Hello dear readers!
This is the fic for DreamsWanderer's prompt Review Extravaganza Spring Equinox on Tumblr. It's set after Frozen, but before Frozen Fever and could potentially become part of my Frozen Destiny canon. For now it's definitely a separate story however. ;)
Since this is a prompt story for extensive reviews I've also decided not to let my Beta correct this story. So... if there are phrases you don't get, it might be because there is a Germanism left in there. ;) (and I'd be delighted to learn of these, so that I can correct them!)
A little organisational warning: I'm using the British English punctuation, but the American English spelling. Why? Because in school I got taught the BE one (and the German one is more or less the same) thus I'm used to it, but the LibreOffice I use only supports AE for spell checking.
A ray of sunlight had found its way into the room and tickled the sleeping Queen enough to wake up. Sleepily she yawned unqueenly – after all she was alone in her room – and stretched herself. However why her body had decided that she'd need to wake up with the sun Elsa had never understood. Sometimes – especially during the summer – she had considered this even more a curse than she ever did her powers. Having stretched herself she threw aside her blanket, revealing her body covered by her comfortable night dress. It was made of dark blue colored wool with the arms reaching to her wrists and the skirt to her ankles. The rim of the skirt as well as the top were embroidered with snowflakes. It was a rather new addition to her wardrobe as she had ordered it shortly after her coronation three quarters of a year ago.
She swung her legs to the side and moved off the center of the mattress enough to let her feet touch the floor. She heisted herself up and dozily walked over to the window, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes along the way. The sun had already left the horizon and would continue to rise as the day progressed. The city of Arendelle still lay mostly in slumber though a few signs of activity could already be seen. There was a heavily smoking chimney Elsa knew belonged to the bakery. And if she looked in the correct angle she could see merchants preparing their stalls on the market place. Snow was still glistering everywhere, though it wasn't her making this time. But it wouldn't stay like this forever, because today was the 21st of March, the beginning of spring. The snow would start to melt and usually the area was free of ice and snow sometime during the first half of April. The ice on the fjord had already broken up enough to allow travel by ship again although it required quite some expertise to navigate a large ship into the harbor during this time of the year.
Eagerly Elsa opened the window to let in the fresh air of the morning and to blow away the stiffness that had collected in her room during the night. Since the cold didn't bothered her she welcomed the breeze with open arms. What a development she had gone through during the last year. A year ago she would have opened her window only for a short moment to exchange the air and then she would have closed it again out of fear that any snow or ice would fly out of her room and maybe hit someone on the outside. But now she knew that she was in control. Her powers were no longer controlling her, but she was in control of them. Well... at least most of the time. Since her powers were connected to her emotions there were slip ups here and then when she felt very strong emotions and didn't reel them in fast enough. But she didn't mind these moments as much as she had before the Great Thaw, before she had reconnected with her sister.
Finally she closed the window again, teared herself away from the sight it provided and walked over to a door on the side of her room. She opened it as silently as possible and slipped through. She now stood in the wardrobe room she now shared with Anna. Shortly after the two of them had returned to the castle Elsa had moved to a room near Anna again, not minding to let go of her old room soaked with nothing but painful memories. She walked over to her vanity to do a quick check of herself in its mirror. Unlike her sister she didn't have a bedhead, but only because she slept with her hair braided since the time it had become long enough. Otherwise she knew – from the few times she had forgotten to braid her hair – that her bedhead could even rival Anna's. After that quick checkup Elsa went to one of the wardrobes that contained a part of her own clothes and pulled out a regal, yet simple dress. It was similar to her coronation dress which sadly got destroyed when she had created her ice dress. Briefly she wondered whether she'd be able to create ice fabric without another fabric as a base. She'd definitely need to experiment with that sometime.
The dress she hold in her hand was dark blue and the bottom part was embroidered with ice blue snowflakes while the top featured embroidery in yellow that depicted the Arendelle crocus. The skirt went to her ankles and the sleeves to her wrists. It wasn't as fancy as her ice dress, but it was comfortable and for today it would do. She also picked up undergarments and pantyhose and dressed herself. Normally a queen or even a princess would have at least one maid to help her dress for the day. But her and Anna had both grown up without one. They had learned to dress and style themselves and they both had agreed that they'd want to keep that independence even after the gates were opened and the size of the staff had been increased.
Not much later she stood in front of the mirror again, removed the hair tie that had held her braid together and untied her hair. Afterwards she brushed it and braided it again. As no special events were scheduled for the day she left her hair in a braid instead of styling it into a bun. She put on a light makeup and then left the room using the door that led towards the corridors and went on to have a snack for breakfast since Anna would still sleep for some hours.
Elsa had acquired herself a small sandwich and a cup of coffee that she had carried to her study. She still wasn't used to there being maids again that would have done that for her. She had placed the plate with the sandwich and the cup onto the spacious desk in her study which had originally been her father's study and sat down on the heavy and slightly uncomfortable chair that stood behind it. A triangular window at her back provided her with enough light for her work and if that wasn't enough there were enough lamps distributed among the room – one of them even on the desk – to provide her with enough light till late in the night. The walls to her left and right were lined with bookshelves that held various important documentations she needed to rule the country. Trade agreements, decrees, accounting tables were all systematically sorted into the various rack bays. Right in her line of sight was the room's door which was usually closed, but not locked, to signal others that she didn't want to be disturbed. Of course that didn't stop Anna to burst in at any time and it didn't bother Elsa in the slightest. She had isolated herself from her little sister for so long, there would be no more locked doors between them. Throughout all those years however Anna had never learned that Elsa's door had never been locked, but merely closed. Anna had always been polite enough never to try whether that white wood separating the two of them had really been an insuperable barrier. To the left of the study's brown door hung a picture of their father. He looked less anxious as he had in the coronation picture that hung in the reading room and looked more genuinely happy towards the viewer. Elsa definitely preferred this painting to the other one. To the right of the door stood a pendulum clock.
Absentmindedly Elsa nipped on the coffee and tried to gather in her thoughts what was planned for the day. There weren't yet any letters from other kingdoms as the fjord had only began to thaw recently and Arendelle was rather hard to reach by land though not impossible. The kingdom needed to rely on this lifeline and the stocks that were built up during the year to support the whole country during the harsh winters. There would be court this afternoon however and a few parents had asked for her blessing for their newborn children. Never before had she thought that something like that would come true. A few weeks after her coronation and the Great Thaw the first parents had come to her and especially requested to bless their child, a girl, with a small gust of snowflakes. At first Elsa had been reluctant whether she should use her powers on something as fragile as a baby, fearing she'd hurt the girl, but then she had remembered faintly that she had done something similar when Anna had been a baby as well. Anna had been crying in her crib, their parents were in an important meeting and the maid had excused herself for a moment so it had been three year old Elsa's task to take care of her sister. As no words of comfort had helped to calm down the baby Elsa had used her powers to create a few snowflakes that entranced her little sister and made her stop crying. Likely that was when Anna's love for Elsa's powers had been born.
Elsa had been so lost in her memories that she nearly hadn't heard the knocking on the study's door. It wasn't the typical rhythm of Anna's knock, it sounded more like Kai's instead. Quickly Elsa placed the cup of coffee on her desk and righted herself. "Come in."
Slowly the wooden door opened and the stout chamberlain entered the room, closing the door behind him. "Your Majesty." He bowed. "Please excuse the intrusion, but there's a ship off the coast."
That caught Elsa off guard. "A ship? But we don't expect anyone. What kind of ship are we talking about? Are there any insignia?"
"That's the thing, Your Majesty. The ship seems to be in rather bad shape, maybe having sailed through a storm. It appears to be a merchant vessel, from what kingdom though I can't tell as there are no masts anymore that could bore any insignia."
A ship lost in a storm. Elsa thought back to the moment the news of her parents' disappearance had reached her. It wasn't sure that they were lost in a storm, but it was fairly likely as one had passed through the area their ship was planned to sail through. What if... what if on this ship there were still survivors? They had to help them!
"Are our own ships ready?"
"Our merchant vessels are still not prepared for the season. The only ships ready to go out are the fishing boats and they want to tend to their business soon."
"Hold a few of them back. We need to get to that ship and check for any survivors. I'll be on the dock shortly."
"Your Majesty, are you sure it's a good idea to go there yourself?", Kai asked worried.
"Yes, Kai, I can create a staircase or something to reach the other ship. The fishing boats are much smaller after all."
