Broken Hearts Shattering
Pitch watched over Elsa as she slept, his hand gently petting her hair. He closed his eyes for a moment, sighing as he gazed over at her hands holding Anna's coronation necklace close to her. He felt so torn as to what course of action he should take. His raw emotion wanted to storm over to North's workshop, right now, and give them their due consequences for trifling with the bond between him and Elsa. However, it seemed that she had been influencing him for the better as of late, a part of him feeling reluctance for going through with that idea.
A part of him also knew that if he were to go through with it, and Anna was harmed in the process… Elsa would forgive him even less if she found out the entire truth.
He had allowed this to go too far, he realized… so far, there was no way he could turn back now.
Pitch's thoughts were broken when he sensed another presence behind him. He didn't have to turn and look to know who it was, sighing lightly. She was the antithesis to everything he had come to admire in Elsa, and she was persistent in her haunting of him like a malevolent spirit.
"I sense your heart is conflicted." The Queen said softly. "Please, allow me to assist you."
A sigh. "Do you believe that I cannot make up my own mind?" He asked.
"That is not what I was implying." The Queen said as she stepped closer. "However, you should already know that the mind is more of the Doctor's area of expertise… however, I realize he is probably one of the last you would like to converse with of this subject… or any subject, for that matter."
"And you aren't far from him on that list." Pitch hissed lowly, moving a bit closer to Elsa's resting form instinctively.
"Do you know why you resent me so, Pitch?" The Queen asked. "It is because, as difficult as it is to accept, my words to you have held truth. A truth, that regardless of how far you try to run from it, will always find you."
"Let me guess… the truth you speak of is yourself?" Pitch asked.
The Queen smirked lightly, chuckling lowly. "That's one of the things I admire about you. You're smart."
"I'd like to know when the point of this conversation will arise." Pitch said. "I'd rather you not disturb her, being you've already disturbed me."
The Queen narrowed her eyes a bit. "Fine. I'll return to the initial subject." She walked around so Pitch could actually look at her as she stood over Elsa. "Do you honestly think that Jack Frost isn't going to report this to the others?" She asked. "That they will not plan an attack? If you hold her so precious to your heart…" She spoke with venom in her words. "… you shall strike before they do."
"There are reasons why I have decided that it may not be the wisest of actions to take." Pitch said.
"That is your mind talking, your logic. Logic can only assist us so much. It is the bridge which takes us from where we are to what we want. But if that bridge crumbles, our only option is to swim. To do what we must to survive before we're swallowed up." She glared at Elsa for a moment as she shifted in her sleep before returning her focus to Pitch. "He knows there is a new path that has been forged in which your destruction rests at its end… and that path is her." She nodded towards Elsa. "So before they travel that path… you must stop them in their tracks. Take something dear from them, first… allow them to be the ones left critical, vulnerable. Only then will our victory be in sight for the taking, everything we desire shall be ours."
Pitch furrowed his brows, gazing upon Elsa. He remembered how adamant Bunny had been in bringing Elsa down in the last conflict… Jack may had been trying to take a diplomatic approach, but who is to say that the others would attempt to end her life regardless of whether she was truly evil or not. Curse the Queen, indeed her words held truth, and it certainly was what he despised about her the most. He finally glanced up at her, averting his eyes from Elsa for the first time since the conversation had begun.
"Very well… but she stays here, under Wick's protection. If I find that you harmed so much as a hair on her head when I leave to facilitate this act… you shall be the next to suffer by my hand." Pitch warned.
The Queen smirked; the pieces of her chess board were moving into place, each one exactly where she wanted them to be. "Understood." She took a step closer, her eyes not diverting from his. "You should rest now… you have a dangerous day ahead of you tomorrow." She lingered for a moment before slowly taking her leave, smirking darkly to herself as she did so. She stopped only when she saw a low glimmer in the darkness, glancing to the side to see Bumby looking to her. There was a silent understanding between them, the Queen giving him a single, firm nod before continuing along her way.
Eliza and Olaf were for once rendered silent as they happily ate a slice of carrot cake. Bunny had finished off his share, shaking his head as he smiled. "These ankle biters haven't sat still for this long in about a week." He said.
"I had no idea my culinary skills were this great!" Anna giggled, glancing over as Kristoff held out his plate, Sven doing the same as he held it out with his mouth. Anna smirked playfully, putting a hand on her hip. "You have any more cake and you won't eat dinner!" She blinked a bit when Toothless trotted up then, a plate in his mouth as he held it out, purring lightly as he tilted his head. Anna giggled, shaking her head. "Oh, alright, one more slice for each of you and that is IT."
Toothless chirped happily, looking down at Sven as he lifted a hoof. Toothless curled up one of his feet, Sven fist bumping him.
Just then, they all turned as the four returned, Jack trying to escort a hyperventilating Alice to her bedroom while Merida was supporting a very drunk Hiccup, a bit difficult as she herself was quite tipsy. Bunny hopped to his feet, helping Jack with Alice as Toothless cried out in surprise, using his head to keep Hiccup somewhat on his feet.
"What in the hell happened, mate?" Bunny exclaimed.
"Long story… but we are NEVER doing the pub thing again…" Jack answered, resting Alice down as he tried to calm her. "Alice, look at me."
"I don't want to lie down Jack, please let me remain upright…" She whispered.
"Okay, okay…" He crouched down in front of her, holding her hands. "Alice, look at me. You're home now, you're safe."
"It won't go away, Jack… the walls are… bleeding…" Alice said as she breathed heavily.
Eliza hurried up the stairs, running into the room despite Anna and Kristoff's protests. "Alice, are you having nightmares again?" The child asked worriedly. "Just remember what you told me to tell you Alice, it isn't real!"
"Listen to my voice, Alice." Jack said, taking her hands in his and squeezing them gently. "I will never let you go back to that place. You're going to stay here, with me, where it's safe. I promise, I will always keep you safe, I will never let them hurt you again."
Toothless helped Merida get Hiccup to bed, where he passed out upon his head hitting the pillow. Merida heaved a sigh, glancing up at Toothless. "Better watch over him." She said. As she got up to float away, Toothless whined lightly at her, to which she turned and smiled sadly. "He doesn't love me, lad. He said so himself." She continued out into the hallway then, collapsing on her bed once inside her room, hugging a pillow to her as she sobbed.
Jack and Bunny sighed with relief when Alice finally calmed, the young woman hissing as she held her head. "I ought to have done those two curs in." She said.
"Don't worry, I took care of them." Jack said with a serious tone. "Just rest now. Everything will be better in the morning."
