Very many thanks to all of you who've favorited, reviewed, and followed. I cherish all of you like I do my coffee and energy drinks, which constitutes a lot of devotion. ;D With that being said, I apologize that there might be lack of action in the next few chapters because I want to focus on Jelsa. I didn't get the chance to give them much well-rounded attention in Summer Shudder, so that's something I want to write as thoroughly as I can.
hydro0228 - I do split up the chapters pretty awkwardly. I guess I could start writing chapters much longer, but that'd take me a few days between my insane work schedule and my free time. It's nice for me to just write for a few hours and be able to post something/think of new ideas in between. But I'll consider what you've suggested.
theatre295 - Thank you very much. I smile whenever someone says that to me.
sfox88 - No, no, my apologies! I must have taken something you said wrong. I'm thrilled you're still reading, though!
x Cheetah x - Your friends have to deal with my puns?! OH NO. Poor friends...! Take your time if you're busy, don't worry about reviewing. ;D
Dissemination - Writing fanfiction is very scary...! No, you're fine, I was just kidding.
Burning Ocean - Thank you muchly for the constructive criticism. Sorry that I'm not doing a very good job, I'm literally beating myself up over this fanfiction right now. The reason that I haven't been focusing on Elsa's emotions/closing off because of Jack is because I didn't want to make her seem over the top or dramatic. I planned on changing the point of view this chapter because I wanted to focus more on her. But it was hard to do obviously when Jack's observations were being given. Yes, I've seen Wicked. ;) Not a huge musical fan, but I like it. As for the baker thing, I haven't forgotten; I was getting to that. Elsa is hesitating to tell him anything about his human life because he closed off when she mentioned Pippa. Thanks for reminder, though. Sorry again about making it "out of control". *becomes a nervous wreck of natural disaster* I'm glad you like Chronos. His uh, biggest influence was a young version of Billy Idol.
The New Patron Saints And Angels
For the first time in several weeks, Elsa was able to sleep soundly without the disturbance of nightmares or restless slumber. She dreamed of her sister, reveling happily in France on her honeymoon while she and Jack - whose hair was no longer a shock of brilliant white - flew overhead together, watching the pair from on top of a hillside. It was a dream that she found her conscience clinging to as she dreamed on, finding the image fade out when she felt herself jerk awake to find that faint sunlight was streaming over her face. Instinctively, Elsa turned over onto her stomach, hoping that when she opened her eyes she would be back in Arendelle. There was no Pitch Black, there were no guardians, and Jack Overland had passed away in a tragic accident the year before. But when she heard the sound of parchment being swayed like pages of a book being flipped - and recognized the unfamiliar feeling of satin sheets over her frame - she knew that she was forced to face the bitter reality of being in North Pole, just where she had fallen asleep.
Slowly, her eyes opened to bask in the scene of the bedroom again. The tray of breakfast that Jack had offered her on the top of the wardrobe, the smell of minty candy canes that flourished through the Russian Palace... Elsa took in a deep rattling breath when she finally had the urge to sit up. A surge of ache rippled through the back of her leg, causing her to make a small sound of irritation. And just when she had finally pulled her weight up from behind the headboard of the bed, someone jumped up from their sitting position on the floor to greet her. The young queen might have jumped from shock, if she hadn't seen the vibrant grin that Jack wore when he stood up ecstatically to face her.
"You're awake!" He chimed enthusiastically, throwing his arms up over his head. Elsa blinked some at the sight of a book in one of his hands - wondering idly how long he had been there - but felt across her forehead warily.
"How long did I sleep?" She asked dully, rubbing her eyes with her knuckles. Jack shrugged his shoulders, shuffling the book under one arm.
"Eight hours? Nine hours? I lost count..."
"You stayed here this whole time?" Elsa tried to keep the tone of surprise out of her voice, not to mention how very touched she felt that he might have stayed because she had made him promise that he would be there when she woke up. And now, she felt extremely foolish for making such sentiments. But fortunately, Jack's eyebrows trailed up the span of his forehead, jerking his head back and forth at her assumption.
"No way, are you kidding me? This is the first time North has left the North Pole unsupervised... I had a lot of places to check out." Jack explained in one breath before he finally paused, tossing the book onto the ground from where he had been sitting on the floor. "But I'm here now. I promised I'd be here when you woke up, right?"
Elsa exhaled sharply, wiggling her way out of the sheets to carefully maneuver herself off of the bed. Somehow, it didn't surprise her whatsoever that he would have gone out of his way to investigate someone else's property for his own troublesome endeavors. A thought that might have made her smile, she realized, when she pulled her stiff body into a sitting position and dangled her legs off of the side of the bed until her feet hit the floor.
"Yes, but I didn't mean it figuratively, Jack. You didn't have to stick around in this room just to wait for me..." She told him softly, attempting to smooth down the wavy chunks of long, white-blonde hair that had grown strangled overnight. When she finally looked up at Jack again, his smile had faded some. As if her words had offended him.