The head servant bowed. "Of course, Your Majesty. I'll arrange that right away." He left the room, again closing the door behind him. Elsa looked down at her cup of coffee and the sandwich she hadn't touched yet. Better to quickly finish her breakfast to have something in her stomach at least. She just hoped that she wouldn't get seasick...
Rather unlike the Queen she was supposed to act like she had stuffed the sandwich in her face and had downed the coffee before she had run of to the docks. She had to admit that she was rather excited to have a little adventure herself. At the docks a group of guards were waiting for her together with a few fishermen. Behind them she could see five fishing boats tied to the docks. All men bowed as Elsa entered the wooden gutter.
"Your Majesty, this way, please", the guard's captain said and gestured to one of the five boats which looked like the nicest of the five. Though all five didn't look that bad anyway. True, they normally weren't used to transport royalty, but merely the fishermen and their catch, but this was a rescue mission, normal rules didn't apply here. Holding the hand of the guard's captain for support she entered the slightly swaying boat and once she had settled herself the guards and the fishermen distributed themselves among the boats. They would have enough capacity for a few survivors if there'd be any. The ropes were loosened, the sails hoisted and slowly they gathered pace.
While Elsa had run towards the docks she hadn't taken the time to look out at the sea to gather a glimpse of the ship, but she did so now. The ship was a bit outside of the fjord that protected Arendelle, but near enough that they wouldn't have to journey for long. Just as Kai had said the ship was in rather bad shape. Originally it seemed to have two masts, but of those only the bases remained. At the front – bow, Elsa reminded herself – she could recognize the remnants of a white sail. The hull itself appeared to be intact though as the ship was still afloat without any apparent imbalace.
Not much later her boat had come alongside the bigger vessel and Elsa used her powers to create a staircase together with a dock so that they'd get off the fishing boats and onto the other ship easily. She was the first to get out of the boat – though the captain of the guard would have likely held her back if she wouldn't have been as fast as she was – and entered the icy dock. She looked back at the guards who all looked at her reluctantly.
"Don't worry, you won't slip. I've made the surface rough enough." She had experimented with her ice since the Great Thaw. Especially with its surface after Kristoff had told her that Sven hadn't been able to climb the staircase towards her ice palace. And she couldn't have let the poor reindeer miss all the fun in there, couldn't she? It had taken her a while until she had found a way to create ice that was not slippery, but once she had it had been easy to reproduce. Once the first guards started to leave the boat she darted up the staircase that led to the railing of the ship and figuratively froze.
Of course she hadn't known what she had expected to find here, but truth be told she had been naïve not to expect what laid in front of her. There were various bodies thrown along the deck all more or less drenched in red – blood. Some of the bodies were even missing body parts, a few of them she could locate at different areas of the deck. Remotely she registered the guards moving up behind her and gasping. Arendelle had been a peaceful country and they hadn't seen wars or even bloodshed for decades. All of the guards were much too young to have witnessed that and thus it was no wonder they had been taken off guard – pun intended.
Slowly Elsa managed to rid herself from her paralyzation and moved down from the staircase that went above the railing down onto the deck, carefully avoiding to disturb any of the bodies or to step into any blood, though it wasn't easy. Something wasn't right. All this didn't look like damage inflicted by a storm. At least a storm didn't rip apart humans the way these sailors had been. She had made her way to the stern of the ship where a door separated the deck from the sheltered rooms of the ship. Or at least where a door had separated those two areas for there were only fragments visible anymore. It nearly appeared that mighty claws had ripped apart the door and that only confirmed her suspicion that something wasn't right here.
"Search for any survivors!", Elsa heard the voice of the captain who apparently had entered the ship by now as well. She looked back into the dark area behind the door's frame. Should she listen to the rational part of her mind that told her to wait for the soldiers or should she listen to her curiosity that told her to go in there right away? After all she was able to hold her ground if need be. However she wasn't a skilled fighter. Maybe she should change that in the future? She shook her head to get rid of these distracting thoughts and decided to go with her curiosity, as foolish as it might be. She steeled herself and readied her powers to strike at any suspicious motions. She wished she had known how to make herself an armor or at least a shield. That would have come in handy right now. Another topic she had to remedy in the future.
Carefully she moved through the door frame and stood in what appeared to be a short corridor that thankfully wasn't as dark as she had first thought as it had merely appeared darker from the fully illuminated outside. She could see three doors leading away from the corridor. One each on her left and right and one straight ahead all three stood open into their respective rooms. Directly to her left she saw a staircase that lead into the bowels of the ship.
Elsa just wanted to take a look into the room on the right when she heard something from the room on the left. It sounded like a groan. On high alert she sneaked into the room on the other side of the corridor and soon found the source of the noise. A bit of the center of the room lay a woman on her side and was stirring a bit. She's alive! Immediately Elsa dropped all defenses and rushed towards the woman, kneeing down beside her. Quickly she looked the woman over. She wore a simple linen dress that was soaked with blood and with two strange holes on the back. She didn't wear any shoes. As far as Elsa could tell however the woman had no wounds the blood could have come from. Though of course she was no physician, so she didn't know whether there were any wounds she didn't know about.
With great care Elsa moved away the red strands that had fallen onto the woman's face who appeared to be roughly her own age. Her hair was of a much more intense red than Anna's strawberry blonde. The first and last time she had seen someone like this had been the Irish ambassador that had visited for Elsa's coronation. Maybe this ship came from Ireland as well? Though she had heard that people of Celtic or Gaelic heritage often had hair like that and those cultures were fairly widespread in the past so maybe that woman wasn't Irish at all. Elsa looked at the face of the woman. Like herself she was pale, nearly rivaling herself, but with freckles more distinctive than Anna's.
The woman stirred again and slowly her eyes fluttered open, looking around confused until they took sight of Elsa's knees. Immediately the eyes followed Elsa's figure and after mere moments emerald eyes locked onto Elsa's ice blue eyes.
"Are you an angel?" It took Elsa a while to register that it was the woman who had spoken. Her voice was nearly inaudible, weak, fragile, but for some reason it had sounded for her like the most beautiful birds' twittering. Elsa just wanted to answer when she noticed that the eyes of the woman had closed again. Nearly panicking that the woman had just died in front of her the blonde noticed with relief that the former was still breathing. Likely she had merely passed out again. Taking a last look at the unconscious form Elsa got up and walked out of the room to inform her guards of her find.
It turned out that the woman had been the only survivor of whatever disaster had struck the ship and Elsa had ordered her to be brought into one of the castle's rooms to be taken care of by the royal physician. The ship was to be towed into Arendelle's port – however her guards and the fishermen would manage that – so that the corpses could be taken care of and maybe some information about the ship's origin could be discovered.
Elsa had changed her clothes – she wondered whether the maids would be able to get rid of the stench of death stuck to her dress – and was in her study again thinking back to her encounter with the woman when an all to familiar knocking occurred on the study's door.
"Come in", Elsa said as joyful as possible and immediately the door was thrown open to reveal her energetic sister.
"Good morning, Elsa!", Anna cheered and Elsa glimpsed at the clock to the right of Anna. For Anna nearly 12 o'clock might have been morning, but Elsa definitely considered that as midday. She would definitely need to order Kai to wake her sister earlier in the future.
"Good midday, to you", Elsa said with a smile. She hadn't even finished her greeting when Anna had darted towards the desk and leaned onto it to be as near Elsa as possible with that massive piece of a desk between them.
"Now tell me all about your adventure with that ship. Was it attacked by pirates? Were they still there? Oh, I can, like, so imagine you fending of a vicious pirate captain with a rapier made of ice. And then there'd be treasure and alcohol and..."
"Anna! Hold it!" Elsa had to stifle a laughter. Her sister was doing one of her legendary ramblings again. "Me fighting with a pirate captain? Really, Anna, you've read too many books."
"But...", Anna tried to defend her idea.
"I can assure you, there were no pirates. At least not while we were on that ship. We don't know what had happened to the sailors."
"Oh...", Anna deflated, but immediately she brightened again. "Then tell me all about that girl you found!"
"She's a woman, not a girl, roughly my age. Her hair is red like fire, her skin as pale as the moon and her eyes as green as a meadow in spring." Only too late Elsa registered what she had just said. "Wait, what?"
"Elsa, can it be that you have a crush?", Anna asked suggestively.
"A crush?! Don't be silly, Anna." Elsa laughed half-heartedly. She didn't have a crush and especially not for a woman she had seen only for a few minutes.