"I think I should stay with Alice." Eliza said to Jack. "She always feels better after a nightmare when I'm around, right Alice?"
"Of course, dear." Alice smiled lightly. "But I thought you despised windows…"
"I'm not afraid anymore." Eliza smiled. "May I stay, please?"
"Alright. If Alice needs anything, let Bunny or I know, okay?" Jack asked.
Eliza nodded, smiling as she looked to Alice. "Don't worry Alice, I'll take care of you, like you take care of me."
Bunny gave Jack a nod then, patting his shoulder then. "You should hit the hay too. You look wiped out." He winced when he heard Merida wailing from down the hall, clearing his throat. "Poor thing… let me go see if I can cheer her up any."
He walked out of Alice's room, heading down the hall to where Merida was. He sighed lightly as he saw the state she was in, curled up as she cried loudly. He closed her door a bit so as to block out the noise for everyone else, approaching her.
"Go away!" She shouted, shutting her eyes tightly. "Haven't I been badgered enough for a night?"
"I'm not here to badger you. I hate seeing you like this, Mer." Bunny said, frowning as he sat beside her.
"At least someone does… Hiccup said right to my face that he doesn't love me! I don't care if he said he was sorry, now I know how he really feels!" She shook her head, inhaling sharply as she sobbed more. "The first time I actually love a boy and I'm faced with this… if this is what loving a boy is like, then I don't want it, Bunny… I don't want it…"
As she sat up, Bunny hugged Merida's shoulders in a comforting gesture as she cried against his chest. "Yeah…" He sighed. "I know the feeling… it's pretty close to this."
Bunny stayed with Merida until she exhausted herself, throwing a blanket on the slumbering Banshee. In his mind, he knew that if the problems looming over them weren't remedied soon, that more suffering and misery awaited all of them.
Wick snored quietly, slumped up against the wall. He didn't really have his own space to sleep, having grown accustomed to using the cold, hard cavern ground as his resting place. His slumber was disturbed when someone shook him lightly, Wick blinking his hollow eyes open a bit as he rubbed them.
"Hm…? Oh, brother Pitch! Is it time to get up already-"
"Shh!" Pitch hissed, crouching down in front of Wick. "Rouse yourself and focus."
"What's going on? Do we have to fight again?" Wick asked a bit quieter as he took some time to get to his feet.
"No. I want you to listen to me very carefully now." Pitch started. "I'm going to be gone for quite some time, possibly a few hours. I need you to watch over Elsa, and do not leave her side until I return. You are not to leave her vulnerable, understood?"
Wick beamed then, nodding. "I like to spend time with Elsa."
"Very good. Go to her now. And please, for all that is dark, try to keep your noise level in check, she's still slumbering." Pitch said.
"Okay!" Wick exclaimed before catching himself, clearing his throat. "I- I mean, okay…" He said in a whisper, floating towards where Elsa was sleeping.
Pitch groaned, pinching the bridge of his nose as he shook his head. "I swear, he is such an imbecile…" He became serious then, exhaling sharply as a dark glare fell over his expression like a veil. "I cannot fret over this now… I have some mangy rats to take care of."
As Pitch took his leave, making his way out of the cavern by exiting through Houndsditch, a pair of eyes revealed themselves in the darkness, watching after him before flickering towards the direction that Wick had gone in.
"I'll allow little Sleeping Beauty to awaken first… wouldn't want to rattle her peaceful state now… I want her to be fully aware when inevitable doom comes to claim her." The Queen spoke lowly, retreating back in the darkness to wait, to watch.
Night had passed, morning having arrived with the swift sunrise. It had been a rough evening prior, the current residents within the workshop still fast asleep. The first to awaken, jostled out of a nightmare, was Alice, sitting up straight as she wielded her vorpal blade. Her quickened breathing calmed when she realized she was in her bedroom, safe and sound, unharmed.
When she observed her surroundings for a few more moments however, she realized that the same could not be said for Eliza.
"Hm… a bit early for her to be awake…" Alice said to herself when she realized the child was no longer beside her. "Eliza?" She whispered, looking around as she realized that there was a deep chill in the room. When Alice looked towards the window, she gasped upon seeing that it was wide open. She threw the covers off of her, racing over to the window and looking out. Her eyes widened, worry swelling in her heart as she gripped her blade tighter. Without a word, she dashed out of the room, light on her toes as she made her way down the hall to Jack's loft. Without hesitation, she climbed up the ladder, falling to her knees at his bedside to shake him. "Jack!" She exclaimed in a sharp whisper. "Jack, wake up this instant!"
Jack groaned lightly as he blinked his eyes open, rubbing them as he sat up. "Alice, what are you-"
"Eliza is missing!" She said in a panicked tone. "She was not with me upon my awakening and the window is wide open!"
Jack perked up a bit then, furrowing a brow. "O- Okay, um… did you check the other bedrooms? The kitchen? Do you think maybe she's playing a game with Olaf or something?"
"Jack, please listen to me… I-" Alice stopped then, her eyes widening when she seemed to see something out his own window. Without a word, she practically jumped over him to force it open, soaring through the air in rapid pursuit.
"A- Alice?" Jack exclaimed, grabbing his staff and soaring after her. He heard a reply, but it was the source of the reply which made Jack realize, to his horror, what was happening.
"Jack! Alice! Help me!" Eliza cried, and Jack's eyes widened when she saw that she was in the clutches of his greatest foe.
"PITCH!" Jack screamed when the Nightmare King's feet touched the snowy ground, holding Eliza with one arm and his scythe in the other. He ran forward once his own feet touched the ground to stand by Alice's side, the young woman's face twisted with a combination of fear and rage. "Leave her alone Pitch, this isn't about her!"
"Well then… I'm making it about her now." Pitch said as he scowled at them.
"If you lay but one scratch upon her I'll tear you to shreds!" Alice shrieked, her eyes becoming crazed as she gripped her blade. She held it in her hand so tightly that it began to tremble.
"Oh, I'm sure you'll try, Alice…" Pitch nodded. "Your fear is quite potent now… interesting being she isn't even your real sister."
"You know nothing about familial bonds, you nasty brute!" She shouted, gritting her teeth.
"Oh, I don't, do I?" Pitch growled. "I had a family once, believe it or not… I had a wife and a child, and I lost them both when they were torn from me. This is how I became the creature you see before you!" He proclaimed.
"Laughable that you expect me to believe that." Alice forced a laugh as her eyes seemed to burn into Pitch's. "Now if you value your pitiful life, you will let her free!"
