting the words with venom lacing every letter.
She pushes Tobias back and stands, throwing the pieces of shredded paper on the floor as she turns towards the window once again. The man laughs maniacally, enjoying the show that just happened in front of him. He doesn't even mind that the princess treated him as if he was a lowly servant just then, too amused by her reaction to care. After the man gets himself in check, he turns towards the princess. His eyes still dancing with unadulterated sadistic mischief. "Still so touchy, I see."
Elsa stiffens at his words but she remains standing with her back towards the man. Tutting, Tobias crosses his legs and brings his arms to rest behind his head. "How can you rule when you're this weak? Letting a simple sketch control your emotions. I am so disappointed, princess. Emotions are weakness. You don't want to be weak now, do you?" The man shakes his head, clicking his tongue as if in scolding.
Elsa turns to look at Tobias, her face devoid of any trace of emotion once again. She bows her head slightly in deference to the man. "I apologize for the outburst, Tobias. It will not happen again." The man nods his head in acceptance as the princess returns to the seat she abandoned earlier. "Of course, it won't happen again. I don't want to re-educate you after all, princess. You remember how hard it is for me to do that, don't you?"
"Yes." The girl whispers lightly. Tobias grins at her response, he truly does enjoy the obedience the princess has. The man shakes his head in mirth as he stands, walking towards the door. He has wasted enough time playing with the princess and now needs to see if his orders are being fulfilled.
"Tobias," The man turns before opening the door, his brow raises in silent question. "Do I need to kill her too?" Tobias walks back towards the princess at hearing her words. He reaches out to hold her chin in a firm grip as he brings her face to look directly at him. "You're not backing out now, are you?" His eyes darkening as he stares at the girl in front of him. He can see the already fading bruises on her face and neck. He immediately sneers, he hates this about the girl. He hates how she heals remarkably faster than normal humans do but he can't really do anything about that. "No." Elsa replies silently, the man releases his grip on her but continues to look menacingly at the girl, prompting her to continue. "I'm not backing out. I just need to know if I need to kill my sister as well."
Tobias snorts, his eyes rolling at the girl. "Why is this important, princess?" He asks with genuine curiosity coating his words. Elsa is a well-trained dog in his opinion, she doesn't question anything he says other than to ask things to satiate her own curiosity. And even when she asks why she had do something, she always does it in the end. He doesn't understand why killing someone would be an issue now when she has killed countless of times before, sometimes in cold blood as well. The princess looks at his eyes, her own icy blue hues swirling with something the man can't decipher.
"I dream about her. I dream about Anna."
All eyes rest on the brunette girl sitting on the couch. The strawberry blonde girl next to her waits with bathed breath for something, anything that the girl will do. "So let me get this straight. Arendelle was attacked thirteen years ago. Your parents were the king and queen, making you and your sister the princesses. The both of you had to escape because of a deranged lunatic wanting to kill you but your sister got hit with a sword and fell off the boat. Not to mention that same sister has magical ice powers. Am I right so far, Anna?"
Anna nods fervently, glad that the older girl has understood the gibberish she was spewing moments ago. The older girl breathes deeply and continues recounting the facts she had just learned. "You, Kai, Gerda, Kristoff, and Sven reach Corona and decided to hide. But you immediately ran off and got lost for two weeks?"
"Ten days actually but it's all the same, Rapunzel." Anna corrects the girl as the older girl stores that tidbit in her slowly overloading mind. "Ten days, okay. Someone helped you to get back to the others and that person became your mentor?" A blond guy scoffs at this, earning a glare from Anna and the tilting of Rapunzel's head. "More like girlfriend if you ask me. Right, Eugene?"
The guy sitting on the other side of Rapunzel shakes his head no. "No. I'm not gonna drag myself into a hole like you did, Kristoff. You're on your own." Rapunzel smiles at this as Anna throws her shoe at the unsuspecting guy lying on the floor. A pained groan escapes from Kristoff at being hit with the shoe, making the younger girl laugh. She brings out her tongue, taunting Kristoff jokingly. "You're just saying that because you're jealous! Admit it! You like her!"
"I am not!" Kristoff says sitting up and glaring at Anna. "Wait," Eugene interrupts the bantering duo. "The girl Kristoff has a crush on is Alexis?" He asks, genuinely surprised. Anna immediately nods her head while Kristoff shakes his. Eugene laughs at his two siblings until a pinch is given to his side. He yelps and stares at Rapunzel who is looking at him with annoyance. "Can I continue now please?"