"Sure...", Anna said unconvinced. "Anyway, how is she?"
"The physician said that she's not injured, but whatever had happened on the ship had exhausted her. She's sleeping right now in one of the guest rooms."
"Good to know. Hopefully she's awake soon so that she can tell us what happened there."
"At least if she's able to." Maybe the events there had traumatized her too much?
"Well... uhm... would you like to join me for breakfast?"
Elsa smiled. "Of course. I thought you'd never ask." She held out her hand for Anna to grasp and let herself be guided around the desk. Linked arm in arm they left the study towards the dining room.
After their shared breakfast Anna had run off to share the news of the castle's guest with Kristoff, Sven and Olaf and maybe to catch a glimpse of the ship being towed in – though Elsa did warn her younger sibling of the bodies, sparing her the details however. Elsa herself had decided to go back to her study, but lost in her thoughts she soon found herself in front of the door that led to the room the woman she had found aboard the ship lay in. Was Anna right with Elsa having a crush on that woman? No, there was no such thing as love on first sight... she didn't even know the name of the stranger! But those eyes... those piercing, emerald eyes that appeared to look straight into her soul despite the woman's weak state. Elsa shook her head. No, she was merely here out of concern for a victim of something horrible, whatever it had been. But how should she proceed now? Should she simply burst in? Or knock and maybe unintentionally wake the sleeping woman? Likely a maid was in there however. So Elsa decided to go with the knocking. Slowly she brought up her left hand and tapped at the wooden door hopefully loud enough to be heard, but silent enough to not disturb the patient. She seemed to have done alright as not much later the door was opened revealing the form of Gerda, the head servant, who's eyes immediately widened upon recognizing the queen. She curtsied right away.
"Your Majesty, I did not expect you here."
"It's okay. May I?" Elsa gestured towards the room. Gerda reacted immediately and moved to the side.
"Of course, Your Majesty." Once Elsa had entered the room the older woman closed the door again.
"How is she?"
"She's still sleeping, hasn't woken up since she was brought here either. That poor thing." The woman looked sadly at the sleeping form on the bed. The young woman was lying on her back, her long red hair below her. A blanket covered her up to her chin, her arms resting on it.
"You know, I have some time to spare till court. What about me relieving you from looking after her for a while?", Elsa suggested.
"Oh Your Majesty, you don't need to do this. I can manage."
"I insist, Gerda", Elsa smiled. "Come back half an hour before court, yes?" The servant hesitated for a moment, but then curtsied.
"Of course, Your Majesty. Should she wake up, there's water on the table there." She gestured to a small table at the side of the room with a glass and a carafe filled with water.
"Thank you." Elsa's gaze followed Gerda till she had left the room and had closed the door behind her. With a sigh the blonde sat down on the stool next to the bed. What should she do now? She was sitting next to an unconscious person with not even a book at hands. What had gotten into her to even suggest this? She looked back at the sleeping woman. Anna would probably say that she knew exactly what had gotten into her. Without really noticing it Elsa started to talk to the red head.
"You know... I don't even know your name." She thought back at the one sentence the woman had said to her. "And you only seem to know me as an angel. I wonder whether you dream of me. Wait, what?" She hadn't even started to let her monologue go for long and she was already at such sentences? Way to go, Elsa. Embarrassed she covered her face with her left hand. Suddenly she heard a stirring from the bed. Why was it that the woman always reacted when Elsa had been near? Slowly the eyelids opened to reveal unfocused emerald eyes. They didn't stay unfocused for long however as they tried to take in their surroundings. Soon enough they landed on Elsa, but this time the blonde was able to react more quickly.
"Uhm... hi?!", she said with a shy wave of her left hand.
"Hi", the woman responded weakly. "Where... where am I?"
"You're in Arendelle. We found your ship adrift of the coast."
"Arendelle...", the woman repeated slowly as if she was tasting the name. "Never heard of that."
"It's a small kingdom surrounded by Norway." Elsa paused a bit. "Oh... uhm... do you want a glass of water?"
"Yes, please." Elsa immediately got up, filled the glass on the table with water and handed it to the woman who had righted herself a bit.
"So... uhm... I'm Elsa", she pointed to herself. "And you are?"
"I'm Einin", the redhead answered and drunk a bit. Meanwhile Elsa had sat back down on the stool.
"Einin... that's a beautiful name."
"Thank you", Einin blushed. "'Elsa' sounds beautiful as well."
This time it was Elsa's turn to blush. "Thanks." What was this feeling she had? She had never felt like this with anyone else. She noticed Einin's eyes still looking straight at her. Elsa mentally sighed. She wouldn't get anywhere by just blushing around. "Uhm... Einin, I need to ask you some questions regarding the ship you were on."
"Oh..." The woman looked down, almost looking unsure, but then she looked back at Elsa. "Okay." Why hadn't Einin asked about the others on the ship yet?
"Alright... first of where did you board and where was your intended destination?"
"We started in Stavanger and we were en route to Gothenburg."
Stavanger was a town on the west coast of Norway and Gothenburg was to the east of Arendelle. "No wonder we were able to find your ship adrift near Arendelle." At least she now knew which authorities she'd need to contact regarding the dead. She dreaded the next question, but she'd need to ask anyway. "When we found your ship its masts and sails had been destroyed and everywhere across the deck were dead bodies. You are the only one who had survived. Do you know anything?" Elsa looked closely at Einin's reaction. Her people skills weren't the best, but she hoped to interpret her counterpart correctly. She noticed the redhead's pupils widening at the question. Likely Elsa would have reacted the same if someone would have told her that the people she had spent the previous days with were dead. Okay, it was a slight understatement considering her powers, but if Elsa would have been ordinary she likely would have.
"I... I don't know." Einin turned away and looked down. She's hiding something, Elsa thought and raised an eyebrow. She wouldn't force the answer out of her however, that wasn't her style. Before she could think she had placed her hand on Einin's arm. The redhead first looked at the blonde's hand and then looked at Elsa's face. Realizing this Elsa immediately retracted her hand.
"I-I'm sorry. I didn't mean to intrude that much", Elsa apologized. Einin just wanted to say something when there was a knock at the door. "Come in", Elsa said, on the one hand sad that they were interrupted on the other hand glad. The door opened to reveal Gerda again.
"Your Majesty, I'm sorry-"
"Majesty?! You're a Queen?!", Einin threw in. Elsa flinched at first and then sent an accusing glare at Gerda who flinched as well, but quickly collected herself again. "I'm sorry, Your Majesty, I didn't mean to disrespect you as much as I have", Einin continued and Elsa turned around to see the woman blushing and looking down.
"No, no, no, it's alright." Elsa hesitated for a moment, but then she reached for Einin's chin and gently guided her to look at her again. "No formalities, please, for you it's just Elsa." Okay, honestly, what had gotten into her? She wasn't normally that open with strangers?! She did know her name by now and that she had started her journey in Stavanger, but that was it. She didn't know her age, her habits and most importantly she didn't know whether she was attracted to her as well. Wait, what? Alright, she couldn't blame Anna when even her own thoughts betrayed her as much as they did.
Gerda cleared her throat, getting both young women to look at her. "I don't want to interrupt anything, but now that our guest is awake there might be no reason for any of us to look after her."
"Oh... right", Elsa said and glanced at Einin sadly. "You wanted to say something when you entered?"
"Yes, Your Majesty. Kai requested your presence regarding today's court in light of the ship that's been towed in by now."
"I'll meet with him shortly." Gerda bowed and wanted to leave, but Elsa stopped her. "One moment, please, Gerda." Elsa turned to Einin. "Would you mind joining me and my family for dinner tonight?" The pupils amidst the emerald circles widened again upon this.
"I-I'm not sure. I've never dinned with royalty. I don't know whether a simple girl like me will do you any justice."
Elsa immediately declined with a smile. "Don't you worry. My sister's boyfriend grew up in the wild and his best friend is a reindeer. I believe we can handle someone like you."
"Okay... uhm... if you say that I won't be a trouble then I'll come", Einin answered with a shy smile. "But I don't have anything to wear!"
"Don't you worry, dear, I'll find something suitable for you", Gerda provided and Elsa was thankful for that.
"Then it's settled. I'll see you for dinner then", Elsa smiled and went to leave.
