Continuing Tales

For the First Time in Never

A Frozen Story
by JE Glass

Part 12 of 24

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"Kristoff, I'm worried," Anna said, wringing her hands as she paced the length of the wide carpet in the center of their room. "I'm really, really worried. Something's not right with her; I can feel it."

"I know; I see it too," the mountain man mumbled from where he sat on the edge of the bed, lacing and unlacing his fingers.

It had been a month since he'd returned to the palace after his short hiatus with his troll family and two days after Elsa's first nightmare. He'd expected to return to the princess' erratic mood swings, volcanic temper, and cold shoulders, but Anna had all but thrown herself into his arms and apologized profusely for her behavior, stumbling over her words as she rushed to get them out. Unable to stay mad at the woman he loved, and shocked by her sincerity, Kristoff had crumbled and pulled her into a crushing hug, mumbling his own apologies into the crook of her neck. They spent the rest of the afternoon reacquainting themselves with one another, and it was only when they lay snuggled together on the couch in front of the fire that Anna confided in her husband about what had been going on with the queen.

At first, Kristoff wrote it off as stress. From what Anna had described, the week he'd been away had been a page straight out of hell; one disaster after another cumulating into the night Elsa had iced her room. Though the queen rarely had nightmares anymore, he surmised it was the stress from her duties manifesting in a less than pleasant manner, but Anna wasn't convinced. Kristoff reassured her everything was fine, but the changes they began seeing in the following days definitely made him second guess his previous assessment.

It began with silence. Elsa was as a naturally pensive person, and, if someone was unaccustomed to being around a quiet soul, it made the queen come across as brooding and unsociable. Unlike her sister, she spent a majority of her time in her head, only engaging in conversation when prompted or when it interested her. It was something the castle staff had come to recognize and look beyond. Over the past month, however, Elsa seemed to have completely shut down, retreating into herself and refusing to speak with anyone unless she absolutely had to. Even Anna couldn't get her to say more than a few words, and when she did it seemed forced.

Disinterest came next, and Elsa lost the drive to do things that were once enjoyable. Chess games with her sister, strolling through town with Kristoff, building snowmen in hidden places around the kingdom for the children to hunt and find; anything that once put a smile on the queen's face fell by the wayside; even reading seemed to be beyond her reach. Elsa would retreat to the library only to stare vacantly out the window or stand statuesque at the balcony until someone came and fetched her. One day she sat in the same spot from sunrise to sunset, not rising to eat, drink, or relieve herself, simply staring out at the fjord with dull, sad eyes. That had been the moment Anna began to worry. She'd never seen her sister act like this before, even during their years of separation. It was like Elsa had become half a person, her liveliness and spark removed by some unseen force that left the husk behind to wander aimlessly. It scared the princess, but not as much as what began happening at night.

As the weeks wore on, silence hung over the daylight hours like a black shroud, and every man and woman within its walls felt its weight. At night, however, screams echoed through the halls. The nightmares had returned with a vengeance, and, more than once, Anna had stumbled into her sister's icy room and found her huddled in a corner, her once dull eyes bright with fear and exhaustion. In the beginning, Anna had tried to stay by Elsa's side, to comfort her and lull her back to sleep while trying to unravel the mystery surrounding the terrors: why they were back and what could be causing them. Nothing in Elsa's life had changed, personal or professional, as far as Anna could see, but the night terrors continued to plague the queen on an almost nightly basis.

After the first week, Elsa could see the strain it was putting on her heavily pregnant sister. Anna wasn't sleeping any more than she was, padding from her room to her sister's when the screams jolted her awake, and sitting with Elsa until she calmed. It wasn't fair, it wasn't right, and the next time Anna was woken by an unearthly shriek and groggily tottered to her sister's room she discovered her sister's door bared and locked. No matter how loudly she pounded on the wood or hit the door it with her shoulder, Elsa wouldn't let her in. Eventually, Kristoff had to haul his wife away while she screamed at the locked door, angry and hurt that she was being shut out.

See? You can't even keep your promise to your sister, the familiar voice taunted Elsa from the darkness as she huddled in the corner farthest from the door. You're a liar as much as you're a monster, and you're pushing her away just like you did when you were young. Old habits I guess. Wonder what she'll think of you come morning.

Needless to say, Anna had been furious. At first she tried confronting her sister first thing in the morning, right as the queen emerged from her chambers.

"You lied to me!" Anna yelled, pointing dangerously at her sister. "You broke your promise, and you lied to me! You said there would never be any locked doors between us!"

Elsa turned slowly and stared at her sister with an emotionless expression. At first it was difficult to concentrate on the irate strawberry blond, her eyes sliding in and out of focus due to sleep depravity, but eventually the fuzzy halo surrounding her sister sharpened.

"You're right. I did," the queen admitted quietly, folding her hands in front of her skirt.

"Where do you get off barring your door? What if something had happened to you and I couldn't get to you because someone had the bright idea of sliding a piece of furniture in front of the damn door?!"

Would they really mourn you if you were murdered? the voice said, and Elsa physically flinched.

"You needed sleep," the queen explained, eyes downcast.

"And I'd get sleep if someone wasn't shrieking like a banshee at three in the morning!" Anna realized what she'd said a half second too late and clapped her hands over her mouth. That wasn't meant to have come out. She watched helplessly as her sister's face fell, her cerulean blue eyes dulled with guilt and sadness.

"No, wait, I didn't mean that. I'm sorry…I just…Elsa I'm really—"

"No, it's alright. I'll try not to wake you again."

The deadness in her sister's voice unnerved her, and Anna reached out to take her sister's arm only to snatch her hand back, hissing. Elsa was cold. Yes, the queen was normally a few degrees cooler than most people, but she was so cold it was almost painful to touch her even through the layers of fabric covering her arms.

Layers of fabric…

It was then that Anna realized Elsa was completely covered from neck to ankle in fabric, and it was a warning sign the princess should have recognized immediately. Since the Great Freeze, her sister had become more daring with her choices of clothing, wearing lower cut dresses and thinner fabric. It was an outward showing of how comfortable she felt with herself internally, but now she was covering up again. Thank God there weren't any gloves on her hands, but Anna could see how Elsa pulled away from her just like she used to do during her years of isolation. It was such a startling and ominous revelation; Anna felt her eyes starting to tear.

Elsa saw the pained look on Anna's face when she touched her, saw the tears, and felt another brick of shame added to the weight already pressing down on her shoulders.

She can't even stand to touch you anymore, the taunting voice cackled in the back of her head.

"I'm sorry," the queen choked before turning and walking quickly away, tears brimming in her eyes, leaving a scared and perplexed Anna behind.

After the confrontation with her sister, Elsa stopped dinning with Kristoff and Anna, stopped eating altogether. Plates of food were left untouched or barely nibble on, and the toll it took on the queen's body, coupled with her insomnia, was instantly noticeable. She was losing weight rapidly, her clothes hanging off her frame when they use to huge her curves. Her face became sallow, her eyes sunken in, and that had been the point Anna began to worry in earnest. Locking herself in her room at night was one thing; it was irksome and hurtful, especially after all the progress the sisters had made over the years, but seeing Elsa begin to slowly waist away put such a clawing fear in the princess's chest she felt like she couldn't draw adequate breath.

"Gerda's told me she's not eating anymore. Not even nibbling, and she's loosing so much weight."

"Did you talk to the Physician?" Kristoff asked, still leaning forward, elbows planted on the tops of his legs.

"She's just as baffled as the rest of us. Brynja says there's nothing physically wrong with my sister, but she fears it might not be a physical sickness."

"You mean it might be in her head?"

"Or her soul," Anna whispered with a shiver.

Soul sickness was something Anna had learned about during her studies as a child. For some strange reason, human illness and medical abnormalities had intrigued her when she was younger, and soul sickness, though not a physical malady, had caught her eye early on. It was a mysterious ailment that could strike healthy individuals like lighting out of the blue sky, and with just as much devastating force. Like most illnesses, it was thought that an individual who was soul sick had an imbalance in their body's humors, the tides that ebbed and flowed within the blood and bodily fluids. There was no known antidote or cure for soul sickness, only experimental medicines like herbal remedies and bloodletting. If left untreated it could be fatal. Anna had heard stories of soldier wives or people who experienced great loss contracting the illness and slowly wasting away or throwing themselves off of cliffs. That's what made her shiver when thinking about being soul sick; the fact that her sister could sink so low so fast she'd do something to harm herself.