"Sorry, love." Eugene whispers, kissing the girl's cheek and nodding at her to continue what she was saying. Kristoff tosses the shoe back to Anna and she catches it, placing it back on her foot. She nods at the older girl, silently saying that they were ready to listen again.
"Anyway, as I was saying. Alexis became your mentor. She taught you... stuff?" Rapunzel asks. "You can say that although she's more like a big sister than a teacher." Anna replies, playing with her hands. She doesn't really like talking about what Alexis taught her, that's why she didn't tell Rapunzel much about that aspect of her life. If she's being honest, not even Gerda or Kai knows a lot about that too. And she'd rather keep it that way, she doesn't want a repeat of what happened a few years back.
Seeing Anna's discomfort with the topic, Rapunzel rushes on to the next part of the story. "Moving on, you all had to hide because Arendelle, or in this case Tobias, sent off a letter to neighboring lands that a plague has struck the kingdom. All citizens of Arendelle who have snuck out the country are most likely infected and are needed to be returned immediately or else the plague will spread. Or so that's what they said."
Not hearing any opposition, Rapunzel continues. "In actuality, it's a plan by Tobias to get you back to Arendelle and finish what he started but you didn't fall for it and lived in the depths of the forest, here in Corona. Two years after you all have lived here, Eugene stumbled into your place and decided to steal your food." She raises her brow at the guy as he just sheepishly shrugs his shoulders. "Gerda and Kai caught him but since it was them, they took him in like you and Kristoff. But Eugene being Eugene, he still goes off at times to steal from the town's market."
All the persons in the room nod at this as they all glare at the guy in question. He raises his hands in surrender. "Hey! If I stopped that habit of mine, I wouldn't have met you last year, blondie." Eugene says cheekily. Rapunzel rolls her eyes and bumps her shoulder with his, making him grin. "Besides, it turned out for the best. I mean, you got your real parents now. You have a best friend other than that weird-looking fro-" A hard slap on the shoulder stops Eugene from finishing his sentence as Rapunzel looks at him with offense.
"I was just joking! Come on! You know I love that little dude!" Kristoff laughs as Eugene tries to coax Rapunzel to forgive him. Anna giggles at the older guy's predicament as well. Eugene tries to use the smolder but that only leads to Rapunzel pushing his face towards the couch, making Anna and Kristoff laugh harder.
"Children, enough teasing. Do you all want a time out?" A portly man jokingly scolds as his wife giggles by his side. The four look up at hearing the voice, smiling sheepishly at the couple. "Sorry, Kai. Gerda." Rapunzel says in behalf of the group as the others nod along with her. The adults smile and move towards them with Gerda kneeling in front of Anna and holding her hands. "What do you want to do now, Princess Anna?"
"Well, you can stop calling me princess for one." Anna says with a smile, the older woman laughs at this and squeezes the girl's hands. "You and Kai raised me as your own. Like Kristoff and Eugene and Sven too. We're a family, maybe not by blood but we are. You're my mother like how Kai is my father. And I have the misfortune to call those two my big brothers." A chorus of grunts is heard at that comment but Anna continues, not giving the two grumbling guys any mind. "You two took care of me and are still taking care of me, I'll be forever grateful to the both of you. I'm not a princess, I'm your daughter."
Gerda pulls the girl in a tight hug, her eyes brimming with tears. Anna hugs her back as she smiles at Kai who is standing beside a now sitting Kristoff. The older woman pulls away from the hug but touches the girl's cheeks in her hands. She gives an affectionate kiss to either side, making Anna giggle at the gesture.
"I'm sorry to end the moment, ladies." Eugene says earning a glare from Rapunzel. He just shrugs and smiles at the girl, making her roll her eyes. "We still need to think of what we're going to do. I mean, on one hand this could be a trap. On the other, Elsa could really be in Arendelle. We need to think of a plan, a strategy, just something so we don't go there blind."
"Eugene's right." Kai agrees with the younger man. "Tobias most likely wants to draw you out or maybe even your sister. The question is, why now?"
"The date is right." Anna whispers, making all eyes turn to her. She looks up as Gerda stands and moves towards her husband. The strawberry blonde girl stands as well and walks to face everyone, placing herself in the middle of the room. "The invitation says that this month-long celebration is for the coronation. It's the right date. Next month is Elsa's birthday and she will be of age by then."