Kai had told Elsa that the log of the ship had been found and it had confirmed the bit of what Einin had told her. There wasn't any mention of a storm or some other event that could have let to the ship's destruction. Then again no one in his right mind would write into a log when he or she was fighting for survival. The guards had also done their best to shield the ship's deck from curious looks as the ship had been towed into Arendelle's harbor. Of course rumors of the ship's demise had spread in the city and during court the citizens had reported their fears of a monster on the loose not even phased by the flinching of the young Queen upon every mention of the word 'monster'. She had tried her best however to address those fears despite not knowing herself whether there had been any truth in them having seen the result on the ship herself. Other than that court had been boring and she was really looking forward to the dinner with her sister, her boyfriend and her guest.
The two royal sisters and the ice harvester were already sitting at a relatively small table in what was the family dining room. Elsa sat at the head of the table that had place for eight people in total. Anna sat to her left with Kristoff next to her. The fourth setting was prepared to Elsa's right and since it was still empty the three chatted with each other about their day.
"So, where's Olaf?", Elsa asked not having seen her snowman all day.
"He's with Sven right now", Kristoff answered. "Said he didn't want to join dinner today." He shrugged. "So... about our guest..."
"What about her?"
"Anna told me that you might have an eye for her." Elsa felt the blood rush to her cheeks right away.
"That's not true!", she defended.
He laughed and folded his arms in front of his chest. "Okay, now I know that it's true."
Elsa pouted. "Am I really that easy to read?"
"You are", Anna said and caressed her sister's arm. "Even without your powers betraying you", she added with a wink.
"Oh, uhm, about that... please don't tell her", Elsa said while nervously playing with the fabric of her dress.
"Why not? You aren't afraid that she rejects you?", Anna asked, looking at Elsa suspiciously. "If she would, she'd not be the right for you anyway."
"I... no... I mean... yes... perhaps?" Elsa threw her hands up in desperation. "I don't know. I don't even know her and I already can't think of anyone else! But I'd like to tell her on my own terms, okay?" Elsa looked at her younger sister with pleading eyes.
"Alright, alright, but stop it with these eyes! How can anyone decline you anything when you look at someone like that?!"
"It seems to run in the family", Kristoff remarked and immediately got an elbow into his ribs. "Ow!"
Just then the door to the dining room opened. It was just enough to permit Kai to enter who immediately placed himself next to the door. "May I present, Lady Einin!" With a slight nudge he opened the door further, just enough to provide an opening for the person hiding behind it without crushing the door handle into the wall. Elsa felt her jaw drop at the sight and remotely she registered that Anna and Kristoff shared this feeling. The woman in the door frame was dressed in a long green woolen dress with a long sleeved top and colorful embroidered flowers. Above it she wore a sleeveless, black vest made of wool and embroidered with flowers as well. Below the skirt she could see simple, black boots. The long, red hair was done in a pony tail and the green eyes darted through the room nervously. It was a simple outfit, probably from Anna's wardrobe, but Elsa was mesmerized by it nevertheless, she didn't even get herself to care for staring. It took a nudge from Anna to get Elsa out of her trance again.
"Uhm... Einin, uhm... welcome to our dinner", Elsa said without taking her eyes of the newcomer. "These are my sister Anna and her boyfriend Kristoff Bjorgman. Anna, Kristoff, this is Einin" Einin curtsied towards both of them and then shyly looked back at Elsa. "Please, have a seat." Elsa gestured to the place beside her.
"Next to you, Your Maj-" Elsa sent her a stern look. "Uhm... Elsa? I'm just a commoner. I possible can't sit next to a Queen."
"Of course you can", Kristoff said and got up. He walked to the nervous redhead and directed her to the place next to Elsa. "I'm a commoner as well and nothing bad has happened till now. They don't bite if that's what you fear." Gently he placed Einin on the chair. "They prefer chocolate anyway", he added with a smirk into the direction of the royal sisters. As a response Anna pouted and Elsa merely raised an eyebrow.
"I've never tasted chocolate", Einin said shyly.
"You haven't?!", Anna exclaimed. "Elsa we need to chance this! It can't be that someone in our castle hasn't tasted chocolate!"
Elsa smirked. "We'll do that later."
Once Kristoff had sat down again the servants entered with the food. Einin looked at the plate before her with wide eyes.
"Is everything okay, Einin?", Elsa asked concerned. "If there is something you don't like, you don't need to eat it."
"No, no, it's not that, it's just... all of that is for me?"
"Yes, of course, why-" That was when it dawned to Elsa. Einin had stressed that she was a commoner and maybe a poorer one at that. "You never had that much to eat, did you?", Elsa queried softly.
Einin shook her head. "No." Without thinking Elsa reached out for the woman's left hand and gently squeezed it.
"It's alright. We don't judge you." She looked at her sister and her boyfriend. "Right?" The two of them confirmed that enthusiastically. "See? Now enjoy yourself." Elsa squeezed the hand again and then went back to her meal.
They had eaten a few minutes in silence when suddenly Anna piked up, quickly gulping down her food. "So, Einin, where are you from?"
"I... uhm... a small village near Stavanger. Really boring, not even worth the trouble to look it up", Einin answered, looking unsure from her plate to Anna and back again. Why wouldn't she want to tell where she's from?
"Your name doesn't sound Norwegian though", Kristoff commented.
"My parents are Irish, so they named we accordingly. It means 'little bird'." The woman seemed to flinch a little bit as she had said her name's meaning.
"Oh, Ireland! I heard there are all kinds of fae there, is that right?", Anna asked with enthusiasm, not really registering what Elsa had noticed.
Einin immediately declined. A little too fast perhaps. "I haven't been there. And anyway they are just fairy tales. There is no such thing as magic." She laughed, but to Elsa it sounded forced. Maybe she could winkle out a bit more by revealing what she herself was capable off.
"If I were you I wouldn't put off magic too fast", Elsa began. "Kristoff here was raised by trolls." The ice harvester nodded with a smile. "Then there are two living snow golems in this kingdom." She now had the undivided attention of Einin who's eyes were already wide, but Elsa was sure they'd grow even wider. "And then of course there's the most powerful of them all." Elsa stood up and posed dramatically, creating fist sized snowballs floating above her head and her outstretched arms in the process. "The Queen of Ice and Snow!" Elsa looked down at Einin with a smirk. The woman in turn gapped at her wordlessly, her eyes hopping between Elsa's face and each of the snowballs.
"Uhm... Elsa... I think you might have broken her", Anna commented. Elsa immediately vanished her snowballs and looked at Einin with concern.
"Einin? Are you alright? Say something!" Only when Elsa touched the redhead's shoulder she seemed to fall out of her paralyzation.
"I... uhm... I'm sorry, Your Majesty."
"Oh come on, what did I say about formalities?!", Elsa asked sternly.
"I'm sorry, Elsa. It's just... I've never seen anything as beautiful as this, as you." It took a few moments until Einin registered what she had said, but then she blushed a deep red, her eyes went wide again and she covered her mouth with both of her hands. "I'm sorry, that was inappropriate", she mumbled behind her hands.
"It's alright. Really", Elsa said as soft as possible. After that little slip up maybe it was time for her to woman up as well. "You are beautiful as well." She noticed the blood rushing to her cheeks again and she could see that Einin didn't fare any better.
"Hey, you two lovebirds", Anna interrupted with a smirk. "How about we first finish our dinner – I'd really like to get my dessert sooner rather than later – and then you can have your second dessert somewhere else." Completely embarrassed by now Elsa turned back to her dinner plate.
Just then the door to the dining room opened.
"I heard that we have a guest?!", the voice of Elsa's snowman Olaf asked.
"A... a... talking... walking... snowman", Einin gasped.
"I told you we have two snow golems in the kingdom", Elsa commented while Olaf went around the table where Einin was sitting.
"Hi! I'm Olaf and I like warm hugs!", he exclaimed happily, stretching his twig arms.
Einin had taken the time to glance at Elsa. "Is he... is he safe?"
Elsa shrugged. "Nothing bad had happened because of him till now."
Einin turned back. "I'm Einin and I love hugs as well." She stretched her arms wide as well and Olaf came right up to hug the redhead. Einin closed her arms as well and after a short moment the two broke the hug again.
"Okay, now that I've done my welcoming I can go back to Sven!", Olaf said and waddled out of the dining room again.
"You truly are magical", Einin said looking into the direction of the door, but clearly she had meant Elsa who blushed upon this.
