Continuing Tales

For the First Time in Never

A Frozen Story
by JE Glass

Part 7 of 24

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Tuesdays: Elsa hated them with such vehemence it could have qualified as one of the seven deadly sins. For most people in her kingdom, and in any other working city on the planet, Mondays were usually the most loathed days of the week. Mondays meant going back to work; Mondays meant an end to the bliss of perhaps one day of needed rest. They were the start of the work week and were the bane of society's existence, but not for the queen. Mondays she could handle; it was Tuesday she came to utterly loathe with every fiber of her being. Tuesdays were the days she entertained dignitaries and heard the plaintive cases made by nobles about various grievances. They were the days she spent a majority of her time locked in a dueling dance with money lenders and tax collectors, discussing trade and the highs and lows of the current season. Yes, Tuesdays were the queen's long days, and today was shaping up to be one of those hateful second weekdays where she seriously toyed with the idea of icing her kingdom one more time.

After leaving her session with Revel early, partially out of playful spite for what he'd pulled with the sandbag and partially out of embarrassment for her less than mature retaliation, the queen had promptly returned to her quarters and gone to bed, but sleep eluded her like fingers grasping at smoke. No matter how much she tossed and turned, muttered at her ceiling in frustration, paced her chamber, or tried reading she wasn't able to fall into blissful unconsciousness until the wee hours of the morning. When she finally drifted off her sleep was fractured and plagued with strange cryptic dreams that made her eyes dance under her eyelids while she muttered incoherently at the dark chamber. It was Kai's insistent knocking that eventually woke her like a bucket of cold water to the face. Startled, the queen struggled with her comforter and somehow wound up slipping off the edge of her tall bed and crashing to the floor in an undignified heap. Back arched against the sudden pain shooting through her ribs and legs, Elsa rolled over onto her stomach and pressed her forehead against the cool wood floor, hissing through her teeth.

"Majesty, are you all right?" came Kai's worried voice from behind the door.

Oh yes, perfectly fine, Elsa thought, jacking herself up into a sitting position. I've just been getting beaten by my guard Captain on a nightly basis with eighty pound sandbags and wooden sticks until I can't bloody well walk right the next morning without looking like an invalid. Of course everything's fine. Excuse me while I scrape together my jelly legs and crawl to the damn door.

"Yes, fine!" she shouted instead and stumbled to her feet, rubbing her tired eyes and blinking in the soft half-light streaming in through the crack in her window curtains.

"Have I come at a bad time?" It was Kai's veiled way of saying, why are you still in bed when there's work to be done?

"One moment," she sighed with as much patience as she could muster, which judging by the snaps of cold wind circling her wasn't much, and fetched her silk robe before stumbling to the door and yanking it open. Kai jumped back at the sudden cold but immediately schooled his face into a mask of apologetic politeness.

"So sorry to wake you, Majesty, but Duke Edgeden has just arrived and is waiting for you in the parlor."

God's balls, its Tuesday isn't it?

Elsa covered her groan by rubbing her face and pushing a few stray locks of platinum hair out of her eyes. She'd been dreading the meeting with Duke Edgeden since he'd scheduled it a month ago. The old man was pretentious and crass with a short temper and deep pockets, meaning he believed himself above most common law and courtesy. And the reason for his meeting with the queen was an irksome topic they had discussed many times before, but the old man wouldn't be content until he got his way. No, this was shaping up to be a terrible Tuesday indeed.

"Thank you Kai, I hadn't meant to oversleep. Tell the Duke I will be with him shortly."

"Shall I have breakfast brought up here for you, Majesty?"

"No, that won't be necessary. I'll skip breakfast today in order to see to the Duke." Then more quietly she added, "The faster I get to our meeting the faster he can leave."

Kai nodded knowingly, he'd witnessed the snarling matches the Duke and the queen had partaken in during past meetings, and hurried off as Elsa shut the door behind her and leaned against it, body weary and sore.

That sandbag really did a number on me, Elsa thought as she attempted to take a deep breath but couldn't manage it. When she pulled her thin nightgown off and examined herself in the tall mirror beside her dresser, she wasn't surprised to find a nasty black and purple bruise the size of a dinner plate taking up a portion of her side. The queen winced when her cool fingers brushed the sensitive surface, pain sparking like live embers.

I honestly think Revel's trying to slowly beat me to death.

Knowing she had no chance of appearing the proper monarch with a bruise as sensitive as this screaming on her side, Elsa gently spread her right hand until her fingers were splayed and pressed it against the bruise. For a brief moment there was exquisite pain before her magic began to do its job and numb the area, blissful relief washing over her like a balm. After a few minutes the bruise was somewhat less angry looking and she could at least take a semi-deep breath without coughing or grimacing.