"But I wanted to." Jack reprimanded gently. Elsa watched him closely, observing when he finally began to come closer to her. He still wore those brown trousers, that strange thick long-sleeved shirt, and no shoes... It was difficult for her to hide the fact that she was amused, until he finally stopped in front of her and held out a plastic bottle of clear ointment that looked very similar to what the elves had used to stitch her leg back into place. Ergo, the young queen waited for an explanation before she took it from him. "Anyway, uh... The elves brought this by for your leg. They say to use it every couple of hours... I think that's what they said, anyway. They don't exactly talk..."
"That was very kind of them." Elsa tried to smile, despite that the corners of her lips faltered several times when her cool hand came in contact with the plastic. She eyed it over some before she glanced up where Jack had been on the floor, unable to soothe her curiosity. "What were you reading?"
"Uh, which one? I went through a couple, North has this miniature library outside his office..." Jack ran a hand through his disheveled white hair, before his bright indigo eyes landed back on her again. "The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers... I like this Alexandre Dumas guy, he knew how to write."
"I hardly imagined that you would be the reading type." Elsa teased quietly, rearranging the strands of her icy nightgown over her ivory-skinned shoulders until her eyes met his again to further the joking matter. "Let alone that you knew how to read at all."
Jack's eyes lit up with enthusiasm, leaning over to place his hands on his waist. "Ha, ha, ha. Very funny... I'll bet you wish Bunny was here so he could laugh at your jokes..."
But even with Jack's new presence, Elsa's stare began to avert from him again. Her stomach churned at the memory of the evening before, when Pitch had seized her kingdom. The men that he had overtaken due to fear, the blood that had been spilled by her sharp ice plunging deeply into the body of another. A chill that had nothing to do with the temperature slipped down the back of her neck, causing her to shudder quietly. But Jack noticed right away - especially when she didn't initiate another chance at making fun of him.
"Still thinking about Arendelle?" He asked gently, squatting down to look at her. Elsa tried not to meet his gaze, but felt an intuitive instinct to do so regardless as her lips crushed together at the fresh memory.
"... Yes." She admitted slowly. Perhaps it was the loss that she had felt after Jack's death that encouraged her to trust him. The fact that he had been her friend, and that was a devotion that she had kept near her heart in the time that had passed. But even so, it was enough to help ease her conscience. Especially at the realization that she had missed him. "I keep imagining what might be happening right now... If everyone can see Pitch, or what he's doing to those who refuse to believe..."
The thought caused a surge of horror to flush through her, reaching down to clasp one frigid hand over the other. An action that had been purely habitual since her childhood, after Anna's accident... It had decreased since the year before, but she caught herself repeating the mannerism insistently as of recent events.
"Just try not to think about it, alright?"
Jack's voice shook her out of her thoughts, causing her stare to capture his again. For a long second, she stared at the eyes that seemed so foreign and familiar to her all at once. From the bright bronze color that they had once been, to the clearest of blue; swearing that she could see the shape of snowflakes in his irises. It bore testimony to the fact that he wasn't the same boy that she had met back in Arendelle, but it was enough to marginally soothe her.
"Can you do that? For me?" He tilted his head to the side, shooting her a very crooked smile. Elsa huffed, feeling frustrated that he couldn't know how she felt despite that he was trying to make the strife to do so. The frustration caused her to vocally interject, unsure if she could make the consideration to keep herself calm during such a troubling time.
"It's not that easy, Jack. I hold responsibility for the kingdom. If anyone gets hurt, or dies - "
"Stop thinking about that, okay?" Jack rendered her to silence again, causing her sentence to break before she was allowed to finish. Again, his teeth flashed another grin, tapping his hands on his knees from below her. "You said that you never had the chance to express your thanks for what I did when we were friends, right...? So just try, for me, if you can."
Biting at the inside of her lips for comfort, Elsa looked away again. She stared at the red carpet, remembering fully how she had felt the day of his death and all of those days afterwards. One thing that she had always wanted was to tell him how grateful she had been for his friendship. But now, he didn't even remember all of the good he had done, and the brief escapade of happiness that he had provided for her. A thought that heavily deterred her, especially since he had shrugged away her efforts to bring up Pippa. There was a part of her that was hesitant to bring up the Jack Overland that she had known to him, but in the end, he still promised that they were friends. And so long as she was there with him, she didn't want to waste time feeling sorry for herself or what had happened. Especially since none of it had been under her control.
"If that will make you happy, I suppose." Finally, she straightened out her regal posture and lifted her eyebrows to look at him. The corner of her lip tugged into a small smile, when she had another urge to tease him. "Have you ever considered that perhaps the world doesn't revolve around you?"
Jack chuckled with amusement, pulling himself up from the floor. "What? Never, I've never heard that before in my life."