Kristoff raises his hand, making the girl look at him with curious eyes. "Question. What's the big deal if she is of age?" Before Anna responds, Kai beats her to it. "It means that she has the right to claim the throne. Tobias must be using a decoy to retain the power he has on Arendelle and to thwart whatever plan the real princess may have when she is finally of age."
Anna nods at this, starting to pace again and feeling her head throb anew. "This is his strategy or so I think it is. He wants to show everyone that the real princess is still alive and secure Weselton's rule. Or he wants to draw me and my sister out to finish what he started. Either way, it's a win-win for him." She bites her lip in worry and looks at the others for guidance.
"How about we attend this celebration." Rapunzel suggests, everyone's eyes widening at hearing this. "I mean, it's also possible that they have the real Elsa there and holding her against her will. If we go and see whether it's an impostor or not, we can know what our next course of action is."
A hum of agreement echoes around the room, understanding Rapunzel's reasoning. "The only problem is that Kai and Gerda have to stay here since they have to run the orphanage." The couple nods at this, already knowing that they can't do much help with their ages being in the way. "And Anna can't come with us as well." Rapunzel continues, looking at the younger girl.
"What? Why?" The strawberry blonde immediately protests. "From what you told me, firefly, Tobias saw you when you were kids. He knows what you look like." Rapunzel replies with worry in her gaze. "Anna can come with a disguise on." Kristoff suddenly interjects, shrugging his shoulders. "I mean, she can just cut her hair off or something. We still have two weeks anyway before the celebration starts."
"Alexis." Anna murmurs, her electric blue orbs widening at the idea she just had. "Alexis can help! I need to go! I have to go! I gotta go now!" The girl rushes out of the room, leaving everyone to stare in confusion at her retreating form.
A loud groan resounds around the bedroom as a fiery red-haired girl plops on her bed. "Can't we just cancel the marriage, charge into Arendelle, and reclaim the throne?" She moans exasperatedly as she looks to an older woman sitting beside her bed.
"No, Merida. We can't just cancel the presentation of suitors. It's tradition. You're the princess, this is your duty." The woman replies sternly, looking at her daughter pointedly. "And we can't just charge off to another kingdom. We don't want a potential war in our doorstep, no matter how tempting it is."
The queen breathes deeply, trying to calm herself. After Elsa and Fergus came back, they started talking about everything that has happened. From the replies of the lords to the invitation of Arendelle. They've been trying to find a solution for their problems for hours now but they can't seem to find any.
"But Elsa's a princess too so go marry her off!" Merida says sitting up and pointing at a platinum blonde girl quietly sitting beside a burly man. Elsa's eyes widen and she looks up at the man beside her, asking for help but he just shakes his head. "Don't drag me into this, Merida. I have enough problems already." She says as she rubs her temples.
"We won't figure anything out with all this squabbling. We need to think of a strategy. Come on, Elinor. I know you can figure this out." The king says walking towards his wife, placing his hands on her shoulders in comfort. She sighs deeply, trying to let go of the tension that has been building up in her since they started this talk. She looks up to see the expectant looks from the other occupants of the room as the king sits on the bed and pats Merida affectionately. Before she can say anything though, a knock is heard coming from the bedroom door.
"Come in." The queen says authoritatively, composing herself to the calm and collected queen she is known for. The door opens and a girl with long raven locks enter. She bows deeply in respect to all the occupants in the room before addressing the queen. "Your Highness, Maudie has sent me to inform you that the princes have... redecorated the sitting room... again."
Elinor exhales, rolling her eyes at the predictability of her sons. She nods at the girl, silently thanking her for the information and dismissing her all the same. The girl bows again but before she leaves a thought crosses the queen's mind, making her eyes widen. "Wait, Blair." The girl halts in her steps and turns curiously to the queen.
Elinor purses her lips and walks towards her, inspecting the girl's visage. After her scrutiny, the queen turns towards Elsa and motions for her to stand beside the other girl. The princess silently obeys and walks over to the two other people standing inside the room. The queen nods, looking at both girls in front of her. Suddenly, she claps her hands together and smiles. "Strip. The both of you."
Blair's eyes immediately widen at the queen's words, her mouth hanging open in shock. "E-excuse me, my queen." The girl asks, her voice cracking slightly as a blush creeps up her cheeks. "I believe that I misheard what you said. Did you ask me and the princess to strip?"
"Elinor!" A disgruntled Fergus shouts, his eyes wide as he jumps out of the bed to stare questioningly at his wife. The queen turns to her husband, her brow raised. "Well, get out." She says pointedly, making the man's blue orbs widen more. "They can't get naked while you're in the room."
