The Founding of the Kinship

An Unexpected Occurrence

Elinor kneeled down in front of the shrine in the palace she ruled over with her husband, clasping her hands as she closed her eyes, bowing her head. For many weeks now, she prayed and prayed to the heavens for the safe return of her precious and beloved daughter, wishing with all her heart that it would become a reality. When her husband's voice called frantically from outside of the shrine, she was jostled out of her serenity, turning and rising to face the doorway as his large frame blocked out most of the light into the room.

"Fergus, not now, I have to finish praying for-"

"She's here, Elinor! I've received word from the scouts, Merida has returned!" Fergus cut her off, his voice shaking as he headed down the hall without waiting for Elinor's reply.

After several moments of standing in utter shock by his words, Elinor soon gathered her dress, following Fergus as quickly as her feet could carry her.

Merida patted Angus' side happily, the horse neighing joyfully upon the return of his rider. He galloped swiftly from the forest, making his way over the small bridge towards the kingdom of Dun' Broch. When she crossed through the castle walls, she hopped off of Angus, crying out to anyone who could hear her as other folk looked on in surprise and excitement.

"Mom! Dad!" Merida cried out, looking towards one of the doorways as her parents both ran out to her. She ran towards them as well upon seeing them, the three colliding in an emotional embrace as her parents cried tears of joy.

"My darling Merida…" Elinor sobbed, wiping her eyes as she pet Merida's curls. "My girl, we were so aggrieved…"

"It's a miracle! Praise the heavens and the Earth!" Fergus exclaimed, wiping a tear from his eye as well. "Y' haven't got a scratch on ye lass, like you were here just yesterday!"

"Merida, you must tell us what happened…" Elinor said. "… if anyone tried to hurt you, we will make sure they pay for-"

"Someone didn't just try to hurt me, mom… they killed me. They turned me into a Banshee! But I followed them into another world, a world beyond our time, and I met these people called the guardians, and there were people from other places and times and-"

"Merida, slow down, what is all this nonsense?" Elinor furrowed her brows.

"It isn't nonsense, mom! I can prove it to you… two of the ones that helped to get m' soul back are here! They come from a place called Berk, it's an island far out on the ocean, and there's dragons there! I FLEW a dragon, mom, me!"

Elinor was speechless, she and Fergus looking at each other as he placed a hand on her head. "I think she may be ill, Elinor…" Fergus said.

"Dad…" Merida frowned, taking his hand off her forehead. "Please, let me show you, give me a chance… will ye believe me then?"

The man exhaled sharply, looking at Elinor for a brief moment. "Well… I never thought I would see the day that you would turn your mother into a bear…" Merida giggled a bit at that, her parents' expressions softening. "Alright, young lady. But we're coming with you, we're not letting you out of our sight for a moment lest we lose you again!"

Merida led her parents anxiously to the woods, hoping that this would end well. When she found the place, she stopped, turning around. "Okay… I'm going to introduce you to one of the lads that helped me get m' soul back."

Fergus choked a bit then, his eyes widening. "A LAD?! M- Merida, what-"

"Mom, dad… this is Hiccup." Merida waved her arms, doing a double take before pouting. "Hiccup, come on!" She groaned, rolling her eyes as she went behind a cluster of trees, whispers exchanged before she dragged Hiccup out. He appeared quite nervous, the young man clearing his throat and bowing his head for a moment as he approached Merida's parents.

To say they weren't surprised would have been a lie. They both stared at Hiccup for several moments before Fergus coughed into his hand, taking a step forward. "So… Hiccup… you 'helped get m' daughter's soul back…' are you sure you didn't take anything else in exchange?" He narrowed his eyes, cracking his knuckles.

"Fergus!" Elinor exclaimed, nudging his arm. She exhaled sharply, closing her eyes for a moment. "What my husband is TRYING to say, is… we're having a hard time believing Merida's story… not because we don't trust her, but because it seems quite… far-fetched. This is all… a bit overwhelming."

"I- I can understand that…" Hiccup said. "In the beginning of this, I had a hard time believing this myself when I was also forced to leave my home for several months." He held his hands up. "But whatever Merida told you, it's no lie."

"Really? So the reason isn't because you somehow swayed her and you both eloped?" Fergus raised a brow.