Elsa smiled softly in return, eyes drifting to the books that he had discarded on the carpet. While her leg still twinged, she couldn't imagine moving around very much. And if there were books to be read, then the young queen couldn't envision any other better methods to pass the time. Unless Jack tried to learn how to create clothing out of ice again, but somehow, she felt that he had grown greatly discouraged from their last practice.
"Perhaps, if it isn't too much to ask... Could we visit that library you mentioned?" Her inquiry was hesitant, not wishing to ask for anything that wasn't available to her. To her delight, Jack blinked and nodded fervently.
"Sure we could. But after you're ready, we've gotta go downstairs because I asked the elves to make pancakes. And no one makes better pancakes than Santa's elves... Are you hungry yet?" His statement held so much information all at once that Elsa struggled to decide which bit of erudition she should respond to first. Frankly, she didn't feel much like moving around the North Pole, but there was an empty part of her stomach that reminded her how long it had been since she had eaten.
Therefore, she eventually gave Jack a single nod. "A little."
Jack's grin widened, outstretching one of his hands towards her to pull her up from the bed. And like usual, he was as buoyant as ever.
"Good. Now come on! I have our whole day planned out!
Living three hundred years in the future was not something that Elsa believed she could adjust to. Everything in the bathroom that Jack had explained from the day before had seemed ultimately easy to understand, but the young queen would have been lying if she said culture shock hadn't phased her when she finally managed to get the shower running. In which case, she was relieved to be clean, but felt promptly embarrassed once she had dressed herself and fixed her wet hair into a braid to find that Jack was waiting for her to finish right outside of the corridor.
Jack also did not bother to hide the fact that his was admiring her choice of clothing, beaming at the sight of her. Evidently, Elsa realized, that he had not grown any less cheekish than he had been three hundred years ago.
"Well, how was that?" He asked, leaning against the shepherd's staff resting on the floor. Elsa briefly eyed it, wanting to ask him where he had found the staff or if it had been given to him when he had been made the personification of winter. But instead, her train of sight crawled up to his smile again and released a sharp breath of her own.
"... Interesting. You say everyone has these?" She gestured at the bathroom door that she had closed behind her.
"Yeah, everybody." Jack laughed again, making Elsa feel far more insecure about herself the longer that he continued to stare. Clasping her hands in front of her again, Jack finally brought the staff over his shoulder and made an observation. "You did your hair up again."
"Yes..." She answered shortly, reaching up to run her fingers through her scalp subconsciously. Subsequently, she dared to peek up at him. "Does that bother you?"
Jack squared his shoulders, not making any effort to censor himself. "Nah. I just liked seeing it down, that's all."
It was a compliment that made Elsa feel highly off her guard, struck to speechlessness at a comment that was very offhand. But she didn't have any response to give it, especially when Jack turned around and hunched over in front of her.
"Anyway, come on." He encouraged, loosening the grip on his staff next to his side. Elsa raised a thin eyebrow at the action, unsure of what he was asking her to do.
"What are you doing?" Her voice was slightly exasperated now. Jack craned his neck over his shoulder, casting her an expression which read that he thought the answer must have been obvious.
"Giving you a ride downstairs, of course."
For the first several seconds, Elsa stood erect and appalled by his suggestion. Limping or not, she didn't feel that it necessitated the dire need to be carried. The thought alone was highly humiliating, and so, she attempted to saunter around him despite that the back of her knee gave a pitiful throb of anguish.
"I am perfectly capable to walk on my own, thank you." Her voice was cutting now, trying to correct him. But any friendship and relationship that she'd once shared with Jack was still as apparent as it had been before he had died. The white-haired young man quickly cut her off, looking absolutely set on the fact that she wasn't going to complete any walking of her own so long as she was in his company.
"Cinderella, get on my back before I pick you up myself." Jack threatened jovially. The narrow of his eyes was truly playful, but it didn't make Elsa feel any more comfortable when she tried to convince him that it wasn't an activity that she wanted to partake in.
"Jack - "
"Don't think I won't."
In the end, Elsa had begrudgingly complied to his wishes by being carried down the staircase. He held her up from behind him, bare feet moving easily across each step. Admittedly, Elsa had a hard time focusing when her head rested next to his shoulder - despite that she tried to keep their close proximity as far away as she could. Even so, she could not deny that there was something desperately familiar that clung to the smell of his hair. Memories lost or not, Jack still held onto pieces of his human persona; and that made her feel the slightest bit elated, despite that she didn't know why.
"Oh, this brings me back..." Elsa murmured, when he finally landed on the first floor. Her arms were grasped firmly around his neck, even if she didn't think he would have the audacity to drop her.
"To when?" Jack asked lazily, turning his head marginally towards shoot her a quick glance. She tried to focus on where he was leading them down the hallway, but found herself heavily distracted by their eyes being so close. Albeit, she'd had enough practice emotionally composing herself, and therefore went off to describe a prior tale of one of the few roguery activities that he had forced her to endure before her coronation ceremony.
