Continuing Tales

For the First Time in Never

A Frozen Story
by JE Glass

Part 3 of 24

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It quickly became a nightly ritual while Anna and Kristoff were away. Elsa would leave her study or the library sometime around midnight and meet Revel on the parapets where they would engage in light conversation or walk in complete silence depending on the day. The queen was beginning to discover that the Captain was a naturally quiet individual, much like herself, perpetually thinking unless drawn into conversation. His introversion was comfortable to be around since the Elsa didn't feel the pressing need to find things to talk about; just letting her feet wander where they would. Eventually Revel began to thaw, and their conversations grew deeper and less superficial.

"So, you came to Arendelle when you were nineteen and joined the castle guard a year later?" Elsa asked as they made their way down the perimeter wall at a lazy stroll, a light mist pricking the air with moisture.

"I did. After my father's death, there really wasn't a reason to remain at home. My mother died years earlier when a flux swept through our village, so I no longer had anything keeping me there. Arendelle is the largest kingdom, so I naturally migrated here looking for work. For a while I was a dock worker until a position in the guards opened up, in which case the rest is history."

"You didn't have any other family in your village?"

Revel went quiet which Elsa had come to recognize was the Captain delving into his thoughts. It happened quite a few times during their nightly discussions. She'd ask a question and Revel would stop talking entirely, shifting his gaze to the fjord or looking out over the kingdom with far away eyes. Sometimes she could catch glimpses of raw emotion beneath his carefully placed mask, the barest hint of sadness, or anger, or regret, or happiness but always he returned to himself and answered her question to the best of his ability. The queen was under no disillusion that the Captain had secrets he didn't want her knowing about, and sometimes his answers were veiled or vague.

"I had two brothers. After father's death we…grew apart in the worst ways."

Elsa nodded but didn't press the matter of family. She knew all too well what it felt like pushing a sibling away and didn't want the Captain to have to relive that pain again.

"So if you were a dock worker for a year, what made you want to become a guard?"

By now the two had climbed as high as they could, two hundred or so feet above Arendelle kingdom. This high and the wind was a constant companion, pulling and pushing the two with strong hands. More than once Elsa had to brace herself against the perimeter wall to keep from toppling over the side. Below she could see the fogbank that had overtaken her kingdom only a few minutes ago, thick clouds creeping along the ground as they rolled in from the sea, turning lantern and window light into smothered specks of gold.

"A couple of reasons. When I was younger, I would spend a majority of my day watching the guards in my village train. Because of where I lived at the time, I could sit on the wall surrounding my home and watch the men go through drills in the castle courtyard. I'd try to emulate them and quickly found that I had a knack for swordplay. Having two brothers, I was also fairly decent at grappling. My father had been against me learning combat, in his mind I needed to be more concerned about my studies, but, being a rambunctious twelve year old, I wouldn't listen and snuck out to train with a few guards willing to teach me."

Ah, so that's why Anna has such a like for you, Captain, Elsa thought, glancing at him out of the corner of her eye. Birds of a feather.

"It was just fun and games while I was young, but after father's death something changed within me," Revel said and his voice trailed off. Unnoticing, he ran a hand through his thick wavy hair, the moisture in the air clinging to his chocolate locks and gluing them loosely against his scalp. Why did he have this compulsion to talk so freely about his past with the queen? He could have stopped at any time, could have skirted her questions, but he had such a powerful feeling of relief and release when speaking to her it was hard to stop. It was strange yet comforting at the same time. He'd spent so many years submerging himself in his training and climbing the political ladder until he'd been named Captain in his twenty fifth year, a feat not done in the Arendelle guard in at least fifty years, and through it all no one had bothered to ask where he'd come from or why he wanted to be a guard so badly.

Elsa stopped walking a little ways away from Revel after noticing he'd stopped. Slowly she turned and watched him for a few silent moments as he stared out over the fog-consumed city, eyes once again distant. "You don't have to talk about this with me, you know."

"Pardon?" Revel looked up as if surfacing from a dream. "Apologies, I sometimes get lost in my thoughts."

"Believe me, I know the feeling," Elsa said walking back to him but maintaining a respectful distance. "I also know that memories can be painful things to recall, so don't feel pressured into telling me things."