"FERGUS!" Elinor shouted, stomping her feet.

"You'd better have some tangible proof, laddie… because if I determine that what I think happened is the real story, I'll mount your head in the dining hall to remind every man in this clan the consequences of-"

"Dad, please!" Merida came between them, glancing back at Hiccup when he gulped audibly. "Now I don't want to cause alarm… but will you believe me if I show you his dragon?"

"Oh, y' brought a dragon? Well, if I see this 'dragon,' then you can turn around and call me an-"

"Assistance would be appreciated, bud!" Hiccup called out.

Toothless trotted out then, trees rustling as he approached. Elinor and Fergus' eyes widened, Elinor screaming as she ran behind Fergus to hide behind him. Fergus reached for his sword, but Merida stopped him.

"He won't hurt you, dad!" Merida exclaimed, holding her hands out before going over to Toothless. He gasped when he witnessed his daughter petting the creature, awe replacing the initial shock.

The sword fell from Fergus' hands, Elinor peeking out from behind him as they stared wordlessly. When rational thought returned to them, Fergus shook his head, snapping himself out of his stupor. "That's… that's a dragon…"

"I know, dad…" Merida smiled. "He's Hiccup's. Y' see, Hiccup is the chief of his tribe. He rose to the position when his dad died in battle to protect their home; from a man who wanted to take all their dragons."

Hiccup smiled lightly. "I see we both have faced the occasional occupational hazard." He said to Fergus as he patted his prosthetic leg. "This was from facing off against a queen dragon. Toothless here managed to save the rest of me."

Fergus looked from Merida to Hiccup, smiling a bit and patting his own leg. "This here was from fighting off Mor' Du. He was a-"

"A bear… Merida told me." Hiccup smiled, glancing over at Merida as she put an arm around him.

"Do y' believe me now, dad?" She asked softly.

After a few moments, Fergus chuckled a bit. "Your mother and I stand corrected…" He breathed. "Merida… did you… did you really lose your soul? You… became a Banshee?"

"Yes, dad. I did." Merida said.

"And you… you fought the monster who did it to you…?" Fergus asked.

"I did. That monster is gone now." Merida answered.

"And this lad here… was he a Banshee too?" Fergus questioned.

"No… the flame of his dragon was taken. He went after the monsters to get that back, like I went after them to get m' soul." Merida replied.

Her parents still had a hard time wrapping their heads around this, but now believed their daughter.

"Why didn't you come to us sooner, Merida…?" Elinor asked. "All this time, we thought you were missing, that someone had captured you…"

"I tried, mom… you and dad didn't see me, you walked right through me…" Merida frowned.

Elinor gasped then. "Fergus… the first day we were looking for her… remember how Angus acted…? As if he had seen-"

"A ghost." Fergus breathed, staggering back a bit. His brows furrowed, approaching Merida and hugging her close. "I'm so sorry, Merida… I won't let anyone ever hurt you again, lass."

"I fought as best as I could, dad… I really did." Merida said quietly.

"I know y' did…" Fergus whispered, wiping a tear as he stood up straight. He approached Hiccup, placing a hand on his shoulder. "I'm sorry for threatening ye." He said. "Merida's m' darling girl… and I'd do anything to keep her safe… and unwed." He rolled his eyes when Elinor shot him a look.

Merida bit her lip. "Well… about that dad, I should probably tell you that Hiccup and I-"

"Really, REALLY want nothing more than to be the best of friends, you know, because fighting alongside someone for two months, nothing more than that, I assure you, kind of helps people to grow on each other! So uh, Merida said that with your permission, she would LOVE to give me a tour of Dun' Broch!" Hiccup chuckled nervously as he held his hand over Merida's mouth.

Fergus and Elinor glanced at each other before agreeing in unison to the suggestion. They spent the day walking the grounds and through the castle, teaching Hiccup a bit about their history and culture. He met Merida's brothers, and joined the kingdom in a grand feast to celebrate Merida's long awaited return. After a long day, Hiccup lay in bed inside one of the castle's guest rooms. Toothless was outside in the stable area, acquainting himself with Merida's horse, Angus. Hiccup's peaceful sleep was disturbed by a light shaking, blinking his eyes open. When he saw Merida crouched by his bedside, he became more alert, sitting up in a bit of a panic.