"Once you bribed me into taking my shoes off when we were climbing up a hill in Arendelle because you wanted to show me a view over the kingdom." Her tone was slightly reproachful when she recalled the memory, even if it had been a fond one - despite that it didn't cancel out how embarrassed she had felt at the time. "It was humiliating."
"You took your shoes off? For me?" Jack's hearty laughter echoed out through the vaulted ceilings, luring them closer towards an open room that didn't have a door, like all of the others that she had seen so far. "I'm astonished...! Where ever were your queenly mannerisms?"
Elsa smiled some, releasing an exhale against the side of his face when she turned to look at him again. "Gone, evidently. The moment that you walked into my life."
"And do I still have that affect on you, your majesty?" Finally, Jack gently lowered her to her feet again. He was incredibly careful with her, turning around to shoot another broad grin when the question was asked. Elsa took a few seconds to readjust her gown before answering his question with a sly look and comment of her own.
It was strange to Elsa that North's kitchen - filled with little elves, running back and forth and urging her to sit down - was directly in the same vicinity as the dining area. Although, she surmised that she didn't even know if it constituted that way when she realized that the table was hardly in usage. It was round and could probably fit a little more than four people, making her wonder how North had ever managed to sit there himself, considering his towering stature... Erstwhile, the young queen wasn't given much time to delve into her thoughts before the elves were bringing them stacks of pancakes when she and Jack had settled themselves down. They looked thrilled to be around her. Elsa remained primitively interested in the elves - hardly even noticing how the pancakes tasted - before Jack was explaining their behavior.
"Sorry, they're just kind of excited... North never eats in here and they've never met a queen before." He chuckled, surprising Elsa that he was actually using a set of silverware to eat. There was a great part of Elsa that wanted to remind him of when he had once been a baker and how he had once given her cookies when he had shown her the view of Arendelle... But the thought discouraged her further, since he had gone out of his way to avoid discussing who Pippa was.
"Anyway, aren't these amazing?" Jack continued, causing Elsa to glance sideways at him, taking a prompt bite from his fork. "Admit it, you've never eaten anything better in your life."
"That would be an overstatement." Elsa smiled, turning back to her own plate that she had hardly nibbled from. But upon realization that the elves were watching her every move, she reached to take a napkin from the center of the table and folded it over her lap. It was true, she realized, after taking several bits off of her plate that they might have been the best pancakes she'd ever had. But it didn't taste anything like the food in Arendelle did, and that bore another reminder that she was very far from home.
In an effort to distract herself, she teased Jack again about his eating habits - by nearly shoving one pancake whole into his mouth. "And you still eat like a barbarian, even after three hundred years..."
"B-barbarian?! Really?!" He choked some, coughing and pounding on his chest to finish swallowing before he turned to her with a playful glare. "Okay, Miss Perfect Hair and Frozen Dresses...!"
"You made that joke before." Elsa reminded him softly, pretending to sigh with defeat. Although it was difficult to keep from smirking at his reaction. "Really, three hundred years and you still aren't any cleverer...? I'm beginning to become disappointed."
Jack pointed his fork at her, offering her a smirk of his own. "I'll show you clever, little miss."
"And still with the 'little miss' comment..." Elsa resumed, making the effort to sound lofty and bored as she chewed. "I'm beginning to prefer Cinderelsa. Do you see what you've reduced me to?"
Jack made great emphasis to roll his eyes. "Whatever, Elsa. Just finish your breakfast so we can get to what I have planned..."
"What do you have planned?" Elsa raised an eyebrow at him, unsure of what he could show her, even if privately she found herself intrigued. The North Pole seemed gigantic and full of mystery, which was something that she hadn't ever imagined, even when she had been a child.
But Jack didn't give her an explanation. Instead, he simply waggled his eyebrows and finished off his plate of pancakes in a single bite. "You'll see."
"Always with the surprises, aren't you?" She tried not to smile as she said it, especially when Jack impended his face closer and grinned. It notified her further that he would never lose his charisma, reminding her - yet again - that she would never achieve such a complex; not in a lifetime.
To Elsa's fortune, she didn't have to wait long to find out what Jack intended to do with the next hour of their afternoon. Before long, he insisted that he would be carrying her on his back again. And even though Elsa tried with all of the argumentative skills that she thought that she had to battle back his insistence, she lost. Jack took her around through the Russian Palace, showing her North's workshop. He introduced her to the Yetis, who seemed resentful at the sight of Jack; especially when he started playing with the toys on the shelves that they were working so tediously to make. Eventually, it drew to the point where Jack was doing it on purpose until Elsa grew weary that the Yetis might throw them outside if he continued.
