Oaken was right. The city was not what Elsa had expected. She remembered as a child, being let out into the city near their palace and seeing the happiness and colors all around her people. She had seen cheers and singing, dancing and working. Not working as if it was forced labor…but working as if everybody enjoyed and knew what they were doing. Now, it was as if everything was cloaked in darkness. Or perhaps it was just the city? Every single person looked unhappy that they moved past, and
Elsa flushed when she noted the sounds of what she knew as intimacy from an alley where three scantily clad women stood. Right on the side of the street a man was vomiting, and further down two drunks were brawling like there was no tomorrow. Every now and then she caught sight of a dark-clothed man or woman. It triggered the memory of him. That man had been here and he had tainted it with his soldiers and filth. She tightened her fists and only relaxed when Anna eyed her curiously, and nuzzled close.
"Annette my girl, you realize you cannot tell anyone about Elijah," Oaken said softly, and Elsa barely heard him. Anna nodded rapidly, her blue eyes wide with surprise. Elsa tightened her grip on the girls back and tugged her close, until the girl was hot against her chest, and Elsa could smell the tinge of strawberry perfume Nell gave her.
"She won't," Elsa said calmly, "she may be little but she's trustworthy," At that Anna beamed and she nuzzled again, giggling softly. Oaken didn't respond, simply hunched his shoulders and snapped his reigns hard. Moments later, they slid to a stop in front of a tiny shop. The only bright shop left in this town she was sure. It had a sign above the door which read the Walking Waywards, through the dyed glass windows she saw a group of people drinking heartily and talking to each other. Her eyes widened with surprise, as she felt the urge to go in and speak to. Her cheeks warmed with delight, especially when Oaken opened the door. The heat that greeted her smelled like sweat, alcohol, and summer. Her eyes lit up with excitement as all eyes turned to her, curious. There were mostly men, but she saw a very few women scattered around. Most of them had beards and hair that was dark, heavy winter hats and clothes next to them along with a cup of ale. "Oaken," A man greeted heartily, standing and limping to them from behind the tavern bar. His smile was wide, bright, and warm. "How nice to see you! It's been a long while."
"Whoah look at dat Elsie," Anna whispered very softly to her, and Elsa was already looking. Instead of a leg, there was a wooden peg, and his left eye was covered with an eyepatch. His single showing eye was bright and green. Oaken greeted the tall, thick-set man with a hug, both of them slapping each other's backs heartily before pulling away. Anna giggled.
"I aint here for very long Stuart," Oaken smiled, "I'm here to drop off a little lad interested in entering the ice business." The man raised a brow, before he turned his eyes onto Elsa. Elsa's face burned with embarrassment and fear. What if he knew? Was it obvious she wasn't male. Stuart stared at her long and hard, before he walked close and examined her closely. He squeezed the biceps in her arm, pat down her stomach, and then with a smile he ruffled her hair. "Is It ok if he stays here with you, and works with you?"
"Sure," Stu smiled brightly, "little lad, you've got a bright future ahead of you. You brought your own gloves as well," he pet her back, and Elsa puffed her chest out with pride. Oaken had explained what this business was to her briefly. All she had to do was get ice into towns, cut them out of the ground, get them on sleighs…it sounded like a lot of work that required a lot of strength but he pointed something out. At first, of course she would struggle but once they trusted her enough she could use her powers. Very cautiously. Ice men respected the supernatural but if they were to find out she had been using her powers to move and break the ice they might feel cheated. Their egos tend to be as big as their biceps. "What's your name lad?"
"Elijah," she answered smoothly, "Elijah Whitestone, sir. This is my sister Annette." Elsa bowed her head. "I look forward to working with you." When she looked back up his eyebrows were raised.
"It's been so long since I've been treated so respectfully. Lucky you to get into the only business completely untouched by our new king," he grinned wide, "You have a bright future son, and how about you Anne, planning on being the perfect wife for Elijah until you're married off." Elsa felt a pang of worry. She had told Anna to act polite, careful, and how to react in many situations.
"Yes I do, sir. Although, I don't plan on being married off," She said softly, her little voice soft, the three of them stared at her, "I want to be with Eli forever," she giggled softly, "I'll take care of her as long as she needs me." Elsa' s heart pounded, her face warm, Anna's own face was bright red.
