Hi! Golly gosh has it been a while. But my exams are over (I passed everything with flying colours, yay me!) and my summer holidays have just started! (though it's anything but summer here where I live, it hasn't stopped raining for a day...)
So, I came to give you what I'd promised. This is it. The closing to the story. It's over now. For realsies! I'll even change the status to 'Complete'!
I promised an epilogue, so here it is! By all means enjoy it!
She could hear a beautiful singing voice from the stairs. She smiled when she heard it; it was a soft, loving voice that seemed to caress the ears. She followed its sound to one of the rooms, where she found the queen and her baby daughter.
Who would've said Merida could sing so well?
She had her red curls pulled back in a low ponytail, a style she had grown accustomed to, even though the hair would still fall in front and to the sides of her face. Rapunzel revised, as she always did, the changes she saw in her friend. As if she was trying to verify if Merida was truly still inside that grown woman.
She was taller, of course. And her curves had rounded, with age and with her recent pregnancy, though her body was still fit and strong. Her powerful arms still pulled the string of her ever faithful bow, and her fighting spirit was as strong as ever. She had just... settled down a bit.
And Hiccup with her.
She'd left off the proud father talking with Jack downstairs; they were supposed to join in soon, but Rapunzel had decided to come ahead and enjoy some alone time with Merida and her newborn... Rapunzel's niece. A rush of happiness flooded through her chest whenever the blonde thought of that.
Merida noticed her standing at the doorway, and smiled warmly at her. Her smile had also changed, Rapunzel noted. When she smiled, she looked much more... motherly, and nurturing. Younger Merida would never have achieved that kind of expression.
"Hi" the blonde Guardian waved, smiling back. She spoke softly, in case the baby was sleeping. But when she came closer, she verified the little girl was awake as ever.
Still just a few weeks old, she displayed wisps of soft, straight hair, red like Merida's. Maybe a couple shades lighter. Her eyes were blue, too.
"Aw, she has your eyes" Rapunzel delicately touched the baby's face, taken aback by her cuteness. "She's so pretty!"
"Glad ye like her" Merida snorted. "She's not so pretty when she wakes us up in the middle of the night, lemme tell ye."
That made her friend laugh. "The perks of being parents, right?"
Merida laughed along. "There's more disadvantages than perks, Ah assure ye! But" she smiled down at her daughter, who looked back at her with those enormous eyes that mirrored hers. "Ah think it's worth it."
Rapunzel smiled. Watching Merida with her child made her so warm inside. "Umm" she began, fiddling her fingers. Her cheeks blushed slightly. "Meri... do you think... I could hold her?"
Merida was surprised at first, then smiled at her. Truly, Rapunzel hadn't changed the slightest bit. Not just physically, but personality-wise as well. "Of course" she delicately offered the small baby to her. "Ah know yoo'll be careful."
"Ah! Yes! Thank you!" she took the girl in her arms, as carefully as she could. She was afraid she'd drop her, but Merida showed her how to hold her more securely. The blonde sighed in awe with the way the baby's eyes observed her, and the way her small hands fidgeted. And the way she smelled! Goodness, she smelled wonderful. Like milk and cinnamon and all good things...
"She's wonderful" Rapunzel looked up at Merida with glistening eyes. "You said her name was Anna, right?"
"Aye" the redhead nodded. "Hic's idea. Mom wanted to choose a name, but we werenae too keen on Catriona or Felenna" the scornful grin she gave made Rapunzel giggle.
"So, how's the daddy thing going for ya?" Jack asked, playfully smirking. Hiccup's smile, on the other hand, was warm.
"It's... I'm not gonna lie to you, it's a pain in the butt" he chuckled. "But I'll gladly take it."
Jack could hardly recognize Hiccup in the grown man that stood before him. He had grown taller and stronger, though still quite thin. He'd taken the habit of doing a small braid in his now longer hair, and he now had an incipient beard growing through his chin, aside from the everlasting freckles adorning his face. The years were treating both Merida and him kindly, though they weren't even old to begin with. Jack was old; Hic and Meri were... in the prime of life.
"And how's court life?" Jack nudged his elbow against Hiccup's side. "Are you used to being a king yet?"
"Nah, that's not something you can get used to" the dragon rider scratched his neck, sighing. "I try very hard, though. Both for Meri... and for my own people."
His friend nodded, respectfully. Hiccup's life had truly been hectic since he married Merida. Stoick had been awfully proud to have his firstborn son become a king, but that also meant not being able to come and go from Berk; court duties were a full-time occupation, and though Merida had tried to talk him into staying with his family and tribe, Hiccup had refused to comply. Elinor and Fergus wanted to fully retire from court to live their old age peacefully, without worries, so Hiccup knew Merida wouldn't manage all by herself. Also, and though he wouldn't admit it, he really wanted to move in with his wife.