"How do you heal a soul?" Anna sighed, sitting next to Kristoff and putting a gentle hand on her swollen stomach.

"Maybe Pabbie would know."

"I don't know if I can leave here knowing how low Elsa has fallen. What if something…" She couldn't even finish her sentence let alone her thought. Anna didn't know what she'd do if she found out something had happened to her sister, or she'd done something to herself, and the princess could have prevented it by simply being close. No, she wouldn't let her mind wander into those dark waters.

"We can give it a few more days and see if this clears up, but, Anna, it's been a month. If it doesn't clear up, we need to find help, and Pabbie is the only person, well not a person, but you know what I mean, who might know a way to cure Elsa of soul sickness."

"Ok, a few more days," Anna agreed and rested her head against his shoulder, sighing deeply. "I just have this horrible feeling I caused this."

Kristoff turned towards her and gently took his wife's face in his hands. "Anna, this isn't your fault."

"But I—"

"No, no buts. Yes, you've been a little difficult these past few weeks, but what's happening to Elsa isn't because of you. There's something more going on that we're just not seeing, but it has nothing to do with you. I promise."

Anna sniffed back her tears and wrapped her arms around Kristoff's muscular waist, squeezing tightly. Maybe he was right. Maybe this didn't have anything to do with her, but that didn't mean she didn't feel any less helpless. Three days later, when there was no visible change in the queen, Anna and Kristoff packed a sled and headed into the mountains to seek out Pabbie.

Elsa, watching her sister and brother-in-law ride through the courtyard and out the castle gates from her bedroom window, rested her forehead against the cool glass and wrapped her arms around her waist. She felt the telltale prickling at the base of her skull as the familiar voice returned, her fingertips beginning to tingle and spark with blue magic.

They're leaving to get away from you. Just like you knew they would. It was only a matter of time before your isolation began again, Snow Queen, you had to realize that.

Isolation, was that what she'd doomed herself to? Was this castle going to be her cage and her jail keeper the taunting voice of her inner demons? Numb from the neck down, Elsa sighed and moved away from the window. There were no other appointments that day meaning she had the afternoon and evening free, and that was just fine. Feeling confined and a little claustrophobic, the queen decided to take a walk through the castle. Maybe she'd walk the parapets and watch the fjord for a while…maybe she'd see just how high the walls rose above the rocky shore in certain places…maybe she'd just let herself slip—

Elsa jerked and shook her head as if coming out of a dream, her dark thoughts retreating. No, she wouldn't allow herself to think like that, wouldn't let herself imagine for even a moment what it would be like taking her own life. If not for the sake of her soul, which, despite her bleak views of religion, she still worried about, it was for Anna's sake. As consumed by darkness as she felt, the queen couldn't stomach picturing her sister having to bury another family member who had died too soon. For once, the taunting voice remained quiet as she emerged from her room and walked to her study. Appointments or not, she had things to do, and, if keeping her hands busy helped keep her dark thoughts at bay, she'd work until she couldn't lift her quill pen or until she passed out.

The thought of sleep sent a shiver down her spine and woke ice in her hands. Even during her waking hours, she could recall the graphic and horrific images of her nightmares. Some nights she dreamed of her ice castle and the death of her sister by her hands. Sometimes the roles were reversed, and it was Elsa dying in a spectacular spray of blood, either killed by Hans' sword on the fjord or by the assassin's blade in the courtyard. Strangely, the dreams where she was the only victim she could stomach. They were no less terrifying, but they were manageable because there was always a point where the dream ended at her own death. It was the dreams where she could hear her sister in pain, pleading for Elsa to help her, and the queen rushing to find her only to arrive to late that brought the queen screaming out of sleep.

It was safe to say that when Elsa retired to her room well past midnight, exhausted beyond belief, she fought to remain awake for as long as possible, but it was a losing battle. She didn't even remember changing out of her dress, didn't remember making it to her bed, before reality ceased to exist as the dream world quickly dragged her under. Her surroundings suddenly changing to an all too familiar scene.

"I'm not him. It's…me. R-Remember."

She heard Revel choke, his voice laden with pain. Elsa opened her eyes and was startled by just how close she was to the Captain, their noses very nearly touching. She could see every pore, every hair follicle along the rim of his hairline and in his short beard. She could smell the sharp tang of sweat and the musty warmth of his breath. But what stunned her more than her nearness was the look of abject terror in his bright green eyes. His body, pressed firmly against the wall behind him, was stiff with fear, paralyzed from the neck down. The queen tried to pull away from him but found her body locked in place, will-ice dagger still pressed to his jugular.

"Why are we here again, Frost Born," an unfamiliar, feminine voice asked from somewhere behind Elsa. It didn't sound anything like the voice that taunted her relentlessly. There was an unseen power to the speaker's words that sent a chill down the queen's spine.

She tried to turn, tried to fight the paralysis of her body, but it was to no avail. The only thing she could move on her own were her eyes.

He insulted you. The familiar taunting voice that was always speaking into her ear said with malicious glee. He bruised you. He hurt you, so why do you hesitate?

"No," Elsa said as she strained against the hold on her body. "No, no it was an accident. We were both angry, and I struck first. He was just defending himself!"

As you are doing now, the taunting voice said.

"This is murder, not defense!" Elsa yelled in panic as she felt her left arm descend fractionally, her will-ice dagger puncturing the skin of Revel's neck with agonizing slowness.

The Captain gasped raggedly and tried to pull away from the pain, tried to pull away from her, but he was as powerless to stop what was happening as the queen. Realizing what was about to happen, Elsa fought against her bonds and tried opening her hand to drop the dagger, but her fingers were frozen in place around the handle.

"No, no, no, no! This isn't right! He's not trying to hurt me!"

But you wanted to hurt him. You wanted to kill him, make him bleed, make him suffer for hurting you. Do it, Elsa. Do what you know you want to do.

Revel grimaced, blood streaking down his neck in bright lines of crimson. By now the tip of the dagger was under his skin, and he gnashed his teeth against the pain.

"Enough!" Elsa heard the unfamiliar voice boom in her ears, and she flinched. "Enough of this self-pity. You would torment yourself over a reflex action? At least you stopped in time! Stop listening to your demon of fear, Frost Born, and pull yourself out of this dream!"

Elsa saw something shift out of the corner of her eye and tried to look in the direction of the shadow that had caught her attention. She thought she saw a wisp of snow white hair, thought she heard the rustle of fabric and the clinking of chainmail.

"Please," Elsa said to whoever was in the chamber with her, every muscle in her body straining. "Please, make it stop."

"This isn't my doing, Frost Born," the female voice said softly, "this is your dream. Stop it yourself."

"You keep calling me that, but I don't know what it means!" Elsa jumped when Revel gasped again, more blood welling from the wound in his neck. "Tell me how I make this stop!"

"I just told you I can't do anything. Only you can."

Elsa strained every muscle in her body trying to pull away, but the more she thrashed the deeper the knife went. Bracing herself against the superhuman pull on her body, she pitched to the side and was rewarded when the paralysis seemed to break, and she lost her balance and toppled over. It didn't occur to her until she'd rolled to a stop that she managed to drag Revel down with her. Before Elsa could blink, she was straddling him and in her hands the ice dagger had been replaced with an arrow hovering a hairs breath above his chest. Her paralysis returned like a bent stick snapping back in place.

"Please!" she sobbed, tears running down her face. She fought and screamed trying to keep the weapon away, pleaded for Revel's forgiveness over and over again even as the arrowhead sank into his chest. The Captain's eyes went wide with pain and fear, and he opened his mouth to scream but no sound came out save for a quivering gasp.

"Revel! Oh God, please, please, I'm sorry. I can't stop. I can't pull it back!"

Why do you wail over the man who hurt youWhy do you mourn him? He would have died by your hands anyway, the taunting voice whispered in her ear.