"If anything happens to little miss Eliza here, you can thank your good friend standing beside you!" Pitch spat. "I told you once before Jack, you have a bad habit of interfering!"
"Why?" Jack shouted. "Because I'm trying to do the right thing? We're trying to save those kids, you have no right to take their souls from them like their just-"
"It's not about the children anymore, Jack… I've abandoned that goal long ago. You can take that up with my so called colleagues. No, you haven't the slightest idea what I will do now that you've crossed a very delicate line." Pitch said, ignoring Eliza beginning to cry as he restrained her.
"What… what are you talking about…?" Jack asked as he furrowed a brow.
"The moment you attempted to come between Elsa and I… the moment you tried to take her away from me, to make me out to be the monster YOU see me as, you made a worse enemy of me!" Pitch growled.
"This is what this is about? Because I tried to reunite her with the FAMILY you took her from? That DOES make you a monster Pitch!" Jack shouted.
"I had the love of my life taken from me forcefully once." Pitch said, his voice quieting as he furrowed his brows a bit. "I don't care who I have to harm this time to prevent it from happening a second time."
For the first time since Jack had known Pitch, he suddenly saw genuineness in his expression; was Pitch telling the truth? Did he have a family once, did he suffer the tragedy of losing them as he claimed?
Did he really love Elsa?
"Pitch… if you really care about Elsa… this isn't the way to do it. If you really care, you'll tell her the truth. You'll do what's best for her. Do you think you're doing her any good by keeping her there with those other freaks?" Jack held a hand out. "It doesn't have to end like this. Please… we may not have to like each other, but we can at least help Elsa, those kids, together."
Alice shot Jack a look. "What on Earth are you doing?" She asked.
"I'm trying to keep everyone alive." Jack answered, his eyes not diverting from Pitch's. "So what will it be, Pitch?"
Alice glanced from Jack to Pitch, noticing the Nightmare King's hesitation. Just as she was about to summon a different weapon to take advantage of this hesitation, Eliza inhaled sharply, biting down on Pitch's arm hard. He cried out in pain, wincing as he nursed his wrist.
"ELIZA!" Alice screamed, running as fast as she could towards the girl as she wriggled out of Pitch's grip. Pitch growled, casting a burst of back sand at them.
"NO!" Jack cried, soaring over towards them when he stopped, sighing with relief when Alice opened up her umbrella to deflect the attack. It shot right back at Pitch, his eyes widening before he could attempt to dodge it. He was knocked back against a glacier sticking out of the ground, falling to the ground unconscious. Jack ran up to them, Alice hugging the crying, frightened girl to her. "Are you two alright?"
Alice nodded, glancing at him. "Take Eliza back to the workshop. Alert the others and make sure she's kept hidden."
Jack nodded, taking Eliza as he scooped her up. "Come with me."
"Absolutely not. I need to make sure there is no other danger. Who knows what they could have planned." She replied.
"Alice, I am not leaving you out here all by yourself-" Jack was cut off when Alice grabbed him by his collar, planting a lingering kiss on his lips. When she broke it, he stared at her, his expression softened.
"I need to take care of him. He will suffer for his attempt to harm her. Now go, make haste!" Alice shouted, her eyes pleading.
Reluctantly, Jack nodded. "Fine, but I'm coming right back for you." He took one quick glance around the area before taking to the air to bring Eliza back to the workshop in the distance.
Elsa slowly opened her eyes, sitting up as she stretched her arms. Just then, she squeaked in surprise as someone ticked her sides, laughing as she wriggled a bit. She turned to see Wick behind her, giggling as he readjusted his hat which had become a bit lopsided.
"I swear, I don't know what to do with you sometimes!" Elsa exclaimed as she laughed.
"I've been waiting for you to wake up!" Wick beamed. "It's been pretty boring."
"Well, you've certainly woken me up now…" Elsa said, turning herself so her feet could touch the ground as she placed her covers aside. She looked around a bit as her fingers reached up to fix her hair. "Is Pitch awake yet?"
"Oh yeah, he got up really early. He told me to stay here with you." Wick replied.
Elsa looked at him, tilting her head. "Why did he ask you to do that? Where is he?"
"I don't know. He said he was going somewhere for a few hours maybe, and to stay here with you until he gets back." Wick said.
Elsa's smile faded then, letting her braid slip from her hands as she looked at the ground with worry. "I told him I wanted to discuss the matter further with him first…" She whispered to herself.
"Elsa? What's wrong? Don't worry, Pitch'll come back. He always does." Wick smiled.
Before Elsa could respond, Bumby appeared just at the entrance of the area then, clearing his throat. "Wick, her highness requests your assistance in repairing her conjured army's weapons; they've toiled after much training."
Wick and Elsa both stared at him silently, Elsa looking up with a fearful expression at Wick. "W- Well…" Wick started. "Brother Pitch told me I had to stay here with Elsa until he gets back from… wherever he is."
"Don't fret, I'll keep watch over Elsa here until you've finished your tasks for the Queen." Bumby answered, taking a step forward when Wick got up, standing between him and Elsa.
"No… I don't trust you." Wick said, frowning.
Bumby growled lowly, about to shout at Wick when the Queen approached then. "Now Wick, don't provoke him." She said, smiling as sweetly as possible. "I realize that the last time Elsa and Bumby were alone that it wasn't very pleasant. Don't worry, I'll make sure that everything is as it should be."
Wick felt intimidated now, glancing from Bumby to the Queen. "A- Are you sure?"
"Quite so. In fact, I'll leave two of my card guards here to remain vigilant. Nothing will pass through them." The Queen added.
"R- Really?" He smiled. "You promise?"
Elsa gently tugged on Wick's sleeve. "W- Wick, please don't-"
"Of course… now run along, and don't come back until every single weapon is battle worthy. My card guards need to be prepared properly." The Queen patted Wick's shoulder, sending him along. She summoned two of her card guards as she said she would to stand at the entrance. Once Wick was out of sight, she turned to Elsa, smirking darkly. "As promised, all will be as it should… soon, you will be nothing but a memory to Pitch… and the light you've penetrated will disappear. In its wake, a void shall be left, a void that shall be filled with darkness." She took a step closer, hissing in Elsa's face. "I am that darkness, and I am the one and only Queen!" She glanced over at Bumby, nodding to him. "Ruin her before you take her life. I want her to suffer for her insolence to me." She said before sashaying out of the room.
Elsa scurried back, her eyes wide with fear as she shook her head. "Oh, with pleasure, your highness…" Bumby said as he grinned.