The remainder of the dinner went without any further noticeable events aside the one or other glance from Elsa to Einin or the other way round – at least those glances that Elsa had noticed. After dinner Elsa and Einin had gone different ways than Anna and Kristoff. Elsa had guided the redhead through the castle until they had reached the library. Was it inappropriate to spend some time alone with another woman? Likely yes, but she honestly didn't care right now. She wondered however if she should be considered a hypocrite if she's right now falling for love on first sight, but had criticized Anna for it with Hans. Though in the end of course she had been right. What if Einin was also not who she appeared to be? No, Elsa was quite sure that Einin hid something, but somehow that didn't change how she felt for that woman.
Elsa had sat down on the couch in front of the lit fireplace and reluctantly Einin had sat down next to her though with as much space between them as the item of furniture provided.
"Thank you for the dinner, I don't think I had ever eaten that much", Einin said and patted her belly.
"I'm glad you enjoyed it. I hope I haven't intimidated you too much with me being Queen and such."
"Honestly?", she asked and Elsa merely nodded. "Well... to be honest I'm still intimidated. It's the first time I'm dealing with royalty and then you turn out to be completely different than I had expected royalty to be. Not only you, but also your sister."
"Don't take us as a textbook example for that though. I think we are fairly odd even without my powers."
"Speaking of which... how does it come that you possess such powers?" Einin looked at Elsa with earnest interest.
"I was born with them. I don't know why I have them. And there was a long time when I considered them a curse, when I thought I'd hurt everyone just by touching them. I thought them to be dangerous. Beautiful, powerful, dangerous, cold, as the ice harvesters like to sing."
"But you don't anymore. I can tell by the way you showed off earlier." Elsa smirked. Yes, sometimes she really liked to show off. She was a bit mischievous after all. "What changed?"
"Well... first it had to get worse before it could get better again. Anna and I used to play with my powers when we were younger, but one night I hurt her. We took her to the trolls who were able to save her, but only by removing all memories of my magic. The troll elder also told us that fear would be my enemy and as a result my parents isolated Anna and me from the world and from each other."
"That sounds terrible!", Einin threw in.
"They meant well, but they didn't know of a better way. In the end it required Anna to sacrifice herself for me to learn that love was the key to control my powers." It still hurt Elsa to think back at the thirteen years of isolation and more importantly the events at and directly after her coronation.
"Wait, she 'sacrificed herself' as in 'died'?", Einin asked confused.
"Yes. After a disagreement with her at my Coronation Day which led to my powers being revealed I fled the kingdom not knowing that I had completely frozen Arendelle, in July! Anna came after me and tried to get me to come back, but I hurt her again. This time not at her head, but her heart. I didn't know at that time that I had hurt her, but now I know that without an act of true love she would have turned into ice, permanently." Einin gasped in shock, covering her mouth with both of her hands. "Her then fiance, who was also the cause for our disagreement, tried to kill me then and Anna jumped between his sword and me right when she completely froze. So, yes, she had died at that moment." Elsa sent the Einin an encouraging smile. "But as you have noticed she got better again."
"So the act of true love she needed was based on her sisterly love for you?" Elsa merely nodded. "Wow, that sounds like a fairy tale come true."
Elsa laughed out aloud. "Yes, that sounds about right."
"And what about Olaf and the other snow golem you mentioned?"
"I created them." Einin's jaw dropped. She looks cute when she's surprised, Elsa thought.
"So... you... uhm... you can create life?"
"It's even sentient life. They both act independently from me. Though they seem to have inherited some feelings from me. Olaf for example absolutely adores summer and all things hot."
"A snowman that likes heat. Doesn't get much stranger than that", Einin commented.
"Yeah... though I still don't know how he got that from me. The other snow man is Marshmallow and is the guardian of my ice palace." Immediately Einin shot up and grabbed Elsa by her shoulder.
"You have an ice palace?!" It felt strange to be touched that intensively by someone else than Anna, but not in a bad way.
"Yes, I have. I made it when I ran away from Arendelle", Elsa said her cheeks feeling hot. "Maybe I can show you sometime?"
"Oh, yes, please. As a child I have always wished to have a fairy take me to her palace and now, now it might come true!"
"You consider me a fairy?", Elsa said with an arched eyebrow. Only now Einin seemed to register that she still had her hand on the queen's shoulder and quickly retracted it and pressed it to her chest with her other hand.
"Maybe?", she said coyly. Maybe it was time for Elsa to grow a bit bolder again.
"And you would want me to take you to my place?", Elsa asked and with as much poise as she could muster – despite being completely nervous on the inside – she crawled onto the couch and slowly closed the gap between them. She had read about such things in novels though she had never expected that she'd find herself in a similar situation. But right now she wanted this, to satisfy her curiosity. "To do with you as I please?" She let the fingers of one of her hands slowly walk from Einin's hand up to her shoulder. She could feel the woman shudder below her, but Einin didn't move back.
"Yes", she breathed instead. Elsa now leaned towards Einin's ear. She could feel the warm radiate off of the redhead's body.
"Then let me tell you a secret", Elsa whispered into the ear in front of her. "We don't need to go to my place for that." Einin gulped, but waited for what might come next. Slowly Elsa reached for Einin's chin and gently turned her towards her. The two women locked eyes for a moment and then Elsa decided to bridge the remaining distance between them, having their lips touch, resulting in the most intense firework of emotions she had ever felt. For the first time she thought she knew what it meant to feel warm all over.
The next morning Elsa had awoken to the sight of a redhead lying in front of her. That night had truly felt magnificent and Elsa hadn't felt that alive since she had let go on the North Mountain. Her tasks as Queen however had prohibited her to spend the day in bed with Einin. The time however had passed quickly so happy Elsa had been. When the night had come the two women had shared a bed again. Everyone in the castle appeared to be happy for her to have found someone, except maybe her council. But as long as there was no talk of marriage they didn't say anything aloud either. Elsa didn't intend to think about that anyway for now – aside from the fact that she'd need to change the marriage laws before that could happen – as she simply wanted to enjoy the situation and she knew that Einin felt the same. Before they knew what was happening another two days had passed and Saturday had arrived. Elsa had decided that they'd all travel to the ice palace for the weekend.
They didn't need many supplies as Kristoff and Elsa had both ensured shortly after the Great Thaw that the ice palace would be ready as a temporary domicile if there should be the need. They merely had small bags with clothes and a bag with food with them which all fit into the sled Elsa had presented Kristoff with. Right now that sled stood with wheels fixed to its skids in the courtyard, Sven had already been hitched up to the sled and eagerly looked forward to the trip. Kristoff was sitting on the sled, Olaf sat on Sven and Elsa and Einin stood besides the sled, waiting for Anna who had woken up only half an hour ago and who was still preparing herself. Elsa had used the morning to ensure that the country would survive without her for two days – not that it had been the first time she had done such a family trip since the Great Thaw.
Finally Anna stumbled out of the castle, nearly tripping on the steps towards the courtyard. Her braids were a bit asymmetric as if she had lost interest after the first one and quickly finished the other one. Elsa couldn't blame her however as she really looked forward herself to the time she would be able to spend with Einin. Anna gave Elsa a good morning hug, hopped onto the sled next to Kristoff and presented him with a good morning kiss onto the cheek. Once Elsa and Einin had seated themselves in the second row Kristoff gave Sven the command to go forward. Since the two understood each other so well the ice harvester didn't need to use the reins much.
Even though the kingdom was still covered mostly in snow the journey towards the ice palace was rather eventless thanks to Elsa using her powers to literally pave the way albeit Kristoff did remove the sled's wheels once they had left the roads. Nevertheless Elsa enjoyed the way in which Einin looked onto Elsa's kingdom.
They arrived at the ice palace in the middle of afternoon when the sun was still high enough to provide enough light for them. Elsa would have preferred a more surprising reveal of her symbol of freedom, but it was a bit hard to hide a glittering behemoth like that. But it seemed that she didn't even need to since Einin gawked at the building as soon as it come into view and continued till they had reached the plateau from which the staircase reached towards the ice palace and where Elsa had erected a stable for the sled. Sven himself would come with them of course. Once the reindeer had stopped Olaf hopped down from his steed and ran towards the ice palace, probably to find his brother.
"Elsa, this is... I have no words", Einin stammered after Elsa had managed to rid the redhead from her trance.
"Yes, I could see that", Elsa joked and helped Einin out of the sled. "Let's grab the bags and head up."
"I'll take care of the sled and follow you then", Kristoff said as he loosened Sven from the sled.
"I'll stay with Kristoff as well", Kristoff then added in his Sven-voice.