"He's my friend!" Elsa screamed in response. "I'm the threat! He was just defending himself."

"We are all threats to one another," the unfamiliar voice said as if trying to speak over the taunting voice in Elsa's ear.

"Make it stop!"

"Stop it yourself. You have the power."

"I can't!"

"Just let go of the dream."

"If I let go, he'll die! I don't want to be a murderer!"

"You're not a murderer if this is a dream," the unfamiliar voice said so close to the queen's head she jumped.

Elsa stared down at Revel, her eyes welling with tears. He was struggling to draw breath, blood trickling out of the corner of his mouth and staining his teeth. Suddenly the arrow in Elsa's had plunged into the Captain's chest with a sick sucking sound. He jerked once before his eyes clouded and he lay still.

"No!" the queen shrieked as she watched life leave his once bright green eyes. Her sobs shook her frame as she lay atop his chest, tears mixing with the growing blood stain slowly seeping into the fabric of his shirt.

Suddenly, something in the dream shifted. Elsa couldn't put into words what she'd felt, but everything around her began to bleed like water thrown on fresh ink. Colors ran together, shapes smashed into unidentifiable masses as the room began to spin out of focus. Then, just as suddenly as it had begun, Elsa found herself standing in the middle of her personal chambers. The darkness around her was almost palpable, and she turned in a slow, hesitant circle in order to get her barrings.

Am I still asleep? She thought looking around at her familiar quarters. It didn't appear anything was out of place, her room just the way she had left it that morning, so maybe she'd fallen asleep standing up? It had been known to happen to people, though she had never experienced it first hand until now. Sighing with relief, the queen turned towards her vanity, hopeful a few splashes of water would shake the last dregs of sleep from her, and froze when she caught sight of her tall mirror. Two glowing white eyes stared back at her from the shadows, the brightness of the orbs illuminating a small portion of the room.

Instinctively, Elsa took a step back and jumped when a wave of arctic air washed over her from the direction of the mirror. In shocked wonder, she watched luminescent blue ice creep around the edge of the looking glass and spread across the floor. The glow from the ice illuminated the room just enough that the queen was able to see the silhouette of the figure in the mirror staring back at her, eerie white eyes still burning brightly. Then, the impossible happened. The figure pressed a hand against the looking glass and pushed. Ripples spread out from under its palm as the glass took on a watery texture. Another push and the figure's hand emerged from behind the undulating glass, quickly followed by an arm, shoulder and torso. In two heartbeats whoever had been locked within the mirror emerged into Elsa's chambers, and the queen stared in frozen terror as the woman straightened and locked eyes with her.

The woman looked just like her; older by about ten years, but they could have been siblings. She wore a heavy cloak, looking to be made of wolf fur, over her shoulders and clasped together with a bone toggle just under her throat. The tunic she wore under the cloak was a patchwork of different leathers that reached to her knees, slit up either side for better movement, and was secured with a wide leather belt carved with intricate, interlocking designs. Her breeches were an unidentifiable black cloth, probably wool or cotton, and she wore shin high leather boots the same color as her belt. Under the leather tunic, Elsa could see the glint of chainmail, and strapped to her hip were two knives; one made out of an antler tine with a bone handle while the other…was made of ice.

The stranger stared at the queen with the cold, azure blue eyes, and Elsa noticed that her hair was the same length and color as her own, small braids woven with bits of black chainmail atop her head to keep any stray hairs off her face, and gave the strange woman a fierce appearance. This was not someone to be trifled with.

"Who are you?" Elsa whispered, not daring to raise her voice as she took another tentative step backwards. There was strange magic here; she could feel it. She could feel a buzzing under her skin as if hundreds of bees were nested there. The sensation traveled through her veins until it circulated throughout her entire body.

This had to be a dream, she must still be asleep, but why did it seem so real? In the past, her dreams could be viciously vivid, but there was always a fuzziness to them that let her know she was sleeping. As terrifying as the images were, somewhere in her mind she knew it was only her imagination, and when she realized in the dream that she was dreaming, she could sit back and watch the horrors unfold with grim satisfaction that when she woke up no one would be dead. But this, right now, this didn't feel like any sort of dream she'd ever had before which made it all the more terrifying.

"This is what my bloodline has been reduced to? A whimpering pup who cowers at the voice of fear in her head like a woman cowering at the feet of an abuser?" the woman said scowling at the queen. "Have we fallen so far since the time of First Snow?"


"You are Frost Born! The first in four hundred years to walk this earth, and you are weak! Not weak of power, that much I can sense, but weak of mind. You do not deserve my bloodline."

Elsa saw the woman shift and immediately sensed an attack. Moving on instinct, she stamped her foot down hard on the floor to wake her magic, chambered her arm, and threw it forward in the way Revel had shown her, releasing a jagged shard of ice from the center of her palm. The projectile flew true and made a faint whistling sound as it shot towards its target, but at the last second the shard stopped in mid-flight a hairsbreadth away from the strange woman.

"Yes, I can see you have power," the woman said with a bemused half smile, "but you have so little knowledge of what a Frost Born can do. So little knowledge."

The queen's ice shard disintegrated in a puff of silver powder, and Elsa felt her mouth fall open. Before she could move, the strange woman raised her hands as if lifting an invisible object, palms up, and the air in front of her began to crystalize. Taking a small step back, she brought her now closed left hand to her chest and, with a smug smile pulling at her lips, opened her hand and splayed her fingers. Immediately the crystals suspended in the air before her congealed into four cohesive ice spikes and flew towards the queen. Elsa barely had enough time to raise a shield before the spikes hit her. She felt the concussion of their impact, and felt her ice shield quiver before long cracks began to form along the surface. The queen could feel an alien magic tough her own, its power far more vast and controlled than hers, and it put such a seizing fear in her chest she thought her heart would stop. An instant later her shield dissolved under the force of the alien ice magic and it fell despite her desperate attempts at raising it again.

Something hard and extremely sharp lanced across her left cheek, and Elsa's head snapped to the side with the force of the blow. Raising a trembling hand, she felt warm blood on her fingers and turned slowly towards the strange woman who stood in the center of the room. She was holding something in her hand that looked like a bullwhip, only the body of the whip was made from interlocking chinks of ice. Elsa had just enough time to register what had happened when the whips sailed back around and wound around her neck. With a hard jerk from the stranger, the queen was forced her to her knees.

Teeth gritted against the pain, Elsa grabbed hold of the tail of the whip and forced her magic to climb the body. Spikes and shards of her own ice traveled up to where the woman was holding it, and, leaning backwards, Elsa twisted the tail in her hand and heard a satisfying snap as it broke. She fell onto her back with a gasp as the whip tail dissolved.

"I'm impressed. You have enough sense to protect of yourself, when you're not wallowing in self-pity," the woman said with a shrug.

Elsa scrambled to her feet and sent two more shards of ice sailing towards her attacker, but the woman only smiled as she put out her hand. The queen's ice changed trajectory at the last second and flew around the woman like a planet in orbit before heading back towards Elsa. She raised both hands in an attempt to block the attack, and the ice shards hung suspended in front of her, quivering violently as she attempted to hold them in place.

"Do you really want to test your metal against me, pup?"

"You're a demon who is wearing my face and speaking with my voice," Elsa snarled as she strained to keep the ice spikes suspended in front of her. She had a sick feeling that if she faltered for even a split second the spikes would imbed themselves in her chest. Dream or not, it was a pain the queen didn't want to feel if she didn't have to.

"The only demon here is the one that resides in your mind," the strange woman said as she took a step forward. Elsa felt her step through the increased force pressing on the ice shards and sank to her knees as she continued to fight to keep the projectiles suspended.

"How do I know you're not lying? You could be that demon for—"

Elsa would have said more had the ice shards hovering inches in front of her not disintegrated into a fine silver powder that filled her nose, mouth, and throat. She tastes the familiar tang of high mountain frost and smelled the rich scent of pine trees before the powder solidified within her body, effectively choking her. Unable to draw breath, Elsa put a hand to her throat in an attempt to remove the ice, but it would not obey her commands. Panicking, she fell forward onto her hands and tried to take a breath, but her lungs were entirely iced over and wouldn't expand. The room began to spin as lack of air took effect, but, just before she collapsed into blackness, the ice vanished and she took a breath so fast and so deep everything around her flashed a brilliant white. Only when she'd breathed in enough air to steady herself did the queen push herself onto her knees and felt fingers of ice crawl up her legs, locking them to the floor. Before she could move her hands, glowing ice encased her arms up to the elbow.