The Queen chuckled to herself as she went along her way. "Flawless…" Just then, she gasped, clutching her chest with her large hand over where her heart would be, her eyes widening. She sensed something was wrong, her neck craning as she turned to look towards the ceiling of the cavern. She shook her head in horror, moving quickly to climb up the walls and head towards the top. "They shall not take him from me!" She hissed, finding a snow globe within the ruins of Houndsditch where they were stored and casting it down to enter the portal.
Jack's feet touched the ground back inside the workshop, placing Eliza down as he rested his hands on her shoulders.
"Listen, I want you to wake everyone up, okay? Don't try to leave and stay with someone at all times." Jack said.
"But Jack, Alice is still out there!" Eliza cried.
"I know, I'm going to go back out there now and get her. Promise you'll do as I say, okay?" Jack asked.
Eliza nodded. "O- Okay… I'll wake everyone up." She said before running towards the closest bedroom she could find.
Meanwhile, Alice stood over Pitch, blade in hand. She crouched down, kneeling down as she narrowed her eyes. "You will never harm her again." She said to his unconscious form, raising the blade into the air to stab him. Just as she was about to bring it down upon him, he uttered a single word, making her stop.
Alice furrowed a brow, hesitating before lowering her blade a bit. Her other hand slowly extended, her fingertips just barely touching his forehead. She closed her eyes for a moment, blinking in surprise when she opened them.
"… he spoke the truth." She whispered to herself.
Alice got to her feet, turning as she saw Jack approaching in the distance. In that moment, she smiled. It was one of content, knowing that through all of this, she had everything she wanted.
Maybe North was right… maybe her center truly was insight; and so, she spared Pitch's life because deep down, he still had something- someone, to live for.
Jack smiled at Alice as she became closer and closer, the wind seeming to carry him to her. All seemed to be calm now, the threat averted, everyone leaving this unscathed.
It was then that the Queen arose swiftly behind Alice, and that calmness was broken as his first reaction was to cry out to her in warning.
Alice furrowed a brow when Jack cried out to her, whirling around. She gasped in surprise when she was met with the Queen, her guard let down as in one swift motion, the Queen grabbed Alice's vorpal blade tucked in her dress, yanking Alice towards her with her free hand as she stabbed her with her own weapon.
"ALICE!" Jack screamed, his heart pounding as he sped towards them.
As Alice gasped wheezily, the Queen licked her lips as she leaned in to whisper into her ear. "I have long awaited this moment, Alice Liddell. The moment where I take your place and make it my own; rightfully so. You shall not dethrone me again from Wonderland, or any land I choose to claim as my own." She shoved Alice back, off the blade.
Jack sent blast after blast of ice from his staff at the Queen, the creature moving swiftly to dodge each and every attack. When she grew tired of his persistence, one of her tentacles shot out to wrap around his staff, tearing it from his grip and tossing it several yards to the side. As Alice's blood stained the snow, Jack's eyes widened in horror, running as fast as his feet could carry him towards the staff. He grunted as he felt himself being dragged back, whipping his head back to see one of the Queen's tentacles wrapped around his ankle. She flipped him over so he could look back towards her.
"J- Jack!" Alice cried weakly, groaning as she struggled to get to her feet.
As she did so, the Queen grabbed her with one of her large hands, forcing her head up so her gaze could lock with Jack's.
"Now you witness the greatness of my power, Jack Frost!" The Queen hissed. "OFF WITH HER HEAD!"
"Jack…" Alice whispered, the arctic winds blowing through her hair. "I love-"
The sound penetrated the air, a think silence following it for several moments. Blood dripped in a small stream from Alice's mouth, her eyes glazing over as the Queen dropped her. Alice fell to the ground limply, the break in her neck visible from under her porcelain skin. Time seemed to stop as Jack's heart skipped a beat, a breath caught in his throat as the tentacle around his ankle retracted. Taking advantage of his shock, the Queen walked over to Pitch, taking him into her arms. She glanced back, seeing others approaching swiftly. She grimaced as she cast down a snow globe, disappearing in an instant as she grinned wickedly.
Finally willing himself to move, Jack's hands clawed at the snow as he crawled over to Alice, calling her name repeatedly as he pulled her to him.
"Alice, please, please wake up…!" His breathing became uneven as sobs ripped from his chest, tears already pouring down his cheeks as he shook her. Merida was the first to arrive, and he grabbed her shoulder with one hand. "Bring her back…" Jack begged, his voice cracking.
Without uttering a word, Merida allowed the dozens of questions to continue their maddening chorus within her mind as she simply nodded, her hands trembling when she saw Alice's state. Her hands began to glow, trying to stay calm as she tried to heal her. Bunny stopped short, shaking his head and widening his eyes when he too saw Alice's current condition.
After several minutes, Merida looked up at Jack tearfully. "Lad… I'm sorry… I-"
"NO! I will not let her die!" Jack screamed, sitting Alice up a bit more in his arms. "C- Come on Alice, you're stronger than this, you have to wake up now. We all still need you, Eliza needs you, I need you… I love you…" Jack shut his eyes tightly, pressing his forehead against hers as he gritted his teeth. "I promised I would protect you… I told you I should have stayed…"
Bunny tugged on his ears, falling to his knees as his heart broke in two. Merida opened her mouth to speak, shaking her head as no words could be spoken. She glanced up, shakily getting to her feet as Tooth, Sandy and North approached.
"What has happened? Where is Pitch, what did he do?" North asked worriedly.
Merida's lip trembled, inhaling sharply as she cried. "I can't save her…" She whimpered, wiping at her face. "I tried, she's too far gone…"
Before any of them could ask, they looked upon the scene in shock as Jack let his head fall back, crying out in agony as he held Alice to him. He rocked back and forth, his hands covered in her blood. Tooth covered her mouth, one of her hands groping the air to grab Sandy's. The dream guardian frowned deeply, putting a comforting arm around Tooth.
Inside the workshop, Eliza waited anxiously with Anna, Kristoff, and Hiccup, holding his head from the hangover he was experiencing from the night before. Over twenty minutes had passed before Tooth and Sandy returned, both with solemn expressions. Anna stood, approaching them.
"Tooth, what's going on?" Anna asked, knowing that Eliza was watching intently as Tooth whispered in Anna's ear. The princess's eyes widened, gasping lightly in shock.
Eliza furrowed a brow, hearing activity in the level above them then as Jack's wailing reached them. Without warning, the child got to her feet, running to the stairs.
"Eliza, wait!" Kristoff shouted.
The child did not listen, running up the stairs and shoving past everyone as she made her way into Alice's room. Jack could be heard crying out her name in agony from down the hall, North having taken him there to try to calm the ice guardian. Bunny and Merida had rested Alice on her bed, the child slowly approaching as her breathing deepened.