"Merida!" Hiccup whispered. "If your dad sees you here he's going to kill me!"

"Hush!" Merida whispered back. "M' dad and I had a long talk after you went to bed."

Hiccup groaned, falling back to stare up at the ceiling. "Well, I'm dead, aren't I?"

"No lad, you'll have to try harder than that." Merida chuckled quietly. "I told him how I feel, and that I want to see your homeland. He was… sad, at first. He says that in two months I had grown up faster than I had in m' whole life, and that he never thought that any man would be worthy of me." She smiled softly. "I told him that I would never leave here forever, that we just started liking each other. He said that I can go to Berk to visit on one condition."

"Let me guess… they're going to come?" Hiccup asked.

"No, he said mom would faint in a heartbeat if she tried to fly on Toothless. He said that he wants to meet your mom when we come back, so to bring her here." Merida replied.

"Wow, that's it? Huh, I expected much worse." Hiccup said.

"M' dad knows I'm a strong girl." She smiled, leaning in to plant a short kiss on his lips. "That'll be our secret. Goodnight, Hiccup."

Hiccup smiled crookedly as Merida left the room, sighing blissfully as he drifted back to sleep.

Olaf stared at the words on the page of a book in deep concentration, Anna approaching him in her nightdress.

"Alright, I think that's enough for one night." She smiled lightly.

"I think I'm getting a little better at this!" Olaf smiled.

Anna tried not to laugh when she saw that he was holding the book upside down, shaking her head. "I'm sure you are." She giggled, gently taking the book and placing it back on the shelf. "Time for bed now." She took his hand, leading him to a small room that was kept cold for him to sleep in.

"Say, are you and Kristoff having another sleepover?" Olaf asked.

Anna choked a bit, clearing her throat as she blushed a deep shade of red. "Um… yes, we're having… another sleepover, yeah." She replied nervously.

"You know, that Pitch guy isn't as bad as everyone made him out to be… he and Elsa seem to really like each other." Olaf said as he waddled up the stairs.

"Yeah, they do… I just hope that things turn out alright… I don't want Elsa to be hurt." Anna sighed.

"She seems pretty smart, I think they'll be okay. I can't wait to see Eliza again… I miss playing with her." Olaf said.

"Maybe they can visit soon, once Elsa's gotten everything settled." Anna said, opening the door to Olaf's room. "Let me know if you need anything." Anna said, about to leave when she stopped, back tracking a bit. "But, um… please knock first."

"Okay!" Olaf smiled. "Goodnight, Anna."

"Goodnight, Olaf." She smiled before heading to her bedroom, opening the door and giggling lightly before closing it quietly behind her.

Already asleep, Elsa rested in Pitch's embrace as he gently pet her hair. He enveloped her in his arms, not able to remember the last time he felt this content, this serene. The night was peaceful, tranquil, a sigh drawn from his lips. When the light clouds parted, Pitch squinted his eyes a bit as the moon revealed itself, its light pouring through Elsa's large, triangular shaped window. He stared at it for a few moments, and rather than a scowl or a grimace filled with loathing or distaste, a knowing smirk graced his features as he spoke softly.

"You watched everything I wanted, worked for, fought for, be taken from me through the course of time… but if you will allow me to keep what I have now… then perhaps we will not be as great adversaries henceforth, man in the moon." He received no verbal reply, but Pitch had a feeling that the moon somehow concurred with his statement, and it was enough to assure him thusly. Before he closed his eyes, he gazed upon Elsa once more before he would enter the first peaceful slumber he had experienced in centuries.

"Sweet dreams, my divine Elsa." He whispered softly.

Though he knew it would take some time to grow into his new place within the kingdom of Arendelle… he also knew that at this point, there was nowhere else he would rather be; that wherever Elsa was, he wanted to be right by her side for all of their days.

It was evening in Berk, Merida and Hiccup having arrived earlier that day by using Toothless as their method of travel. Hiccup's family and friends were feasting in the dining hall, Astrid staring daggers at the couple as she took a sip from her goblet. She placed it down as she narrowed her eyes, observing Hiccup introducing the girl with fiery red hair to his mother. The two ladies seemed to be getting along quite well, the village in general celebration over Hiccup's return. Eret cleared his throat awkwardly, biting his lip.