With barely a flick of her wrist, the strange woman commanded her ice to move the queen's arms behind her back. Bent at an awkward angle that arched her back and exposed her torso to an attack, Elsa stared up at the stranger with cold eyes as she breathed heavily through her nose.

"You ask who I am then accuse me of being a demon. Little pup, you have no idea what demons are. No idea! I am the beginning. I am the first. I am Snaer's daughter, the daughter of snow and ice and frost."

"Saja," Elsa whispered in disbelief as she felt the buzzing under her skin return.

"Yes," Saja said, stepping up to the prone queen.

"I am dreaming," Elsa chuckled, a weak sound that was more akin to a husk than a laugh.

"Think what you will," Saja replied in a flat tone as she reached for the collar of Elsa's dress and gave it a good, hard yank. The fabric tore away with ease exposing the queen's left neck and shoulder. Elsa felt a thrill of fear work through her, and she ground her teeth to stop them from chattering even as her body began to shake. Suddenly, something cold clamped down on the queen's exposed shoulder with such force she thought her collar bone would snap and cried out. Looking down, Elsa stared in disbelief at the hand gripping her: from elbow to fingertip, Saja's forearm and hand was formed from solid, crystalline ice.

"Now tell me, pup. Why should I let you live?"

"W-what?" Elsa managed to gasp. She heard a sound similar to ice cracking and watched in stunned horror as something began to form in Saja's empty hand. It started with a simple hilt and hand guard and grew, layer upon layer upon layer, until a blade descended towards her like an elongating stalactite, the wickedly sharp tip resting against the soft skin at the hollow of her throat.

"Not six hours ago you contemplated throwing yourself off your parapet wall, so obviously your life is meaningless to you. So, why shouldn't I kill you right now?"

"I…I didn't—"

"Do not lie to me!" Saja said and squeezed the queen's shoulder while pressing the blade harder into her throat.

"Y-yes...the thought…did cross my mind," Elsa hissed between gritted teeth.

"So what stopped you?"

"I…I couldn't leave Anna alone again." Saying it aloud brought tears to her eyes, and, without the ability to wipe them away, they fell down her face in long strands of silver.

A long moment passed. "Your sister is your anchor," Saja said in a softer voice, though she didn't lessen her grip on Elsa's shoulder or remove the blade from her throat.

"Yes," Elsa whispered. "She's my lifeline. I couldn't…I can't leave her like our parents did. I can't leave her to bury me."

The queen saw a flash of sadness arch across Saja's face, there one second and gone the next. Slowly, she let go of Elsa and stood, her features softening fractionally.

"Yes, I can relate to that pain."

"Why are you here," the queen asked in a small voice.

"Because you called me," Saja said turning back to the woman on her knees in front of her.

"How? When?"

"The night when your Captain attacked you. You called to me with blood on your blade." The softness left Saja's face and she again raised her ice sword towards the queen. "So I came only to find you sinking into the darkness swirling within your soul…all because of him. The man has poisoned your soul, sickened it to the point you would allow yourself to even contemplate taking your life."

"Revel didn't do anything!" Elsa snarled, feeling a familiar spark of cold creep into her fingertips despite the fact they were encased in ice. "He wasn't in the wrong, I was! I struck first!"

"You are of my bloodline, Elsa Frosberg. The first Frost Born to be born in four hundred years. Your power is as close to mine as mine is to Snaer's, but you are weak, and the darkness within you has begun to win. And you must not let it."

"I've lived with this voice in my head for years, and it's never claimed my life. I've listened to it since I was young, since the moment I hurt my sister and was isolate from my family in order to keep them safe. It's been a near constant companion, so why should I be concerned about it now?"

"Because you've never been in love before, and love tends to destroy more than it heals."

Elsa felt her mouth fall open in disbelief. Her first instinct was denial. Of course she didn't love Revel. They were friends, or had been before that night, displaying a form of professional courtesy towards one another. But there was more than just courtesy between them, and Elsa knew it. There was something more, but she could hardly call what she felt towards the Captain love. Right?

"I don't—"

Elsa stopped speaking when Saja's icy hand clamped down on her shoulder again. She didn't squeeze nearly as hard as she had the first time, but she held the queen in a firm grip.

"It matters not how strong you've been in the past, or how strong you think you are now, that voice will eventually kill you. So I will make certain you never listen to it again."

Saja's eyes, which had returned to a familiar cerulean blue, flared with power, the blue dissolving into a static white that glowed with an unearthly light. Elsa felt a spark of cold brush against her shoulder and flinched. When the spark shifted from a slow burn to a searing inferno, the queen bucked against the pain but couldn't find her voice to scream. Head thrown back in a wordless cry, she felt her magic rise to the surface and pool under Saja's hand, two warring magics colliding under flesh and blood and bone. Arctic power erupted from both women like waves crashing in to one another, one untamed and unpredictable, the other serenely alien but catastrophically powerful.

Elsa felt something inside her break and finally found her voice. Her screams matched the screaming in her head, the din of a hundred thousand voices, collected into an unimaginably small singularity, all crying out at the same time. It was maddening, and she feared she'd lose herself to the cries and never escape them. That's when she felt the threads of magic weave their way into her mind, into her subconscious, into her soul. They were unimaginably bright, like strands of sunlight pulled from the heavens, and they permeated every inch of her being until there was no room for the darkness to hide.

The last of the darkness fled form Elsa's eyes and slowly they started to glow the same shade of white as Saja's. The woman released the queen and dissolved the ice holding her in place, catching her as she fell and gently lowering her to the floor.

"You bare my mark Elsa Frosberg; you bare the mark of Snaer and all of her kind. From now on it will be my voice you hear and not the voice of the demon of fear. Rest now. We will speak again soon."

The queen opened her mouth to say more, to ask whether this was a dream or not, but her vision clouded and the room and Saja ceased to exist.

Elsa woke to being gently shaken and moaned, attempting to roll away from whoever was shaking her. She heard her name being called, felt a hand on her arm, and begrudgingly cracked open her eyes. The world swam into clarity around her, and she realized Anna was crouched over her, face white with fear, tears streaking down her cheeks.

"Anna?" she asked in a hoarse voice. She attempted to roll towards her sister and felt something sharp crack and snap under her. Confused, she looked down and saw tiny fragments of herself looking back at her and realized she was lying on a bed of glass.

"Hey, hey, it's ok," Anna hiccupped, fighting back more tears that wanted to fall. "Don't move, we've got you."


Elsa became aware of two other people in the room. From her angle on the floor, she could see the big guard Sigmund, Revel's right hand man, move towards her and gently pick her up with as much effort as someone picking up a small child. In four long strides he'd reached her bed and gently set her down before withdrawing silently. The second person was Physician Brynja who approached the bed with a look of focused concern on her round face.

"How are you feeling, Majesty?" the plump woman asked while setting a large leather bag on the edge of the bed.

"What happened?" Elsa mumbled, giving the room a good once over. There didn't appear to be anything out of place or broken save for the mirror lying on the floor next to her vanity. Glittering shards of glass littered the carpet and winked molten white in the light coming from her tall triangular window, and she idly wondered if everything that had happened last night had just been an exceptionally vivid dream. She could still recall bits and pieces of her encounter with Saja, the first Frosberg, but the more she dwelled on it the harder it became to focus on the once clear images.

"You didn't show for your meeting with Duke Ferdinand," Anna explained quietly, standing next to the Physician as if afraid to approach her sister's bed. Elsa wondered when her sister and Kristoff had returned. Hadn't they left yesterday? "When you didn't show for your council meeting this morning, Kai got worried, so I told them I'd come and see if you were feeling alright…" Anna's voice suddenly broke, and the tears she'd been trying to hold in flowed down her face. "I found you on the floor surrounded by glass," the princess choked. "And there was blood. I thought…I thought you'd—"

Anna didn't need to finish her sentence for Elsa to know what she was talking about. A small bit of pain tugged at the skin just under her left eye, and she felt a hot line of puffy skin under her cool fingers. Had that been from the glass….or something else? Dismissing her hazy thoughts for the moment, the queen reached for her sister and took her hand.

