Descending, Part II
She saw Hans amidst the flurries, and Kristoff in the distance.
She saw her last hope, and her true love.
She saw her treacherous mistake, and her false love.
And then she saw her only family, who she loved most of all.
In moments Hans was upon her, the ice queen, her idol, sword raised above him. It was like a freeze frame, his face a mask of victory and malice, hers of shock. She was facing him, arms back, fingers splayed, pain etched in her features. He had said something, and she had listened.
Elsa! Move! Anna tried to scream, to call, to beg. For sure her throat was ice, her vocal cords constricted and thin, and if she did speak, then it was drowned in the wind.
Move, please! Don't just stand there!
Her body, once siphoned of energy, filled with resolve. If Elsa wouldn't move, then she would.
She had to.
Anna felt the ice in her heart climbing up her bones, sucking the heat away, coursing through her veins. She felt it grasp her mind, stop her senses, but that wasn't enough. It would never be enough, for she would not give up. Every last ounce of her being forgot about Kristoff, forgot about Hans. There was just Elsa, and the impending doom upon her.
Please. Please let me save her! She cried in her mind. Whoever's up there, whatever's up there, don't let her die.
In one last burst of strength she launched herself at the sword. And, praying she made it in time, ready to accept the pierce of the blade, the cold engulfed her. In the sky, the moon shone high. It cut through the clouds. Through the snow. Through the wind. And it bathed them all in an unseen light.
Anna sat up fast, breathing hard. Her hair was slick with sweat to the back of her neck, her hands shaking and clammy. She was freezing, but a warm heat where her was gave her all the comfort she needed.
There was a hard pain right above it, stinging each time her heart pulsed. Without looking it was easy to tell that she was wounded, and bleeding beneath what felt like bandages. But she welcomed it, the blood, the pain. Because the living bled. Because the dead couldn't feel.
And somehow, magically, miraculously, she was alive.
"Alive," she whispered. She had her voice back, a soft whisper, and it felt like heaven on her lips.
"Elsa!" She shouted, stumbling to her feet in an attempt to get up. The pain, however, struck her harder than expected. She clutched her chest and gasped, crashing off the bed and onto the soft carpeted floor, curling in on herself. It was as if someone had impaled her and left the weapon inside, a permanent wound from the skin to the center. Anna gritted her teeth, trying not to cry out, and then sighed in relief when it subsided.
The door flew open.
She was still lying on the ground, afraid to move for fear of the pain. But past shallow panting she lifted her head and looked towards the door, where a young girl had rushed in. She had a look of worry but Anna didn't recognize her.
"Are you alright?" She asked, kneeling over the redhead. "That was probably a dumb question," she added as an afterthought. Her arms were thin and pale, but surprisingly strong as she lifted her back on the bed. "You shouldn't move…I don't know what happened, but your wound looked pretty nasty."
"Oh! Well not exactly nasty, but like, painful. But not horrible. Just like it hurt. You know. Not like I'm saying you looked bad or anything, just that it was bleeding, like a lot, so please don't freak out, and actually you look kind of pretty, so really I'm being honest, dead honest, and I'll shut up now."
The girl looked awkwardly to the side, her face beet red. Anna giggled at her rambling, causing her to somehow blush even more. "I'll take that as a compliment. And it looks like you helped me out a lot. Oh, where are m manners? I'm Princess Anna of Arendelle."
The girl's eyes went wide with wonder, leaning forwards. At the same time, Anna met her eyes for the first time.
They were gorgeous.
The strange girl had large blue eyes, rimmed with thick dark lashes. They swam with an azurite frost, darker closer to the center and fading to a pale whisper of a blue. Wisps of smoke and flecks of silver danced within them, bright and almost shining with a sharp mix of innocence, curiosity and something unidentifiable but slightly alluring. A vast array of emotions were riddled within, but none held candle to the undeniable sense of awe and excitement they possessed.
For a while they just stared at eachother. Her heart beat like a jackhammer, and her breath caught between her teeth. It wasn't just her eyes which were beautiful. Onyx black hair matched her eyelashes, short and with choppy, yet endearing front bangs. They were uneven and had a kind of charm, and curved in slightly. It heavily contrasted her smooth, pale skin. Not a flaw could be found, neither blotch nor scar. Her lips were slightly parted, unadorned by makeup, showing two sharp fangs. But they didn't scare her. Quite the opposite.
They entranced her.
"Anna!" The two girls whipped their heads to the door, seeing a very happy Kristoff run in. Quickly the girl hopped back from the bed, and looked to the side awkwardly, habitually tucking a strand of hair behind her ear and biting her lip with the tip of one fang.