"Thank you, Majesty. You are too kind, but what I was going to say," Revel continued with a slow breath, "was after my father's death I had this compulsion to never feel helpless again. He'd been stabbed coming home from an event in the village, dying only feet from our home. I blamed myself for his death because I was meant to accompany him that evening but had snuck out to train instead. If I had been there, I could have protected him, I could have done something. So I decided a week after his burial that I would never feel that level of helplessness again. I wanted to protect people from evil men like the man who murdered my father."

Elsa could practically feel the vehemence rolling from the Captain's words, each syllable dripping with venom. He was angry, at both himself and the man responsible for his father's death, but there was more. Revel seemed to blame himself for the death entirely. His eyes twinkled in the dim light of the lantern he carried in his hand, anger making the striking green color glint like hard gems. Elsa reached out without realizing it and put a hand on his shoulder, mouth pressed into a thin line.

"Justice is a fickle thing, Captain, but I believe the man responsible for your father's death will meet an ugly demise as befitting his actions."

A new emotion crossed the Captain's face, and not one the young queen had expected to see. Sadness mixed with a little bit of fear, but they were gone a heartbeat later, replaced with a soft smile that hardly reached his eyes.

"I didn't know a member of the royal family would believe in Karma."

Elsa snorted and continued walking back towards entrance door two hundred yards away, cloak pulled tight over her shoulders as the wind picked up. "Karma, fate, circumstance, they are all the same thing, aren't they?"

"It's just a very Eastern way of thinking. Wouldn't it be better to say that God will pass judgment on the man upon the moment of his death?"

It was Elsa's turn to stop walking, and she turned to face the Captain. "I believe we are judged in the here and now for the sins we commit in the here and now, and that our hell is of our making. Evil men receive their just rewards as surely as good men, and we do not need to wait on a deity to pass judgment until the moment of death."

Revel stood very still, hands at his side, mouth suddenly, achingly dry. "Isn't that…isn't that heresy, Majesty?"

Elsa regarded him with a cool stare that seemed to piece his flesh and bone, her cerulean blue orbs practically glowing in the darkness. The Captain felt the wind pick up again but there was a bite to it now, a bitter chill swirling around him like a dervish, and he shivered, pulling his cloak closed in an attempt to combat the cold. Somehow he knew Elsa was doing this, and it made the fear nestled in the pit of his stomach squirm. He'd made her angry.

"Is it heresy to believe that when the sun sets the moon will rise?"

"No, Majesty," Revel said in a small voice. He could see his breath hovering in front of his mouth with each exhale.

"Is it heresy to believe that when the full moon rises the tides will pull back?"

"No, Majesty."

"Then it is not heresy to believe that when a man commits a heinous crime he will find justice in this life as well as in the afterlife, but it will come from this life first. The same for a good man. He will be rewarded in this life first, though not necessarily in the ways he expects."

"Forgive me, Majesty. I didn't mean to offend you."

Elsa took a breath and reined in her arctic magic like a carriage driver pulling hard on a team of horses. She knew Revel hadn't meant to anger her, but the very word heresy put such a fear in the queen she instantly reacted as if being held at knife point. It had been a terrifying subject taught by her tutors and bishop Arren during her younger years. Heretics were often rooted out and tortured to death just because they thought differently from the Church, and growing up with supernatural powers that could very easily be viewed, through a cold religious eye, as a curse from the devil himself, Elsa had sought to make herself as pious as possible. It was just another mask she kept in place while being molded to fit the role of queen. In the privacy of her mind, she oftentimes disagreed with the Church's philosophies and fundamentals, using her time in the library to research other religions and gleaning wisdom from other religious affiliates. It was heretical work and a secret she would never divulge to anyone, even her sister.

"It's all right, Captain," Elsa said icily and turned back towards the entrance door. Revel walked a few steps behind, berating himself for being perhaps the biggest fool in Arendelle. He'd almost accused the queen of being a heretic, a crime, should she view it that way, that could very easily lead to his beheading. Swallowing the growing lump in his throat, he followed the queen until they reached the entrance door and pulled it open for her, eyes downcast as she glided by.

"Good night, Majesty."

"Good night, Captain," Elsa said over her shoulder and disappeared through the antechamber door without a backwards glance. Revel let out a long sigh and closed the parapet door and leaned against it, eyes cast towards the heavens. Despite the fog swallowing the city, a few cold stars winked at him from between the rolling clouds, and he let out another long sigh, the cold finally leaving him.

"Ah father, are you laughing at me right now? You always said I had a way with words."

