Continuing Tales

For the First Time in Never

A Frozen Story
by JE Glass

Part 2 of 24

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Two weeks later, Anna and Kristoff departed for their honeymoon, chartering a small schooner that would take them around the coast so they could visit the different villages and towns currently under Arendelle's flag. The princess was ecstatic about her chance to properly travel the kingdom, but Kristoff seemed less than enthusiastic and just as hesitant as the queen when Anna first suggested her idea a few days after the wedding.

"I'm sorry, but I'm more comfortable walking on solid water, not putting my life in the hands of wood and tar."

"Oh, don't be so overdramatic. That's what I'm supposed to be. Anyway, schooners are lighter and easier to maneuver, and we'll be sticking to the coast, not sailing into the open ocean. The worst that could happen is we run aground and have to spend a few extra days getting home."

"Really? Really? Running aground is the worst thing that could happen," Kristoff gaped incredulously. He looked to his sister-in-law for help, knowing he couldn't win this fight alone, but the queen's face was an unreadable mask. If only he knew the trepidation she was feeling at the very thought of her sister and brother-in-law aboard a boat.

Elsa sat behind her dark wood desk that took up a large portion of her small study, hands clasped together so tightly atop a pile of fresh trade notes her knuckles were turning white. Why, in all of God's creation, did Anna want to sail on her honeymoon? It wasn't like there weren't things the newlyweds could do in nearby towns or hamlets that were all easily accessible by carriage or sled. Hell, they could even take a trip to Kristoff's cabin up near North Mountain and visit her ice palace, but Anna was adamant about sailing the coast and wouldn't take no for an answer.

Damn if she isn't as stubborn as Sven sometimes, Elsa thought watching her sister fold her arms across her chest and stare defiantly at her husband who returned her stare with as must gusto as he could manage. They remained like that for a handful of minutes, staring each other down like schoolyard rivals.

"Enough, the both of you," Elsa snapped and instantly regretted her tone of voice. Taking a deep breath to calm her nerves, she turned towards the mountain man, cerulean blue orbs locking on his brown ones. "Kristoff, would you mind letting me speak with my sister alone, please?"

Kristoff glanced uncertainly at Anna, his eyes silently asking if it was all right for him to leave. The princess, jaw clenched so tightly her back teeth had begun to ache, nodded. Her husband rose slowly like a scolded child and made for the door, glancing back only once before stepping out and closing the door behind him with a click.

"Elsa, I know what you're going to say," Anna practically exploded the moment her husband was clear of the room, "and might I remind you that this is my honeymoon and I have a say in—"

"Why sailing, Anna?" Elsa interrupted. "With our family's history with ships, I'd have thought that would have been the last thing on your mind."

Anna blinked, surprised her older sister wasn't raining admonishments down on her. There was genuine concern in Elsa's eyes, and she felt the room start to dip in temperature the longer she remained silent. Anna realized with a flush of guilt that her sister was scared and silently berated herself.

"I've always wanted to sail," she said quietly, looking down at her folded hands in her lap. "You know I love the sea, and I just thought that, since it's been so long since...the accident, maybe I'd finally get to see why Papa couldn't get enough of the ocean. He and Mamma took their honeymoon on a schooner, so I just thought..."

Elsa felt herself deflate, the cramps in her back lessening. It was true their father had a love for the sea. King Agdar spent many summers sailing the coast, visiting towns and villages and bringing back wild tales for his daughters to devour. When they were young, Elsa and Anna used to plan their own voyages, charting the courses on their father's large table map and imagining the different people they would meet and the adventures they would share together. But the dream had died after Elsa went into isolation and their parents' death at sea ten years later. Now Anna wanted to continue the tradition by taking her honeymoon on a ship.

Leave it to Anna to be the brave one.

"All right," the queen relented with another deep sigh. "I'll charter you two a schooner. Did you have a particular timeline in mind?"

Anna's eyes lit up like lanterns and she rushed over to her sister, sinking to her knees and wrapping her arms around Elsa's waist. "Thank you, thank you, thank you! Oh, you don't know how much this means to me!"