"So, um… are you going to introduce yourself?" He asked.

Astrid glanced over at him, about to answer when she shot Ruffnut and Tuffnut a glare upon hearing their snickering. "I think that's a good idea, Eret." She placed her goblet down, getting up from her seat.

As Merida went to get something to drink, Valka smiled gently and hugged her son to her. "Oh, Hiccup… I lived peacefully for almost twenty years without you, and for the two months you were gone after getting to know you, I never felt so restless. My heart is at ease now…" she glanced over at Merida then. "She's so full of spirit, Hiccup… and she's got beauty to top it off!"

"Mom…" Hiccup whined lightly, rolling his eyes playfully as Valka chuckled.

"I can see how happy she makes you… and that brings me more joy than you can imagine. It's something that for these long weeks we've all been deprived of." She gently patted his shoulder. "I'm going to head home… I'm sure you want to get her acquainted with everyone."

"Alright, mom. Are you sure you'll be okay by yourself?" Hiccup asked.

"Oh, don't worry about me. At least poor Gobber can enjoy peace without me crying on his shoulder… oh don't fret Hiccup, he's a dear friend to all of us as you know… I'm just so happy you're back. Also, Toothless is good company to keep in the house." She chuckled.

"True." Hiccup smiled, bidding his mother goodnight before taking Merida's hand as she approached, laughing when he saw she was wearing a Viking helmet. "Enjoying yourself?"

"Gobber said this one was a spare, but he said that he can have one of my own made!" She beamed.

"That's all fine and well, but then it would cover up your hair…" Hiccup tried to reach under the helmet to ruffle her hair, the two giggling a bit before someone clearing their throat got their attention.

"Hey, Hiccup." Astrid smiled, approaching them and raising her brow. "Aren't you going to introduce me to your… friend?"

Hiccup cleared his throat nervously. "O- Oh, hi Astrid, hey..." He stumbled over his words a bit as she walked up to them. "Astrid, this is Merida, Merida, this is-"

"Astrid... so we meet at last." Merida forced a smile, extending her hand. "I've heard a lot about ye."

At first, Astrid simply looked from the hand to Merida's face, looking her up and down. She then extended her own hand, the two clasping their wrists and shaking once firmly. "Funny, I haven't heard ANYTHING about you. We'll have to take some time to get to know each other."

"Aye." Merida replied. "Hiccup has plenty to tell. We just came here from m' homeland of Dun' Broch."

"Really?" Astrid glanced over at him. "What's your occupation there?"

"I'm a princess, but I'm a warrior on the side. Suits me better I think." Merida said.

"Well, I have a hard time seeing that, but I'll just have to take your word for it." Astrid smirked.

"SO..." Hiccup coughed into his hand, trying to break up the growing tension. "How about we all get something to eat and then I can-"

"No thanks, I've had plenty." Astrid smiled. "I don't know about you though, Merida... you look a little frail. I can see how being a princess really takes a toll on a healthy diet."

"I'm beggin' your pardon? I think I know how to eat m' fill, lass." Merida said.

Astrid chuckled in response. "Right... I'm sure all your servants let you know when you've had enough. Must be nice to have that kind of position. I almost did. But then, it was taken from me. I guess it makes sense... royal blood is more valuable... but the way we do things here, blood is typically more valuable spilled."

Hiccup groaned, rubbing his face. "Come on, Astrid, please don't give her a hard time-"

"Funny, we feel the same back in Dun' Broch... and I'll tell you another thing; tread carefully Astrid, because those are fightin' words you speak." Merida spoke lowly as she narrowed her eyes.

Astrid shrugged arrogantly. "Well, at least my words can actually be understood without having to listen too hard."

Merida's eyes widened with anger, her fists clenching. "Well then... perhaps you'd prefer if we settle this in a way y' do understand?"

"And here comes the fighting..." Hiccup heaved a sigh, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Ladies, I think we've all been through ENOUGH fighting, can't we just be civil and-"

"For the first and probably the last time, I couldn't agree more with you." Astrid replied.

As she went over to a wall to grab her sword, Merida unsheathed hers off her person. Hiccup tried to stop both of them, but his efforts were fruitless. He whined, finally resolving to go over to the table where his friends were now watching on with interest, plopping down and resting his head in his hands.