"It's alright, Anna. I'm alright."

"Majesty, forgive me, but you are anything but alright," Brynja said calmly. "You've been lying on your floor for almost two days."

Elsa stared at the woman in shock, Anna's words coming back to her. She's missed Duke Ferdinand's meeting which had been scheduled for Friday. She'd also missed her council meeting which had been for Saturday morning. That meant…

"It's Saturday afternoon?" the queen gaped, her face paling.

"Yes, Majesty. I suspect your lack of rest and adequate food intake finally caught up to you in the worst way. From what I can surmise, you fainted while coming back to your room and fell into your mirror. That would explain the cut on your face and your torn dress. What I can't explain," Brynja said lowering her voice, "is the mark on your shoulder."

Elsa felt the world tip to one side as the rest of the blood drained from her face. What mark? Gingerly, she turned to look at her left shoulder and stared mutely at the bluish purple bruise taking up a good portion of her skin. No, it wasn't just a bruise. It was a handprint. A handprint that was almost metallic in color and cold to the touch. A sick feeling began to coil in her stomach, and she swallowed in order to combat her nausea. It couldn't have been real…it had to have been a dream…

"Was there someone else with you the night before last, Majesty?"

Yes, Elsa thought numbly, my ancient ancestor came to visit and chastise me for my month of self-pity. Then she did….something to me.

That much she could remember, though even the once clear memory was fading into obscurity. So, instead of answering truthfully, she lied and told the Physician no. The woman took the queen at her word. Anna, however, was a different matter. She, of course, knew her sister was lying, and the wounded look she gave as her sister lied through her teeth was enough to break Elsa's heart all over again.

"I'll mix up some tea for you that will help you sleep a little more soundly. My advice is to stay in bed for the remainder of the day and regain your strength. The cut on your cheek doesn't need stitches, but it does need ointment."

Elsa could only nod as she watched Brynja steep her tea and leave it beside the bed for her convenience. Then the woman gently cleaned the queen's face and put a sweet smelling salve on the cut to keep it from becoming infected. A quick search turned up no other cuts or lacerations, so Brynja left, leaving the royal sisters alone, suspended in a fragile silence.

"I'm sorry, Anna, for…for everything. I've been really—"

"I thought you'd killed yourself," Anna suddenly blurted, body shaking with the effort of keeping her voice stable.

Elsa flinched as if struck and stared at her sister. "I would never leave you like that."

"How was I supposed to know that?!" Anna screamed, fresh tears falling. "You haven't said more than a handful of words to me all month, so how am I supposed to know what you're thinking? Then I walk in here and found you on the floor…you were so pale, Elsa, and you didn't wake up when I shook you the first time. Or the second. Or the third. And then I saw the blood…"

Anna trailed off and wrapped her arms around herself just like her sister did when she felt overwhelmed with emotion. Her tears were falling faster now, and she hiccupped while trying to draw a deep breath. Elsa attempted to sit up and swing her legs over the side of the bed, but Anna backed away from her.

"I can't…I can't do this right now. It's all too much."

"Anna please, I'm sorry—"

But the princess turned and fled from her sister's room, the door slamming shut behind her. Elsa watched her go and felt a fresh wave of guilt wash over her.

I really scared her, didn't I?

Your fear and her fear are the same, Frost Born.

Elsa jumped at the sound of Saja's voice and nearly fell of her bed. Looking around, she expected the woman to be standing in the room with her, but she was alone and breathed a sigh of relief.

"Maybe I will lay down for a little bit," the queen said settling back against her pillows, a little shaken. This time, when sleep finally took her there were no nightmares waiting for her, only fragmented images of a time long past and the woman responsible for forging a kingdom.

"You were late getting off your shift, Sigmund. Everything alright?" Revel asked without looking up from the papers he was signing as the big guard slipped into the Captain's office to hand in his report for the day.

"There was trouble in the residency wing. I was summoned by Princess Anna to aid the Queen," Sigmund said as he stood with his hands behind his back after handing his Captain his report.

"Something happen with Her Majesty?" Revel asked, looking up in surprise, and tried to keep his voice an even mix of neutrality and concern even though his stomach was doing summersaults.

"Her Majesty collapsed in her quarters. I was needed to carry her to her bed so that Physician Brynja could examine her."

"Is she alright?" Revel frowned, his knuckles going white as he gripped the armrests of his chair.

"You'll have to speak to the Physician. I left after my duties were complete in order to give the Princess and Physician privacy."

"Thank you, Sigmund," Revel said woodenly and dismissed his guard. Only once the big guard was gone did the Captain let out a slow breath and lean back in his chair. Elsa had collapsed? Something about this didn't feel right, but, then again, he'd not see the queen for a solid month save for the few times he'd caught a glimpse of her in the castle window or while he was making his rounds. She didn't acknowledge him, didn't even appear to see him, or anything around her for that matter, so he'd taken the hint and stayed away from her even though it was agony to do so.

Ending their sessions together had been a decision that nearly killed him. After carrying the queen back to her chambers after her episode in the training chamber, using the passageways and servant's entrances hidden behind the castle walls that had been installed hundreds of years ago, Revel hadn't known what to do or say to Elsa the next time they saw one another. Truth be told, she'd scared him that night. It hadn't just been the power that had rolled off her or the eerie white glow of her eyes; it had been the fury he'd seen etched into every inch of her body. She'd been angry enough to kill that evening, and the Captain functioned under no disillusion that she could have very easily ended his life. Facing death oftentimes makes a person skittish, and Revel was just a little too hesitant to resume their sessions. So, like the coward he felt himself to be, he'd called them off, and that had been the moment Elsa had stopped speaking to him, speaking to anyone in general, and completely closed down.

I have a nasty feeling this is all my fault, Revel thought to himself as he stared at the ceiling. He knew eventually he'd have to speak to her, but, if she were ill, he'd have to wait.

Maybe after my shift tomorrow patrolling the castle, I'll check and see if she's doing any better. It is, after all, the duty of the Guard to ensure the royal family's safety, is it not?

Elsa woke after noon the next morning, thankful it was Sunday. Being a day of rest, she had nothing planned and looked forward to another day of peace, though the bed rest Physician Brynja had ordered her to take chaffed at her a bit. The last thing she wanted to do was lay in bed all day, especially since she'd slept most of yesterday and half of today. Restless, she got up and got dressed, pausing long enough to look at the bruise on her shoulder in her new mirror. The angry purple and black colors had faded over night, but the handprint was still a metallic, still icy blue and cold to the touch.

Sighing, Elsa pulled on her underdress, not daring to reveal this mark to anyone for a while until she could think of a good excuse for it being there, and headed for the kitchen. Gerda was only too happy to serve the queen an afternoon meal, and Elsa ate with surprising gusto. How long ago had she eaten?

If I have to ask myself that question it's been far too long.

After eating her fill, and inquiring if the service matron had seen her sister, Elsa thanked her and headed for her study. Anna had gone off with Kristoff that morning and hadn't said when she'd be back.

All the better, Elsa thought as she stepped into her study and shut the door behind her. It'll give me time to work out an apology to her.

If her memory was accurate, the queen had a few more papers to sign before she could adequately relax which she promptly spent the next hour on and declared herself finished. Picking up the stack of books that belonged in the library, Elsa walked across the hall, but stopped before she opened the door. She heard someone moving around inside and sighed. Maybe her sister had returned sooner than planned. Though she knew she needed to speak to Anna, the queen didn't think she had the nerve or the right words. The princess had been beyond upset when she'd run from her sister's room yesterday, and Elsa hadn't taken the time to process the last two days or so yet, let alone prepare a proper grovel.

Better get this over with, she thought taking a breath and pushing the door open. Stepping in, she didn't see anyone among the stacks, but the balcony door was open, the curtains fluttering gently in the wake of a small breeze. She set the books down on the table against the wall and was just about to call out to her sister when Revel stepped back into the library from the balcony and secured the door behind him.