"… Alice?" Eliza called quietly to her, extending her hands to shake her gently. "What's wrong with her? Why won't she wake up?" She looked to Bunny and Merida fearfully, Bunny approaching the child. He crouched down, hugging Eliza from behind as she began to sob.
"It's okay, little Sheila. Let it all out. I'm here." Bunny said to her quietly as tears poured down her small face as she too, realized that Alice was gone.
Downstairs, Hiccup plopped down in a chair when he heard the tragic news. He rested his head in his hands, Toothless whining lightly as he gently nudged his shoulder with his nose.
"I can't believe this is happening…" Hiccup breathed, wincing as Jack continued to wail upstairs, the whole workshop able to hear. "I feel so useless. All I've done since we've been here is hold everyone back." Toothless shook his head, the expression in his eyes trying to encourage Hiccup that he was as much part of this family as the rest of them. "I have… allowed so many people I care about to get hurt, or worse, Toothless." Hiccup looked over at the dragon. "Think of everyone we've left at home." He shook his head. "We have to leave tonight, bud. We don't belong here. We've been away from our family long enough."
Toothless stared at Hiccup regretfully, the dragon not feeling that this was the right answer. He couldn't argue with Hiccup now, looking towards the stairs as Sven helped Olaf get up the stairs. He peeked inside the room where Alice was, sitting next to Sven as Olaf went inside. The normally overly enthusiastic snowman now shared Eliza's sadness, frowning deeply as he joined her and Bunny in a small group hug.
They all realized in that moment, that Alice had not only been a fierce leader and fighter for them, she had also been a fierce friend, someone to look up to, and who rose above the horrors of her past because of them. She had finally become a whole person, finding the love she had lacked for so many years, and she had returned that love. That was all gone now; Eliza gasping lightly as Alice's body suddenly began to turn into a great number of brilliant blue butterflies. She faded slowly with the fluttering of their wings, each one traveling a small distance before disappearing themselves.
Her absence would leave an empty space, not only in the workshop, but in the hearts of all within it who had come to know her.
Elsa found that she was once again cornered, feeling the cold cavern wall pressed against her back. She stared, unblinking, at Bumby as he approached her at a torturously slow pace.
"What are you going to do to me?" Elsa asked quietly, her heart pounding in her chest.
"Don't fear, my little Elsa." Bumby replied. "This will be a rather quick process, if you cooperate. If you don't… the last thing you will feel is great pain."
Elsa's breathing quickened, glancing towards the entrance where the two card guards were standing, hissing a quiet laughter. She looked back to Bumby, seeing her frightened expression in the reflection of his glasses as they glimmered. It was then that she began to feel something swelling inside of her, bubbling up to the surface as she clenched her fists.
No. She was not going to allow fear to win this time. It was time to put everything she had experienced, heard, seen, learned, to action. It was time for her to stand up for herself.
Bumby reached out a hand to touch her face, when she suddenly began to step forward, shoving him backwards in one, swift motion. Bumby stumbled a bit, looking at her in surprise as the memory of Alice doing the same to him just before he was hit by an oncoming train. This surprise was soon replaced by a boiling anger, about to attack Elsa when she grit her teeth, blasting him back with an ice burst from her hand.
"You will not lay another hand on me!" Elsa shouted, blasting him back a second time. "They may have called me a monster back in Arendelle…" She blasted him back a third time. "… but I know that it is NOT what I am…" She blasted him back a final time, knocking him down to the ground. "YOU are a monster!" She breathed heavily. "And I will not have my fate decided by you!"
Bumby groaned, reaching his hand out weakly, only to pass out. Indeed, she had caught him off guard, not giving him a moment to react to her sudden attacks of determination. She turned to look at the two card guards, holding up her hands in a warning gesture. The card guards grunted at each other before reluctantly stepping aside and allowing her to pass.
Not long after this occurrence, the Queen returned, carrying a still unconscious Pitch and laying him down gently in his resting area. She gazed upon his form for a few moments before leaning down, planting a kiss on his lips. She smiled lightly, straightening herself up to exit when she inhaled sharply, ducking back as she plastered her back against the wall. She dared to look again, peeking out to see Elsa making her way to where Wick was, glancing up to see her card guards glancing around with confused expressions. The Queen shook her head, bewildered by the scene as she moved at a quick pace to where they were. Upon approaching, she waved her hand to make them move aside. Once she saw Bumby sprawled on the floor, she gritted her teeth angrily, grunting as she kicked at his side with her small feet.
"Wake up! Wake up you blithering idiot!" the Queen hissed, clenching her fists as Bumby began to come to. "I left but one task to you… one… simple task… to wring that fragile swan's thin neck, and you could not even manage that!" She shrieked. "I even allowed you permission to do what you will with her once you harvested her pretentious soul, but that just wasn't enough, for you, was it? You just could not incapacitate her, you had to play this silly game of cat and mouse; the mouse decided to roar to ensure its survival and has slinked away into its putrid little hole!"
As Bumby regained consciousness, waking up to the Queen badgering him, the anger and humiliation he had felt before being knocked out multiplied tenfold. As the Queen continued her rant, he silently, and without warning, shot a hand out to pin the Queen to the nearest wall by her throat, cutting her off mid-sentence. Not expecting this, the Queen did not attack out of shock, her eyes widening as she stared at him cautiously.
"My patience is wearing, your grace… as we speak, it is paper thin." Bumby spoke lowly, threateningly. "Now I feel I have done well in following your commands in order to appease your ridiculously large ego, but I believe I have reached my limit; so allow me to make my current stance quite clear to you. I am not some servant boy who will grovel at your feet. I am not going to perform your 'dirty deeds' which are driven by your unquenchable envy and lust. My plans for Elsa's outcome, or any other outcome which I choose to directly affect, shall be carried out on my terms and mine alone, unless I require your word. Do not take my typically calm and reserved nature as an opportunity to take advantage of me, for if her highness wishes to 'live long,' than I suggest you do your best to heed my words."
The Queen stared daggers at him, her bottom eyelid twitching a bit as her brows twisted. "You dare to threaten me…?" Her voice cracked as she inhaled sharply. "I upheld my end of the bargain. Alice Liddell is dead. DEAD!" She shrieked, but Bumby didn't even flinch. "Yes… I took her life with my bare hands… I did not hesitate, I did not fail. You may have the notion that women are inferior playthings to be melded to your liking, but it is perhaps you who underestimates MY demeanor." She growled as one of her large hands pried his away from her throat. "You shall take care to not make an enemy of me, Doctor, for it shall be your greatest folly. I kill Alice, you kill Elsa; that was the deal, so exert a great amount of effort to make it so or you shall suffer my wrath!" Without another word, she hissed as she whirled around, taking her leave.