The queen pulls her confused husband out the room, not listening to the protests he is saying. When he's finally outside, she closes the door with a bang and locks it. She turns to see three sets of eyes looking at her. One luminous blue swirling with curiosity, an icy set clouded with question and a bit of fear, and hazel orbs with unmistakable dread.
Elinor smiles sweetly at them, walking towards the bed and leaning in to whisper something to Merida. The girl's face immediately shows shock which then morphs into a mischievous grin as her mother continues to tell her something only she can hear. When the queen is done, they both look at the two girls standing inside the room. "Ya heard my mother, lassies. Remove your clothes or I would have to force ya." Merida says jokingly.
Elsa sighs as she slowly acquiesce to her mum's command. Blair looks at the princess beside her, seeing her starting to undress makes her shoulders drop in surrender. The two gingerly remove what they're wearing. Elsa stares at her grinning sister with pointed eyes, a pinkish hue covering her cheeks as Blair looks down, her face still beet red from her blush earlier. The rustling of fabric and clinking of metal are the only things heard around the room. As the two finish removing their clothes, or armor in Blair's case, they look up at queen with curious eyes.
Elinor walks towards the two girls standing in only their underclothes, their garments pooling at their feet. The queen motions for Blair to hand over her tartan robe and she obeys silently. The queen inspects them, turning towards Merida as she looks at the piece of clothing in her hands.
Blair is the only female guard they have in the castle. If Elinor remembers correctly, she is the only female guard in all the clans actually. Four years ago, her father died in battle while trying to protect Fergus. Being the only heir, a then sixteen year old Blair begged the king to accept her as part of the royal guard to uphold her family's tradition of being in service to the royals. Elinor declined of course, but her husband saw something in the lass and told her that if she can pass the test set out for her, she'd be accepted as part of the royal guards. Blair proved herself to everyone that day and has been one of their best soldiers ever since.
The girl's armor resembles that of her husband without the bear fur cape. A chain mail over the long tunic she wears as underclothes, a brown leather armor, the royal guard's signature tartan robe, and a wide leather belt to complete the ensemble. Normally, the girl has a sword holstered on her belt or a bow slung over her shoulders with a quiver full of arrows on her back. But looking at her without the weapons, the queen can see that she has just finished washing up after her training. Maudie most likely saw her after her session in the grounds and told her to report to them. In her haste, Blair must have forgotten to take her weapons from being cleaned.
The queen then turns her attention to Elsa. Seeing the girl shyly standing before her reminds Elinor of the little princess she had met years ago. That young Elsa was extremely courteous and respectful, afraid to overstep her boundaries inside the castle. It was rather endearing for Elinor since that is what a princess should be in the queen's humble opinion. But she saw glimpses of who the girl was underneath the mask the child was always wearing and decided to coax the girl out of her shell. It took a while and a great lot of patience but thanks to her husband and Merida, they all got to Elsa. And the girl blossomed into the lady before her now.
Elinor smiles at Elsa, making the younger girl smile back. She hands over the Blair's robe to the girl, and Elsa immediately takes it. "Wear this and give Blair your dress, Elsa." The two girls look at each other with wide eyes but comply to what the queen is asking. Muffled giggles can be heard suspiciously coming from the bed but they don't give this any mind.
After the two girls exchange the clothes they were wearing with Blair helping the princess in putting her armor in place, the queen looks them over once again. Nodding her head, she turns to sit on the bed beside the still chortling Merida and addresses the two girls in front of her. "The both of you will act as the other for the coming week."
"I'm sorry, mum, but why do we have to do this exactly?" Elsa asks, bafflement coating her words. Merida stops her giggling and smirks towards the older girl. "Because mum says so!" The younger princess sing-songs, her eyes twinkling with mirth. "Don't listen to your sister." Elinor immediately scolds the girl lightheartedly. "The reason why I'm asking this from the both of you is because I figured out how we'll be able to solve our problems."
"My queen," Blair interjects respectfully. At Elinor's nod, the girl continues. "If I'd be of any aide to you and the kingdom, I'd gladly do whatever it is you ask." The queen smiles at this, happy to know that at least one of the two girls are willing to go with whatever plan she has. Elsa will be another hurdle all together, coaxing her to go through with the strategy the queen had in mind will be tough but she knows her daughter will see that this is the only option they have.