Elsa froze and felt a seizing terror work up her legs and spread across her chest the moment she realized who was in the room with her.

Why did it have to be him? The queen thought as the frantic, uncontrollable fear spread throughout her body. Of all people, why him and why now?

Suddenly, she couldn't get the images of the dream she'd had two nights ago out of her head. The Captain under her, eyes bright with fear and pain, as she slowly pressed the arrow into his chest. She could see the blood, bright as paint, spreading out from the wound as his eyes dimmed, his last breath leaving his body in a pained wheeze. Elsa instantly wanted nothing more than to run from the library and get herself as far from Revel as possible. If she didn't, she feared her dream could become a reality.

The Captain pulled up short when he realized who had walked through the door, but whatever greeting he'd prepared to say died in his throat. The look Elsa was giving him could only be described as absolute terror, her face turned waxy white in a matter of seconds. Despite the day having turned out to be warmer than most February days, he could feel a bitter cold creep into the room.

"Majesty," Revel greeted softly and nodded his head. As she shifted back a step, he was able to get a better look at her face and saw the long gash across her left cheek. The skin was still slightly red but it looked to have begun scabbing over already. He fought the reflex to rush over and examine the wound himself to make certain she was alright. For safety's sake, he decided remaining where he stood would be in his best interest right now.

Elsa stared at him for a few more seconds before turning swiftly and reaching for the door, heart pounding so loudly in her ears it was like she was standing next a storm surge.

"Majesty!" Revel called as she reached the door and turned to knob. "Elsa, please wait."

The queen stopped but didn't turn, preferring to keep her back to him while she struggled to master the clash of emotions taking place within her chest.

Control it. Conceal it. Don't let him see the fear. Be a queen right now and a scared little girl when you can get back to your room. Conceal it!

Turning around slowly, Elsa arranged her face into a familiar, neutral mask and folded her arms over her chest subconsciously.

"Good afternoon, Captain," she said flatly.

Revel stared in disbelief at the transformation he'd just witnessed. Three seconds ago, the queen had looked at him like a rabbit who had been running from a bear only to come face to face with a wolf. There had been so much terror in her eyes he could have thought she'd seen a ghost. But now there stood cool neutrality staring back at him from across the room, and not a hint of fear anywhere on her face. Only her tense stance gave away the true emotions boiling under her skin.

She's that good at putting on a mask, Revel thought with dumb disbelief. I don't think I could have switched over that quickly at a time like this.

He gathered his wits and attempted to start the conversation again. "I was hoping you and I could speak privately about what happened last month. I believe I need to explain myself."

"There's no need for an explanation. Your feelings were made quite clear in your letter, and I do not wish to speak with you, privately or otherwise."

Revel flinched at the rebuke, warmth rising into his cheeks, not expecting it to hurt so much.

Elsa felt a shift inside her as her fear quickly melted under the heat of anger building in her chest. Yes, she'd understood him perfectly in his letter. It was an excuse to distance himself. An excuse to decide for himself whether or not she really was a monster.

Are we really going to go through this dance again?

Saja's voice again, but Elsa ignored it.

"Elsa, what happened between us, it—"

"I said I did not want to speak on the matter. You were well within your rights to end our sessions. In fact, I think it should have been done sooner rather than later. It was only a matter of time before one of us got hurt, and I'm not surprised in the least that things turned out the way they did. Now, if you'll excuse me, sir, I have business to attend to elsewhere. Good afternoon, Captain."

"What's happened to you, Elsa?" Revel frowned as he stepped off the small landing in front of the balcony and strode into the middle of the room. "Why the sudden cold shoulders towards me? You and I were fine up until that night, and yes, I think things could have gone better, but now you're pushing me away as if you're going to hurt me if I get close."

"Perhaps it's not you who is in danger of being hurt," Elsa replied with such coolness Revel felt himself shiver.

He stared at her for a long time. Yes, something had changed between them. Where there had once been a companionable warmth now there was only cold distance. She was pulling away from him, no, had pulled away from him. The woman standing with him in the library wasn't the Elsa he'd come to know over their months of training. This was the queen of Arendelle, the stoic ruler of a prosperous kingdom who never let herself get close to anyone in the best interest of her country. But he knew better than to believe that the Elsa he'd come to know and care for was gone forever. Despite the coldness in her eyes, Revel could still see a spark of warmth somewhere deep within, but he was helpless to reach it and didn't even have an inkling how he'd try.

Helplessness gave way to frustration which gave way to anger the longer they stared at one another. Revel felt his body beginning to tense as the heat in his chest built like a fire banked with fresh logs. This wasn't fair. The way she was treating him wasn't fair, and it was enough of an injustice that it almost left him snarling. Finally, he couldn't stand the silence any longer and plowed headlong into a conversation he knew the queen didn't want to have.

But damn it, we're having it whether she likes it or not.

"What can I do, Elsa? What can I say to bridge this distance between us? Because I've wracked my brain since that night trying to figure out what happened and where things went wrong and how I could have fixed our relationship. So tell me, what can I do; because I'm at a loss?"

"I want you to stay away from me," the queen declared with as much regal firmness as she could muster after a long, harsh silence. Watching Revel's face fall, his shoulders slumping in defeat, nearly killed her, and she couldn't help but lower her gaze for a fraction of a second.

"You don't mean that," he said after a stunned moment. He'd not expected that kind of answer.

"I do. I want you as far away from me as possible. Board a ship to a neighboring kingdom and take up residence there, so long as you're not here anymore."

"Is that a command?" he asked after a moment of stunned shock.

"A powerful suggestion," Elsa replied lifting her chin.

"Why?" Revel said crossing his arms over his chest. His soul crushing desolation quickly dissipated as anger came center stage.

"I don't have to give you a reason," the queen said.

"I think you do."

"And I think you forget your place, Captain. I am your Queen, therefore I have—"

"Do not," Revel interrupted with a growl, "use your royal title to bully me out of your life! I had thought us friends, but even if my assumption was off the mark, you cannot and will not force me out of your kingdom, my home, without first giving me a decent reason as to what I've done to wrong you!"

The look on Elsa's face could have been enough to kill a charging bear at a hundred yards, and the Captain felt the room's temperature take a drastic dive.

"Get out," she hissed through gritted teeth, her jaw clenched so tightly her ears were staring to buzz.

Revel squared his shoulders and stared at her, blatant defiance etched into every inch of his body.

"I said, get out!" Elsa took a dangerous step towards him and pointed towards the door, ice cracking under foot. She felt a spark of ice accumulate in her right hand, will-ice creeping up her fingers and quickly climbing her arms like vines.

"No," Revel countered, advancing forward a step, green eyes catching the afternoon sun and setting them aflame. "I will not leave without an explanation."

"I can make you leave." Elsa raised her right hand to show him the glowing aquamarine blue ice quickly engulfing her arm to emphasize her point. The Captain, however, didn't seem fazed by her threat and cocked an eyebrow at the queen.

"You would bully me with your title and your powers? How very royal of you, Majesty."

It was a wonder he caught her hand in time before it smashed across his face, an act that could have ended poorly for a man made of flesh and blood like him, but Revel was quick and held the queen by her wrist, their bodies now only feet apart.

"You son of a bi—"

"All I ask is for a reason, Elsa. Give it to me, and I'll leave tonight. You'll never see me again, that I can promise, but you owe me an explanation for this sudden hate you feel towards me."

The queen opened her mouth to speak, to scream at the man holding her, to purge herself of the furry and fear and trepidation, but no words came out. She tried again, tried to force her tongue to form the words she so desperately wanted to say.

"Because…" she managed, face set in a snarl.

"There's no logic to that. Try again."

"I…this thing between us…it's…" Elsa swore and pulled hard against the Revel's grip on her icy wrist. "Let me go."

"An answer, Majesty. Was it something I did to you?"


"Was it something I said?"

"No, it—"

"Have I overstepped my bounds? Aside from this moment, have I done anything to harm you—"

"Goddamnit, I wanted to kill you!" Elsa shouted and used both her free hand and captured arm to shove the Captain backwards with shocking force. Taken by surprise, Revel stumbled and would have fallen flat on his ass had he not caught himself on the table beside him.