When they left the workshop, Jack glided them forward through another passageway that led to where North had left his sleigh and reindeer behind. All of which fascinated Elsa, who allowed Jack to try and remember all of their names. But finally, they came back indoors where he gave her a tour of smaller rooms that had no designated purpose. Elsa found herself wondering to herself who had given North the privilege of living in a Russian Palace, but didn't vocalize her questions. Instead, Jack backtracked entirely and brought them through the workshop again, until they finally stopped in front of an enormous globe that resembled the earth. He dropped Elsa back down on her feet tentatively, allowing her to look at the suspended orb from overhead. After a minute of observation, Elsa saw a couple of the lights flicker before giving out entirely. And that was when she finally turned to Jack, after making a connection to something the guardians had mentioned in the dungeon.
"These were the lights that you mentioned to North?" Elsa turned to find Jack leaning against his staff again, one leg crossed over the other.
"Yeah... They represent every child that still believes in us. It's called the Globe of Belief." He picked up his staff, pointing it towards the globe that turned slowly. "You can probably see the damage Pitch is doing, right now..."
At first, Elsa didn't notice whatsoever. But when the globe finally turned back to the European continent, it was clear as day - very few lights still remained. And when Elsa tried to find Arendelle on the gigantic sphere, it wasn't there. Her stomach gave a hardened clench, bowing her head in realization.
"Arendelle isn't here." Her voice was hardly more than a whisper, mind whirling at the recognition that the future of loss was staring back at her. And she felt - for the first time since the chaos had began - that there wasn't a way to prevent it, a true horror that shot all the way up through her body from the base of her spine.
"I know..." Jack came beside her, reaching out with cool fingers to probe his fingertips against her forearm. It was soothing, but not enough to make her feel better. "No one lives there anymore. It's the aftermath of whatever Pitch is doing..."
The young queen exhaled sharply, tugging away from his reassuring actions. She looked up at him rigidly, squaring her jaw as she met his curious eyes. In the end, she only sounded accusing. "So that's it, there isn't a way to save my people."
Jack licked his lips, shaking his head. "I don't believe that. I think Man in the Moon has given us the opportunity to change it."
"But what if we can't?" Her voice was strangely hoarse now, hands reaching each other for the sake of keeping herself calm. But even when she looked at Jack demanding answers, she knew that he didn't have them by the look of bewilderment in his eyes. "What will happen?"
A great part of her mentality told her that she would be safe, but that meant very little to her. Anna was still three hundred years away on her honeymoon. And even if she had been asked not to return to Arendelle somehow, Elsa doubted that with her sister's obstinate nature that she would stay away for long. Especially if she thought that Elsa was in danger... And that thought alone sent a layer of brisk frost glazing over her fingertips, specifically when she imagined Pitch going anywhere near her.
"Listen, this is all going to change." Jack resumed optimistically where he had left off, pacing around her until he stood firm and center in front of the globe again. "I know it will, Man in the Moon wouldn't have let Chronos go with us to Arendelle if we weren't on the right path."
"And you can put your faith into a spirit that you've never met yourself?" The question came out of her mouth before she had any chance to conceal it. Frustration rattled through her senses, feeling truly incapable of controlling her frenzy when she was beginning to see what the future looked like for her and Arendelle.
"Hasn't failed me so far..." Jack reflected softly, reaching up to ruffle his hair again. Eventually, his eyes trailed back to meet Elsa's face, smiling warmly in her direction. "Besides, it can't be entirely coincidental that you knew me before I became Jack Frost, right? And now you're here..."
But anything that Jack had to say was drained out by Elsa's own conclusive thoughts regarding what Pabbie had told her. She thought about how he had mentioned that Man in the Moon had been watching out for her since she had been a child. At first, that sentiment hadn't stood out to her whatsoever - especially not when her country had been controlled by the Nightmare King. But when Jack came to mention that it couldn't be coincidental that they had met, she began to wonder what exactly Pabbie had meant, when he had brought up Man in the Moon and how he tied in with the future of Arendelle...
"What? What are you thinking about now?"
Jack's eager and concerned voice pulled her out of her thoughts. In which case, Elsa cleared her throat, bringing one of her hands up to run it through her hair thoughtfully.
"The trolls." She admitted softly, looking up to meet his reaction.
In which case, Jack looked at her like she might have been intoxicated. "Trolls?"
"Yes. They live in Arendelle, in the Valley of the Living Rock. I decided to visit them after Pitch came to Arendelle and started infiltrating dreams..."
"Well that sounds like trollble." Jack interrupted, shooting her a proud, uneven grin. It took all of Elsa's effort not to roll her eyes again. "Get it? Like trouble, but - "
"I get it." She told him curtly, gritting her teeth together.
Jack's smile faded at once, falling into a straight line before he asked another question that sounded interested. "What did they tell you?"
"A few things. Mostly about the guardians..." Elsa turned away some, rubbing the inside of one of her palms. "I didn't believe in any of you before that."
"Not even Santa Claus?" Jack asked, not bothering to cover up the fact that he was shocked by the news.
"Not even Santa Claus."