After that, dressing was a quick affair, a gown having already been laid out the day before upon her request to Gerda. Lacing her bodice took a few minutes longer than anticipated, Elsa taking her time as she twisted to reach the laces. Her hair was the same, done in her now customary messy French braid thrown over her left shoulder. She left out the snowflake ornaments for time's sake and made her way as quickly as her aching body would allow down to the parlor where the Duke waited, pacing like a caged animal.

"The proper age for marriage is clearly outlined in our laws," Elsa growled some time later, clenching her hands together so tightly her finger tips began to turn milky white. She and the Duke had been arguing for three hours now, and her already frayed patience was down to its last scraggly thread.

"Those documents were written a hundred years ago, Majesty. I implore you to have them rewritten and updated. These are newer and greater times we have been blessed enough to see, and laws as archaic as that one should be amended," Duke Edgeden grumbled, thumping the table with a meaty fist, rattling the crystal glasses set between them.

"I am reminded of something my late father would say, 'If a cart already has four wheels there is no reason to add a fifth'," Elsa replied icily, her brows scrunching together in a deep scowl. "Arendelle's marriage law is without flaw, and I will not rewrite it for one man who insists on wedding an underage bride for the sole reason of obtaining her dowry, no matter his station or influence."

"That is not the reasoning behind—"

"My ruling on the matter still stands, and you will obey it or be stripped of your title and jailed. We are done here, Duke Edgeden. My mind will not be swayed."

"This is an outrage!" the Duke bellowed, exploding out of his chair, anger making his pudgy piggish face turn scarlet. "You would raise a peasant to the title of Baron so that the princess could wed him legally, but you will not grant me the hand of the woman I love because she, in the eyes of an archaic law, isn't of legal age? The line you walk between legal propriety and nepotism is thin, Highness."

Elsa was out of her own chair before she realized she'd moved, body shaking with barely contained rage. Ice danced at her finger tips, blue sparks jumping from finger to finger like fireflies as a bitter cold crept into the room. She could have let his comments slide, she could have overlooked his tactless approach to wedding and bedding a minor, which would have been his fifth bride in ten years, but the queen would not have her family insulted, whether to her face or behind her back. That was a mistake she could not and would not overlook, and the sudden flash of fear in the Duke's eyes was enough to tell her he understood he'd crossed a very fine line.

"You will leave my palace immediately," Elsa commanded, walking slowly toward him, cerulean blue eyes glowing with livid anger. "You will return to your small hamlet, go to your chapel, kneel before the altar, and thank God that I had enough self-control not to have you publicly flogged in the Arendelle central square for insubordination and illegal acts towards a minor. You will fall on your face and thank your Creator and all the smaller, lesser known gods of this ancient land that I didn't strip you of your title, land, and servants and leave you penniless in Edgeden hamlet! Because if you don't, I swear to God I will leave you so broken your pigs will eat better than you! Now get out!" She punctuated her last command with a blast of arctic air that buffeted the Duke and made him shriek like a maiden caught bathing in a river.

"A-a-as her Majesty c-c-commands," the Duke stammered as he edged towards the door, body shaking from head to heel. Elsa watched him like a hawk, her eyes tracking him while her body remained statuesque. He made a sharp left the instant he was past the threshold, and the queen prepared to exhale the breath she'd been holding when the Duke shrieked again and backed into the doorway, eyes wide. Half a second later, Elsa heard the unmistakable sound of hooves on carpet and saw Sven step into her line of sight. Dumbfounded, she watched as the reindeer pressed his prickly muzzle against the Duke's torso, snuffling for something under the folds of fabric.

"Majesty, what in God's name—"

"Oh hi Duke I haven't met yet!"

Elsa recognized that high, playful voice and hurried to the door. Sure enough, Olaf was seated atop Sven's back, little stick hands clutching the reindeer's thick shaggy pelt between his shoulder blades and stubby snow feet swinging happily. The little snowman saw Elsa and his face lit up, his already large smile quickly dominating his oval face.

"Hi Elsa!" Olaf waved enthusiastically. "Sven and I just got back from North Mountain. Big brother Marshmallow says hello and look," the little snowman pointed proudly to his head where a small triangular gold tiara glinted in the bright light of the hallway. "He said I could borrow it for a while. Isn't that great!?"

"Olaf," Elsa began and glanced at the Duke out of the corner of her eye. Judging from his stricken expression and pale complexion he was having difficulty wrapping his head around the fact that there was a full grown bull reindeer with a sentient snowman seated on its back taking up a large portion of the hallway. "Why are you riding Sven through my palace?"