He wrapped her in a gentle bear hug, which she returned, nuzzling into his neck to hide a blush.
"I'm so, so glad you're okay," he breathed, wanted to cry in happiness but not willing to surrender his manly image. "You have no idea. I thought I lost you. You were ice, Anna, solid ice. But now you're not. You're alive. You're back."
He separated from her, a sloppy smile stretched across his face. "How?" She asked, feeling warmth rise up her neck.
"I didn't know how, but now I think I do. An act of true love to freeze your heart…and act of true love doesn't have to be romantic. It can also be familial."
She smiled, hope rising to her eyes. "So Elsa…?"
"Is perfectly fine!"
Overjoyed, she gave him one of her own bone crushing hugs, disregarding the pang in her wound. Then they surprised eachother a second time, Kristoff kissing her softly. His heat spread to her, his rough care and wild taste, and she remembered why she fell in love with him. He was so sincere, so kind, but he was also strong.
Even though he was no parts suave.
Mavis saw their exchange and tried to give them privacy, trying to sneak out of the room. A sour feeling took hold of her but she didn't know what it was. For some reason, seeing these two humans touch eachother like that didn't sit well with her.
Maybe it was just fatigue making her feel that way. She had been up all night finding this room, secluding it from her father's patrol route, and convincing the shrunken heads and suites of armor not to tell him. But when she got outside, an icy cold hand touched her shoulder.
The vampire whipped around, surprised and ready to explain to whoever it was that nothing suspicious at all was going on. But there was no wandering skeleton, curious zombie or cannibalistic gremlin there. Instead there was the ice queen Kristoff told her about—he explained to her their whole situation a few hours ago—with her eyes to the ground. She was dressed in a mix of her dress and one of Kristoff's overcoats, but no longer looked regal. Just sad.
She was ready to explain everything to her, but Elsa spoke first. "She's okay?" Her voice was a whisper, guilt and worry thick in each word. Mavis smiled and touched her hand.
Elsa exhaled shutting her eyes. "Thank you, stranger. It was awfully kind of you to take us in, but now I have to go. Please don't tell Anna."
The queen turned around to walk off, but Mavis was having none of that. It just didn't seem right. She dissolved into a smoke of shadows, reappearing back in front of the human.
"Not so fast, miss-oh-queen-of-the-cold. You're not leaving yet." She realized how creepy that sounded, but decided now was not the time to regress into a bumbling mess.
Elsa tried to glare, lifting her eyes from the floor. "I have to go. I can't stay here…Chances are I'll end up freezing this strange place solid."
"You have no idea the things we have to handle in this place. A little ice is little to worry about."
"I froze my entire kingdom!" She exclaimed. "Now get away before I freeze you too!"
Okay, so that actually scared her a bit. What if she did? What if she was turned to ice, and all the other monsters in the hotel?
Not happening. She was a Dracula for Pete's sake! Draculas could care less about a little draft.
"Your power won't hurt me," she braved. Inside, though, she was getting more and more afraid the more the queen's chill ebbed out. Little spots of frost began to creep over the walls and ceilings. "So please just stay, you're safe here, and there's no way you could survive out there. This is not the place you grew up in, according to that blonde guy."
"I don't need to survive," she snapped.
Mavis scowled. "Bull freakin' shit. I don't know anything about weirdo human customs, but the way it is here, you don't ditch family. I'm pretty sure Anna would hate it if you left."
"Listen here, you don't know me, you don't know her. I know you mean well but I nearly killed her. That won't happen again, because I'd rather die than leave the possibility."
"Yeah, I don't know you, or her, or any humans for that matter, but I know that there is nothing out there which would be just fine without family. You're just being selfish. From what I was told, she braved death to save you. You wanna throw that away? You wanna break her heart, disregard her feelings? Be my guest, but I guarantee it'll pain you both more than a sword will."
"He really told you everything," she sighed. "So quick to trust. I guess that's another reason why she loves him." There was a regretful, sorrow struck look across her face, so emotionally pained she almost regretted what she said to her—keyword being almost.
Elsa looked down the hall, as the darkness grew from door to door. Then she looked at Mavis, this troublesome stranger.
"At least see her," she pressed softly. "She just woke up, and I know, I know she wants to see you."
She looked down the hall one last time, then relented. The vampire smiled, taking her hand, and went back inside. It was true—she knew nothing about them, these humans, or any at all. But she knew that they were strange. She grew up terrified of them, for her candy and her life, but these seemed like nice people. True people. People who could even be monsters.
Especially the ice queen. Never had she heard of a human with supernatural powers. The only thing 'supernatural' about them should be their 'supernatural' greed as they demolish forests and slay their own kind. But one who could control ice? Freeze a kingdom?