"Since when do all the ladies like YOU, Hiccup?" Snotlout asked. "Lucky son of a troll..."

There weren't a lot of people in the dining hall now, but those who were turned their attentions to the two ladies, moving tables and chairs back to give them room to settle their score with one another.

"Just keep in mind… as the princess of your clan; you're representing the whole of it, right here, right now." Astrid said, readying herself.

As Merida blew one of her curls out of her face, she chuckled. "Lass… after fighting a mad doctor… the steeds of the Nightmare King… and the minions of a monstrous queen… you're nothing to compare."

"We'll see about that!" Astrid shouted, charging forward with her sword as metal clashed against metal.

Hiccup's hands covered his face, peeking through one eye as he watched both his current and ex-girlfriends battle one another. Astrid grunted as she spun around, lowering to her knee at the same time. Merida jumped over the oncoming blade, landing swiftly back at her feet to come down upon Astrid with her sword. Astrid made an effort to dodge it, but hissed when Merida managed to leave a thin cut near her collarbone. Astrid touched the wound lightly, looking at her hand to see blood on her fingertips. She narrowed her eyes, wiping the blood on her clothing. She grasped her sword firmly, charging forward once again as their arms moved swiftly, the sound of their swords colliding increasing the tension and suspense felt in the now otherwise silent dining hall. After several more intense minutes, Astrid had nearly backed Merida up to a table pushed against the wall; she was not going to make this so easy for Astrid, however, as she whirled around in a circle, all gasping as her curls seemed to pirouette in slow motion. Astrid gasped in shock when Merida's sword collided with hers; Astrid's flying out of her hand and clanging across the floor. Merida pointed her sword at Astrid's throat, smirking lightly.

"You were saying, lass?" Merida asked.

Astrid gritted her teeth, not ready to accept defeat just yet. "Seems you fight pretty well for someone who wears a dress."

"Aye, I'm pretty used to it." Merida replied.

"Well, there's a reason why Viking women don't wear dresses." Astrid said.

"Really? Why's that?" Merida asked.

"Allow me to demonstrate." Astrid said before in one swift move, she unsheathed a dagger, flicking it to the ground where it pinned Merida's dress to the floor. When Merida gasped and bent down a bit to remove it, Astrid grunted as she thrust her foot forward, kicking Merida's face hard. The force of the kick sent her backwards, colliding into the table behind her. Everyone gasped and murmured as Merida groaned, trying to get up only for her dress to tear, releasing itself from the dagger's hold as she fell back into it more, knocking off come of its contents onto the floor. Hiccup nearly flew out of his seat, the twins having to hold him back.

"Let them work this out." Tuffnut said.

"Yeah, just like we do." Ruffnut added.

"Since when do we EVER work things out?" Tuffnut asked.

"Uh, all the time, you idiot!" Ruffnut shouted.

"Both of you shut up for a second!" Hiccup exclaimed.

Meanwhile, Astrid scoffed at Merida. "I suppose there's a lesson to be learned here; it takes more than just a pretty face to make it around here, 'princess.'"

Merida groaned as she got to her feet. "At least I HAVE a pretty face."

Astrid rolled her eyes. "Insult me all you want, means nothing to me coming from a loser." She chuckled then. "You will never belong here. Go back to all your frilly luxuries like a good little girl and let Hiccup remember what it's like to have a REAL woman." She turned, smirking as she started to walk away.

Merida straightened herself up then, a scowl twisting her features as she grit her teeth. She wiped the blood from her mouth on her sleeve, her eyes burning into the back of Astrid's head.

"Woah… she looks angrier than Astrid on a bad day…" Fishlegs whispered.

Merida stormed forward then, grabbing Astrid's dagger from off the ground as she emitted a battle cry. Astrid turned halfway around, only for Merida to grab her, yanking her back as she held the dagger to her throat. Astrid grunted, flipping Merida over her so she landed on her back. She tried to pin Merida down, but in one fluid movement, Merida kicked herself so she slid backwards between Astrid's feet, hopping up to grab Astrid's ankles so she fell forward. Merida emitted another battle cry, grabbing the dagger as Astrid rolled over so she was facing up. She gasped, rolling onto her side quickly as Merida stabbed the dagger down, embedding it into the floor where Astrid's head was not moments ago. Astrid cried out angrily as she shoved Merida off of her, hopping to her feet to run and grab her sword. As she was inches from it, Merida caught up to her, grabbing her hair and flinging her backwards so she hit the wall. Once there, Merida held Astrid's knife up to her throat with her right hand, her left hand holding a fistful of her blonde hair.