"Call it a late wedding gift," Elsa shrugged and tried to push aside the ball of fear nesting in the pit of her stomach like a coiled snake. She could feel it agitating her magic and felt the onset of frost rising into her fingertips. Struggling to keep herself under control, Elsa focused on the warmth of her sister's body wrapped around her waist, letting the heat combat the cold.

"How long did you want to be gone?"

"Two weeks, just like Mama and Papa. One week sailing to wherever we can get to and one week coming back."

"All right, I'll draw up the papers tonight and hire a captain and crew. Give me two days, and the two of you can finally give me the reprieve I desperately need."

Anna's face exploded in a brilliant blush, and Elsa couldn't help but laugh. "Are we really that loud?" she asked in a small voice.

"Dear sister, you could wake the dead. In fact, I'm pretty sure I saw grandfather wandering the halls last night looking for the banshee who had awakened him," Elsa teased. Anna groaned and put her face in her hands, burying it in Elsa's lap. The queen ran her long fingers through Anna's unbound hair, tracing the patch where the white streak used to be. It was strange, she didn't even notice it was gone unless she looked.

"Just…please promise me you'll stay safe," Elsa said in a near whisper, bending over to plant a kiss on the back of her sister's head. "I can't bear to lose you to the sea like we lost Mamma and Papa."

Anna snaked her arms around her sister's waist and held her tight, head still resting on her lap. "I promise nothing will happen."

Three days later the princess and her husband boarded a sharp-looking schooner with crimson sails and a brilliant white hull, waving enthusiastically to Elsa and the few members of the castle staff who had come to watch them depart. It was just after noon when the happy couple made their way up the gangplank, bags having already been brought aboard earlier that morning and their honeymoon cabin prepared for them in advance. The queen stood at the edge of the docks, wind pulling at her modest purple dress and moving her loose braid off her shoulder. She waited until the anchor had been raised and the ship was well beyond the mouth of the fjord before turning and heading back towards the palace, a three guard escort following at a respectful distance. More than once, she stopped and glanced over her shoulder, watching the schooner drift further and further out of sight.

They'll be fine. They'll sail around the coast, visit a few towns, and traumatize the crew when night falls. They'll be fine. It's only two weeks…

Oh, how that thought echoed in her mind like a piercing scream in the night, and Elsa stopped dead in her tracks. Hadn't she thought the same thing when watching her parent's ship slip out to sea? A sudden wave of fear crashed over her, and it took everything in her not to ice the docks. Glancing at her hands, Elsa wasn't surprised to see sparks of iridescent blue frost climbing her fingers. She clenched her hands into tight fists, willing the magic back inside.

Get control. Don't let it control you, Elsa thought screwing her face up and focusing. Eventually the ice subsided, her will overriding her fear. Exhaling a shallow breath, the queen continued walking, hoping no one had seen her moment of weakness.

What was left of the day Elsa devoted to getting some much needed paperwork done, signing trade agreements and shipping records until her hands were stained with black ink and cramped sporadically. Kai had brought her a small dinner and a bottle of wine, but it sat untouched on its small silver tray next to her desk. She didn't have much of an appetite, but the wine was looking more and more appealing with each scratch of her signature. Finally giving into temptation, the queen uncorked the bottle, a thirty year vintage if her tired eyes were reading the label correctly, and let the dark liquid slosh into the provided wine glass. Slowly, the natural aromas of aged berries, smoky oak, and vanilla began to fill the room as the bottle and glass breathed. After a few more seconds, Elsa took a long sip and sighed happily. Sometimes a glass of good wine was all it took to push the day's stresses away and allow her a moment's reprieve.

She'd never been one for alcohol, even after the Great Freeze. The queen had seen firsthand what too much alcohol consumption could do to a person, how it left them without control of their body or actions, and with a secret that could destroy the kingdom if her guard slipped for only a moment, her younger self had shied away from the beverage as much as possible. Still, there were times she couldn't get away with drinking water, and Elsa had found she liked the taste of dark red wine over many other types of liquors. It wasn't until recently that she had begun drinking a glass every couple of days, usually while mulling over paperwork, just to help take the edge off.