"Elsa, darling, you know we can't leave the kingdom now. Not with the lords coming in three weeks time." Elinor tells the girl. She stands again and walks towards the girl, reaching out to hold Elsa's hands. The queen squeezes them and smiles, trying to tell the younger girl that everything will be okay. Elsa smiles backs, silently asking her mum to continue. "But that doesn't mean you can't go to Arendelle. We know how much you long to see your sister and this is the perfect time to do that. We want you to be reunited with your sister but we can't just let you go there alone."
"I know, mum." Elsa whispers, the queen can see that longing starting to darken the girl's arctic blue hues. She reaches out to touch the girl's cheeks, making Elsa look at her mum once again. "That invitation is most likely a trap but they'll be searching for a platinum blonde girl and not a well-renowned guard of DunBroch." The girl's eyes immediately widen at this, understanding what her mum is trying to say.
"Whenever Blair is out of the kingdom, she usually wears her helmet that hides her hair and obscures her face." Blair nods at this, confirming what the queen had said. "All the kingdoms know of how we have a talented female guard but they don't know what she looks like. The same as how the kingdoms know that we adopted an orphan years ago but not know who she is." The queen smiles at the two, Merida smiling at them as well. "No one will question if a guard wears a helmet, armor, and weapons while she follows the adopted Princess of DunBroch to the celebration."
"And it wouldn't hurt that the same guard really does know how to wield a weapon in the first place." Elsa adds cheekily. Her mum rolling her eyes at the jibe the girl did at the comment she made earlier about princesses wielding weapons but a smile springs upon her lips all the same. Happy that after that dreaded invitation came, the queen can see her daughter's eyes sparkling again with hope.
They have a plan now. It still has a lot of holes but at least they have something. And the celebration wouldn't start in two weeks, that will be enough time for them to prepare everything. She and her family may not be able to come with Elsa on her journey back to Arendelle, but she'll make sure that the girl is as protected as she can be. She'll be damned if she let that monster hurt her daughter once again.
A loud cackle is heard coming from the closed doors of the study. A chestnut-haired man is the source of the demented sound, his eyes swimming with glee as he stares at a girl with arctic blue eyes sitting in front of him. He raises his brow in question as a smirk forms upon his lips. "You've been mean, princess. Keeping this from me. It wounds me that you didn't tell this to me sooner." The man mocks, pulling his hands into his chest.
The princess rolls her eyes, turning to look towards the destruction laying on the floor before her. She absentmindedly begins to draw patterns on her left palm as she addresses the man without looking up. "Don't play around, Tobias. You're not hurt at all." She says coolly, indifference painting her whole body as she tilts her head upon seeing a sharp piece of glass near where she is sitting. She stops drawing in her palm, bends down, and picks the piece of glass up. Bringing it close to her face as it reflects the light streaming in from the large window.
More laughter answers the girl as Tobias pulls a chair towards him. He straddles the furniture, sitting with his front to the chair's back and resting his arms on the top of it. He smirks cruelly at the princess, enjoying the fact that she's preoccupied with something again. Her innate curiosity is amusing at times and he's very glad how that curiosity turns dark without preamble.
The girl in front of her is really something, Tobias muses. He was right when he concluded that she will be a formidable foe given the right training. And since she is his student, one can say that he made a monster rivaling himself. This thought makes him smirk wider. He should hold another tournament soon, maybe during the celebration. He's itching for a good fight and the princess will surely give him that. Not to mention the possibility of fighting other notable soldiers from the other kingdoms will be a thrill as well. He nods to himself, noting that he'll have it arranged after the talk he has with the princess.
"So tell me again, Princess Elsa." He hisses, drawing the girl's attention back to him. "You have dreams about your dear little sister." She nods at this, making his silver eyes glint. "Care to tell me what you dream about, princess?"
"I can't remember much." She says evenly, fiddling with the glass in her hands. "Just that she's there. And I was there as well."
Tobias grunts, not really expecting much from the dream. Not at the moment anyway. He believes that all of that will change in the coming weeks though, most especially when the celebration begins. He's strategy is most tempting and curiosity is a friend that will aide him a lot. They will surely come and when they do, well, then the fun will begin.
The sound of breaking glass jolts him out of his thoughts and he looks up to see the princess with her left hand bleeding. Shards of tiny glass sticking to her hand and breaking the skin. Tobias scoffs and takes out a handkerchief out of his pockets, handing it to the girl. She wipes the blood off, mesmerized by the red liquid soaking the white cloth.