The next afternoon a schooner with crimson sails and a white hull docked in Arendelle harbor, and Elsa couldn't have been more relieved or happy to see the small ship bouncing on the waves as the small crew lashed the sails and lowered the gangplank. Two weeks had practically flown by without her noticing. With her nightly walks with Revel to look forward to, the days had sped by, the endless loads of paperwork and meetings nothing more than a mild irritation now that she had something to occupy her evenings. But after her behavior last night, with how she'd left the Captain, Elsa didn't know if she could face him again. She knew she shouldn't have gotten angry, but fear had once again ruined a perfectly pleasant evening. Sighing inwardly, the queen watched from the end of the dock as Anna and Kristoff emerged from the ship and made their way towards her.

Kristoff raised a hand in greeting, but Anna did not. Elsa felt a frown crease her forehead as she watched the newlyweds draw near. Her sister looked thinner somehow, and her skin had an ashy grey pallor to it. The queen also noticed that Kristoff had his left arm snaked around her waist as if he were holding her up, and Elsa's puzzlement turned to concern.

"Ah, there's nothing better than having familiar soil under my feet. Well, dock wood, but you know what I mean," Kristoff said coming to stand in front of Elsa. His smile was quick and a little forced as he maintained his grip on Anna.

"I'm glad to see that the two of you made it back in one piece," Elsa said hugging her brother-in-law before turning to her little sister. "Anna, what's wrong? You don't look well."

"I'm fine," the princess said with a casual wave of her hand.

"She's been sick for three days," Kristoff said by way of answer when Elsa shot him questioning a look. "We don't know if it was something she ate or something she picked up while traveling; though I told you not to eat that market fish, but you wouldn't listen."

"There was nothing wrong with the fish," Anna groaned.

"It was a fish with the head of a sheep! Anything that has mixed animal parts is highly suspicious!"

Anna opened her mouth to retort when suddenly her face lost its color and she shoved Kristoff aside, running for the edge of the dock where the ship bumped the wood as the waves rolled under it. One hand against the white hull, the young princess vomited into the harbor.

"I swear to God, I've got nothing in my system to throw up anymore," Anna gasped leaning against the hull, sweat prickling her pale brow. Elsa stepped next to her and rubbed her back gently, letting her cool hands sooth Anna's fevered skin. Again the young princess heaved into the harbor but nothing came up but stomach bile.

"You're going to see the Physician immediately," the queen said snaking an arm around her little sister's shoulders and guiding her away once the vomiting had stopped. She expected Anna to put up a fight, to grouse or pout, but the princess only nodded weakly and allowed herself to be led away. Elsa ordered her sister and Kristoff's things to be brought into the Great Hall and left the crew to handle the rest. It didn't take long to reach the medical wing of the castle, and already there was a white clad apprentice waiting for the royal sisters when they arrived.

"Good afternoon, Majesties," the young woman said in a low curtsey. "Physician Brynja was notified by the schooner captain of Princess Anna's condition. She's already waiting to receive you."

"Very good," Elsa said stepping away from Anna after a quick hug. "I'll be waiting in my study."

Anna nodded weakly and followed the apprentice through a set of low green doors, head down and shoulders slumped. Elsa watched her go with a mix of concern and anxiety warring in her stomach.

The princess had never been a sickly child, the hours she spent outside in the sunlight strengthening her body against most illnesses. There had only been one instance Elsa remembered when the princess had become ill enough for the Physician to be called. Anna had come down with a nasty flu and had collapsed during one of her riding lessons, very nearly cracking her skull open when she'd fallen from the horse's back. Elsa remembered seeing the white clad apprentices race past the dining room where she was studying with her language tutor one spring afternoon. They returned a few minutes later with Anna on a cloth stretcher, her tiny hand dangling over the edge as they made for the medical wing. Elsa jumped up from her studies and bumped into her father as she swung around the corner.

"They say she may have hit her head, but it's the fever that has them worried."

Elsa had wrung her gloved hands as she watched the cluster of apprentices disappear from sight, taking her sister with them. She could feel the cold starting to seep into her hands and for once wished she could do something with her magic. Maybe, just maybe, she'd be able to fight the fever. But no, her powers could only harm, and she pushed the ridiculous idea from her mind.

Still, her fear wasn't entirely rooted enough to keep the young queen-to-be from sneaking out of her room that night and padding down to Anna's quarters, opening her door without making a sound. Her little sister lay sleeping in her bed, a white bandage wrapped around her head. Elsa approached cautiously, making sure not to step on any floorboards that might creak, and stood next to her sister's bed. She could see the flush of fever in her little Anna's cheeks and sheen of sweat coating much of her exposed skin.