"Oh," Olaf's smile fell a little, and he looked around guiltily, "sorry, Elsa. Sven's been acting really funny lately. He keeps looking for Anna. We didn't mean to come into the palace, but he's following her scent….I think. Please don't be mad."

"Majesty, this is highly unpro—"

"I don't believe I gave you permission to speak, sir," Elsa said, snapping her gaze towards the Duke. The pudgy man blanched and wisely tightened his lips. Sven seemed to sense that something was amiss and grunted, lowering his head until the tips of his antlers pointed towards the Duke in what could have been perceived as a threatening gesture. To his credit, the Duke remained still even as beads of sweat began to accumulate along his brow line.

"Olaf, Anna is up at the Overlook with Kristoff. If you hurry, you should be able to catch them. But," she added, raising a finger before the snowman could speak, "you must keep Sven out of the palace from now on, understood? I will not have him wandering the halls, with or without you."

Olaf nodded vigorously, his smile returning. "Oh yes! I will make sure he stays out. You can count on me!"

"Thank you," Elsa smiled and motioned for the Duke to step aside as the little snowman nudged Sven forward. As the reindeer passed the queen and turned back towards the way he had come, Elsa noticed something and had to clench her jaw in order to keep from laughing. She'd not seen it before, but around the little snowman's shoulders hung a deep purple cape nearly four sizes too big for him. Instantly, she recognized it as her lost coronation cape and wondered how and when Olaf had found it. Three years missing was a long time, but here the little snowman was riding on the back of Sven wearing her tiara and cape, looking for all the world like a little prince, and Elsa couldn't help but smile. The cape was so long it draped over Sven's back haunches and trailed the ground.

"Come Sven!" Olaf cried as they slowly trotted down the deserted hallway. "You are a reindeer with the face of a snowman, so we ride!"

Sven gave a contented bellow and charged off down the hallway, purple cape flapping behind him like a flag.

"I trust you can find your way out, Duke Edgeden," Elsa said turning back towards a completely flabbergasted Duke. He looked as if he were about to say something but the cold look the queen gave him dried up whatever he'd been forming on his tongue. "If not, follow the reindeer but be mindful of his antlers. They are sharp but not nearly as sharp as they could be. Remember that."

And with that, Elsa departed in the opposite direction, heading down the hallway towards her study and her chance to finally exhale, but solace wasn't that easily found. Before she could climb the steps leading to the residency wing, Kai intercepted her and informed her that two of Arendelle's treasurers had requested an emergency audience along with a prominent tax collector. It took everything in the queen to keep from groaning aloud and burying her face in her hands. Why did all this have to happen today?

Oh that's right, it's because it's Tuesday.

So, reluctantly, Elsa followed Kai to where the three men waited in nervous eagerness and began another tedious meeting that lasted into the late afternoon hours. When she finally managed to disentangle herself from the men and their endless questions and requests the sun was making its way towards the horizon line, painting the sky in vivid hues of pink, orange, and lavender.

Exhausted and hungry enough to eat the next piece of furniture that crossed her path, Elsa turned her tired body towards the kitchens, stomach growling loud enough it almost echoed in the hallway. Dinner would be served in a few hours, but she was famished and could feel the onset of lightheadedness, a consequence for not having eaten all day. Stopping in front of the kitchen door to fumble with the tricky latch, Elsa was about to push the door open when she heard a crash and a soft string of curses from inside. It didn't sound remotely like Gerda who would have been on the opposite side of the palace doing her final rounds before dinner. Curiosity piqued, the queen shouldered open the door and poked her head inside. The room beyond was stuffy and dimly lit, all the hearths burning at once lending the chamber a sauna-like air. Squinting into the darkness, Elsa saw something shift next to the open pantry moments before Anna stepped into the weak firelight, arms filled with various food items.

"Really, Anna?" Elsa sighed and pushed the door open, bathing the kitchen in bright light from the hallway. The princess jumped a full three feet into the air and promptly dropped everything she'd been carrying. She would have screamed had there not been a biscuit clutched between her teeth. Instead she spat the pastry out in a hasty attempt to hide the fact that it had ever been there.

"What…what are you doing here?" Anna asked, looking around to see if anyone was following her sister, body tense like a coiled spring.

"Doing the same as you, it would seem," Elsa replied, stepping further in and picking up a discarded pastry. Her stomach gave another plaintive growl and she sighed. It would figure the first real food she'd held in her hands all day would have come off the floor.