"You wanted to get t' know me, lass? Well, here's a good start. M' name is Merida, daughter of King Fergus of Dun' Broch. I'm known for defeating the legendary beast of Scotland called Mor' Du, and I am a fierce protector of m' people. I'm not frilly, I'm not girly, and I am NOT weak." She hissed, glaring at Astrid. "And a real woman, lass… never trifles with a claimed man, or strays from their own man claimed." She shoved Astrid's head back against the wall, the Viking girl groaning and nursing the back of her head with her hand as Merida took a step back. She threw Astrid's dagger at her feet, picking up her own sword to sheathe it before chuckling as Astrid hissed from her sore head. "Still think you're good enough to not wear a helmet like your other Viking folk?"

Hiccup shoved the twins' hands off of him then, running over to Merida as she walked away from Astrid. He held her face in his hands, inspecting her injuries and tucked some strands of hair back. "Merida… great Odin's ghost, are you alright?!"

"Aye, lad." She smiled, a bit of blood still on her teeth.

"Never do that again, you could have been killed!" Hiccup frowned.

"Don't you see, Hiccup?" She smiled, Snotlout handing her the helmet Gobber had given her, placing it on her head. "I'm a Viking now; I've got to get used to these 'occupational hazards.'"

Hiccup chuckled, drawing her close to place a kiss on her forehead. Snotlout wiggled his brows, clearing his throat.

"Say, uh, if Hiccup ever decides to take Astrid back, I'm available if you want to- oof!" Snotlout grunted as Hiccup shoved his face back, rolling his eyes playfully.

Astrid slowly approached them then, Merida glaring at her as she walked up to Hiccup. "So… you're really going to give me up… for her?"

Hiccup sighed, frowning lightly. "Astrid, I… I'll always care about you… but what you did hurt… I'm sorry, but I… I need someone who's going to fight FOR me, not against me."

Astrid shook her head. "So, that's it then? Our five years together, you're going to throw that away just because I gave you a hard time?"

Merida was about to say something when Hiccup gently placed a hand on her shoulder, a single glance communicating to her that he would settle this.

"I don't know how else I can apologize to you, Astrid." He said as he shrugged. "A man has certain needs, and I'm no exception." He smiled lightly, and without another word, he placed an arm around Merida's shoulders, leading her to the table where their friends were sitting to sit and socialize with them.

Astrid exhaled sharply, standing dumbfounded as she realized her past words to Hiccup had just been thrown right back in her face. Thinking she had made enough of a spectacle of herself for one night, Eret awkwardly said goodnight to Hiccup and the others, taking Astrid's hand and leading her out of the dining hall.

As Merida sat and became acquainted with Hiccup's friends, all of them eager to know her, she realized that destiny had led her down a path where worlds collided, melded, and that her world and Hiccup's were a perfect fit, like placing puzzle pieces together. In time, her parents would meet Valka, the two clans forming an alliance through the union of their children. In Dun' Broch, Merida would race through the woods on Angus while Hiccup would soar over their heads on Toothless, meeting her on the cliff side when she climbed to her favorite small plateau, the two enjoying the sunset together as Toothless would roll in the lush green grass below beside Angus. In Berk, she always triumphed with Hiccup as a team in the dragon games, much to Astrid's dismay. Hiccup even found her a dragon to call her own, a perfect fit for her. A Stinger, Hiccup told her, which could shoot out pointed spikes rom its wings and tail like arrows. It was covered in scales of reds, oranges, yellows and a bit of black around its eyes, the top of its head fiery red like Merida's hair. As Merida and Hiccup mounted their dragons, she zipped up her suit, one like Hiccup that he had made for her. The back allowed some space for her hair to remain free, gently blowing from the breeze.

"You alright, lad? Seem a bit nervous today." Merida said.

"Nah, I'm alright." Hiccup replied, clearing his throat.

"Okay, you ready, Chara?" Merida asked, petting her dragon as she chirped.