"I'm so sorry, Anna," Elsa whispered, gloved fingers curling into the comforter. The little princess mumbled in her sleep, face scrunched in what could have been a pained expression, a small whimper escaping her parted lips. Biting her lip, Elsa looked over her shoulder just to make sure no one was there before slipping off her gloves and calling her magic into her hands. A small ball of iridescent blue appeared at the center of her palm, hovering ever so slightly above her skin on a pillow of super cold air. With the flick of her wrist the ball shot skyward a few feet before exploding in a shower of blue and white sparks, arctic air washing over the two sisters. Elsa held her breath, not daring to breathe in case it tipped the balance of her power and suddenly froze Anna like she feared, but the little princess seemed to instantly relax and shifted into a more comfortable position.

"I love you, Anna," Elsa whispered, planting a kiss on the girl's now cool cheek and quickly moved out of the room before someone caught her. Before she shut the door, she heard Anna shift again.

"Love you too, Elsa," the little princess slurred, but whether it was in answer to a dream or the young queen-to-be's words was left unknown.

Elsa quickly shut the door and scrambled back to her room. She was never able to work up the courage to help her sister like that again, but it was one of the few warm memories she had of her childhood while locked away in seclusion.

Watching Anna disappear behind the green doors of the medical wing, Elsa felt the sudden urge to reach out and help her sister in any way possible, whether it be magical or otherwise.

She's in good hands. Let the professionals do their jobs, she thought and forced herself to leave the wing and return to her study. There would be no work getting done today, she could already tell, but at least here she could pace without anyone seeing.

Two hours later a knock sounded at her door, and Elsa beckoned whoever was there to enter. She'd finally settled down enough to sign a few treaties and looked up from her papers as Anna walked in. The young princess looked as if she were in a daze, eyes glassy and distant. Elsa rose slowly, returning her quill pen to its holder.

"What did the Physician say?"

Anna shuffled towards the low couch against the far wall as if not hearing her sister. She was just about to pass the first wingback chair in front of the fireplace when her knees buckled and she stumbled. Elsa rushed to her side, nearly knocking over her chair in her haste.

"Anna, what's wrong? What did she say?" The queen was growing more panicked by the minute and felt the room's temperature dip. She guided her sister to the couch and helped her sit, sinking down in front of her. "Anna, what did she say?"

"I'm pregnant," the princess whispered, right hand clutching the front of her dress. Her words seemed to stir her from her stupor, and she looked up at her older sister, tears in her eyes. "Elsa, I'm pregnant."

The queen rocked back on her heels as if struck, eyebrows shooting up into her hairline. All she could think of was, Already? It's only been a few weeks, but what came out instead was, "With what?"

Anna's mouth fell open as she quickly regained some semblance of control over herself. "A reindeer baby, didn't you know? Sven is going to be a proud father. What do you mean 'with what'? A baby, Elsa. A human baby!"

"That's not what I…Anna are they sure?"

"Physician Brynja did a number of tests, did them twice actually, and they all came back positive. I'm going to have a baby," Anna said putting a hand gently on her stomach. Suddenly a smile lit her face, and tears rolled from her eyes. "Oh Elsa, Kristoff and I are going to have a baby!"

The queen smiled with her sister despite a whole new war of emotions taking place inside her. Anna was pregnant; the Frosberg line was safe and would continue with her children. That was good wasn't it? Isn't that what any ruling monarch wanted, the endless continuation of their line? If so, then why did she feel a sudden thrill of fear at the idea of their family expanding?

There's going to be a child in this castle…a child around me.

Then a more sinister thought.

Oh god, what if it turns out to be like me? What if the baby has powers? Mother and Father never did explain why I was born the way I was, but it had something to do with the bloodline. What if it continues with Anna's baby?

"Elsa, are you listening to me?"

The queen shook herself, trying to be rid herself of the haunting thoughts pulling at her mind. "Sorry, I got lost in my thoughts again."

"You always do that when you're worried about something. What is it?"

Damn if you aren't sharp as a razor sometimes, Elsa sighed inwardly.