"I'm not doing-" Anna pressed her lips into a thin line when her sister gave her a knowing look, one perfectly shaped eyebrow raised. "All right, fine. I'm hungry, ok? I can't seem to get full anymore."

"That's because you are eating for two," the queen said dusting off the pastry and promptly biting into it, not caring one bit where it had come from. When you're hungry enough things like dirt and sanitation just don't matter. Happily, she sank into one of the low chairs seated around the square table at the center of the room, munching enthusiastically.

"Ugh, I'm never going to get use to this," Anna groaned, stooping to pick up the food she'd dropped and depositing them onto the table. She took a seat as well, picked out a doughy roll that looked to have been dusted in powdered sugar, and bit into it with a happy moan. "And to make matters worse, I've been having the weirdest cravings."


"Onions and pudding, pickles and ice cream, cold boiled pot roast…and you know how much I hate cold boiled anything! But I just can't get enough, and these cravings hit in the middle of the night when I know the kitchen staff is asleep, so I just toss and turn until sunrise when I can run down and tell Gerda if I don't eat something soon I'll start gnawing off my leg!"

"Well, look at it this way," Elsa offered between chewing and swallowing, "you only have to put up with it for a few months."

Anna groaned again and finished her pastry only to pick up another at random and begin devouring it.

"Mother use to have strange cravings when she was pregnant with you," Elsa said after a moment, eyes distant as she called the memory to the forefront of her mind. Anna managed to make a questioning sound around her full mouth in response. "She used to crave boiled beets and cheese fondue, or salted cabbage stew."

The queen laughed at the hazy memory of her mother sitting at the dining room table, belly swollen like an overly full water-skin, eating a special course prepared by the kitchen staff while the little princess and her father ate separate meals. Elsa had wrinkled her nose when her mother had offered her a bite of her cheesy beets and laughed when her mother laughed at her expression.

"I wish she could be here," Anna said quietly, resting her hands atop her own slightly swollen stomach. "I have so many questions…"

Elsa reached out and took her sister's hands, smiling. "I know Anna, I wish the same. But we'll get through this together, you and me, stumbling around like blind fools, but we'll get through it. I promise."

Anna smiled warmly and squeezed back, happy for her older sister's nearness.

"Anyway, I wouldn't make it a habit coming into the pantry and stealing food. You may be fully grown, but I don't think Gerda would think twice about smacking you with a spoon if she caught you."

Anna winced at the memory of what Gerda's spoon could do and scratched the back of her head guiltily. "You're probably right."

As if talking about the service matron somehow summoned her, Gerda walked into the kitchen and pulled up short when she saw the two women sitting at the table.

"Majesties, is there something I can get you?" she asked with dubious gravity, setting her bundle of freshly picked herbs down next to the door and looking at each girl in turn. Even as grown women, the royal sisters shrank a bit under Gerda's cool gaze, feeling like naughty children caught with their hands in the cookie jar again.

"Forgive us, Gerda, but our stomachs couldn't wait until dinner," Elsa smiled thinly, cleaning bits of crumbs from the corner of her mouth with a napkin from the center of the table.

"You I can understand, Majesty," Gerda said nodding at Elsa. "You've not eaten a crumb all day. But you," she turned her steely gaze into Anna who flushed a soft shade of pink, "I've fed at least three times already. Are you sure you're only having one child and not two, or perhaps three?"

Anna paled a bit. "Oh God, I hope it's only one."

"As does my supply stock," Gerda grumbled, moving towards one of the hearths and checking the contents happily simmering in a black, deep-belly kettle. "Go ahead and finish your snacks in the dining room if you please, Majesties. Dinner will be ready shortly."

Both sisters rose quickly and ducked out of the kitchen, giggling as bursts of nostalgia hit them as they moved down the long servant's hallway, arm in arm.

However small the break in the queen's hectic and stressful day had been, Elsa was glad for it. It was refreshing and gave her an energy boost strong enough to carry her through her after dinner activities, mainly signing more legal contracts and trade agreements. Her brief talk with Anna in the kitchen and the nostalgia trip afterward stayed with her as she slipped into her nightly sparring outfit, a lavender fencer's top with a soft brown leather vest, customary fitted black breeches and black boots, and snuck off to the guard's tower for her session with Revel. Lost in thought, she pushed her way into the training chamber without noticing she'd even arrived.

"Coin for your thoughts?"

Elsa jumped and inadvertently iced the door behind her, a thin film of creeping frost climbing the wall like ivy. She spun in the direction of Revel's voice and found him leaning casually against the wall directly behind where the door would have swung open, concealing him as the queen entered. Immediately wary, Elsa slowly hung her cloak on the hook and stepped away from the Captain who smiled at her pleasantly.