"I think she has a bit of a crush on you, lad," Stu nudged Elsa with his big arm, a huge smile on his face, "don't look so troubled, it'll wear off." Elsa hoped so more than anything. "Now Oaken my man, I take it you expect me to take them in for free." Oaken chuckled mightily, and slipped his hand into his coat.
"I've got a bit of gold, the rest I expect because you still owe me." Elsa's eyes narrowed and she put her hand to Oaken's, stopping the dropping of the gold coins. The man stared at her, and a smile touched hs lips.
"I told you. I won't accept you spending any money on me Oaken," she said coldly, and next to her Anna drew close and Stuart tensed. Oaken pushed her hand aside, and dropped the coins in Stuart's hand. Elsa clenched her fists and knew she wouldn't stop him. "Oaken…"
"I'll work out the business more with you, let's talk in the other room," Stuart said tersely, "Elijah, my boy, there's a seat for you and your sister right over there next to the other kiddo's, ignore Vladimir and Jeremiah, they thought it was okay to be little thieving devils. Kristoff on the other hand," he grinned, "you'll be great friends with." Elsa stared over in the direction he pointed. Three boys were seated together at a small wooden table, cups of juice in front of them and some meat. "I'll have my wife Beverly bring you over some food and drink, Anna, you can go with her."
"But I wanna play with Elijah," Anna said stiffly, her arms crossing and her mouth twisting into a pout. Elsa touched her shoulder and shook her head.
"Listen sweet thing. You have to help your brother. To that you have to learn to cook and clean for him, my wife can show you how to do those thing." When Anna still looked sour he leaned close with a little smile, he whispered something in her ear, and Elsa barely heard it. Something about perfect wife. Elsa had no doubt he was saying she'd become the perfect wife for "Elijah." Elsa blushed deeply, the memory of her dream of Anna, older with a white dress on. Was it wrong for siblings to get married? She remembered her history class when she was younger, her great grandparents had been siblings and they got-what was she thinking!? She covered her flushed face in her hands and hurried over to the group, Anna giggling and skipping behind her.
Two of the boys looked very unfriendly and a bit older than her. One of them had a thick and long, heavy mane of dirty blond hair, almost brown. He had a huge frown on his face, and his eyes were piercing and intelligent. He was also quite thin and small. The other boy was a big brute of a boy, about thirteen if she were to guess. His hair was a dark ginger. He looked much less intelligent. The last boy was playfully giggling at a moose. At that Elsa's eyes widened. Why was there a moose?
She took it he was Kristoff, because he looked much nicer than the other two boys. She cautiously took a seat on a stool next to him, and Anna sat next to Elsa. He turned to her with a look of distaste, then brightened when he saw the two of them. "I've never seen you before," he smiled, "I'm Kristoff and this is Sven, say hi Sven!" Next to him the moose snorted happily, and placed a big hoof in Elsa's.
"Hi," she said softly, "my name is Elijah, and this is my younger sister Annette." Anna gave him a look of distaste, and Elsa nudged her roughly with her knee.
"How do you do," Anna said gently, bowing her head a bit. Kristoff beamed, his bright brown eyes wide with excitement.
"I'm good! Hey Elijah, wanna go play outside with me?" Elsa was about to say no, she should stay with Anna afterall. But she also wanted to get to know one of her fellow workers as well, not to mention one her age. And she never really got to play after she hurt Anna that time. She hesitated, before she nodded quickly and smirked. He practically cheered.
"El," Anna said sharply, "I don't want to be alone-"
"Boys," a voice muttered, and Elsa looked up to see a plump, maternal looking woman with gray hair. "You won't be alone my dear, the other girls in the kitchen will play with you," she smiled. "My name is Beverly, you're Annette I take it." Anna's shoulders bunched, and her face went red with anger.
"I don't want to go in the kitchen, Elijah, I want to play with you too!" She stomped her foot.
"Someone should smack her, teach that girl her place," the dirty blond boy muttered, and the bigger boy laughed. Elsa felt a rush of rage. Her sister's place was wherever she wanted it to be. She was a princess! Her sister was beautiful and while young, she was smarted and better than these two thievig jerks!
"Shut up, don't talk about my sister like that," She snarled, slamming her hands down on the table and standing. The bigger boy stood, his shoulders broad and his muscles rippling. He looked scary. But Elsa stood her ground, walking closer, eyes steady on his. She searched her mind for curses to throw at him, then smirked, "Just try me asshole," she growled, Kristoff hesitantly slipped next to her.