"Elsa..." Jack started again, cutting the physical distance that they had formed in a single, even stride. Elsa surmised that she would never grow accustomed to how long his legs were. But when Jack finished attaining her attention, she felt her cool level of composure begin to break at what he then decided to ask her. "North thought that I should tell you that you'll need to help us defeat Pitch, when we get back to Arendelle. Do you think that you can?"
Elsa frowned, warily taking a step away from him. Her eyebrows pulled together, knowing what his question really meant; wishing that he wouldn't bother to sugarcoat the truth behind his request. "You mean, fight the very people that have worked for my family for years?"
Jack looked slightly taken aback, but eventually - when his long fingers came up to trace his jaw thoughtfully - he answered with a blunt tone of voice. "I don't think there's a way out of that, so yes."
"Then the answer is no, I don't want to hurt anyone." She breathed in deeply, having already made her mind up from the night before. The abhorrence of facing her own staff members that she had known since her childhood, bearing blackened eyes and expression of vindictive slaughter was an image she knew that she would never forget. And inasmuch, she turned away from Jack, reaching around her front to cover both of her elbows with her hands.
"But you might be the only one who can do something about Pitch!" Jack called back desperately, releasing a huff of his own. "Look, I saw the way you used your powers. I'll bet your ice is more powerful than mine is, and I think Pitch was eager to get rid of you because he knew that you would be the only one able to stop him."
But even with Jack's reminder of the good that she could do - how she could aid the guardians in defeating Pitch - the vivid recollection of shooting a sharp throng of ice towards the men brandishing their swords to capture she and Jack did not fade. The blood that had soaked down the uniformed man's front from the impact of the sharp sleet, trickling onto the mortar of the castle courtyard beneath him until he finally collapsed... It was enough to cause Elsa to shake her head repeating, taking in a deep breath before finally was able to calmly respond to Jack.
"I wounded that man." She forewarned dryly, biting the inside of her lower lip. And she swore - when she began to describe him to Jack - that she could still hear his heavy body, crumpling downwards until he had crushed against the ground. Dread sank through her stomach, throat tightening up when she said his name out loud for the first time since the catastrophe had begun. "His name is Klaus. He's been working as a guard for the castle since I was nine-years-old... He has a family, Jack. A wife, children - "
"I doubt you killed him, if that's any consolation..." Jack inserted from behind her. Elsa grit her teeth again, turning around to face him, wearing a glower in all of the frustration and trauma that she had withheld.
"It's not, I don't know what happened to him." She added sharply, feeling ice form over her fingertips. Jack blinked, peering back innocently at her. But that didn't stop her from rounding on him accusingly, despite that she didn't want to be angry with him for trying to make her feel better. "Do you? Can you guarantee that I didn't fatally harm him?"
"No, I can't. But come on, Elsa..." Jack sucked in a deep breath, shaking his head once more. "You did what you had to do. Otherwise he could have been the one to stab you. We're lucky that Bunny was the only one who was hurt."
"Jack, even if I did want to fight, I don't know how to use my powers... Effectively." Again, her chin fell, azure eyes drawing to the floor and gazing without blinking. Her lips hardly parted, when she began to explain again, hoping that he might become understanding. "Everything that I did yesterday was a part of being emotionally compromised, to keep myself safe from being threatened... Certainly, I can change the weather, I can... Make it snow if I want. But the last thing I want to use my powers for is to hurt anyone."
Silence fell between them in the Nerve Center, and it was uncomfortable. Elsa fought back the urge to look up at Jack again, arms still crossed in front of her. Until finally, Jack piped in, sounding considerate.
"Well, I can teach you..."
"Teach me what? How to freeze someone's heart on my own violition?" Although she wasn't afraid of her powers anymore, the thought of turning someone entirely into ice - like she had the year before in Arendelle - was not something that she planned on revisiting again, if she could help it.
"You can do that?" Jack suddenly chuckled lightly, sounding insanely interested in such a prospect; impressed, even.
And finally, after what had seemed like ages, Elsa looked up at him with narrowed eyes and found herself hissing at him. "It isn't funny, Jack."
"I know, I know it isn't." Jack insisted. He scratched the back of his head, like he was at a loss of what to say. "Hey, just listen to me, alright? If there is one chance that you would be the one to take down Pitch - maybe, I don't know, freeze him into a glacier or something - would you do it?"
"Not if it meant harming someone in between." Elsa warned, keeping her gaze on him intentedly. But Jack seemed to be growing frustrated himself, as he swung his staff over his shoulder and began to close their distance again.
"Look, I know! I get that! You know those people who've been consumed by Pitch!" His indigo eyes were wide, training on her fully. But it was the ingenuinity in his words that caught Elsa off - making any hope for arguing fail, when she knew that he was being earnest. "I just want to help you get your kingdom back... And since we have similar powers, I could teach you how to fight with them, Elsa."