The two set off, Merida cheering into the air as she tried out her new suit for the first time. They sped through the skies, spinning, dipping and ascending through the clouds. When it was time to test out the final feature of her suit, Hiccup looked over to her.

"Are you sure you've got this?" He shouted to her.

"Do y' even have to ask, lad?" She shouted back, flipping a small switch to activate the winged feature of the suit, and soon she and Hiccup were soaring through the air side by side. "Wow, this is amazing!" She shouted, laughing.

"I said that the first time I tried it out too!" He shouted. "Merida, I have to ask you something!"

"What is it?" She said, laughing when Hiccup's fireball made them float upwards a bit from the heat wave below.

"I, uh… I wanted to ask you if… if you would marry me!" Hiccup shouted.

Merida slowly glanced over at him, the two coming to a landing moments later. Hiccup barely had his face mask off, about to say something when he was knocked back by Merida, her lips crashing into his in a loving kiss. Toothless blinked at the scene, Chara sighing contently as she watched on next to him. When they broke the kiss, Merida gently ran her fingers through his hair.

"Yes, Hiccup, under this beautiful sky for all to see, I'll become your wife." She replied.

In this moment, the foundation of their life together had been bound by the steel of the rings Hiccup himself would forge; but even before then, it had been solidified by something far more everlasting.

The foundation, and establishment, of the Kinship.

Jack smiled lightly as he watched Wick crouch down to give Eliza candy, the girl clapping her hands and eating some. Despite his uneasy past with the guardians, he seemed to be fitting in nicely, things slowly returning to normal after the weeks of peril they had all faced. He ascended to his loft, hugging his knees as he stared out the window; there was a degree of sadness within his smile, glancing up when Baby Tooth fluttered in to rest on his shoulder.

"This is how it all started, huh?" He spoke softly. "You coming in here to cheer me up. After everything that happened… it seems like nothing changed… even though everything's changed." He sighed, resting his head on his knees.

Tooth and Sandy sat with Bunny as North worked in his office; he needed some time to get back to his inventions after mentoring Wick all day. "I'm worried about Jack, Bunny… you should try to get him to do something."

Bunny sighed lightly as he painted an egg. "Look Tooth, it's going to take some time… he'll come round."

Sandy noticed something then, patting Tooth's shoulder and pointing towards the ceiling. When she and Bunny looked, they both widened their eyes a bit.

"Oh my… someone has to get North and Jack, we all have to-"

"I'll get North, you get Jack." Bunny cut her off, hopping over the table as he hurried along.

All the guardians, including Wick, gathered in front of the large globe, all of them looking up as the moonlight shined down into the workshop. North tilted his head, blinking a bit.

"What is it, North?" Tooth asked.

"Yeah, what's he saying this is about?" Bunny added.

When the crystal began to rise out of the floor, they all received their answer.

"Ooo, shiny…" Wick said, floating towards it when Bunny slapped his hands away.

"Don't touch that." Bunny said. "You've got to be joking, North, ANOTHER guardian? What is this, some sort of guardian motel now?"

"Manny said that with recent events... he feels it's appropriate that he choose one more, he said there is a particular one he's got in mind." North said.

"Oh, here we go, here comes the groundhog!" Bunny threw his hands up.

As the other guardians speculated among one another, Jack seemed a bit distracted as he became lost in his thoughts. He wasn't as excited, nor interested, as the others, his gaze slowly resting on his sister as she played with some of the elves on the other side of the room. Nothing could seem to distract him from her, the one person that could bring a smile to his face after all that he had endured these long weeks. Not even Bunny's ranting and raving and Tooth's subsequent scolding of him could deter his gaze.

When something fluttered by him however, he finally snapped out of his daze.

Jack's eyes widened, blinking as he followed the sight of a pair of butterfly wings colored a vibrant shade of blue that floated around his head. He turned, his eyes fixated upon the small creature as he extended his hand out, taking it on his finger as he stared at it. He exhaled slowly, staring at the butterfly before it took to flight once more, leaving Jack breathless as to what its presence could possibly translate to.

"That's odd, usually Manny would have given us a visual image as to who he would have chosen by now… we cannot bear the suspense, Manny!" North cried out to the large, glowing orb in the sky.