"What?" he managed as he pulled himself back to his feet.

"Do you know how close I came to killing you?" the queen said, hands wrapped around her waist as the images of her dreams returned. "I wanted to sheathe that knife in your throat! Every fiber of my being was screaming at me to kill you, to make you bleed, and I wanted so badly to give in. Do you know what that feels like; to totter on the edge of moral reason because, in my mind, you looked like the man who tried to kill me a year ago?!"

"You remember the episode?" Revel gaped, eyebrows shooting into his hairline.

"I remember everything, Revel, everything! I remember the chamber, and I remember pinning you to a wall. I remember the knife in my hand and the blood on the floor and the look of terror on your face. I remember it all so clearly. Did you know," Elsa said as she began backing away from Revel, putting distance between the two of them, "that when in the grips of the Warrior's Terror most victims don't usually remember their actions? I've read it's quite uncommon for someone to recall what happened and even more uncommon for someone to remember with such clarity they have nightmares about it!"

Suddenly, Revel's smoldering anger died as if a cold bucket of water had been thrown on the embers. This wasn't about Elsa being angry with him; it had everything to do with her being afraid. He could see it so clearly, the way she held herself, closing herself off, making herself as small as possible. She was terrified, not of him, but of herself, and he realized with a pang of guilt she was pushing him away in order to protect him.

"I…I'm sorry," he managed after a moment and took step towards her, his features softening. "I didn't realize—"

"Don't," Elsa warned backing up again, but she had nowhere to go with the library door pressed against her back. "Don't touch me, and don't pity me. Just…leave."

"I'm not pitting you, Elsa," Revel assured her softly. "I'd never pity someone…like me. I just wish I'd have seen the signs sooner. You and I, we share the same scars, the same fears. I do know what it feels like to hold a life in my hands. I know the moral balancing act that goes through your mind, and I've heard the same screaming for blood you have. But you must understand you won the battle by not giving in. I'm still here. I'm still alive, so what happened that night doesn't matter."

"Doesn't matter? Look at your goddamn arm!" She pointed at his arm where his guard's jacket hid his bandages. "I did that!"

"Out of fear! It was all out of fear! None of what happened had any malcontent behind it; you were just scared, and that was my fault. We were both in a bad way when our session started. I could have put an end to it, but I didn't, so the blame is mostly mine."

"Oh, how noble," Elsa laughed bitterly. "The valiant Captain swooping in to take the blame so that the Snow Queen feels less like a monster and her loyal subjects are less likely to tear her apart by angry mob. How wonderfully Arthurian."

"I'm not trying to be romantic or chivalrous with you, Elsa. I'm your instructor. It's my duty to maintain a safe environment for you to train in, and I didn't do that. I let my own personal frustrations get the better of me and that, in turn, hurt you. So yes, I'm the one to blame."

"I just…I just can't get the look on your face out of my head," Elsa exhaled, putting both hands on either side of her head and hunching forward. It wasn't the attack in the training chamber she was remembering but the disturbing dream of how she'd gone through with killing him.

"I'm not afraid of you," Revel soothed gently.

"You were then, and you should be now!" Elsa screamed at him, and ice crept up the library door behind her. "I'm the monster my kingdom thinks I am; I've just become wonderful at hiding it."

"You're not a monster."

"You don't have the right to tell me what I am! You don't know what I'm capable of." The image of an arrowhead sliding into his chest between his ribs, and the queen shivered. "None of you do. I came so close, Revel. Just like with Anna; I came….so close."

Revel could see tears glittering in her eyes, her cerulean blue color bright with anguish and fear. She tried to blink them away, but gravity had other plans and pulled them down her face in long silvery streaks. Before he realized he'd moved, the Captain was standing in front of her. He attempted to cup the sides of her face in his hands and thumb away her tears, but Elsa jerked away.

"Stop. Just…go away, Revel. Please," she said in a quivering voice barely above a whisper.

But the Captain didn't stop, not this time. He managed to set both of his hands on either side of her jaw, her skin strangely lukewarm where it should have been hot from the exertion of emotions, and lifted her head towards his. It came as no great surprise she was shaking like a leaf, breaths of arctic air swirling around her. Revel locked eyes with Elsa, staring down at her with such tender kindness behind his green eyes that she felt her heart skip a beat.

"I am not afraid of you," Revel said slowly, enunciating every word. "I never have been, and I never will be."

It wasn't as if he'd planned it, but perhaps it was better that way. The world slowed down around him as his body moved on its own accord, and he brought his lips together with hers. Ice and fire chose that moment to explode in his chest, warmth jockeying with chilling goosebumps that raced across his skin and mingled with the blood pounding like a drum in his ears. He didn't know how long he kissed her, it could have been seconds, it could have been hours, but when he pulled away he wasn't met with the sobering slap he'd been expecting.

Elsa stared wide eyed at him, body pressed so firmly against the library door she feared she'd meld into the wood. It wasn't until her lungs began to burn that she realized she wasn't breathing and took a long, slow breath like a diver coming up for air. Electricity crackled through her veins like bottled lightning, making focusing on anything shy of breathing and blinking extremely difficult. When at last her mind caught up with her, she noticed a slurry of new and previously unfelt sensations flashing through her body in rhythm with her heartbeat and pooling in her abdomen.

A pregnant silence stretched between the two, captain looking down at queen, both frozen in place like startled animals waiting for the other to move. Neither knew who broke first, but they came together like a tide heralding a storm. It began with tender, hesitant kisses meant to probe and tease, before building into something more akin to lustful passion.

Revel, the more experienced of the two, took the lead, and she gladly relinquished control to him, melting in his arms as their embrace deepened. Teasingly, he slid is tongue along her bottom lip before biting it gently, sparking a halting gasp from her. It was a silent request for entrance Elsa was all too willing to allow, and Revel plunged in with hungry desire. To his great surprise, her mouth was much cooler that he'd expected, her breath like peppermint that tingled on his tongue and left him craving more. By contrast, the captain tasted like tea and spices; the warmth of his tongue gliding across her own and probing the depths of her mouth, as satisfactory as the first warm breeze of spring.

Mouths currently preoccupied, the two let their hands wander and explore, fingers tangling in hair, running up and down shoulders, arm, and backs. Like a blind man learning brail for the first time, Elsa and Revel sought to learn every curve, every dip, every rise of the other's body until they could conjure a perfect image of the other's anatomy with just a thought. The barrier of clothing was a mild irritation, but it did stop their exploration. Eventually the two had to break away for adequate air, but the breech didn't last long, and Revel took the opportunity to let his mouth explore new territory. He began along the curve of her neck and worked his way down, laying gentle kisses as he went and was rewarded when Elsa arched against him, breath catching in her throat. Her arms instinctively wound around his neck, fingers running through his thick brown hair. She drew him closer, hungry for the feeling of his skin against hers and the gentle caress of his lips.

Without realizing it, Revel slid his hands down along Elsa's hips and cupped her legs just under her buttocks. In a fluid motion he couldn't possibly recreate while not in the throes of passion, he picked her up and pressed her against the library door, his weight pinning her in place. Elsa immediately wrapped her legs around his waist and felt the unyielding rigidity of his arousal press into her groin as she drew him closer, a slow burn beginning to build in her abdomen.

It was a mystery to both how they'd ended up on the low couch half way across the library, the queen straddling Revel, skirt bunched up around her waist. Neither could recall as to how Elsa's undergarments and bodice had been removed and discarded beside the door, or how Revel's breeches had been undone, his belt sitting coiled on the floor beside his feet like a skinny black snake. Those little mysteries would later be revisited when the all-consuming fires of passion finally subsided and the two could think clearly again.

Sensing her hesitance by the way she tensed when he moved in, Revel drew back and looked up, marveling for a brief moment at her unearthly beauty. The redness of her face and neck stood in stark contrast to the smooth paleness of the rest of her skin and the rich purple of her underdress, making her eyes stand out like beacons. The underdress sat skewed on her shoulders, allowing him a clear view of right side of Elsa's slender neck all the way down to her collar bone. Her hair was a tussled mess, the once loose braid keeping it back having fallen open, allowing her long platinum locks to flow down to the middle of her back. Truly, she was a striking beauty, and Revel felt himself smile as he put a warm hand against the cool skin of her neck. Elsa leaned into his touch, bright eyes not leaving his for an instant. He could see her unspoken question, see the hesitation and uncertainty, and it made him want to wrap her in his arms and hold her for eternity.