Taking another long pull from her glass, Elsa moved over to the balcony doors and pulled them open. The sun had set hours ago, mostly without her noticing, and the night air was blissfully cool against her skin. Judging by the clock on her nearest bookshelf, it was well past midnight. The stars were shining brightly overhead as she moved to the balcony's edge and set her glass down, folding her arms across her chest and leaning against the railing.

I wonder how far out Anna and Kristoff are, she thought looking out over her kingdom and watching the light from hundreds of windows twinkle below her. Suddenly, she had the uncontrollable urge to see the sea, to track the waves with her eyes and watch the clouds just to be sure things were all right. It wasn't as if she could control the weather, but she had to be sure. Spinning away from the balcony, half-empty wine glass plucked from the railing and deposited back on the silver tray, she grabbed one of the thin dark cloaks she always kept on hand and threw it over her shoulders, hood pulled over her head to hide her distinctive hair.

She wasn't necessarily sneaking out. Since the castle and kingdom were hers by right of rule, the queen could come and go as she pleased, but after the attempt on her life a year ago the amount of security around the castle had increased significantly. Elsa was usually followed by an armed escort whenever she ventured outside the castle grounds. It had been irritating, at first, having three metal clad guards clunking after her, pushing civilians out of her way in order to maintain a wide perimeter around her. More than once, Elsa had openly snapped at the men, beckoning whoever needed to speak to her to come closer and not caring about the potential consequences. She guessed that was another change that had taken place after the assassination attempt. Her level of personal fear had lessened considerably. She still worried over her family, that anxiety would never go away, but fear for her own personal safety just wasn't as prevalent anymore. She'd faced death and lived and became stronger for it. But no matter her feelings, the royal guards' entire purpose was to keep their queen safe from harm at any costs, or so Captain Revel had said when she demanded her escort disband the first time they'd accompanied her.

"You are the Queen, Majesty, and we are sworn to protect you. I'm sorry if my escort is inconvenient, but it is necessary. After what happened during the spring festival—"

"Do not remind me what happened, Captain. I remember better than most," Elsa had seethed in his office, indignant rage making her shoulders burn and palms itch with frost.

"Of course, Majesty, but it is still a good idea for you to have an escort."

"And if I disband your escort, order your men and you to stand down, what will you do? Will you defy my wishes and hide behind the guise that you know what's best for me?" Elsa barked and instantly regretted her words because she realized where her anger was coming from. This all stemmed back to her parents. They'd done what they had thought was best for their child which turned out to be the worst thing.

"We will always do as ordered, Majesty. I will do as ordered," Revel replied in a level voice that barely hid his frustration, "but I hope you will see reason. We only want your safety and the safety of the Princess." Then the Captain had taken a risk and raised his eyes, green gems locking on Elsa's cerulean orbs. "But please, do not assume that my guards, or myself personally, would ever presume to tell you what is best for you and your family. We are here to protect, not council."

Elsa felt as if she'd been slapped and felt her face reddening. Of course Revel was right, damn him. If she ordered the escort disbanded he would obey her without hesitation like any other loyal subject, but that wasn't the right course of action to take. She saw the benefit of the escort, just hated how vulnerable it made her look.

"Forgive me, Captain. I am not in the right frame of mind at the moment," Elsa said folding her hands in front of her and dipping her head slightly. "Of course you are correct, and I would never presume to tell you how to do your job. Please, continue the escort, but inform your men they are not to engage civilians unless they pose a direct threat to me or my family, understood?"

"Of course, Majesty. I will tell my men to be as discreet as possible."

Elsa had taken her leave then, feeling for all the world like the biggest fool in the kingdom for taking out her frustrations on the castle staff.

But that had been almost a year ago, and Elsa had come to tolerate her escort, ignoring them as best she could when she made trips into town or to the docks. Tonight, however, she would not be leaving the castle but still wanted a level of privacy she couldn't get if the patrol guards noticed she was walking the parapets.