Three years of being in each other's near constant presence had taught the royal sisters how to spot subtle signs of emotional or physical trouble. Anna was like an open book for Elsa, her mannerisms and ticks easy to spot since her sister wore her heart on her sleeve. She knew when she was angry, or scared, or happy by just looking at the set of her shoulders and the way she expressed herself through her eyes. But the queen had been a difficult puzzle for the princess to crack at first. Eventually, Anna had found a chink in her sister's armor and slowly began peeling back the layers until she could read her sister as clearly as Elsa could read her. It all came down to shifts in her conversation, or dead spots if she retreated into her mind, the way she clenched her hands and the set of her jaw. And right now, Anna could tell Elsa was scared.

Knowing that denial of the princess's inquiry would lead to more prying, Elsa sighed and took her sister's hands in hers. "First let me say that I'm so happy for you. You always talked about having a big family, and here you are starting one, and with the man of your dreams no less. Papa would be so happy right now, and I think Mama would be in tears. This is the start of your life, Anna, and I'm so happy I can be a part of it."

Anna's smile was like sunshine, and Elsa reveled in it. But then it faded as the young princess's brow creased, her original question still hanging in the air between them. "There's a 'but' in there somewhere, I can feel it."

"Anna, what if the baby turns out to be like me?" Elsa said fighting to get her words out. "We don't know how the bloodline works. It skipped you; maybe it'll begin again with your baby."

"We don't know if your powers have anything to do with the Frosberg bloodline," Anna said squeezing her sister's hands tightly. Yes, it was a fear the princess had when it came to having children, but it wasn't something she couldn't handle. She'd decided a long time ago, when she and Kristoff had begun seriously courting, that if they did make a child together and it was born with powers she wouldn't go the route her parents had and close it off from society. The child would be raised to accept their abilities and taught how to use them through sheer determination and force of will. The child would never, for a minute, be lead to believe their differences made them a monster or a freak.

"But it had to come from somewhere. Anna, how will you raise—"

"With love and acceptance," Anna interjected and took her sister's face in her hands. Elsa's skin was so cold it began to numb her palms, but Anna refused to let go, refused to let her sister sink further into her fears. This was a happy moment, and they would share it together.

"I won't make the same mistakes Mama and Papa did with you. I know now what they did was wrong, and a part of me hates them for it."

"Don't say that—"

"No, it's true. What they did was the worst thing a parent could have done. I can't remember the night when they took me to the trolls, but, from what you've described to me, they both were told that you needed to learn to control your powers. Fear was what would destroy you, and their fear very nearly did. I won't make that mistake with this little one. If he or she is born with powers like yours we will teach them how to control it and how to embrace it. It won't be a stain or a sin; it'll just be a natural part of them."

Elsa felt tears well in her eyes and pulled her sister close. Sometimes Anna could be the most annoying, brash, hot tempered, defiant person in all of Arendelle, but sometimes, like during moments like these, the young queen caught a glimpse of a deep-rooted wisdom dwelling in her sister's soul. She could say the most profound things and it would take Elsa's breath away, like it was doing now.

"I love you, Anna," Elsa said squeezing her sister as tightly as she could. Anna returned the embrace, nuzzling into the crook of the queen's neck.

"I love you too, Elsa." Then more quietly, "Do you remember when I told you at the wedding reception that it was the happiest day of my life?"

Elsa nodded.

"Well I was wrong. I think this moment is the happiest."

Elsa smiled and pressed her forehead against Anna's, feeling the warmth of her sister wash over her. "Do you have any names already picked out?"

Anna laughed and pulled back. "I just found out."

"Please," the queen said rolling her eyes, "you used to name every frog in the castle fountains. I can't believe you've never thought about baby names."

"Maybe I have," Anna said making a face at her sister. A sudden knock at the door made the two turn, and Kristoff poked his head in a second later.

"There you are. I went to the medical wing, but they said you'd already left." He walked into the study and shut the door behind him, noticing for the first time the tears on his wife and sister-in-law's face. "What's going on?"

Elsa cleared her throat and stood, smoothing out the fabric of her dress with one hand while wiping the line of tears from her face with the other.

"I'll leave the two of you alone and go see where supper is." She glided across the room, stopped next to a bewildered Kristoff, and put a hand on his shoulder. He turned to look at her, face full of concern, and she had to fight to keep her smooth mask in place. "God help you, Kristoff. You'll be in my prayers."

And with that she swept from the room, a huge smile on her face until she reached the spiral stairs and noticed the pair of patrol guards standing there. Her thoughts returned to last night's conversation with Revel, and her heart sunk a bit. Then another thought crossed her mind and she winced, realizing what she had to do.

For the First Time in Never

A Frozen Story
by JE Glass

Part 3 of 24

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