"Oh, uhm, I'll help Kristoff as well!", Anna said maybe a bit too eagerly.
"Anna, you do realize that we'll have our private time anyway?", Elsa questioned.
"Come on now", Anna pushed Elsa into the direction of the ice palace. "Show her your proud work without us." Elsa noticed that Anna sent her one of her most wide smiles.
"Okay, if you insist that much", Elsa said and reached out to Einin. "You come?"
The redhead grabbed Elsa's hand without hesitation. "Sure."
The high two winged entry door had opened immediately upon Elsa's touch. Elsa still wondered how she had managed to conjure a door like that which had been able to open and close by itself. She had yet to repeat this wonder.
"Woah, Elsa, this looks even more beautiful from the inside", Einin said as soon as she had passed the threshold looking around to eagerly take in the sight.
"I'm glad you like it."
"Like it? I love it!", the redhead exclaimed, stretching out her arms to emphasize her words. "It's almost as beautiful as you", she added with a wink. Elsa felt the blood rush to her cheeks and she imagined herself to look like a beacon amidst the blue ice of their surroundings. If she didn't do anything she'd probably do something with Einin in the middle of the foyer that her sister would never let her hear the end of.
"I... uhm... I should probably look out for Marshmallow. Tell him that... uh... we have a guest." Elsa went to go away, but then she turned back to Einin again. "Just... uhm... stay here, yes?" Einin nodded and sent her a smile. Elsa went to the staircases that would lead her to the second floor. It was a best guess just like everywhere else. Though having arrived in the empty room she wondered whether it would have been better to simply wait for Olaf.
Elsa's thoughts however were interrupted by a suspiciously female scream. It appeared that Marshmallow had found Einin already. Immediately Elsa darted out of the room and down the staircases. As feared she could see Marshmallow standing in the foyer with some of his threatening icicles extended. She could also see Einin squatted next to one of the walls and looking with fear filled eyes at the mighty snow golem. Elsa wanted to call out for Marshmallow to stop when suddenly Einin cramped and bent over. Only now Elsa noticed that something else was going on. Einin's boots appeared to bulge as if the feet in there had suddenly grown in the last few seconds and on her back Elsa could see other bulges forming. Faintly Elsa thought back at the moment she had found Einin on the ship. There had been holes in the dress just where this bulges were now. What was happening with Einin?
Elsa had reached the ground by now. "Marshmallow stand back! She's a friend!"
"Friend, Mama?", Marshmallow bellowed with his deep voice and looked at her questioningly.
"Yes, Marshmallow, friend. Don't frighten her." He growled something in confirmation, retracted his icicles and moved back a bit to give the woman space for herself again.
"Elsa, run!" Elsa needed a moment to recognize the voice. It hadn't sounded like any voice she had heard before, somehow like a mixture of Marshmallow's deep voice and Einin's sweet one. That was when Elsa's and Einin's eyes locked. It had been Einin! Elsa could still see the fear in those eyes, but the redhead didn't seemed to fear herself. Elsa knew enough to associate that look with fear for someone else. Einin feared for Elsa!
Right as that insight sunk in the palace's doors burst open, revealing Kristoff, Anna and Sven all in some way or another ready to fight whatever had provoked the scream from earlier. And just then Einin cramped again and out her back shoot a pair of bat like wings. Her feet stretched, wrecking the boots she had worn, revealing talons instead. The woman stretched her arms, her hands having become massive claws. She threw back her head and a fear indulging scream escaped a face that had been distorted to that of a demon.
Elsa and the others except Marshmallow retreated a bit.
"What happened?", Kristoff asked, not looking away from... well... was it still a woman?
"I don't know! I heard Einin scream and then I saw her like this, frightened by Marshmallow!", Elsa exclaimed, pointing at the creature that Einin used to be. Said creature seemed to be finished with its transformation and looked at them with murderous eyes. There was nothing human in those emerald eyes anymore.
"Einin", Elsa whispered, not believing that her girlfriend had become a... a monster. But she had to put aside any doubts as the creature lunged forward. "Look out!", Elsa shouted, conjuring an ice wall to protect herself and the others. The creature didn't however crash into the wall, but instead flew upwards. "We must not let her escape!" With her powers she willed the doors of the palace closed again. She knew for sure that the door on the second floor was closed, so there would be no escape.
"And what about us?", Kristoff said as the creature did a dive towards them. "Scatter!", he shouted as he recognized the maneuver. They had just scattered at the right time as a moment later the creature crashed into the ice floor with its talons and claws.
"Run!", Elsa screamed as she noticed that the creature looked out for prey. She darted towards one of the side corridors and glancing back for a moment she noticed that the creature had taken her as prey. In a sense she considered this situation lucky. She could far better run on the icy floor than Kristoff, Anna or Sven could. They needed to catch the creature however. And they needed to catch it fast. Just as the creature was closing in behind her Elsa turned sharp left into the corridor that went around the foyer. She could feel how the creature sped passed her into the corridor that stretched further along. That had given her a few seconds of advance, but just as she was about to reach the portal that reached back into the foyer the creature returned from the corridor and laid eyes on Elsa again. With a few flaps of its mighty wings it closed in quickly. Elsa decided not to wait and ran back into the foyer.
"Kristoff! I need you to distract the creature for a while!", she shouted into the direction she had seen the man vanish.
"On it!" The ice harvester jumped forward from his hiding place behind a column and once the creature had entered the foyer again he began to wave his arms. "Hey! Here!" Luckily for Elsa it seemed to work as the creature shifted its attention from Elsa to the blonde man.
Elsa herself meanwhile slowed down, gathering her thoughts. Come on Elsa, you can do this. How do I trapped a winged creature? Winged creature... bird... cage... cage! She didn't know however how intelligent the creature was. Luring it into an open cage probably wouldn't work if it's too intelligent. But maybe she could drop one onto it. Yes, that was what she had to do. Looking around she noticed that Kristoff was still keeping the creature occupied, Sven and Anna had joined in as well. She would have preferred if Anna had stayed out of it, but right now she couldn't do anything. Without raising the creatures attention Elsa moved up the staircase to the balcony overseeing the foyer and created an ice cage she actively kept afloat. The holes were small enough that the creature could not escape.
"Lure her into the center!", she ordered the others. They immediately followed suit and Elsa tried to keep the cage suspended above the creature. Once the creature hovered still for a while, confused by the three preys, Elsa decided to drop the cage fast enough to surprise the creature. She stopped it shortly before it hit the ground and conjured ice from there to fixate the trap. Right away the creature tried to break out of its confines, but her ice held – for now.
"You did it!", Anna exclaimed and Elsa breathed out with relief.
"I wouldn't have managed without your help", she said. Slowly she walked down the staircase and towards the cage.
"What do we do now?"
"I don't know, Kristoff." Elsa looked sadly at what used to be her girlfriend. "I believe however that we now know what had happened to the ship's crew."
"If that's true, then she did turn back once. Maybe... maybe she'll turn back again", Anna said with hope in her voice.
"Are you all okay?"
"I'm fine, Elsa. Takes more than a crazy winged demon to take me down." Anna slammed her fist proudly against her chest and seemed to immediately regret it. "Okay, ow, maybe I myself am enough to take me down."
"We're fine, too", Kristoff said while gesturing at both him and Sven. "What about you, though?"
"I'm not hurt either. At least not physically", Elsa answered. They all were quiet for a moment, the silence only interrupted by the agitated screams of the imprisoned creature.
"Marshmallow?", Elsa requested for her snowman who was standing at one of the walls. He hadn't been any help for them during the chase as he was too slow to do anything against something as agile as that creature.
"Yes, Mama?", he asked in his booming voice.
"I would like you to keep an eye on... Einin", she gestured towards the cage, "report to me immediately if something changes. Can you do that, sweetie?" Marshmallow's looks brightened on the spot.
"Of course, Mama." She sent her snow golem a smile and turned to Anna, Kristoff and Sven.
"Let's get the food prepared", she suggested and looked back at the cage. She would have looked forward to an intimate moment with Einin tonight, but as it was she could only feel a cold shudder upon that thought right now – at least figuratively. "And has anyone seen Olaf?"
It had turned out that Olaf had merely wandered into the wrong part of the ice palace to find his brother as he had come back to them a few minutes later, confused by what he had seen in the foyer. Nearly an additional hour had passed when Marshmallow had dutifully reported that Einin had transformed back to a human again and was now sleeping, just as she had been when Elsa had found her back on the ship. At least Anna had been right with her suspicion.