"What did you do this time, princess?" Tobias asks exasperated, seeing the girl bleeding is a normal occurrence. And he'll be honest and say that he enjoys it as well but only when he is the reason for making the girl bleed. "The glass got too cold. It shattered when I flicked it." Elsa whispers lightly, too preoccupied with taking off the shards of glass in her hand to think of anything else.
Tobias sighs and stands up, shaking her head at the girl. He turns to leave the room once again but turns when he remembers something. "Don't be late for dinner later, princess." She nods her head and he continues. "Be sure to tell the servants to clean this room up. Don't try helping them, you'll only be distracted by something and hurt yourself again. And as much as I know that you heal fast, I'd rather not have my servants cowering in fear and committing suicide again for fear of my wrath being unleashed at hearing the princess is hurt." He exhales exasperated. "We already lose a great deal of servants daily, I'd rather not lose competent ones as well.
"I understand." Elsa says looking up towards the man. He nods and opens the door. Looking back at the room one last time, he smirks as a thought crosses his mind. He exits the room, leaving the princess to her own devices as Tobias thinks about all the excitement coming their way.
A strawberry blonde girl huffs in frustration as she dodges another arrow coming her way. She groans to herself as she mutters under her breath. "Why does Alexis have to be so paranoid? How many traps did she put up this time? I should have jus-" A twig breaking stops the girl in her tracks as she surveys her surroundings. She knows that no one else comes to this part of the forest and that it is heavily armed with various traps to keep outsiders out. There is only one reasonable explanation for what she heard.
The girl turns as she hears loud growls coming from behind her. A large beast stands at the back of the girl. It has a head of a lion, the body of a goat, and it's tail is a snake. The beast is moving towards the girl menacingly, barring its teeth. "Really, Alexis? A manticore? Why can't you just have unicorns?" The girl asks the listening wind. Her voice seems to jolt the manticore as he starts to breathe of fire.
She jumps, exceptionally high to be humanly possible and twists her body. She lands behind the beast and smiles. But the snake tail immediately reacts and lunges towards her. The girl sidesteps, making it miss but the lion head already turned and has the girl in its sight. He moves his paw to claw at the girl but she ducks and sweeps her left foot on the ground, making the manticore lose its balance.
The girl immediately walks back, avoiding being brought down by the beast. She wipes her hands and turns to leave, thinking that the manticore will leave her alone now. But the fall only angered the beast more and with a mighty roar, he pulled himself up and rammed itself to the retreating girl. The girl is pushed towards the trunk of the tree, hitting her side. She grunts and looks back at the mad beast growling before her.
"Okay, I tried playing nice Mr. Manticore but since you don't want that, I'll be serious for you now." She pulls herself back up and breathes deeply, testing if any of her ribs are cracked. Thankfully, none of them are but she knows that her side will be sore in the morning. She rolls her shoulders and beckons the manticore to come forward.
The beast roars and charges towards her again, breathing fire. Instead of jumping over the incoming flames like she did earlier, the girl just stands her ground. Before the flames can reach and burn her though, she disappears. In a flash, the manticore suddenly drops unconscious on the forest floor with the girl standing next to it.
She crouches down and pats its head. "I'm sorry if I hurt you too badly, Mr. Manticore. I'm just in a hurry. If you're still here on my next visit, I promise to play more." She tells the passed out beast as if it is a pet and not something that was trying to kill her moments ago.
A melodious laughter comes out from nowhere, making the girl stand up and grin. "Do you really need to treat my guards as pets all the time, Anna?" The voice asks jokingly. Anna nods her head as if the person she is talking to is just in front of her. "Of course, Alexis. You told me that they're not really aggressive and that they're only protecting you. And they like it when I do that!"
Another round of laughter is heard at Anna's words, making the girl laugh along with the voice. Suddenly, a girl with snowy white hair and luminous amethyst violet colored eyes appears. She smiles cheekily as Anna runs towards her and bringing the girl into a hug.
They pull back, both girls with smiles on their faces. Before Anna can say anything though, the girl waves her hand towards the unconscious manticore. The beast immediately disappears as Anna's eyes widen. "Where'd you put Mr. Manticore, Alexis?" She asks, worry filling her lightning blue orbs. "He's getting treated. Don't worry. After what you did to him, I'm expecting he wouldn't want to be back out here soon." Alexis replies jokingly, bumping her shoulder to the younger girl.
Anna smiles sheepishly, fiddling with her hands. "I was kind of in a hurry." She looks up to see the girl's eyes before her swirling with confusion. "Do you need something, Anna? You know you can tell me anything, I'll help in any way I can."
"Please teach me how to do a powerful glamour spell."