But by that time, Elsa no longer had the ambition to argue with him. Her head tilted away, thoughts caught up in what options she had. There was no way of getting out of taking down Pitch Black, unless she wanted to stand uselessly at the sidelines... And perhaps for the first time, she recognized that there was no other choice. Because if it meant saving Arendelle from what Pitch had done - and terror that peered back at her on the Globe of Belief - then there wasn't an option.
"Just think about it, okay?" Jack smiled at her, reaching out to touch her shoulder. Only one word escaped her mouth, while mentally refusing to look up and meet that smile.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to upset you." Jack's arm retracted from her shoulder. She heard him release a hefty sigh, refusing to look at him until the conversation had faded.
"You don't need to apologize." Elsa promised, straightening out her posture. Her leg began to ache, from all of the standing that had been done in the last several minutes... Jack must have noticed, because he chuckled, hunching his body back down so that he could carry her again.
"Now come on, I promised I'd take you to the library, didn't I?"
The walk down to North's office seemed much longer than any of their other visits had been that day. Neither Elsa nor Jack offered much conversation after their small altercation, causing the young queen to feel slightly guilty upon recognition that he didn't know that she had accidentally harmed her sister in the past based on the choices that had been made towards keeping her powers confined. But even when she tried to work up the courage to tell him, her own obstinance held her back. And instead, Jack let her roam through a small room that made up of a dozen shelves of books on her own.
At first, Elsa had felt thrilled by the sight of them, until she noticed that most of the books had been written in Russian. Discouragement had filled her whole until she spotted one that highly resembled the book that Pabbie had shown her back in his hut, but far more like the one her father had read to her when she had been a child. And once she had flipped through the pages with the pursuit of absorption, she finally returned to find Jack in the hallway waiting for her. He blinked as he readjusted himself from lounging against the wall, looking hesitant at first to ask her anything whatsoever. But Elsa was glad when he did despite himself.
"What did you pick?"
"Only one." Elsa answered informatively, edging her way towards him while turning the navy blue cover over in her hands. Her eyes returned to his, lifting her eyebrows with significance. "It's a storybook about you."
"About me?" Jack repeated her, as if he never heard such a thing. In which case, Elsa nodded.
"Well, you and the other guardians... I'd like to read about them, to see what I'm getting myself into." There was a hint of a joke in her response, one that Jack was happy to return when his grin came back.
"What, I'm not enough for you? I see how it is..."
Fortunately for Elsa, he didn't try to carry her again. A feature that made her faint smile falter, but it became much easier to inform him that it was time that she needed to be alone. After thirteen years in isolation, growing new to the prospect of getting to know others or fully trusting anyone had been difficult. And therefore, Elsa bowed her head.
"Jack, if you wouldn't mind... I think I'd like to be by myself for a little while." Her voice was quiet, waiting as the seconds passed for his reception to her request. But to her pleasant surprise, Jack didn't seem astonished whatsoever. And instead, as soon as the appeal was made, Jack began trekking his way back upstairs with her following closely behind him.
"Yeah, okay... I'll take you back upstairs to your room right now."
Boredom was the first emotion that Jack felt upon leaving the Snow Queen back to her bedroom, running his hands through his tousled hair while trying to decide where he had went disastrously wrong with where the afternoon had gone. But eventually, he trailed down the corridor until he found where Bunnymund was staying. The door creaked upon his entrance, slowly closing it behind him as he carefully sneaked up on the sleeping Guardian of Hope, who wore a strip of gauze across his torso from where the sword had been extracted. Grinning widely, Jack brought his staff up over his head, smacking Bunny hard on the forehead and jumping promptly out of the way for any chance that he might get attacked in return for his mischief making.
Bunny woke up immediately, forcing himself up into a sitting position to face his attacker. But once he saw that Jack was nearly doubling over while laughter roared through him, he began shouting angrily.
"Oi! What the devil?! I've been brutally injured so you decide to hit me with your stupid stick while I'm trying to rest?!"
"Heh, well if you remember, you did kick me twice yesterday to wake me up, so..." Jack grinned, tilting his head deliberately to the side.
"That's different, you deserved it. You're a jackass." Bunny grumbled, curling back into the bed again and pressing his arm over his face.
"You're a jackrabbit."
"That doesn't make any sense. Go away."
"Aw, come on, I'm bored...!" Jack tried to pout, resting his back against the wall. But Bunny wasn't having anything of it.
"Shouldn't you be keeping a close eye on the queen?" He growled under his breath.
"Nah, she's... Still pretty shaken up, so I'm trying to give her some space." Jack sighed, sliding down from the wall until he hit the floor.
"Poor lass. First Pitch, then her kingdom... And now she has to deal with you."
"Hey, I can hand her over to you, if you want." Jack chimed jovially, twirling his staff between his fingers. "You can do the queen watching while I go out and look for Chronos."
"Fat chance." Bunny mumbled gruffly. But finally, he peeked out underneath his arm to cast Jack a glance of consideration. "Besides, she trusts you, not me."