Bumby stared after her, glancing out of the corner of his eyes as he straightened himself up. "Oh, indeed I shall, your grace… and then I have my own plans for you once I have her under my control." He spoke lowly to himself, calmly and collectively going along his own way.
Tooth and Sandy finished lighting several candles, placing them around the center of North's workshop. Similar to what they had done for Sandy, they set up a small memorial for her, some of her remaining items placed in an orderly fashion for the group to pay their respects. Everyone gathered around, bowing their heads in silent mourning for Alice. Bunny and Merida had an arm around one another, trying to comfort each other. Eliza stayed close to Anna, Kristoff and Olaf, the child beginning to cry audibly after some time. Jack exhaled slowly, glancing over at them. Jack stood closest to the memorial, a whirlwind of emotions churning inside of him as his mind still tried to register that the woman he loved was truly gone.
"She should go to bed... it's been a long day." Jack said quietly.
Anna looked down at Eliza, petting her hair a bit. "Okay... maybe a few more minutes and then she can start-"
"She's been through enough for one day, Anna." Jack cut her off, sighing. "Please just bring her to bed."
The princess frowned deeply, nodding as she quietly escorted the child upstairs, Olaf following close behind.
Hiccup hung back, standing next to Toothless and feeling entirely out of place. What right did he have to stand among them? He had been physically and emotionally weak, if someone with Alice's strength and determination could not survive, what chance did he have?
He tried to remember what brought him here in the first place... the simple task of getting back Toothless' flame had been blurred, muddied through the complexity of all his interactions. It had been around two months now since he had been thrown into this winding and treacherous journey, and here they were, now farther from their goal than ever before. He was doing little to help the group, and he certainly was doing nothing for his family back home.
So what good was he, Hiccup thought to himself.
Hiccup turned, Toothless following him as he went upstairs. He couldn't stare at the scene anymore, feeling absolutely defeated. Eventually, everyone else left one by one until only Jack and North remained, Jack sitting on his knees with his head bent. His staff was propped up against the wall to the side, turning Alice's key over in his hands. North approached Jack slowly, patting his shoulder lightly in a comforting gesture.
"You can go ahead if you want." Jack said softly. "I'm going to stay here a while longer."
North paused for a moment, before bringing over a chair to sit down. "I want to help you through this, Jack. This pain will not be easy to endure, but when you overcome it, you will realize your true strength."
Jack sighed. "I don't think anyone can help me at this point, North. No one can bring her back now."
"No... but she is not completely gone either, Jack. She still lives in your heart, your memories." North replied.
"I don't want that." Jack shut his eyes tightly. "I just want to forget everything. I… I failed, North. I promised to protect her, and I broke that promise, she… she died right in my arms…" His voice cracked as he choked out a sob. "… I don't want to remember that… that it was my fault…"
"By forgetting her, you will be forgetting a part of yourself." North replied. "She will always be a part of you because of the love you both shared."
Jack shook his head. "Why are you trying to make this sound so easy, North?" He asked, furrowing his brows painfully. "Do you have any idea how this feels? Do you have any idea how-"
"I do, Jack. Long before you were even a thought, I was exactly where you were now." North replied, sitting back after a few moments.
"W- Wait... what do you mean?" Jack tilted his head.
"... a long time ago, in addition to dealing with Wick becoming one of Pitch's allies, he had another fierce ally known as the Monkey King." North started. "If there were ever a greedier, more vengeful foe, it would be him."
"The Monkey King...? I think Tooth mentioned him once." Jack replied.
"Yes... he is even more ruthless than Pitch. He murdered Tooth's family, and he stopped at nothing to capture her. Anyone who came in his way, he would cause harm. When I came to her assistance, I learned this fact about him the hard way." North sighed, his expression saddening.
Jack had been drawn out of his grimness enough to focus a bit of attention on North now. He turned, hugging his knees to his chest. "What happened, North?"
"At the time... I lived here with my dear Jessica." He smiled. "I met her long ago in a place called Somber Town; it was a place where children were banned from having toys to play with. When I restored joy to the town, we realized how much we had both come to love each other, and I took her as my wife." North's smile saddened then. "She was the light of my life, much like Alice was to you. The Monkey King knew that, and when he invaded with his minions and took her life... he thought that I would forsake protecting Tooth, leave her to fend for herself because of what had been taken from me." Jack was quiet now, never knowing this about North. He was surprised when North actually wiped a tear from his eye. "I mourned her for a very long time, but deep down I knew I had to stay true to my word. I protected her, but I isolated myself once the threat was averted. A great darkness fell over my heart, I did not want to do anything, I only wanted to forget the pain, much like you do now." He looked up at the moonlight pouring in then, the clouds parting like curtains. "But an old friend reminded me that by forgetting it all, I was forgetting those who still needed me. My friends, the children of the world... by shutting the memories of Jessica out of my heart, I was shutting out a part of who I was. I realized then that I still had a reason to endure, a reason to get up and confront the pain head on. It was slow, but I conquered it."
Jack's eyes widened for a moment, never knowing that North even had a wife at any point, let alone her dying in such a manner. "North, I... I'm sorry... I had no idea."
"Alice's death has greatly affected all of us." North replied. "But you must remember everything she stood for, everything she meant to you, or you will have nothing. You will forget all those around you who are still here."
Jack nodded a bit, glancing over at the candles. "Thanks, North. I'm going to just... hang around here a bit longer."
"Alright." North patted his back, getting up to go to bed.
Left to himself, Jack realized that there was truth in North's words. His heart was heavy with pain, with the suffering of the empty space that he had lost with Alice. That empty space had been filled with his grief, that which clouded his mind, making him feel like he was wandering through a thick fog. He was searching for an answer in all of this, something to comfort his heart, a light to help him find his way.
Slowly, but surely, he began to think of those who were with him within the walls of the workshop; the guardians, his new found friends…
Yes… he began to see that in Alice's wake, she had left him a beautiful gift, a gift that he never thought he would ever see again in the flesh before the beginning of this endeavor. Applying North's words, he knew that now, Eliza needed him more than ever. That beyond that, the children whose souls had been maliciously harvested by Bumby needed him more than ever.