When Merida got pregnant, it became even worse. Unable to come and go from Berk as he pleased and unwilling to leave, tied to his wife, her court and their unborn child, he solved the problem by naming Astrid as his replacement. She'd be the one to help Stoick whenever he needed it, and she was most likely to be the one to become chief after his death. However, Stoick was bound to live a long and healthy life, and Hiccup trusted he'd have many, many years before he even had to worry about his tribe's management at all. He still had Toothless, of course, so he could come visit every now and again, and he kept a regular correspondence with them via courier dragons.
"It stings, sometimes, you know?" Hiccup muttered, staring at his own hands. "The urge for an adventure. No matter how small, or short. Meri feels that way too, sometimes."
"You could have it" Jack replied, toying around with his staff to avoid looking at him. "If you'd accepted the Guardian job..."
"We'd see each other much more often, and we could travel so much further than we could ever dream of" the brunette finished the sentence in his place. "I know, Jack. I know. But there's still our responsibilities. Merida has her kingdom, and now I share that burden with her. And I have my tribe. And our daughter" it still felt odd, to think he had a daughter. One of his own, to care for and protect and raise into the kindly, beautiful maiden he hoped for her to be. It was yet another responsibility, yet this one he was more than willing to take.
"Yeah" the winter spirit nodded in understanding. "Besides, there's the... immortality thing, right?"
"Right" Hiccup made a face. "That would be an issue, too. Immortality is... kind of a burden. Sure, it gives you time. But forever is a long-ass time, Jack."
"Yeah. It is" Jack bit his lip at the thought. It scared him, honestly. To think of all the years he'd lived, and all the ones he had left to live. It comforted him to know that Rapunzel would be there, but still...
"I'm sorry, I don't mean to... make you uncomfortable or anything" Hiccup put a hand over his friend's shoulder. "I think you can handle that well. With Punzie, you won't ever be lonely. But me and Merida... we're just not made for that sort of life" he sighed. "We're content with our mortality. It makes everything that much more precious."
"You know" Jack began, his expression darkened. ", Punz wants a child. She does. She's always liked children, but since Merida got pregnant... she's got this look in her eyes. She envies her, and she's... she's so sad about it" he bit his lip again, harshly enough to draw blood. "But I just can't seem to be able to give her what she wants the most."
"I know" the dragon rider tried to comfort him. "But it's not your fault, Jack. It's... it's her body. It doesn't – it can't change. It's not because of you."
Jack knew it. But it still hurt.
Rapunzel and him had immortality. They were Guardians, so they cared for all the children in the world. They had all the time in this world, because their bodies never changed; they didn't need sleep or food or drink or any other sustenance at all. They could still die if their bodies were injured, but the passing of time didn't affect them in the slightest. Frozen at eighteen years old, forever. But for all this, they paid a price.
The inability to lead normal lives. The fear of making new friendships, of forming new bonds, because people would die way before they ever did. Being trapped in a young body, even though their minds did age and mature with time... The sting of never knowing what they would've looked like if their bodies aged along with their minds, never knowing what their lives would've been like. And the inability to have a child. A family of their own.
Because if Rapunzel's body never changed, its shape would remain unaltered, too. A body unable to change could never host a life inside it.
And it hurt so bad to see the look on her face when they got upstairs and she was holding Merida's child. The look of adoration she was giving little Anna, as if she was the only remaining good in this world.
That night, Jack flew to the roof of the castle and stared at the full moon. He stood there for a while, trying to muster the words. And he talked to him, to the Man in the Moon. Something he hadn't done in... in who knows how long.
"I know you're up there" he said, clenching his staff in his fists. "I don't know if you can hear me, but... But you've seen Punz. You chose us, didn't you? So you must be watching over us. You must've seen how torn she is."
He paused for a moment, not knowing whether to expect a response or not. Man in Moon followed his own rules. Maybe Jack was just talking to himself over a roof like an idiot. Probably. But he still had to try.
"She – she really wants a child, you know. She may look like she's just eighteen, but inside, she's much older and – she's always had this maternal quality to her, but even more so now. I can see it, and I want to... I want to make her happy, Manny" Jack felt his eyes watering, something he definitely didn't want, but couldn't avoid. He rubbed them furiously with his hand, but that only made the matter worse. "I really do. So – so I don't know if there's something you can do about this, but... but if you can, if there's something, anything... please" he pleaded, looking up at the white source of light. It shone so brightly, it almost blinded him. "Please, do it."
He waited for a few moments, his heart lifted in expectancy and hope. But nothing happened. Not even the slightest sign that Manny had heard him. Nothing.
He bit his lip and walked away. If his heart's deepest wish wasn't enough to make Manny hear him, then he didn't know what was. "I'm sorry, Punz" he uttered. He didn't know what else to do.
Then, he didn't know that his plea had been heard. Even more than just that.
Though Man in Moon had never, in his long years of reign, had to attend to such a request, he trusted he knew what to do. For the first time in many, many years – rather, centuries, he spoke to the Man in the Sun. And they agreed.
One day, a single drop of sunlight fell to the Earth.
And it was accompanied by a single drop of moonlight.
Rapunzel was singing to little Anna, while Merida and Hiccup attended a meeting, when she felt something inside her. A wave of warmth and cold combined, a rush of magic washing through her body. She shivered with the pleasant sensation, although she didn't know what it meant. It lasted just for an instant.