"Are you sure?" he asked in a quiet whisper.

Not trusting her voice, Elsa only nodded, curious and afraid of how this game would play out but uncaring all the same. Today, at this moment, she was no longer the queen, was no longer the stoic ruling monarch of a prosperous kingdom. Today she was simply a woman who needed the love of a man, who hungered for his touch, who craved the feeling of his body intertwining with hers. It was a terrifying yet thrilling thought. She latched onto the swirling sensations of euphoria and terror jockeying for position in her mind and rode them like a charging stallion.

Consent given, Revel gently took Elsa by the hips and guided her into position above him. She could feel the heat of him pressed against her opening and sighed raggedly, legs suddenly weak. Revel held her aloft with strong arms and felt her body tense as he slowly slid in, her breath catching and arms winding around his shoulders. For a terrifying moment, he feared he'd lose himself to the desperate need to feel her surrounding him and fought to retain some semblance of human thought as his mind slipped into a more primal state. When he felt resistance within her warm wetness, he stopped and cursed silently. It was always easier for a man when it came to the act of lovemaking. For a woman, especially for a woman during her first time, there was pain to be had. Not wanting to draw out the act any longer, Revel quickly pulled her toward him and thrust deep.

Elsa let out a cry of pain and gripped the back of the couch with trembling hands, ice encasing the ornate rosewood backing and spreading onto the floor. Revel felt her magic against his shoulder blades, but remained still, weathering the cold while reveling in her warmth and tightness. The queen was accustomed to physical pain, her years of learning ice magic had dulled her body to most normal discomforts, but the tearing she'd felt inside her had been a shock she'd not expected. Breath coming in short, pained gasps, she leaned against her lover, trembling.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he whispered softly as he held her close and buried his face in the rich, wintery scent of her hair. "That's the worst of it, I promise."

Reaching around and moving her hair off her shoulders, Revel kissed her several times on the neck and was rewarded when Elsa shuddered and bit her bottom lip. A small grin started to pull at his lips, and he kissed her again, this time moving slowly up the curve of her neck until he reached her ear. She moaned softly, previous discomfort slowly evaporating as Revel continued to lay down teasing kisses along her collar bone and up her throat. When he finally made it back to her lips the pain of her breaking was gone and he began rolling her hips in a slow rhythm, his wide hands pressed against her thighs showing her the motion. Pain giving way to building pleasure, Elsa followed Revel's lead and rolled her hip in time with his, each thrust accustoming her to his size and girth. As their rhythms synced, he let his hands wander under the fabric of her skirt, fingers gliding over the smooth skin of her thighs, up into the small arch of her lower back, and around to her flat, tight stomach.

Elsa suddenly arched into Revel, and he growled softly as wintery breath of magic sparked against the back of his neck where the queen's right hand currently rested. Ice particles trickled down his spine and made him shiver and gasp, which forced him to rise off the back of the couch and push deeper into her river rock slickness. Elsa groaned and squeezed him tighter with her legs, tangling her fingers in his icy hair. Their movements were becoming more hungry, their kisses deeper and more passionate as their bodies woke to a new kind of fire that engulfed every inch of their being. She could feel Revel moving inside her, growing and twitching as he neared the height of his passion. Forehead to forehead, they kissed only to come apart again, ragged breath intermingling into a warm cloud suspended around their heads. Elsa could feel her ice manifesting around her, the temperature fluctuating erratically, but was unwilling to pull away from him to see what it was doing.

As their passion wore on, Elsa began to feel a small spark growing somewhere within her abdomen. It was hardly noticeable at first, but as her hips rolled, and Revel's member becoming impossibly stiff inside her, she felt the spark grow until she thought she was going to burst into flames. Internal heat was a new sensation for her, and she moved at a desperate speed, chasing the lightning spreading through her body like fire through dry brush. Revel sensed her need, could feel her body tightening around him, and kept pace, his own euphoric pleasure mounting to a near cataclysmic peak. So close, they were both so close… until they heard the door handle jiggle seconds before someone walked in.

"Hey, Elsa, sorry to bother you, but I needed to talk —ooohhh my holy God! Oh, Saint's and fucking Martyrs, I'm so sorry. Shit, I'm so…oh god… I'm so, so sorry," Anna said stumbling back out of the library and slamming the door shut behind her with a resounding bang.

Captain and queen both froze, neither moving for a few breathless heartbeats, orgasmic pleasure completely forgotten. It took a moment for them both to realize what had just happened, what Anna had just seen and what this could mean. However, once the shock had passed they broke into fits of nervous laughter.

"I…um…heh…maybe we should…"

"Yes…definitely yes," Revel said easing himself out of her while fighting to maintain some semblance of self-control.

Elsa's legs felt like jelly, muscles quivering when she put weight on them, and had to steady herself against the arm of the couch, all the while aware of a warm wetness trailing down her leg. She ached a bit, but it wasn't anything a long hot soak wouldn't cure. Revel quickly re-buttoned his breeches and secured his belt, thankful that he was wearing black. It hid the large wet stain on the front of his crotch enough that he could make it back to his chambers and change without someone noticing. How he was going to walk while still painfully erect he hadn't the foggiest idea, but he was definitely going to have to take care of it when he was fully alone.

The queen nervously cleared her throat, upper body still flushed from their lovemaking. She didn't quite know how to end something like this, especially when they'd been interrupted half way through. Did they shake hands? Embrace? Pick up where they'd left off, castle staff and Anna be damned?

This is karma coming back to bite me for me interrupting Anna and Kristoff in the hall, she thought with a sigh.

"Well, um…good afternoon, Revel," she said and rubbed her arm, feeling all the world like child caught getting into mischief with a friend. Hands shaking, she tucked them into her armpits and gave him a wobbly smile. How was she supposed to feel after sex? At the moment there was a mix of giddiness and genuine frustration warring inside her, and…peace. It took her a minute to recognize and place the feeling, and never had it been more soothing or welcome.

"Same to you…Elsa," Revel said and walked stiffly past her. Reaching the door, he suddenly turned around and rushed back, pulling her into as deep an embrace as he possibly could, one arm around her waist and the other behind her head. She melted into him almost instantly this time, a gentle moan sounding at the back of her throat. When they finally separated, Elsa had a goofy smile on her face that match Revel's perfectly.

"This won't be the last time," he whispered and kissed her one more time. "I swear to God, it won't be the last time."

Mind finally reforming from the putty it had become, Elsa gave him a devilish smile and grabbed him by the front of his shirt, pulling him towards her with a forceful yank.

"It damn well better not be," she husked into his ear before releasing him and walking over to the door.

Revel stifled a groan, his pants already beyond uncomfortably tight. "T-tonight then?"


He gave her one last kiss, poked his head out just to be sure Anna had gone, then hastily made his way towards the back of the castle where he could slip out unnoticed.

Elsa watched him go, leaning against the doorframe until he'd disappeared from sight and let out a gusty sigh, her body feeling like it was walking on air. When she turned back to the couch she jerked back and had to cover her mouth to keep from laughing aloud. The entire surface was encased in ice that had bunched at either armrest and began creeping towards the ceiling in a sweeping arch. From where she stood, it almost look like her ice had been trying to form into the shape of a stylized heart, and Elsa felt her goofy grin return.

Sending me subconscious messages now, eh? Well, I see what you're trying to tell me.

With the wave of her hand she dispersed her ice and gathered her discarded undergarments by the door before stepping out of the library. She hoped she wouldn't run into Anna for a while, leaving her time to figure out a way to explain herself to her younger sister. She was certain the princess hadn't been able to see who she'd been with on the couch, but there was no hiding what they'd been doing.

What we were doing… Elsa mused happily, a giddy laugh building in her throat. What we were doing was something I never thought could happen to me.

For the First Time in Never

A Frozen Story
by JE Glass

Part 12 of 24

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