Jack planted one of his feet flat on the ground, resting his arm on his knee. "I failed to protect you, Alice." Jack started, sighing. "But I'm going to make a promise to you that I won't break." He exhaled sharply, lifting his head. "I'll bring those children back to your sanctuary." He stood slowly, reaching over to take his staff, holding it firmly. "The world will remember you always, Alice. Your story will never be forgotten… and I will always wait for you."
When he blew out the last candle, the small amount of smoke whisked into the air, curling and dancing as it was uplifted. His eyes followed it as it floated into the moonlight, his gaze resting on the moon as it lingered over the skylight of the workshop. After a few moments, he gave the smallest of smiles, knowing the man in the moon was watching over them. He slowly made his way to the loft, propping his staff against the wall as he curled up in bed.
He had learned the hardest lesson of what being a guardian was; to endure even through the most devastating losses, to protect those that needed him no matter what.
When everyone was asleep, Hiccup slowly poked his head out of his bedroom, making sure the coast was clear before beckoning Toothless to follow him. The dragon yawned, groaning lightly.
"Shh!" Hiccup put a finger to his lips. "You have to be quiet, bud." He made his way down the hall as stealthily as possible, biting his lip as he approached one of the drawers in the small storage room at the end of the hall. He slowly opened it, exhaling with relief when he saw several snow globes still inside. "Okay… we're going to go home, explain everything to everyone… I'll take a couple, so you can go back after you've shown everyone that I'm not crazy when I try to tell them that you literally have no flame."
Toothless widened his eyes with confusion, chirping lightly as he shook his head.
"Listen, we have been away from Berk for far too long. We need to get back to our family… now come on, get over here so we can use this thing." Hiccup said.
Toothless narrowed his eyes a bit, planting himself outside the room. He made a gesture with his paw, as if to say that he was not going to abandon the others. Hiccup furrowed his brows, becoming frustrated.
"What are you- this is not up for discussion, Toothless!" He hissed in a whisper. "L- Look, I do not belong here!" He sighed, rubbing his forehead. "This… this family that they have… they all have these special powers and abilities… what do I have? Without you, Toothless, I'm worth squat. If Alice couldn't make it… what chance do I have? I need to protect us, I need to go home- who knows what's happened there, what if they've been attacked, what if they need our help? I'm no help here, Toothless… I need to be somewhere I'm actually useful."
Toothless whined lightly, giving Hiccup a pleading look, as if to beg him to stay. Hiccup sighed sadly, shaking his head.
"Fine. Stay the night… but I'm coming back for you tomorrow. Let me just… let me find Astrid, tell her everything. I'm coming back for you in the morning. Wait outside for me." Hiccup said, going up to Toothless and hugging his face. "Trust me… this will be better for everyone." Toothless tilted his head sadly as Hiccup took a step back, the young Viking giving him a nod and smiling back sadly. "I'll come back for you bud, okay?"
He took one of the snow globes then, casting it down and entering it. In a matter of moments, Hiccup had vanished without a trace, leaving Toothless to hang his head solemnly. He knew how much his best friend missed his family, but he could not bear being separated from him for an indefinite amount of time.
Astrid was entranced by the dying embers of the hearth before her; despite the fading light, she remained warm as Eret enveloped her in his arms.
"Nothing like a late night dragon ride to get you tired, hm?" He asked, chuckling lightly as Astrid gave him a look. "Come on, you're falling asleep as I speak."
"Shut up…" Astrid whined lightly, weakly punching his arm. She had to admit though, this recent nightly ritual had done well to make her nights less restless, and she found she had more energy during the day.
"It's the air." Eret said. "It's so crisp and clear at night, like the sky."
"Mmhm." Astrid mumbled, yawning as she snuggled closer to him. "Doesn't help that you're like… a big sheep…"
Eret raised a brow, snickering lightly. "Well now, are you saying that I'm covered in hair? Does this look like I'm covered in hair? How do I know YOU'RE not hiding any, huh?"
"Come on Eret…" Astrid squeaked as Eret began to tickle her, trying to wave his hands away from her. "Stop, it's too late to play around now…" She giggled lightly, whining a bit. "Listen, if you want me to help with dragon scale maintenance tomorrow, you will stop right now…"
"Now is that a threat, little missy?" Eret wiggled his brows, gently taking her hands in his as he pulled her close. "No one threatens Eret, son of Eret, little lady." He chuckled.
"Then you must not know me at all, huh?" Astrid giggled, their foreheads touching just before their lips did, the two holding each other close as they quieted.
As time passed on, their kiss became a bit more heated, the two of them shrugging out of their fur covered tops. Astrid exhaled audibly as her breathing became a bit deeper, her eyes staring up into Eret's with a level of conviction. He watched her carefully, hesitating until a single, firm nod confirmed the answer to his unasked question. He leaned down to capture her lips in his again, passion growing between them, a need to seal this connection budding between them. Astrid slowly laid back onto the floor, staring up at Eret for but a moment before their heavy kissing continued.
Suddenly, their moment was broken when they heard a sound outside their hut; they were staying at Eret's, being he lived alone. Eret narrowed his eyes, sitting up and glancing towards the door with a bit of alertness as they both stood still to see if maybe it was one of their friends. Astrid sat up slowly, covering her chest with a fur blanket as she grabbed it from his bed just a couple feet from them.
"It's way too late for someone to just be walking around outside…" Astrid whispered. "Should we check?"
"Nah… I'm sure it's nothing." Eret replied, though he still maintained a level of vigilance.
"Okay… I'm going to warm up then…" Astrid said, hogging the fur blanket.
A few moments later, the front door of the hut unlocked, and upon opening, Eret jumped to his feet as a figure appeared. It was still dark outside, so the identity of the figure could not be made out. Without hesitation, Eret grabbed his sword, gritting his teeth. "Who are you? What are you doing here?" Without waiting for an answer, he marched forward, grabbing the figure forcefully. He dragged the figure away from the door, throwing them to the ground, holding the sword to their throat. As he did this, Astrid jumped to her feet, snapping out of her fatigued state as she clutched the blanket to her chest. As the figure grunted from the impact, Eret grabbed a lantern that was situated nearby, holding it out to take a look at the intruder. When he saw just who was sprawled on the floor, his eyes widened, freezing in place. "No... it can't be..."
"... well... that was a... great introduction!" Hiccup groaned, slowly getting to his feet and dusting himself off. "Have you forgotten who I was already?"
"H- Hiccup?! H- How... what... where have you been all this time?" Eret shook his head in disbelief. Astrid gasped inaudibly, her eyes widening as she took a step back, taking care to remain out of the lantern's radius.