Slipping out the servants' door located just left of the Great Hall, the queen padded down the long hallway, burgundy carpet unrolling under her slippered feet like a velvety tongue, and took the first corner on her right. A set of double doors awaited her which would lead to a small windowless chamber with black marble floors. That chamber would lead to another carpeted hallway, this one made of the same sand-colored stone of the perimeter wall. Elsa slid through the final hallway like a phantom and was relieved to see that the guard usually stationed next to the parapet door wasn't at his post. She'd timed it perfectly. Carefully opening the heavy wooden door, Elsa moved into the final antechamber before stepping out into the open air of the southernmost perimeter wall.

It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the sudden darkness. The antechamber housed a single bright lantern hung from a wrought iron hook which effectively made her night blind the second she'd stepped past it, but eventually she grew accustomed to the darkness and glided along the wall, hands trailing the rough stone as she skirted the pools of light cast by more hanging lanterns.

The parapets were the only place in the entire kingdom, save for the Overlook and her ice castle, where the queen felt entirely unrestricted. A sheer thirty foot drop on either side of the wall made it feel as if she were walking on a sky bridge that slowly climbed the mountain side like the back of a massive stone wyvern. Rolling gusts of wind broke over the left side of the wall, pulling at her cloak until it flapped beside her like a flag. Elsa leaned into the roaring air and felt a wild smile split her face. As the gust died down, she looked out over the fjord, song soft waves lapping the rocky shore below like a lullaby.

Tonight everything seems right with the world, Elsa thought continuing down the long stretch of stone walkway.

She didn't see him at first, his dark clothes effectively blending him in with the shadows as seamlessly as if he were a phantom, but the queen thought she'd heard someone speaking and slowed her stroll. Edging closer, the outline of a man leaning against the perimeter railing came into focus. The glint of something metal flashed in the moonlight, and Elsa froze, heart in her throat, her mind suddenly flashing back to that day at the spring festival when a flash of metal had been her only warning that a dagger was about to slide under her ribs. The man mumbled something, a prayer perhaps, quickly followed by the sound of liquid being poured from a container, and Elsa mentally exhaled.

Well, I don't think he's going to stab me to death with a flask, she thought relaxing fractionally, and glanced over her shoulder at the entrance door yards behind her. There were really only two courses of action that could be taken at this moment. Either the queen could turn and walk away or announce her presence, effectively ending her private nighttime walk. Thinking it best to play it safe, Elsa turned but must have made some type of sound because the man raised his head, startled.


Elsa cursed under her breath, wondering what had given her away. The light flapping of her hood against her shoulder blades provided an answer.

Betrayed by the wind, isn't that ironic.

The man fumbled with what sounded like a box of matches seconds before a tiny flame appeared in an equally small lantern, illuminating the space between the two in weak orange light. It was then that Elsa saw who was with her on the parapets and sighed inwardly.

"Good evening, Captain Revel."

"Likewise, Majesty," Revel said ducking into a shallow bow. His eyebrows creased with confusion, and she saw his quick smile disappear into a frown. "Why are you up here?"

"I didn't realize I needed a reason to wander my castle," Elsa said with a slight raise of her chin. Revel winced and looked away.

"My apologies; that came out wrong. I meant to ask, why are you up here at such a late hour? Is everything all right?"

"I came to enjoy the night air," she said offhandedly, not willing to divulge the real reason she was wandering the castle after midnight in a dark cloak. Revel took her answer with a nod. Elsa slowly closed the distance between them and caught the scent of strong brandy when the wind shifted. "Have you been drinking?"

Revel was quiet for a moment before nodding silently, returning to his lean against the railing and looking out over the fjord with far away eyes.

"Yes," he sighed and seemed to deflate like a water skin with a hole in it. Judging by the slump of his shoulders, he wasn't at all proud of the fact.

"May I ask why my guard captain has taken to drinking on the parapets alone in the dark?" Elsa didn't know why it mattered, why she even cared, but something about the sad set of his face and the haunted look in his eyes piqued her curiosity. It didn't even cross her mind to ask whether or not he was still on shift. The queen knew the Captain was a professional man and would never break the covenant and commandments all the guards lived by.