Elsa had decided that she'd stand guard next to the cage for now. She had grabbed a book she had brought along just in case and had seated herself on a comfortable ice chair she had conjured an oil lamp standing on an ice table next to the chair. Two hours had then passed when she heard a stirring from the direction of the cage. Curiously she laid down the book onto her lap and looked into the cage. Yes, Einin was getting up. The woman had used one of her hands to help herself up, her back turned towards Elsa. In the redhead's top Elsa could make out the holes where the wings of the creature had pushed themselves through. Luckily they had packed an extra set of clothes. Though whether Elsa would provide Einin with them depended on how their talk would go and she was rather sure that there would indeed be a talk. Just then Einin looked around confused until her gaze sattled on Elsa and the redheads eyes widened. She wasn't able to hold the contact and looked down, seemingly embarrassed.
"I... uhm... I... look, Elsa, I-"
"It's 'Queen Elsa' or 'Your Majesty'", Elsa said coldly. It hurt her to do this, but until she had solved this it was better to detach herself personally from Einin. Conceal it, don't feel it. Don't let it show. She hadn't thought that she'd need to use that old mantra again, but right now she was glad that she had it. Especially since she could see clearly that Einin's eyes were glazing over.
"I am so sorry!", the redhead said, close to tears and grabbing the icy bars that separated the two women. "What should I have done? Tell you that I'm some cursed freak who turns into a... a monster every time she's frightened?! You would have thrown me into the dungeon for what I had done or at least thrown me out of the kingdom!" Well... Elsa had to admit that Einin wasn't that wrong. At least she would have done that before she had felt that connection with the woman. Elsa darted up and went up to the cage, looking at Einin.
"You could have at least told one of the previous days. I trusted you, Einin! We could have figured something out together!", Elsa shouted, close to tears as well and turned around, looking away from the redhead.
"I was scared!", Einin said. "I had been ousted by my parents, by my village. I wanted to have a new start in Sweden, far away from people. But then I met you and I was scared that you'd shut me out if I'd tell you!" Elsa tried to suppress the memory her brain was taking her to, but she couldn't. All to well she remembered how her sister had asked Elsa why the blonde had shut everyone out, what she had been so afraid of. And just then Elsa realized that she and Einin were much more alike than she had thought. They both were bestowed with something that could turn them into a monster and they both feared themselves. Or at least in Elsa's case she had feared herself. She sighed. Maybe it was better to reach out. She turned around and vanished the cage in its entirety. Slowly she walked up to Einin who was standing at the edge of where the cage had been and who apparently was shaking, sobbing, with tears running down her cheeks. Nevertheless her eyes didn't leave Elsa's face. Gently Elsa began to caress the redhead's cheek and then went in to give her a short kiss.
"I forgive you", she said softly after she had broken away from the kiss.
"You... you do?", Einin said unbelievingly between sobs.
"Of course I do." Elsa wrapped her arms around the other woman and held her as tightly as possible. They stood like this for a couple of minutes, Elsa noticing how Einin slowly calmed down again. "Now tell me." Elsa finally asked once Einin appeared to be calm enough again. She let loose of the other woman and looked into her eyes. "You said that it is a curse you have. How did you get cursed?"
"It's- it's a punishment for my curiosity. A few years ago I discovered a cave by accident. I got curious, but soon hit onto something that seemed to be some kind of warden. I ignored the warnings and there was a strange flash of light. I was frightened to death by this display of magic and that's the first time when I changed." Einin looked away from Elsa, ashamed. "I'm cursed to turn into this monster every time I'm scared, Elsa! I have no control, but I have to witness it, remember each of its actions, each of the people it killed, I killed." Einin was crying again and Elsa did her best to comfort her, resting the other woman's head on her shoulder and petting the back of her head. "I-I've fled my village after I killed people there, and on the ship one of the men tried to... to... rape me and I killed all of them! And now I'm here and I would have nearly killed you, too!"
"But you didn't. Were are all still here and I'll try to find a way to help you."
During dinner – which had been a bit awkward at first – Anna had brought up the idea to visit the trolls. They were the only magical beings they had known and thus were the most obvious choice to look for a solution.
So on the next day they had left the ice palace and Marshmallow – who had now acquainted himself with Einin – after breakfast to reach the Valley of the Living Rock early enough so that they'd be back in Arendelle at the evening. During the early afternoon they had reached the area and had left the sled where the snow had started to light up, because fastening the wheels onto the sled would have taken too long. They were after all quite capable of walking around two kilometers by foot.
The area was comfortable warm already, because of the hot springs it housed. The stones along the path they were walking were covered in fluffy, deep green moss and here and there steam rose from holes in the ground. Finally they reached something that might have been a crater. At least it was shaped like a bowl and many round rocks of various sizes, but none larger than half a meter, stood there. As soon as they had reached the center of the crater – they had carefully avoided to step onto the stone pebbles – the rocks started to move and soon enough it turned out that they all were not mere rocks, but instead living, breathing trolls. Of course Elsa had known all this already. It wasn't her first visit since the Great Thaw, but she enjoyed the amazed look that Einin had.
"Kristoff's home!", one female troll exclaimed. It was Bulda, Kristoff's foster mother. "And he's brought more girls!"
"More girls!", nearly all other trolls repeated with excitement. Of course they all knew that only Kristoff and Anna were together and that Elsa had no interest in dating Kristoff and that she saw him more like a brother, nevertheless it was something of a running gag they all had.
"No time for jokes or songs today, Bulda. We have a grave situation. Where's Grandpabbie?", Kristoff requested.
"I'm here, son", came a weathered, experienced voice from the rim of the crater. An old troll, older than any other troll with more moss and fire crystals as well came forward. "There is strange magic here", he said and looked at Einin.
"That's why we're here, Grandpabbie", Elsa said and crouched down. "Einin here had been cursed a while ago and now she's damned to turn into an all-killing monster each time she's frightened. She isn't able to control herself, but she remembers all of it."
"Hmm... come here, child", Grandpabbie gestured towards Einin who crouched down as well. "Give me your hand." She did as requested and Grandpabbie closed his eyes while apparently working his magic. After a few seconds he released her hand again and opened his eyes. "I haven't seen something like this in a long time."
"But you have?", Elsa said, her voice filled with hope.
"Yes, but I can't do anything against the transformation. It's a punishment and it's destined to stay."
"Oh..." Elsa's hope was crushed and she could see that Einin felt the same. Grandpappie gazed back at Einin again.
"I can however help you to control yourself." He picked one of his yellow fire crystals and mumbled a few words in a language unknown to Elsa, probably to enchant it. The crystal lit up more intensively for a moment and then dimmed a bit again. The troll elder gave the yellow glowing stone to Einin. "As long as you wear this next to year heart you will be the one in control, not the monster."
Einin's eyes lit up at this. "Thank you, thank you. It's more than I would have dreamed of a day ago! How can I ever repay this?"
"Lead your life the fullest, child. And enjoy it the most." At this the troll glanced to Elsa. Did he know? Likely he did, probably all gathered trolls did. They were 'love experts' after all.
"Thank you, Grandpabbie", Elsa said.
"Every time, Elsa. You and Anna are basically part of our family and if you choose to share your life with Einin, she will be family as well."
They had stayed with the trolls for a while longer before they returned back to Arendelle. On the next day Elsa had ensured that Einin's fire crystal would be fixed into a suitable pendant that the redhead could wear. They had however decided to keep Einin's curse a secret. An ice queen was one thing, but a real monster was a different one altogether. The next week had flown by quickly with Einin spending the days with Anna and Kristoff or Olaf and the nights intimately with Elsa. For the weekend Elsa had planned to spend a nice day with Einin in Arendelle, strolling through the various shops the city provided. Anna could have shown her the shops already during this or the previous week, but Einin understandably preferred to do this with Elsa.
So right now Elsa and Einin were walking arm in arm through the city of Arendelle – they didn't hide their relationship, after all Elsa was a queen and she was able to decide for herself with whom she spent her time. They had left a chocolate shop a few minutes earlier – it turned out that Einin craved the sweet just as much as the two royal sisters once she had tasted it. They were on their way to another shop when a young couple walked up to to the Queen and her entourage. The woman curtsied, while the man bowed as had been suspected from her subjects, even though Elsa didn't pay these formalities any attention.
"How may I help you?", Elsa requested with a smile. It happened quite often that people came to her with odd requests, she tried to be a Queen of the people after all.