Hiccup became serious then, exhaling sharply. "It's... it's a lot to explain... it's going to take some time, but... Toothless and I were in trouble, and I've been trying to help him. I've wanted to get back here for so long but I haven't been able to. It all happened so fast, and we were just thrown into something that we're way in over our heads with."
"Where is Toothless?" Eret asked. "Is he alright?"
"He's fine… he wanted to stay behind, but I couldn't stay for another day. I had to come back here and make sure everyone here was alright, I had to see Astrid... speaking of which, I didn't see her at home... do you have any idea where she is?" Hiccup asked. "I- I know it's late, but I need to speak to everyone and get you guys up to speed to what's happened."
Eret didn't reply at first, his mouth hanging open a bit as he glanced down. His mind was reeling, a part of him not able to register that Hiccup was standing before him. "Hiccup, I..." Silence followed as he struggled to find the words to speak.
Hiccup's heart skipped a beat in reaction, tilting his head unsurely. "Eret, she's... she's alright, isn't she? She's... she's not hurt, or-"
"No, no, Astrid's fine..." Eret assured, biting his lip as he scratched the back of his neck. "… she's... well, she's kind of-"
"What is it? What's the matter?" Hiccup asked, craning his head a bit to the side when he heard a bit of shuffling from the other side of the room. "Hey, is someone back there?"
Before Eret could say anything more, Hiccup took the lantern from him, holding it out as he heard more shuffling. When he came closer to the sound, he stopped when he saw a pair of feet scrambling back, the wall coming into view as he approached. "A- Astrid? Is that you?" Hiccup blinked a bit.
"Y- Yeah..." She answered quietly, wrapping the fur blanket tighter around herself as she got to her feet. "Hiccup… I… I can't believe… I thought you were lost forever." She furrowed her brows. "Why did you just leave us?"
Hiccup sighed sadly. "I'm so sorry, Astrid… I didn't mean for this to happen, Astrid… something, someone attacked Toothless, and we had to go after-" He stopped when he was a few feet from her; now that more light from the lantern was shed upon her, he now noticed her bare shoulders, her chest covered up by nothing but the blanket. Her hair was undone, but it did not conceal well enough the small spots of discoloration blossoming around her neck, shoulders, and her collarbones. Hiccup furrowed a brow, silently approaching her as a gentle hand moved some of her hair out of the way to better reveal them. He slowly looked back at Eret, his outline in the same exact spot as he had been earlier. As Hiccup began to put two and two together, Astrid shook her head lightly as Hiccup's expression became twisted with anguish.
"Hiccup…" Astrid spoke softly as she adjusted the blanket around herself. "I had no idea you would ever come back… I thought you were never coming back, I…" She became distressed, searching desperately for explanations. "The two of us… a- and Snotlout and Fishlegs and the twins… we searched for weeks… we combed every inch of Berk, even further than that… we found no trace of you, or of Toothless." When Hiccup turned to face away from her, she gathered the blanket up so she could walk around to stand in front of him once more. "Hiccup, you have no idea how much pain I was in, how hard it was to cope-"
"No Astrid, YOU have no idea." Hiccup's voice shook, his eyes shut tight as he finally spoke. "First, we were assaulted by some… some creature that nearly killed us both from the get go. She took Toothless' flame, Astrid, he can't even breathe fire! She took us to some… some place we've never seen before… there are others who she's hurt, others who Toothless and I were trying to help, fighting dozens upon dozens of her minions until the point of near DEATH-"
"H- Hiccup, slow down, none of this makes any sense!" Astrid exclaimed.
"Of course it doesn't!" Hiccup screamed. "All I've wanted this entire time is to get back to Berk, back to you! Do you have any idea the hell I have been through, how torn up I was not having you with me?"
"O- Okay, just… why don't you just calmly and slowly explain everything that happened, right from the very beginning-"
"I'm not explaining ANYTHING until you explain how in the hell you could allow our relationship, our five year long relationship, to unravel in barely two months!" Hiccup shouted.
"I thought you were dead, Hiccup!" Astrid cried.
"Yeah… yeah, you would think that." Hiccup said lowly. "You would think that I wasn't strong enough to fend for myself in a crisis."
"I- It's not that, Hiccup… a- at first, I thought maybe you had just… the whole thing with being a chief, I thought you had run off because of the pressure, but after some time I became less angry and more scared and-"
"So that's all I am to you, Astrid, huh? Just some coward, some weakling, either way, all I've ever been to you is some big joke!" Hiccup's voice cracked as he jabbed his finger towards her.
"You know that's not true, Hiccup… I'm sorry for… for this… but-"
"But it is, Astrid. I can't believe I didn't see this before. The way you push me around, the way you ignored me and treated me like dirt until I actually became GOOD at something, and even then, you were always so quick to remind me of my flaws!" Hiccup shook his head. "If you had disappeared… I would search for you as far as I could travel. I would go to the ends of the Earth and back for you, which, by the way, is ROUND, not flat. I would spend every waking moment, waiting, hoping, praying to the gods to bring you back home, even give my LIFE for it." He angrily wiped a tear from one of his eyes. "I LOVE you, Astrid… but I can see that you don't love me."
"Hiccup, I… I do love you… I- Hiccup, please don't- Hiccup!" Astrid tried to take his hand, but he had seen enough. He turned, striding out of the hut as quickly as possible, his heart broken into two. Hiccup no longer cared if she believed him, he no longer cared if she felt concerned or if she didn't, he no longer cared what she felt towards him as his name echoed through the night from her saddened cries.
All he felt was her betrayal, and that once again, his sense of placement in the world was in limbo.
He did not stop his fast-paced walking until he reached the woods a bit outside of the village area, allowing his back to rest against a tree as he slid down along it. As everything that happened sunk in, Hiccup hugged his knees, shutting his eyes tightly as he sobbed, bowing his head. Everything he thought he had, everyone that he thought needed him, had so quickly moved on from his absence, rendering him, as he concluded to himself in that moment, useless.
Again, that daunting notion was held over his head like a storming rain cloud, worse than when he grew up with Stoick for a father; he wasn't strong enough, built enough, tough enough, fast enough, agile enough… in every way he could think of, he had been told he was inadequate at one point or another in his life. He wasn't good enough to be one among the kinship at North's workshop, and he wasn't good enough to be the rightful chief of Berk.
Was he good enough for anything? Anyone?
He felt so crushed, so broken, not wanting to move from that spot. Even as the sun began to shed its light a few hours later, his heart was still buried deep in the darkness of his heartache. His tears twinkled in the path of the rising globe in the sky, like precious diamonds falling to the ground, wasted like the love he realized he had given to the woman who had forsaken him.