Mavis recalled when Kristoff spoke of his family—a clan of trolls. When he described them he had a nostalgic, familiar look on his face. It was filled with love when he elaborated on each and every little troll, not callous discrimination or disgust. He had grown up with both monsters and men, and the monsters he grew up with regarded him as kin. That had to be worth something, if not everything to her. If her far off cousins could accept humans, then why couldn't she and Dad?
When they walked in, Anna pushed off Kristoff. First he was confused, then saw her sister and backed off instantly, looking from one to the other. Elsa had her eye diverted once again, a horrible weight befalling the room.
At last the elder sister spoke, the words choking out and bleeding with guilt. Her eyes glistened with unshed tears, chin dipped into Kristoff's coat as if to escape what she was sure were scrutinizing gazes.
"I'm sorry," she whispered, so quiet yet filling the room. "I'm so, so sorry, Anna. I don't need forgiveness… I don't want forgiveness… I don't deserve it. You were the one thing I had left, and I almost took you from the world. I promised Mother and Father I would keep you safe. I swore on my life I would. But I did the opposite. I'm so sorry." Her voice cracked and she took a short, ragged breath. "You can be with Kristoff, I wouldn't dream of stopping you. You two can live your happily ever afters, but I will only deter them. So I plan on—"
"Stop!" A strong punch landed clean to her side, and then two arms wrapped around her. "Just shut up!"
Anna had caught her sister in a tight embrace, ignoring both her wound's protest and her sister's. "Shut up, please. I forgive you Elsa, I always have!"
The queen was shocked, standing stiff and stock still. "No. No! You can't possibly forgive me. After everything I've done, all the pain I caused you—"
"Run away now and it'll only hurt me more," she whispered, tightening her hug. "You're my sister and I love you. I love you and I'm not letting go until you realize that. I forgive you. I forgave you when we were young, I will forgive you until we die."
Elsa looked down at her sister, seeing that they were both crying now, shaking in mental pain, or physical pain, or an incomprehensive mix of both. She shook her head wildly, mind muddled, heart aching. Why would she forgive her? How could she forgive her? It just wasn't right. Everything was her fault, everything always is, yet her Anna was. She loved uncondictionally, gave unconditionally, it wasn't human.
And she didn't deserve it.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," she sobbed. "I didn't want to hurt you, I don't want to hurt you now. I don't want to hurt you ever. I'm so, so sorry Anna."
"If you don't want to hurt me anymore then don't leave me again. I've been so lonely Elsa, so just stay with me."
She couldn't reply.
The mess of confusion and endless chasm of guilt tore away at her, manifesting in the ice now covering the room in its frigid osculation. But the very touch, the very idea of forgiveness no matter how undeserving prevented it from winding in sinister spikes and uncontrolled discord. Though the lights were now filmed in frost, the smooth wood under the sisters' feet was still dry and warm. Mavis and Kristoff had backed off in caution, but they understood that there was no serious danger. Kristoff was smiling contentedly, Mavis in awe at the touching display.
Were these humans?
She folded her hands together, almost able to feel the raw emotions pouring off them.
Dad was wrong.
Humans couldn't possibly be evil.
Jack slid down the tight rabbit chutes, dirt and rubble and sand and grass all rushing between his fingers and under his back. He knew from experience not to lean his bare feet on the sides, instead opting to rest the backs of his arms against the walls on each side of him so not to land with a boom. An incredibly earthy smell, comprised of what reminded him of moss and morning dew, already fell over them. It overpowered the musky smell of Bunnymund's shedding fur and paint dipped scent and was pleasant. The feeling reminded him of when he was alive, surrounded by the forests in the little log cabin he shared with his mother and little sister. He remembered the little moss pillows she put together when they were younger, remembered the summers swimming in the lakes with the minnows, remembered her cheerful skips when they played in the meadows.
He sighed, a one part sad three parts happy smile finding him. Years ago he would have fallen into a shock of depression, reminiscing on what he lost so easily and found so hard, but now he had grown to accept it and recall with fondness.
He couldn't change the past.
He couldn't bring her back.
But he also couldn't forget.
His memories were precious treasures Tooth guarded with utmost care, and they made him who he was now. Jack Frost the guardian ,who saved his sister as a human, and saved those like her as a spirit.
Up ahead and down below in the tunnels, a yell resounded and dirt splashed in his face. Suddenly he could see Bunnymund again—he was always so far ahead so he could navigate the passage—with his large feet stopped firmly in the earth and his boomerangs helping him stay in place.
Just in time, Jack slammed his staff into the floor, thoroughly glad it happened to be more horizontal than vertical. "Woah! What's the hold up?"