"Sorry, this has been a particularly taxing day," Elsa said crossing her arm over her chest and quickly looking around the room. She noticed that the training square had been freshly swept and the weapons on the left side of the room had been moved to the right, opening up a large space that was currently taken up by four large targets. Curiously, she approached the square and looked down the room at the round painted pieces of packed hay.

"No sandbags tonight?" she asked offhandedly.

"No sandbags," Revel confirmed and pushed off the wall. He walked with his hands behind his back and took measured steps, something Elsa had come to recognize as his thinking stride. The Captain came to stand next to the queen and cleared his throat. "Tonight we're going to do things a little differently."

"Is this payback for freezing your pants?" Elsa asked, not wanting to beat around the bush with her instructor. Revel wasn't a vengeful man, as far as she could tell, but he wasn't acting his usual calm self. In fact, he seemed hesitant with an undertone of excitement burning in his green eyes, and that made Elsa nervous.

"No, Majesty—"

"I told you, call me Elsa when we are alone in this room," she said firmly.

"Apologies, I'd forgotten," Revel replied with a slight bow that had nothing to do with formality. "No, Elsa, this isn't payback for freezing my pants, though I do commend you on a marvelous display of retaliation."

Elsa flushed and made sure to keep her eyes on the targets. "That was unprofessional of me to do."

"As was throwing down a surprise eighty pound sandbag," Revel countered, canting his head.

"You're the instructor. I expect you to throw in some—"

"It could have seriously hurt you had you not had the foresight to turn sideways," Revel interrupted. Surprised by the concern in his voice, Elsa turned and caught a fleeting glimpse of regret flash across Revel's face.

"I'm not angry with you," she said quietly, drawing his steely gaze away from the targets and gracing him with a quick smile. "I should have expected there to be at least one catch to the exercise."

"Regardless," Revel said with a sigh, "it wasn't right of me. So, I've decided to forgo your training with the sandbags in lieu of something new." The Captain clapped his hands together and strode out into the center of the training square directly between Elsa and the targets.

"Archery?" she ventured with a shrug.

"Close, but on a more…personal scale. I realized something last night after you left, and I wanted to ask you about it. When you froze my pants, how did you do it?"

Elsa blinked and frowned. "I'm not sure I understand your question."

"How did you freeze my pants?"

"With my powers," the queen said slowly.

"Yes, of course," Revel said in a tone that sounded like it could have been attached to an eye roll, "but how did you do it? What were you thinking of when you sent that little ball of cold air up to me? How did you only freeze my pants and nothing else?"

"Ah, now I understand. Well," Elsa scratched her neck idly and began pacing the width of the training square, mind trying to dissect how she'd actually used her magic last night without causing harm to him. "It's hard to explain, but the way I see it, I first called the ice to my hand."

"Show me," Revel said falling into step alongside her. Elsa obliged and summoned a carbon copy of the same semi-formed ball of ice she'd used last night. It hovered above her palm on a cushion of super cold air that the Captain could feel even at a slight distance. "Wonderful, what happened next?"

"I flicked it off my hand with my thumb and middle finger." Elsa demonstrated and the coin sized piece of ice flew off her palm and struck the floor a few feet away where it exploded into a wide silver pool of frost upon impact.

"How did you keep it from sticking to my skin and only staying on my pants?" Revel asked, walking over to the ice pool and squatting down so he could dip his fingers into the white fractals.

Elsa made a face somewhere between frustration and annoyance, unable to form her thoughts into proper, understandable words. She'd spent countless hours breaking apart her powers in her head over the course of her lifetime, but actually putting those carefully cataloged thoughts into coherent words was proving to be a challenge. Finally she decided to just try her best to explain and hope she didn't sound like an idiot.

"The only thing I can tell you is that I willed it not to go any farther than your pants and to only stick to the fabric. I guess it's like whispering a command to a servant. They obey immediately without question. My ice works like that, or at least has begun to the more I use it. Sometimes it has the ability to override me, like then you startled me just a few moments ago and I frosted the door." Elsa pointed to the now thawed door to emphasize her point.

"So your ice also works on an emotional level," Revel mused, stroking his chin.

"It has the ability to, yes," Elsa nodded. "When I'm happy, I can control my powers without much trouble, but when I'm in a state of high emotion: fear, sadness, anxiety or pain, my powers tend to take on a life of their own. It works on a subconscious level."

"A manifestation of your conscious and subconscious thought into physical form," Revel stated more to himself than to the queen. Elsa stared at the Captain in stunned surprise, not having expected him to grasp her meaning so quickly.