"Yeah..." Jack scratched his head, looking around the room fully. It looked more or less like the one that Elsa was staying in, holding more bitter realization that he had offended her that day. "Well, I don't even think she trusts me that much."
"Weren't you two friends or whatever?"
"Sure, but I don't remember."
"Maybe you should make the effort to remember." Bunny removed his arm from over his head to gaze back at Jack with a bland expression. "You know, to remind her that you're still you."
"Oh, she knows I'm still me..." Jack insisted, huffing slightly as he pressed his staff to the floor and rested it between his legs. "Besides, my human life is over now. I'm a guardian. And when all of this is over, she'll go back to Arendelle, we'll come back here, and... That'll be the end of it. I'll never see her again."
"So what, you're afraid of getting attached?" Bunny sounded greatly amused now, shifting his head sideways to cast Jack a smirk.
Erstwhile, Jack began to feel purposefully picked on, especially since he didn't know what to make of Queen Elsa whatsoever. But that didn't stop him from attempting to stick up for himself.
"Look Bunny, you have your memories before you became a guardian. I don't, not a damn thing... It took me over a hundred years to become comfortable with not knowing who I was..."
Bunny snorted loudly, rolling his eyes. "And that's what you're afraid of? Knowing? That's a load of bullocks, Frost."
Just when Jack had opened his mouth to retort, a click came from the doorknob of the room. Jack perked his head up higher - wondering if Elsa had come to find him again - but in his wake came Tooth, gliding in to offer them a disheartened smile. And he knew from that expression alone, that they hadn't yet located Chronos in the half a day that had passed. Regardless, Jack tried to stay positive as he pulled himself up onto his feet again.
"Tooth!" He greeted her buoyantly, rushing up to meet her before she entered the room any more than she already had. "You're back so soon! Any evidence of Chronos?"
"No, we checked everywhere he might have gone, but... Nothing yet." Tooth paused, seeming thoroughly dispirited. In which case, Bunny muttered a few swear words under his breath and tucked his head under his arm again.
"North is still looking. He wanted me to come and see how everything was... I need to make a stop to check on my fairies. You know, they've never delivered without my supervision! They're so excited!"
"We're great." Jack spoke up, nodding firmly at Bunny. "Right, Bugs?"
Bunny groaned loudly. "I told you not to call me that."
"Where's the queen?" Tooth asked, blinking a few times, as if anticipating that she should have been there with them.
"She's in her room." Jack explained dully, shrugging his shoulder half-heartedly. "Reading, I think... Actually Tooth, could I talk to you for a second?"
Tooth looked confused, meeting his gaze curiously, as if trying to decide what he would want to discuss with her in private. But eventually, she gave up on her investigation and nodded, leading the way out through the corridor again. "Sure, Jack..."
"Ugh, okay, just leave me in here all alone. Whatever." Bunny mumbled boisterously, looking over his shoulder to deliver Jack a scowl.
Jack chuckled, leaning out from the door frame to grin at him before shutting it again. "Says the guy who just told me to leave him alone."
Just when he turned around, however, Tooth was already alert for whatever his conversation could entail to. Her eyes were wide with concern, expression appearing hesitant.
"What's wrong?" She asked gingerly, as if fearing that something had gone horribly wrong while she was away.
"Nothing's wrong, really..." Jack mumbled, resting his staff back down against his side loosely. "I... Uh, I was just wondering about Queen Elsa's memories."
"Yes...?" Tooth answered, looking moderately relieved.
"Do you have them?"
"Well, some of them, sure." Tooth paused, as if she thought he was being conspiratorial somehow. "Why?"
"I just thought that maybe she would like to see them." Jack responded civilly, making the effort to smile. It hadn't been an idea in his mind for long, but after sitting by himself for several hours the evening before, the possibilities had grown endless. "Maybe it'd make her feel less homesick, if she could see her sister."
For a split second, he thought that Tooth was going to tell him that it wasn't possible. That perhaps, a human couldn't see their own memories. But eventually, Tooth smiled and agreed. "Sure, Jack. That's so thoughtful. I'll bring them back right away."
"Great! Thanks, Tooth!" Jack called after her, despite that the Guardian of Memories was already on her merry, speedy way back to Punjam Hy Loo. And at least - when Jack returned to Bunny's room to further antagonize his fellow guardian - he knew that Elsa couldn't stay away from him forever. And that thought elated him much more than he had thought it would.
Well my dears... I've decided that I need to take a little hiatus from this story. I really don't believe that I am doing it much justice (or jelstice, ohoho... pun). I probably just blow at writing Jelsa all the way around, but hey. I tried as much as I could... I probably should have just written Summer Shudder and stopped, like I planned originally. Fehfuhwfuwf...
Love you. Thanks again for those of you who have been super supportive. I'll let you know if I decide not to finish. At this point, I'm making myself nervous to write this anymore. Blahhhhhfuhefuwf.
- A.V Storm