author's note: I don't actually have time to write this (heh), but after seeing Frozen, I just became so enamored of Elsa's character. I felt there was a lot more to explore with her. I didn't make this story a crossover, because it's set firmly in the Frozen universe. But obviously there will be a prominent character from Tangled, and most likely a character from Rise of the Guardians . . . but if you haven't seen those movies, you'll be okay.
The romantic in me also informs you this will be a love story, cause I can't help myself. But I ain't sayin' who may or may not be falling in love with whom. (; Enjoy!
I really don't like summer.
Compared to the crisp surety of winter, everything feels soupy; the air thick with smells only released under pressure of heat; the sluggish nature of each, long day; all the nasty bugs that emerge from the cracks of the castle's stone walls.
The one saving grace of this wretched season is the flowers, I suppose. A vase of aster blooms and lilies sits on my sister's bedside and I bend to smell them, closing my eyes. Anna's bubbly, ongoing diatribe fades briefly into the background.
"Elsa, are you listening?"
She grabs my shoulder and I startle. The lilies instantly freeze—stunning, hardened replicas of the now dead flowers. "Sorry." Anna winces. "Um, don't worry about it—they were going to die soon anyway."
My shoulders sag. Yes, they were. That's partly why I like them. There's something strangely comforting about something so inherently temporary, yet beautiful in the short time it lives. Sometimes I think of them with little spirits, choosing valiantly to bloom even knowing their time will be fleeting.
Still, I'm upset about turning them into unwitting ice sculptures. As far as I've come, every time I unintentionally cause harm through my powers, it's a rub against a wound I'm starting to think will never fully heal, precisely because I can't seem to stop figuratively stabbing myself there.
I don't say anything of this to Anna. I smile and wave off her concerned expression. "Yes," I tell her. "I am listening. For the tenth time, stop worrying and go. I'm sure Kristoff is impatient." I lift an eyebrow and Anna turns pink.
"I know, but a month is a long time," she says, ignoring my implication. "Maybe I could just be gone two weeks."
I smile and go to her bag, still open on her bed, placing a folded, sheer slip in among her other clothes. She'll find it when she unpacks and then she can do with it what she will. "It takes almost five days by ship to even get there, and still another to shake off seasickness. This way you'll have enough time to actually enjoy yourselves." Besides, I intend to turn the castle into a nice, refreshing igloo for the whole of August while they're gone.
"What did you put in there?" Anna asks, eyes narrowing.
"Just some chocolate," I say innocently, holding up my second honeymoon present: wrapped cocoa truffles.
Anna's expression softens. She fights a smile. "They'll melt."
"No they won't." With a twirl of my finger, I enchant the glossy wrapping to maintain an even chill.
Without warning, Anna grabs me and hugs me fiercely to her. "We'll be back before your coronation anniversary," she says in my ear.
Or the anniversary of the eternal winter, as the villagers seem to remember it—that time the troll prophecy "almost came true," but thankfully Queen Elsa "figured everything out."
Which I did. Figure things out. Obviously.
It's just that . . . finding a solution doesn't necessarily mean the problem is solved, does it? Yes, I realized that when ice passes through me, love is the filter that lets it emerge as something pure, a natural extension of myself. The only problem is a lifetime of distancing myself from such emotion has made me the accidental perpetrator of my own undoing.
Anna pulls back, holding me by the shoulders, and I see the face of the only person in the entire world I love—and the only person who loves me.
And she's going.
She's my sister. I'll always have her, but she isn't mine. Not for the first time, I feel a pang of resentment for the years of friendship stolen from us in our childhood. After the eternal winter left, it hurt every time I saw Anna and Kristoff growing closer and she and I growing farther apart. Even though it's exactly as it should be, I can't help my jealousy. I rely on her much more than she relies on me, but that's not her fault. It isn't fair to expect more from her than she should be asked to give. Besides, I'm starting to love Kristoff to as my new brother-in-law, and I'm sure I'll adore any nieces and nephews they give me.
They're my family. I'm not alone. It's just . . . I sort of am, even still.
A few months ago we lost a ship in an early spring storm. The entire crew drowned at sea, including the trusted advisor who'd helped my parents during their rule, not to mention the cost of the ruined cargo to our small kingdom's economy. We heard the news together. Anna turned into Kristoff, letting him put his arms around her, and I stood alone.