"Yes, you pretty much have the gist of it."

"I had a feeling that was the case, but I wanted to make absolutely sure before we began tonight's lessons." Revel gestured to the targets. "You have excelled in all that I've taught you up to this point, Elsa. You have proven to be an excellent student and have a firm grasp on the basic foundations of combat, so I'm pleased to announce that we will no longer be going through drills or dodging sandbags. Now we begin weapons training, but with a twist. I will again teach you the basics of weapons combat, but you will not be using any of the weapons you see in this room. In fact, you will not be using wood or metal weapon at all."

Elsa understood what the Captain was getting at and felt her pulse quicken. "You want me to only use my ice. Why?"

"For one very important reason. Your ice, unlike the weapons you see lining these walls, cannot be taken from you. Remember the first conversation you and I had regarding your powers and using them while training?"

Elsa nodded, "Your argument was that my ice was the best multi-tool I could have when it comes to combat."

"And I still stand by that statement. Your magic gives you a near limitless supply of possibilities when it comes to self-defense and combat, as well as the added benefit of carrying almost any weapon on you at any given time. So that is what we will begin working on, shaping your magic into usable weapons which you can summon at a moment's notice. For now we'll focus on the smaller end of things such as daggers, knives, and short swords as well as some range weapons."

"Well, unless you were planning on having me hurtle swords down your training chamber, I doubt those targets are meant for anything save for arrows. Possibly arrows like this," Elsa said and instantly a long, delicate arrow appeared in her hand with a swirl of blue and white. Revel blinked in surprise and gently took the projectile from the queen.

"This…is beautiful." Carefully, because he didn't know how fragile the arrow was, Revel slid his fingers down the shaft and over the crystal fletching at the end, marveling how each individual feather fiber came apart and locked back together like the real thing. "This is a far cry better than I had hoped. How did you get the fletching so accurate?"

"Practice," Elsa smiled with a hint of pride. She'd been practicing for months trying to get the arrow right. The shaft hadn't been hard, it was essentially a long thin ice cycle. The arrowhead was the same, she could mold ice into wickedly sharp pieces without even thinking, but the fletching had proven difficult. Sure, she could form a guiding base for the arrow out of solid ice and it would still fly true, but there was a subtle beauty to natural feather fletching that she had been desperate to capture. So after hundreds of failures, Elsa had finally figured out how to make her ice form into individual feather fibers that acted just like the real thing.

"Do you know how strong it is?"

"I'd wager as strong as any ice would be," Elsa admitted with a shrug.

"May I?" Revel asked, gripping the center of the shaft like a man about to snap a twig in half.

"Be my guest."

It didn't take much to snap the ice arrow in half, the brittle shaft coming apart in a clean break. Revel examined the break carefully, sharp eyes following the fracture lines. He even went as far as putting the two pieces back together to see if they still fit one another snugly. With the flick of her wrist, Elsa mended the shaft, leaving behind a small band of discoloration from where it had fused back together.

"I have a feeling that will be a weak point on the arrow now."

"Good thing I can make more," Elsa said smiling.

"It's a pity you can't make them stronger…" A thought suddenly struck the Captain and he looked up at the queen excitedly. "I have an idea. Here, make a new arrow."

Elsa obliged and another perfect arrow formed in her hand.

"You said that when you sent that ball of ice up to me you willed it to stick to only my pants, correct?"

Elsa nodded.

"I want you to concentrate on this arrow," Revel instructed, grabbing the shaft like he'd done with the previous one, "and pour all your will into it to keep it from snapping."

"I'm not sure it works that way," Elsa frowned, squinting at the ice arrow. She'd never thought about enhancing the tensile strength of her ice before because circumstances had never called for it. During her duel with the Weselton brothers three years ago she'd not been concerned about how strong her ice was, just how fast she was able to parry their attacks. But now that she thought about it, Revel's words made a great deal of sense. She had the ability to cast her will into her ice and make it do things normal ice would never do, so it was entirely possible she could will the arrow not to break.

"All right, let's give it a go," the queen said spreading her feet in order to anchor herself. Revel grinned and readied himself, arms already applying a slight amount of pressure to the shaft.