"Your Majesty, we wondered whether you would be so kind to bless our recent marriage", the man said and both hold up their right hands on which sure enough were rings on the ring fingers. It wasn't the first time a couple had come to her with such a request and she had already constructed a little ritual for such an occasion.
"Of course. Hold your hands with the rings together, please." The couple did as she asked and Elsa used her powers to create a thin sheet of ice that wrapped around the couple's hands. "By the power bestowed to me as Queen-" But right then the man's left hand shoot forward towards Einin and grabbed the pendant with the fire crystal that was hanging in front of her blouse. With a strong tug he ripped the leather strap that had held the pendant around Einin's neck and before either Einin or Elsa were able to react the couple had darted off.
"Elsa, my pendant!", Einin exclaimed, apparently close to a panic attack. The last thing they needed with the pendant missing.
"Calm down, Einin, I'll fetch the pendant. You stay here and look out for guards or Anna, okay?" Einin nodded and tried to control her breathing and her emotions so that she wouldn't transform in the middle of Arendelle. Elsa looked at her reassuringly and then ran into the direction the couple had fled. She just hoped that she hadn't lost them already. She had been lucky though as see saw the two thieves turning right at an alley a few hundred meters ahead of her. Elsa ran as fast as she could, glad that she hadn't used her ice heels today, but boots that were better suited for running, albeit not by much. She rounded the corner as well and noticed the couple ahead of her.
"Stop these two!", she shouted to the people around her and after a moment some men reacted and took up pursuit as well. Thankfully they were faster than her or the thieves and were able to catch them before they could vanish. Out of breath Elsa reached up to the captured couple – if they really were a couple. "Give back the pendant!", she ordered the man who still held the fire crystal in his hand.
"With pleasure, Your Majesty", the man spat and threw the pendant towards her. Clumsily Elsa caught the important piece. "It wasn't more than a distraction anyway." Both the man and the woman smirked at her.
"A distraction?" That was when Elsa heard a scream. A scream she had heard a week ago and that had Elsa fear the worst. "No!", Elsa exclaimed and ran back to where she had left Einin. But she was too late, the transformation already on its way. She wouldn't be able to put the pendant on Einin in time and so she tried to create an ice cage around her girlfriend. But the hope of containing her this way was literally crushed as the creature Einin had become crushed through the unfinished cage. The people around her were screaming and running awayfrom the creature, all except a group of men that were standing near Einin. One of them had a sword drawn, the tip red with fresh blood. It hadn't taken Elsa long to figure out what had happened – especially once she had noticed the red spot on Einin's blouse – but before she could react herself and stop the man with the sword Einin herself had done it and ripped the sword together with the complete arm from him. Elsa wanted to scream, but was paralyzed by the scene that played out before her eyes. The other men had drawn their swords, too, and tried to stab and slash the creature, partially succeeding. The creature returned the favor by clashing through the man with its claws, talons and wings, deadly wounding one man after the other. Just as the last man had fallen the creature looked at her with desire to kill, but before it could charge towards her it collapsed onto the ground. Probably the blood loss inflicted by all the wounds had taken its toll.
Elsa felt the form of the pendant in her hand and came to the conclusion that this was her only chance. Quickly she moved towards the creature that was laying on its side. One of its damaged wings behind its body the other just as damaged one below it. Its eyes were closed and Elsa crouched next to it. Hoping that Grandpabbie's magic would indeed work she placed the pendant onto the creature's chest, above its heart and held it there. Upon the touch the creature's eyes shot open and its one hand prepared to slash Elsa. The blonde pressed her eyes shut and prepared herself for whatever pain that might come. However none came. Instead she felt something caressing her cheek. It didn't feel like a hand though. Carefully Elsa opened her eyes and looked into the creature's eyes, no, Einin's eyes. The crystal had worked!
"Hey", Einin said in a dark voice, that was at the same time also very weak.
"It worked! You have control!", Elsa exclaimed happily.
"Yes. It's the first time..." Suddenly Einin cramped and a sound of pain escaped her. "And probably also the last."
"Don't say that!"
"Have you seen what they did to me? Look at my body, Elsa." Blood dripped out of Einin's mouth and nose. Hesitantly Elsa let her gaze wander along Einin's body taking in various deep wounds all over it.
"I can't loose you, I love you!" Elsa had never said these three words during the last two weeks. Despite the both of them sharing a bed she wasn't sure whether it really had been love or just something that would pass again. But now that she saw her girlfriend on the fringe of death she was sure.
"I love you, too." Einin's claw whiped a tear away that had escaped Elsa's eye. "I'm glad that I got to know you." Elsa now pressed Einin's clawed hand onto her cheek, still holding the pendant above the redhead's heart with her other hand.
"I am, too." Elsa sobbed. "What should I do without you?"
"Live on", Einin whispered with a smile and suddenly the arm Elsa had held went limb and the emerald green eyes that had mesmerized Elsa from day one lost focus.
"No...", Elsa breathed. "No!" She collapsed onto the dead form of her transformed girlfriend and let her tears flow freely. Why did such things always happen to her? First she had hurt Anna, then her parents had died, then she had hurt Anna again, this time deadly and now that she had thought she had found her first true love it was ripped from her again. This just wasn't fair.
She hadn't known how long she was sobbing, but after a while she felt a hand on her shoulder.
"Elsa?" It was her sister's voice. Elsa didn't hesitate and threw herself onto her sister and continued to cry there. Anna began to pat the back of Elsa's head. "At least... at least we can bury her as a human."
"What?", Elsa asked between sobs.
"Look", Anna merely said and Elsa glimpsed towards where Einin's body lay and sure enough it had transformed back to its human form. The pendant with the fire crystal had fallen onto the ground, it's glimmer having disappeared completely.
With tears in her eyes Elsa's hand glided along the stone. Tracing the forms of the words "Here lies Einin, a little bird" written in runes, she thought back at those two weeks she had felt the most alive. A week had passed since then.
It had turned out that the men that had fought with Einin had arrived the previous day from Gothenburg after having arrived their from Stavanger. Apparently they had followed her from her village on, set out on revenge for the kills Einin had done without control. After Elsa had explained to the public what had happened the men were buried without any ceremony while Elsa had made sure that Einin was buried with the honors of a lady near the memorial stones of Elsa's and Anna's parents. The only object that would remind her of her girlfriend besides the grave was the pendant with the fire crystal that had allowed Einin to spend her last moments in control of her own body. Elsa didn't know though why Einin had transformed back to human right after her death. Maybe it only worked on the living? She'd probably never know.
Wiping away the tears, Elsa righted herself and sent one last look at the grave.
"I love you."
She then turned around to return to her duties as Queen and wondered whether she'd be able to ever find another love again.
So... yeah... where to start?
This story had gone through quite some iterations and changes. At first I really wanted the ship's demise to be a storm with everyone on board having survived. Once I had reached the point when Elsa had set foot on the ship the wind had turned however (does this count as pun? O.o) and the idea with a monster on the loose was born. At that time I had also thought a bit about a Gargoyles AU and thus the idea with Einin being the monster came along (though I only took inspiration from Gargoyles; this is not a crossover!). Originally Einin was also supposed to be from Ireland, instead of a Norwegian town, but that would have provided a language barrier I'd have to address if I want to make this story part of Frozen Destiny.
For those of you that think that Elsa falling in love so fast is unrealistic: don't forget that like Anna she had been shut away for 13 years. In this story Elsa is homosexual (or at least bi) and the right person simply hadn't arrived before. And now a beautiful redhead gets thrown into the way of a blonde that never had any sexual experience? I think it's quite probable that Elsa gets turned to a pubescent teenager by that. I bet that Hans and Anna would have been similar (at least from Anna's PoV) if there wouldn't have been the whole regicide thing... In addition we don't know Einin's PoV here.
The ending might have come a bit fast, I could have written a bit more fluff between Einin and Elsa, but honestly I didn't want to write another two or there thousand words. This is already longer than my first ever fanfiction which has around 13,5k words and also longer than my longest chapter on Frozen Destiny which has around 12,5k words. I believe it's save to say that this is around the breaking point for me at least if I write continuously (and with Frozen Destiny I have the episodes as anchors points).
Oh and yes, I've hugged all three of my Elsa plush dolls out of what I had put her through here. After all I need her ready for the next chapter of Frozen Destiny. ;)
Anyway... I hope you have enjoyed it and I would be glad if you'd leave a review on the way out. :)