"I worry about you," Anna says softly.
"Don't," I say—and I mean it. It's not like I sit in my cold room all day and ache for a warm body to lie next to. Even in my loneliness I recognize it's for the better. I don't regret extinguishing all royal possibilities over the years. I'm in more control now, but what if someday I'm not? What if we fight? What if in an explosion of temper I freeze his heart like I did Anna's? How can I be expected to be vulnerable and honest with anyone when doing so might expose them to the dangerous side of who I am?
But I've heard . . . rumors.
Rumors of someone like me, who rides on the winds of winter. It makes sense. No vengeful witch cursed me with these powers. I was born with them. Surely—someone else might have been born with the same, er—abilities?
I haven't told Anna, but for the first time, I feel hopeful. And if he exists, I'm going to find him, this . . . Jack Frost. On the really dark days, he feels like my last chance, faceless and enigmatic though he is.
In the meantime, I'll keep making sentient snow princes and pretend they like me of their own free will. And that they're made of something more substantial than frozen water.
"I know you don't think I need to worry, but I do."
I snap out of my reverie, distracted by the slightly guilty look on Anna's face. "Anna . . ."
"And I know you want me to have a good time on my honeymoon, right? You don't want me to worry about you all alone in this castle?"
I narrow my eyes. She has that anxious, brace-yourself-Elsa tone of voice. "Of course I want you to have a good time," I say slowly. "Why? What did you—"
"Okay-awesome-because-I-may-or-may-not-have-hired-you-a-bodyguard!" She smiles nervously, pauses for maybe half a second, then exhales noisily. "Oh good, you're not mad. Glad we worked that out. Come on—my ship is waiting!"
She closes her bag and swings it up, striding to the door. As she reaches for the handle, a layer of ice closes over the bronze hinge, freezing the door in place. Her shoulders hunch in a guilty grimace and she turns.
"You hired a what?" I ask—remarkably patient, all things considered.
"Just, like . . . a bodyguard." Anna shrugs.
I rub my temple. "Anna, I think you know as well as I do I can take care of myself."
"I know, I know. It's not only about someone protecting you. It's just . . . sometimes the staff doesn't even know you're here! They go weeks without seeing you. And, um, it's not that I don't trust you—but I know you cover up how hard it is sometimes living with your power. You never let anyone help you, even if you need help."
I let what she's saying sink in. Beneath the small touch of guilt I feel, there's annoyance. "So, not a bodyguard . . . a babysitter?" Some of my irritation finally creeps into my voice.
"Don't think of it like that. Think of him—"
"—as part time bodyguard, part time personal assistant, part time confidante and advisor. A right hand!"
I stare at her, unbelieving.
"Please?" she asks softly. "Just for one month. One teeny, tiny month. It would make me feel better."
I cave a little. I thought I hid my feelings well, but apparently Anna understood more than she let on if she's so worried about what a month of her absence will do.
"Very well," I say—grudgingly.
She beams, looking so relieved that I almost feel guilty knowing that as soon as her ship is gone I'm going to send whoever-he-is on his way.
"Great! He arrived on the ship today from Corona. Kristoff and I met him. He came highly recommended by Prince Eugene."
"Prince Eugene?" I ask doubtfully. "As in . . . the former Flynn Rider?"
"Well." Anna smirks, lifting a shoulder in a nonchalant shrug. "When you get can't find your true love among princes, you start checking out thieves and rugged, uncivilized ice harvesters from the mountains . . ."
I purse my lips against my smile, but of course Anna sees through it. She knows she's won. Rubbing her hands together, she raises an eyebrow. "Speaking of rugged ice harvesters and their revealing summer wardrobe . . ."
I laugh. "All right—let's get out of here."
. . . . . . .
Half the kingdom is on the dock to give Anna a honeymoon farewell. It's both endearing and disconcerting to know how deeply our personal lives affect the villagers. The captain sits at the helm, his ship already prepared, waiting patiently as Anna attempts to give every single well-wisher a special goodbye hug and teary speech of gratitude.
"You're not going to create your own personal winter inside the castle while we're gone, right?" I turn as Kristoff approaches. "Because it's just mean to do it while I'm not here."
I grin; Kristoff hates the summer almost as much as I do. As Anna observed, he looks different not bundled in winter furs, and not in a bad way. His tunic sleeves are rolled halfway up his biceps, his blonde hair charmingly messed and hatless.