Elsa sank into herself, falling down the long tunnel to where her ice swirled behind her solar plexus in a soft, undulating ball. Tapping into her power was akin to twitching a finger or making a fist, she just had to think about it, mentally reach for the ball, and it came to her instantaneously. Submerging herself entirely in her power wasn't something she often did, fearing that if she went too far she'd somehow lose her human anchor and be swept away by ice and snow, but today she dove deep and anchored herself there. Taking a slow breath through her nose, Elsa extended her mental reach until she felt the ice arrow nestled in Revel's hands. It being the only piece of magical ice in the room, she was able to lock onto it with ease, the projectile practically glowing in her mind's eye. Centering herself mentally, the queen called to the ice and re-bound it to her like interlacing fingers. Even at a short distance she could feel every facet, every fractal, every flake that went into forming the arrow, and she broke those elements down to a molecular level and inserted the weaves of her willpower into the gaps until the arrow responded to her every thought and whim.

Strong, she told the ice in the simple language of water. Hold strong.

Opening her eyes, Elsa extended her hand, fingers splayed and brow furrowed in concentration. She physically felt it when Revel began to apply pressure on the shaft, a building tension behind her eyes like the headaches she sometimes got when a storm system rolled in off the sea. In addition to the tension, Elsa also felt a slight burning in her nose that reminded her of accidentally snorting water, and a firm weight pressing down on her shoulders. This trifecta of feeling simultaneously hit as the Captain continued to try and snap the arrow and grew in intensity the harder he pushed.

"This is amazing," Revel breathed. He could feel the ice snapping and crackling under his palms but it didn't snap or fracture in the slightest. He smiled up at the queen who returned his grin with and thin smile, face set in a concentrated scowl.

"How hard can you make it? Is this as far as you can go?"

"Try and break it if you can. I love a challenge," Elsa quipped and took a step closer to the Captain, hand still extended. Revel seemed to love the idea of a magical tug of war and redoubled his efforts, bending in half at the waist in order to get more leverage.

Elsa felt the effects of his force like a blow and winced as the tension behind her eyes and weight on her shoulders steadily increased. Teeth gritted, she pushed back harder, doubling her previous will-push and commanding the ice to hold. The two remained locked in a stalemate for a few minutes, Revel giving ground as his muscles began to fatigue only to muster up more strength and press harder while Elsa did the same.

"You have an amazingly strong will," Revel grunted, attempting to shake away the sweat dripping down into his eyes. He laughed to himself, eyes moving between Elsa and the arrow and back again. Had he been paying closer attention he'd have seen that the queen's extended right hand was shaking badly, finger tips chalky white as if she were pressing against a solid brick wall, her once focused expression morphing into one of slightly bearable pain. Had the Captain looked up, he'd have also seen that the bright cerulean of the queen's eyes was starting to dim as a swirling white-gray film overtook her natural blue color.

Jaws clench so tightly she thought she was going to crack her back teeth, Elsa tried to maintain her hold on the arrow, but she could feel the shaft starting to break. The effect was like being crushed to death. Every muscle, every joint, every bone screamed in unison for the pressure to stop. She realized with a thrill of fear that it had been a mistake to completely bind her will with the arrow because now she was unable disentangle from her magic. She'd plunged too far too fast and wove herself too finely into the fibers that when the arrow began to crack and splinter she felt her mind do the same.

Don't let him break the arrow! A voice from somewhere deep inside the recesses of her fracturing mind screamed, but it was too late. The sound of cracking ice filled every inch of her being.

"God you're strong, but I think…I'm getting…the upper…hand!" Revel laughed as he began to feel the shaft bend. He was just about to snap the arrow when he noticed two things. One was a tiny grain of abnormally bright, pulsating light beginning to grow at the center of the shaft between his knuckle white hands. The second was the pained wheeze from the queen. Both of these things caught his attention, and he snapped his head up in surprised concern with just enough time to realize something had gone terribly wrong before the arrow in his hand cracked and simultaneously exploded like an arctic powder keg, throwing both participants back.

Gasping as a cold unlike anything he'd ever felt before enveloped him in icy arms, Revel struggled to rid himself of the thick coating of ice and snow clinging to his skin. He could feel his eyelids sticking together each time he blinked, and his hands seemed to have frozen into immobile fists still clenching either end of the ice arrow. With some effort he was able to open them up, the skin on his palms burning. Eventually the ringing in his ears subsided, and he rolled onto his side, coughing as his lungs spasmed around the super cold air swirling around him. Brushing more ice from his face, Revel pushed himself into a sitting position and felt his jaw hit the floor as the extent of the damage done to his training chamber sank in. Twenty feet in any given direction sheets and fangs of ice clung to everything. The ground under him was entirely ice, great swirling patterns dancing across the floor in a curious design that looked like a snowflake, but it was what sat at the center of the training square that dominated his attention. Revel could only describe what he was seeing as a fountain frozen in time, arms of water stopped in mid arch and twist and left to harden. It was beautiful, it was elegant, and it would have been something he could have appreciated had he not noticed the crumpled form of the queen lying beside it.