Some months after this day, Rapunzel started experimenting the symptoms. A quick examination by the trusted midwife who had assisted Merida in her delivery confirmed that she was, indeed, pregnant.
She was in tears and could barely speak when she went to tell Jack. He teared up a little bit – which was his fancy way of saying that he started crying like a baby, as well. Merida and Hiccup had no words to explain the miracle, but they were full of congratulations and emotional support. Which was very much needed, given all the tears of immense joy – and just a little bit of fear of the unknown. Jack made sure to thank Man in Moon repeatedly that night, to the point his throat went sore.
One would think it safe to say that there's never been a woman so pampered, so cared for and so coddled as Rapunzel was during her pregnancy. Sandy exempted her of all her Guardian duties, refusing to accept a negative; Jack neglected his own duties to spend time with her when she needed it, and even when she didn't, no matter how hard she tried to convince him it wasn't necessary; Merida provided for everything she could possibly ever need and which she never asked for, dismissing all of her protests with a gesture of her hand; Hiccup lent her every book he found with the slightest reference to pregnancy and child care (Rapunzel would never admit how frantically she read through all of those, memorizing every little advice). She had the midwife and three maids assisting her, she was instantly scolded and taken back to bed if caught making even the slightest effort, she was commanded to rest every single hour of the day, even when she spent them all in bed. In short, she was happy, though really quite annoyed.
And, at last, the day of labor came.
Jack was so frantic and terrified that he had to be taken out of the room by force. As for Rapunzel, she was immediately assisted by Merida, the midwife, and the three maids. The red-headed queen held her hand and said words of encouragement and confidence to her, but none of it would ease the pain. The pain. Oh, Rapunzel would never forget that pain. It made her face go red, her whole body sweat and her jaw and throat hurt from all the screaming. It made her clench Merida's hand into hers until her friend's fingers went purple. It made her cry. It made her wonder why on Earth had she wanted a child on the first place.
Hearing her scream in agony was more than Jack could take. It took all of Hiccup's strength, persuasion and willpower (but, above all, strength) to keep him away from the room.
The hours that passed then were the purest form of torture, but of course, it had to be over.
And a little baby girl was born. Rapunzel laughed when she saw her tiny little body and cuddled her to her chest with the most loving gesture. Jack, having immediately burst into the room the moment he'd heard a children's cries, was now frozen at the door. And he started crying. Bawling. Again.
Merida laughed so hard at his face. She would never let him live that down.
The little girl's name would be Elsa. She had her father's hair and eye colour, but she had Rapunzel's round face and cheeky smile. And goodness was she beautiful.
It was agreed that she'd live at DunBroch castle, so she'd be taken care of while Rapunzel and Jack tended to their Guardian duties. Their visits were much more common now, of course. The parents didn't mind traveling for whole days straight if it meant seeing their little one again. As a result of this arrangement, Elsa and Anna would grow up together. Even at such a young age, the little ones seemed to enjoy each other's presence, which, needless to say, was delightful to their parents.
Alas, the hair and eyes hadn't been the only thing Elsa had gotten from Jack. Rapunzel caught the child accidentally freezing the toys she was given. Jack practically threw a one-man party when finding out about this. Rapunzel, on the other hand, was more concerned about the repercussions of having a baby with ice powers. Wouldn't that be a load of trouble?
And indeed it was.
Elsa, however, grew up confident. As a five year old, she enjoyed playing with her powers under the careful watch of her dad, but she proved to be quite skilled at controlling them; they had given no injuries whatsoever, so this reassured everyone. And little Anna was so awfully glad she got a playmate who could make it snow inside the house.
The girls grew healthy and happy with enlightened parents, and they viewed each other as a sister. Nonetheless, one day, while they played in the snow Elsa had created in the halls, the little ice maker accidentally froze Anna's head. Rapunzel had immediately healed her, but this accident made Elsa scared of her own power. She asked her mother for gloves that would keep it tied down, and started to avoid Anna in fear of hurting her. Not knowing that what hurt the little girl the most was the fact that Elsa didn't act like a sister anymore. No matter how Jack tried to convince Elsa that she wasn't dangerous, that her powers could be controlled if she stopped fearing them... Elsa was now too afraid of herself. And though she enclosed herself in her room and tried to keep them in, her powers were growing stronger each day.
And the more her powers grew, the more isolated she became.
But that is surely a story that you have already heard. So you can rest assured knowing that, in the end, Elsa and Anna and their parents had the happy ending they deserved.
I hadn't actually planned to include the little bit of storyline with Anna's accident and all, but it just seemed to fit. It's all a hint towards Frozen, so the storyline would continue from then on in a similar way to that of the movie (including the necessary changes, that is).
SO! There it is. The end.
It's been a long journey, hasn't it? I just wanna thank all of you for staying through with me until now. Just know that I'm really thankful, and I do hope this has been enjoyable for all of you. Receive my love and thanks for reading, reviewing and supporting this in every possible way you did!