"Forgive me, but it's a private matter, Majesty," Revel said even more quietly.

Elsa sighed and leaned against the parapet as well, elbows scraping the rough stone. The waters of the fjord were calm tonight, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. A fat half-moon hung lazily in the deep blue-black heavens, turning the rippling water a brilliant silver. For a long while the two stood in a fragile silence, the sound of nature the only voice heard circling them.

"How long has it been?" Elsa asked quietly, closing her eyes as the wind buffeted her and cooled her skin. Revel shifted around to look at her, a guarded look on his face.

"I'm not sure I follow, Majesty."

"You were pouring libations when I walked up on you. It took me a minute to puzzle it out. I know that people only pour for lost loved ones."

Revel flinched and looked down at his folded hands, silver flask sitting next to his right elbow. How much brandy had he had tonight? The flask had to be three quarters of the way empty, but he hardly felt the effects of the alcohol. His head was still too achingly clear. He should have expected Elsa to understand what he'd been doing. She hid a razor sharp intelligence behind her arctic beauty, but hearing someone name the act out loud made him feel foolish.

"Today is the fifteen year anniversary of my father's death," Revel said in a voice so laden with grief Elsa felt her heart ache and silently berated herself for even asking.

People can have secrets too. Just because I'm queen doesn't mean I'm privy to them.

"I'm sorry," she whispered. "I shouldn't have pried. I'll leave you to your thoughts and prayers." Elsa turned to leave but felt a warm hand brush hers. Curiously, she looked down and found the Captain's fingers laying over top hers. Revel seemed to realize what he'd done a half second after Elsa and snatched his hand away, an expression of utter horror on his face.

"Forgive me, Majesty. I didn't mean…perhaps I've had too much to drink tonight. That was out of line, and I humbly apologize. My manners are deplorable this evening."

"It's all right, Captain," Elsa said trying not to roll her eyes. Why was it that whenever anyone accidentally bumped, nudged, or touched her they immediately kowtowed as if she were going to freeze them on the spot? It was actually quite humbling knowing her presence was appreciated and needed, royal formality be damned.

"No, Majesty, it's not. I was out of line to—"

"I will let you know if you've crossed a boundary," Elsa said with a sideways smile. Revel relaxed fractionally, his unease still plainly visible in the set of his shoulders and how tightly he clenched his fists in front of him.

"If I'm not being to bold, how did he die?" the queen asked returning to her lean against the parapet. For some odd reason, she felt comfortable around the Captain. Perhaps because they were acquaintances, or because she knew how highly Anna spoke about him. For whatever the reason, she didn't feel the need to be as guarded as she did around most other people.

"He was murdered…" Revel replied in the dry voice of a man who had shed so many tears over the years he'd become numb.

Elsa felt a shock work through her system as she recognized his tone, recognized the deadness in his voice and eyes. Her heart went out to him. Here was a man who could identify with the pain of her past, with the fear and guilt and anger she still felt in the deepest, darkest depths of her soul. Just the knowledge of there being a kindred spirit so close to her made her feel giddy. However, none of this showed on her face. Instead there was genuine sadness for Revel's loss.

"I'm so sorry," was all she could say, and it made her slightly angry. How comforting were those three words really when spoken to a person who'd lost someone precious to them? It was an almost automatic response when faced with something unpleasant. A mumbled 'I'm sorry' and that was somehow supposed to be a salve to the pain, but really it was just a cover for the person speaking. It made them feel like they were doing something productive, like they were actually helping the wounded party when in reality it was just a cover. At least, that's how Elsa saw it, and she hated that she too participated in the charade.

Revel nodded like he understood, like her words meant something, but she knew otherwise and grew quiet, watching the cold stars twinkle in an endless sky as the half-moon made its lazy journey across the heavens. After a while, Revel let out what sounded like something between a laugh and a strangled hiccup, face nearly hidden in shadow as the small candle set between them dwindled.