"Elsa!" Revel struggled to his feet, the ice making it hard to find traction. Finally he was up and moving and skittered to her side, sliding most of the way on his knees. Remarkably none of the ice had touched her. "Elsa, are you all right? Majesty, can you hear me?"

The sight of dark crimson droplets staining the frozen earth around her made his heart stop, and he frantically began checking her body for wounds but found none. It seemed most of the blood was coming from her nose, streaks of red tricking down her face, cheeks and neck in finger thick streams. He spotted trails of red in her hair where more blood trailed out of her ears and stained her platinum locks like fallen petals of a rust colored flower.

"Shit….shit!" Frantically, Revel cast about for something to stop the bleeding but couldn't find anything that wasn't encased in ice. And to make matters worse the room was beginning to get colder, that or he was finally feeling the full effects of the wintery wonderland on his unprepared body. Either way, the Captain knew he couldn't stay in the training chamber much longer, but he wasn't about to leave the queen, and he couldn't very well take her directly to the Physician without questions being asked. So against his better judgment, Revel scooped the limp young woman into his arms and made his careful way towards a small iron and wood door on the far side of the room.

One handed, he turned the doorknob, hissing as the cold metal bit into his palm, and stepped into the warmth of his personal chamber. Kicking the door shut behind him with a rattling slam, Revel quickly walked to his bed and lay Elsa down as gingerly as he could, mindful of her head and the injuries she might have sustained. Body already starting to thaw, the Captain hurriedly threw on a fresh shirt and trousers before moving with efficient precision around his surprisingly spacious quarters, gathering a clean wash basin, tea kettle, and a few strips of linen from his medical kit. Opening a small high window, Revel leaned out and grabbed the rain bucket he kept wedged under a roof eave, checked the freshness of the water with a quick sip then poured it into the kettle to begin boiling over the small fire in his hearth. What water remained in the bucket he used to wet a linen strip and began cleaning the blood off the queen's face.

"God, I'm such an idiot," Revel growled to himself as he gently wiped at the bright streaks of crimson. "That was an insanely stupid thing for me to ask you to do."

Elsa didn't stir even when he gently turned her head and began clearing the blood from her neck. Some of it had rolled beneath the collar of her vest, and before he realized what he was doing, Revel undid the ornate brass buttons and pulled the leather away revealing the low dip of her lavender fencer's top. Mouth suddenly dry, he stared at the queen's slender throat and bare upper chest, her soft pale skin almost glowing in the low light of the hearth fire. He could see the faint impression of her collar bones as her chest rose and fell in a steady rhythm, the top of her breasts just barely visible under…

Shit, get a hold of yourself!

Luckily it was at that moment that the kettle began to whistle, signaling the water was boiling happily. Thankful for the chance to keep his hands and thoughts occupied, Revel poured the steaming contents into the wash basin beside him and submerged the last of his clean linen into the hot water. As they steeped, he turned his attention back to the queen and on the task of unpinning her hair. In order to see if she'd sustained any cuts to the scalp, Revel had to clear away the now dried blood, and he couldn't very well do that while her hair was pinned back in a severe bun. It took him a few minutes to puzzle out the strange way Elsa had wrestled her hair into submission, but once free her long locks fell in a slightly wavy bundle past her elbows.

"You really have some seriously long hair," he mumbled as he set to work removing the chunks of dried blood by pressing the warm rags against her ears and temples. This seemed to rouse her a bit, and she moaned lightly in her sleep but didn't stir any further than that. The Captain did his best to check for any unforeseen injuries and again came up empty. She was whole and healthy aside from being unconscious.

Work complete, Revel sat back in the chair he'd pulled over to the side of his bed and watched the queen sleep for a few moments, memories of when he'd done a similar act rising into his conscious thoughts. She'd been eighteen then and had just received word of her parents' tragic death at sea. He remembered taking the young queen from an indignant Kai, her weight somehow surprisingly comfortable in his arms. He'd noticed the strange cold rolling off her but had wisely decided to keep mum on the subject as he followed the manservant and service matron to a nearby guest room. Upon setting her down on the bed, Elsa had opened her eyes and stared hazily at him, and that had been the first time Revel had realized just how strikingly beautiful she really was. Of course he'd never admit this to her or anyone else, but it was times like those, and times like these as he watched over his sleeping queen, that Revel regretted the path his life had taken him on and how different things could have been had he done things differently.

For the First Time in Never

A Frozen Story
by JE Glass

Part 7 of 24

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