"Yeah, we'll mess you up!" He said with a frown, his voice wavering. The moose exhaled, and trotted next to him with a puffed out chest. It shook it's head angrily. Elsa wondered why this boy was so desperate for a friend that he'd get into a fight for a "boy" he barely knew.
"Whoah there lads, calm down," a man interfered, and another one grabbed the small dirty blond. Elsa watched with dismay as he was dragged off by his hair, shrieking wildly. She had to assume that he was the man's son. The other man who had interrupted them, pulled the big boy aside and spoke to him softly, his eyes narrowed and brows furrowed. Elsa crossed her arms, and looked back at Anna. Anna was talking softly to Beverly, her eyes flowing with tears, and her fists clenched. Then she slumped, glared at Kristoff and trudged after the plump woman into the kitchen. Her eyes burned on Kristoff as she walked, then slid onto Elsa. Elsa's heart pounded with embarrassment and guilt. She had made her sister so hurt. But…wasn't it better to separate from her now? Anna may have been little but it was as if she knew what she wanted. Elsa, specifically. Elsa couldn't imagine that was a good thing.
"Wanna go outside now," Kris asked gently, and Elsa nodded.
"Of course," she nodded. He grinned widely.
"Race you outside!"
Elsa laughed with delight as the snowball collided with the heavy hide of Sven, Kristoff's moose friend. It had a look of surprise on it's face. Elsa ran away from it with a giggle, and Kristoff, behind Sven threw a snowball at the moose as well. It hit the creature on the butt, and it drew it's butt in in surprise. They burst into hysterical laughter. Two days had passed since she joined with the ice workers. Vladimir and Jeremiah were old enough to work but they weren't allowed to. They were, however, forced outside. Elsa played with Kris at almost all times of the days, going inside only to eat and drink with flushed pink cheeks. She didn't see much of Anna, the girl was beyond angry at Elsa and she made it clear she wouldn't even come close to Elsa if Kristoff was nearby. Or Vladimir. Or Jeremiah. She hated the boys from what Beverly told her.
Bev, as Elsa liked to call her, also informed Elsa about the girl's talent in the kitchen. Anna, supposedly, was already learning how to cook good. She also made a friend named Mary. Elsa was both glad and dismayed at the news. She was being stubborn in the kitchen, but at least she was good in the bar and had a friend. Oaken had left the day before, giving Anna a hug and Elsa a pat on the back. He pat her on the back and said, Be careful in the real city. Further in…take care of yourself and if you need me you know where I am.
"Sven, we were just playing don't be upset," Kristoff pleaded, pushing his heavy golden locks from his face. The two kids collapsed in the snow next to the beast, who had laid down and looked annoyed. They were just outside of the city, in a wide expanse of snow people called "the Commoner lands," because all the other kids came to play here sometime, a land of snow for all the common folks. Elsa pressed into the beasts fur and smiled at the warmth and next to her, Kristoff leaned into the creature as well. Then he relaxed. "I'm leaving soon," he said softly, cheerfully.
At that Elsa stiffened, but before she could demand why he spoke up again, "I was wondering if you wanted to come with. I don't live here in Helgun, I want you to meet my family. They're a bit weird, but they're really nice. I…you don't have to," he said sadly when he saw the withdrawn look on her face. She had finally arrived in town…then she saw his expression.
"I'll go with you. But you have to come back here with me again."
"Of course! I'm gonna work the ice here soon! Well, we both are when we turn twelve but ….I mean, I like it here." Elsa nodded.
"I do too." She closed her eyes. "I have to speak to Annette though. Make sure she's safe."
"She can come with I guess," Kristoff said reluctantly, "Not to be mean, but…I'd prefer if she didn't." Elsa couldn't say she could blame him. All Anna did was glare with pure hatred in her eyes, and jealousy as well. She looked over at him, and he seemed depressed. "If you don't want to-" She touched his arm.
"No we can go if you want," she said softly, "just us. I'll tak to my sis, and Bev and Stuart."
"You don't mind!?" He brightened up and she nodded quickly. "Awesome! This is the best day ever! But…you can't get weirded out ok, cause…they're really strange. They're not a normal family."
"Of course I don't, you're my friend." He sat up, and crossed his arms, turning away from her. She knew he was pretending to be grumpy.