"No promises," I say. I let out an embarrassing squeal of surprise as a warm, slimy muzzle pushes against my cheek, a rough reindeer tongue licking up the side of my face.
"Sven," Kristoff says, with a scolding look that is half-hearted at best.
I pat Sven's hairy cheek, wiping my own with my other hand. "I'll miss you too."
"Corona, here we come! Oh, hello, Your Majesty. You're looking as devastatingly lovely as always." Olaf is wearing a straw sunhat, a small suitcase in one hand that has the words Corona or bust! on the side. Five days journey south, Corona will be much warmer than Arendelle. I've already taken every cautionary measure I can, but just in case I try and infuse even more of my power into Olaf's personal wintry cloud. I think he'll be fine, but they've never gone this far . . .
Anna arrives in a breathless rush. "Hurry—this might be our last chance!" She tugs on Kristoff's arm to get him onto the plank, waving frantically at me.
I wave back with a sad smile. We've already said goodbye twelve times; no need to drag it out.
She gives me a look, and points meaningfully into the crowd. Frowning, I follow the direction of her jabbing finger, and see a gigantic man, his head a good foot above everyone else's. He's massive, like a human bear, heavy set, with unkempt reddish hair at odds with the clipped styles of most of the gentlemen who come through our doors. His features are thick and generous—like a peasant's, I think unkindly. I check myself. He's not to blame; my irritation is for Anna, not him. He is, to be blunt, utterly terrifying. Despite the crowds, there is a foot of empty space in a full circle around him. People are tripping over each other rather than invade his self-proclaimed territory.
Hiding my displeasure, I turn back and watch as the crew prepares for launch. At the captain's call, the main sail drops and the ship cuts forward through the water. I inhale shakily, then raise my arm and send a whirling, thick wind against the sails. Everyone onboard cheers. Anna races to the back helm as they speed away.
"I love you, Elsa!" she calls.
I keep my hand up so she knows I love her too, but I don't call back. I can't, even after everything—not so openly in front of so many people.
To my side, a smallish man bows. He's the head butler, and I'm fairly certain his name is John. He stands several feet away from me. I sigh. Anna is right. The staff barely know me—I barely know them.
"Will you be returning for dinner this evening?" he asks.
I wince, imagining the overdone meal at the enormous table by myself. What I'd really like is send them all away, tell them to take a month long vacation, so I can . . .
No. Freedom is . . . nice (okay, more than nice). But it's only a cheap form of control. Without love, without Anna, I'd eventually lose sight of whatever feeble warmth my heart has managed to hold on to. I need to at least try.
"Yes, thank you. John, isn't it?" I smile, trying not to appear too strained.
He returns the smile—so patient, so willing to forgive my flaws, as they all are. "Yes, Your Majesty."
I nod, turning away from the dock, and nearly run into a human-shaped mountain. I step back, startled, and look up . . . and up again until I meet the eyes of Anna's supposed bodyguard.
"Your Majesty," he says, with the slightest decline of his chin. He'd practically have to sit down if he wanted to accomplish a proper bow.
"Hello," I say tightly.
He seems unruffled by my royal status—or, as is more common, my icy powers. I've always been a quiet person, and I'm used to people overcompensating for my silence by babbling themselves. But he says nothing; he studies me so long the ground seems to disappear.
"Your name, sir?" I don't do small talk. I am, however, quite good at commands.
"Stabbington, Your Majesty."
"Stabbington?" Only years of ruthless self-discipline keep my face blank. ". . . your name is Stabbington?"
His mouth curls in a slight smirk. The expression speaks of a lifetime of experience dealing with reactions to his name. I'm sure not all of them have been pleasant, but he doesn't seem offended. "I'm good with a knife," he says.
"Your mother must have been prophetic," I say wryly.
"Stabbington is my last name, so it's more a hereditary title." I don't know what my face looks like, but his smirk becomes more pronounced. "Surprised I know a five-syllable word?" he asks.
"No." But I blush. "Excuse me, Mr. Stabbington." I attempt to move around him and he steps pointedly to the side. I have every intention of dismissing him, but not now, in such a public setting.
As I walk by, he calls behind me, "I'll meet you inside the castle."
I grit my teeth, and the cobblestones under my feet freeze over. Perfect . . . just perfect.