"You'd think that after fifteen years the pain would somehow be less. I come up here every year on the anniversary and pour a drink for him into the sea. I know where he is he can't partake in my libation, but it somehow makes his loss seem somehow…easier to manage." Revel turned to look at the queen, and she saw the unshed tears reflected in his eye by the light of the dying candle. "I'm sorry, Majesty. This isn't pleasant conversational material."

"May I be candid with you, Captain?" Elsa asked without pulling her gaze away from the fjord.

"Of course."

"The pain of my parent's death is still very difficult for me to bear sometimes, especially on the anniversary. The ice sculptures I made for them last year was my first real step towards healing, but there are days where just the memory of them aches so keenly I can barely stand it. I understand your pain, and my heart goes out to you. The loss of a parent isn't something easily dealt with, and I hope someday soon you'll find the peace you've been searching for."

Revel looked genuinely shocked by her words. He hadn't known what to expect when he'd started babbling, the words vomiting out of his mouth involuntarily, but it certainly wasn't sympathy or understanding. He cleared his throat a number of times before he found his voice again.

"Thank you, Majesty." Revel was silent for a few moments before he could work up the courage to say more. "May I ask you a question?"

"Does it pertain to courtly happenings or the noise complaint coming from the residency wing?" Elsa asked with as much seriousness as she could muster, which wasn't much since she couldn't fight the grin off her face.

"I…there's been a noise complaint?"

"Newlywed issues," Elsa explained with a grave nod. Revel finally realized what she was alluding to and chuckled.

"Ah, and here I thought an animal had escaped into the castle again without my knowledge."

"If you listen to how Kristoff describes his 'constitutions' he has quite a few animalistic body parts," Elsa laughed. Revel seemed at a loss for words which only made the queen smile more. "Sorry, inside joke. What were you going to ask?"

"Oh, yes, um… Again, forgive me if I'm being too bold but, why is it you feel the need to wander the castle grounds during early morning hours?"

"And what makes you think I do?"

"Majesty," Revel slightly cocked his eyebrow, "there are only two reasons a black-cloaked figure would be seen wandering the grounds at night. One, some nefarious individual has somehow gotten past my patrols, or two, a certain queen insists on making certain my patrols are kept sharp by guising herself like said nefarious individual."

Elsa felt the corners of her lips turn up. So the Captain does have some wit to him.

"It's the latter of the two, I'm afraid," Elsa exhaled with a nonchalant shrug. "I feel your skills at command are lacking, so I disguise myself as various persons and wander at night waiting to be apprehended or shot. It's a game really, seeing how many of your men I can startle before skittering back into the darkness while cackling like some woodland sorceress."

"Ah, I see," Revel said unable to hide his smile. Elsa smiled too seeing the sadness break from his face. "Well, that makes much more sense. I'll be certain to tell my men not to shoot said dark-cloaked figure if they should see it skittering around the halls."

"Thank you. I'd prefer not to die with a crossbow bolt through my chest," Elsa chuckled and moved away from the edge of the parapet. "Well, I'm afraid the hour grows late, Captain, and duties await me on the morrow. If you'll excuse me," she ducked into a shallow bow, one which Revel returned.

"If you'd like, Majesty, I could escort you to your chambers."

A wicked grin slashed across Elsa's face and she folded her arms against her chest. "Will you now, Captain? And what will you do once you've gotten me to my room, pray tell."

Revel didn't pick up on her meaning until a half-heartbeat later and flushed a brilliant scarlet red. The queen knew she was being inappropriate but somehow couldn't bring herself to care.

"That's not at all what I meant," Revel mumbled.

"I know, Captain, forgive me. I fear my sister's snark is rubbing off on me. If you feel the need to escort me, I won't stop you and would even enjoy the company."

"If you're certain, I wouldn't want—"

"My evenings have become quite empty now that Anna and Kristoff are gone, so having an excuse to pull myself away from hours of endless work would be greatly appreciated," Elsa said moving towards the entrance door at a leisurely stroll. Revel jogged to catch up with her, stowing his flask back inside the folds of his dark coat, a half-smile pulling at the corner of his lips.

For the First Time in Never

A Frozen Story
by JE Glass

Part 2 of 24

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