"Well, you're my best friend." She furrowed her brows, and grabbed a snowball slowly, a grin on her face. "And you too bud, of course," he said quickly when Sven snorted.
"Well…you're my…bester friend," she nailed him in the face with the ball as she stood and raced off. He laughed and chased after her. He chuckled and chased after her, and behind her his feet pushed through the flurry of snow. His arms swung clumsily as he chased. Elsa stayed out of his grip entirely. "Let's go soon then, like tomorrow" she called back, face red from the cold. He nodded quickly, his breath heavy. Elsa…for the first time in a long while, was very happy.
"Elijah, why do you insist on abandoning your sister like you are," Beverly said sternly. Elsa rubbed her arm in embarrassment and shame, and stared at the wooden floor. "She had nightmares last night," Elsa looked up quickly, fear on her face, "yes. You didn't know because you weren't there for her," The woman gave her a look of distaste. "She loves you more than anything…and all you do is play and sleep outside with Kristoff! And now you're telling me you're leaving town with Kris?!"
"I just want to okay," she muttered softly, "I don't mean to hurt Ann. I just…"
"You're being incredibly selfish."
"Anna's being selfish," Elsa retorted back, and then cried out when the woman slapped her hard across the face.
"You're going nowhere, now! All she wants is her older sister because she has no one else. You will stay in the room that was bought for you. With Anna. For the rest of the week! Am I understood!?" Elsa stared at her with wide eyes, clutched her burning cheek. Anger coiled with guilt and the desire for more fun…she furrowed her brows, stared at the woman, and spat at her feet.
What was she doing? Elsa leaned back against the headboard of the bed, clutching her head. What had she just done. She had spit at the woman who was taking care of Anna and her! What was going on with her!? She felt beyond guilty for what she had done. In court, the most disrespectful thing you could ever do was spit on another person and…she had got caught up in her fun, and excitement with Kristoff. Was she really so selfish that she would abandon her sister, who she had forced to come and…she…she'd never had fun like that before. Not for a long time. She just…she pushed her knees into her chest, and stared at the floor.
"Hey lad," she heard from the doorway. She looked up to see Stuart, hanging in the doorway. "You can get up now." Elsa didn't want to. She deserved this stupid punishment of sitting in silence on the bed. She looked at the blankets.
"Fun's almost as addictive as drinking I'd say," he said softly, before he moved to sit down. "Oaken wouldn't want you to be sad, or guilty, us men…we like to have fun." Elsa laughed softly, it was amusing to her, and he slid an arm around her and tugged her close. "She's only mad at you because you aren't spending time with your sister. She cherishes family a lot. She lost hers when she was younger. You don't know how much you love someone until you lose them."
Elsa did love Anna. She knew how much. She loved Anna more than life itself…apparently not because-"Bev overreacted, she didn't have the right to hit you so for that, I'm allowing you to go. I think you've learned your lesson. You have, haven't you?" Elsa stared at him with wide eyes, then she thought long and hard about whether or now she wanted this trip that badly. Kristoff had become her best friend and she'd hate to disappoint him but she held her sister before him, before Oaken, before herself. She hadn't let the girl stay with Oaken even though Oaken seemed to know this would happen. She had been beyond selfish and she hated herself for it, she didn't deserve fun with Kristoff.
"…I think I'll-"
"Go," He finished, ruffling her hair, and she felt warm with delight and comfort. "You should go. Annette's spending the night with Mary at her house, so you don't need to worry alright?" She stared at him. "Get ready kid, and you be careful outta the city. Where Kristoff lives…there are wolves, and there are creatures." Elsa stared in horror, "I'm playing kid! You'll be fine, Oaken tells me you know how to handle a bow and Kristoff knows his way around. He goes by himself all the time, you'll be ok." She wasn't so sure, and she was beyond afraid now… "Tell me when you get back, I'll teach ya how to get some ice." Then he was gone out the door. Elsa got up slowly, and reluctantly because she was still so...ashamed of herself for behaving like a...like a boy...she realized. Was that why Stu found it amusing, why he smiled at it? Because she finally stopped acting so polite to all the girls...she frowned, knowing it was highly likely. Elsa sighed heavily as she began to put things in a pack. She owed two people now, more than that…she had a feeling that by the end of this journey, she'd owe a million more.
AN: I hope you enjoyed, review as always~