"Change of plans, mate. Santa's GPS is gonna put us into some tough n' tough. Hold on tight!"
Okay. So normally he was okay with the tunnels. In fact, they were pretty damn fun. But rough n' tough? Exactly how rough what he—
"Hold on mate!"
And for the second time in two minutes, the ground opened below him. This time, though, it was very different. Bunnymund once again took the lead, but there were less twists and turns. The guardian was right in his field of view yet he was hard to see, a musk of darkness and thick air between them. Before he knew it he was sliding down a much coarser earth, large rocks and sticks rapping against his body. Quickly getting more and more uncertain, he balanced on his staff, using his powers to give himself a smoother, more favorable ride.
A sharp turn twisted him to the side, sending him flying. The dirt had turned to mud, his hands holding the staff with a deathgrip. His hair was probably brown and slick with muck now but he couldn't tell, because in the moments they had changed course, it had grown ever darker.
A blast of fresh air overcame them. Now this was good. Jack sucked in a breath and let the wind weave around his arms and legs, lifting his hair and hood and running through his hands, slowing the halt, but not enough. Yes they left the tunnels, but both of them were quite unprepared for the cold water which greeted them. Good thing he was the cold.
The guardians kicked their way to the surface, the tunnels having closed behind them. It wasn't night time but it was still rather dark, thick clouds blocking the sun's warm rays. They seemed to be in the middle of a lush pond, forest all around them, but without the light it seemed sinister. Each tree towered over them, and he could see little eyes glowing ever so slightly within their protective brambles. The bushes around them rustled in the wind but he got the feeling there were things moving inside them, disturbed by their dynamic arrival.
"I don't like this place," he muttered out loud, rubbing the filth of the ride from him while he could. "And remind me never, ever to take those tunnels again."
The Warren Warden hopped out of the water, shaking the wetness from his fur in a powerful whirl. For a moment it looked like he had blown up in fluff, then it all fell back again. "Hey, these er' not the normal circumstances. I've never been here before, no reason to. No one here has ever celebrated Easter, and I don't know if there are even any kids here!"
He spat out even more water and sneezed. "Besides, I don't plan on coming back after this anyway."
"My thoughts exactly. Too gloomy for me ol' pal."
Jack scanned the place. Past the forest, rising above it like a monster of a mansion, was a castle. Dark gray stone walls rose high on a tall tree-littered plateau, small lights glowing from the assorted windows. Gargoyles posed maliciously on the roofs and gate, and the shadows themselves seemed to dance. He glimpsed a bridge or something like it near the entrance, stretching far into the forest, disappearing pats his sight. It all fit perfectly well; an ominous, old, gothic-ish abode nestled within an equally mysterious forest. Suddenly he felt like had had been pulled a century back in time, when people built stone houses and lived in dark manors in the rich cities.
Bunnymund pulled out a globe, holographic in design but with a Christmas charm. Parts of it had been painted blue and green and pink but the water washed it off—apparently the bunny wanted to assert his own design. "According to north, our new guardian should be right over…"
As the older guardian's head swerved, his ears flattened and he glared at Jack. "Hey! Stop doin' that, eh?"
Jack gave him a quizzical glance. "What now?"
He face-pawed, snorting in annoyance. "Mate, I know winter's your thing and all, but freezing that castle is not the way to go."
He followed the Easter Bunny's sight, and squinted. One of the top rooms, the window still open and seeping a fiery light, was slowly encasing in a thin frost. He looked down at his hands, and at his staff, then looked back at the room.
"Uh, that's not me. I swear." He stuck his staff in the grass. "See? I'm not even touching it!"
They looked at eachother. Then they looked at the castle together, watching whispers of white ice snake across the cracks and crevices of the stone. Little bits of it chinked and cracked as the moisture solidified and expanded, but so faintly it was like watching it in slow motion.
Jack picked up his staff again, absently spinning it nimbly with one hand. His face morphed from one of puzzlement to shock and awe. "Wow, you guys didn't tell me our oh-so-evil-mystery girl has the same powers as me…"
Bunnymund's mouth hung part ways open, ears even flatter against his head. "She doesn't."
Thanks so much for the reviews, reads, favs and follows! I love you all! The next update may take a little longer due to the CRAP TONS of HW incoming, but I'll try and get it done. Also, to the guest-I'm glad you like it! All your questions will be answered in due time, don't you worry :)
And on a side note. Maybe you've seen this, maybe you haven't, but if you haven't, YOU MUST. JUST PLEASE. On youtube, look up SAM TSUI, 'LET IT GO'. Best. Fucking. Cover. EVER. You have no idea. As fans of Frozen, which hopefully you are, NOT CHECKING IT OUT IS A CAPITAL CRIME.