Wick noticed something then, gently tapping Bunny's shoulder as he continued to rant. "Bunny? Um, Bunny, I think you should look at this… Bunny? Look over there, I think-"

"Alright, alright already! What in the heck do you want from me, you bloody…" Bunny's voice trailed off, his silence causing the others to follow his lead in looking in Jack's direction.

They all fell silent as they stared at him, Jack holding his arms out as blue butterflies fluttered around him in slow, graceful circles. It was a beautiful sight to behold, and it sustained for some time until the butterflies gravitated to the space just in front of him. What all happened next, even by their standards, would be forever considered a miracle.

As the butterflies gravitated together, they began to take shape and a form began to appear. When the individual opened their eyes, Jack's heart skipped a beat, shaking his head in disbelief. When he realized this was no dream, his staff slipped from his fingers, clanging to the ground as he moved forward.

"… Alice…"

Her name was drawn from his lips in a hushed whisper as he threw his arms around her, the young woman returning his embrace as he cried tears of joy.

"I already know why I'm here, Jack… he told me. I heard his voice speak to me." She whispered, closing her eyes and smiling lightly.

Jack glanced upwards, tears rolling down his cheeks as he whispered a thank you to the moon. He took a step back, a small laugh drawn from his lips as he smiled through his tears. "You're… you're a guardian, Alice, you're…"

"Yes… I was told that I have what it takes to be one… and that I had what it took to make the others remember who they are as well." She glanced back, Bunny wiping his eyes as they all smiled warmly at her.

"So… what did he make you a guardian of…?" Jack asked.

"He made me a guardian over those he calls 'the lost children.' Those who he said have lost sight in their mind's eye." She replied.

North gasped. "But… I thought there was nothing that could be done for them…"

Alice smiled softly at him. "There is now. You once asked me what my center is, North… I believe that I finally know what it is."

"Oh?" North smiled softly. "And what would that be?"

"Insight." Alice replied. "I can see the true nature of things in ways no one else can… I can look into the minds of others… and help them overcome their greatest adversaries. That is how I shall help the lost children, North. I shall see into their minds… I shall lead the blinded children into a world where their pain and suffering shall end, and they shall only know of tranquility; silly, nonsensical things that will always delight them and bring their souls comfort; just as my soul has been brought comfort." As North nodded to her proudly, she turned to Jack, her arms resting on his shoulders as they rested their foreheads together. "As for you, my Jack Frost… nothing shall ever come between us again."

Jack smiled, closing his eyes. "Alice… I have everything I could possibly want. Now, we can both protect the world together."

Their moment was interrupted when Eliza ran up to Alice, the child exclaiming joyfully as Alice bent down to hug her. As Jack watched them contently, he felt someone pat his back, glancing over and smiling to see Bunny.

"I'm happy for you, mate." Bunny nodded.

"I'm happy for all of us." Jack replied, glancing over at Alice and Eliza.

"So… are you ready to live the next couple centuries over again?" Bunny asked. "Can't very well go back to the future now."

Jack nodded. "Bunny, I'm more than ready."

"Do you think it was wrong of us to tamper with time, like North warned you not to?" Bunny chuckled.

"I think if I learned anything from all this, is that sticking strictly to the rules isn't always for the best. North made those upgraded snow globes to take me back in time and teach me how to be a better guardian for all… and for what it's worth, I think it's made us all better guardians." Jack said.

Indeed, Jack's words held truth. All of their lives had been changed for the better, and what would have been a bright future, the members of the kinship and those whom they had helped were living proof that the brightness of the future would grow tenfold. Jack realized in that moment, that just as he had, Alice finally found her true purpose and the key to happiness in her life. And speaking of keys… Jack sighed contently as he pat his chest lightly, knowing that just under the collar of his sweatshirt, pressed against his heart, was the key to his happiness. What lay ahead for them, regardless of any and all darkness and evil the world may come to conjure, he knew that as long as he had his Alice, his family and friends by his side, that nothing would ever come to douse his spirit.

A child giggled as they skipped along the cobblestones of London, slowing to a stop when they ran up to a fence of pointed metal bars, looking through them. The child tilted their head, staring ahead curiously. Only the tug of their mother upon their arm drew them away, calling the decrepit building on the other side hideous, a shameful ruin, and filthy as she witnessed a rat scurry into the front door that was left ajar. The child spared one last glance before moving on, forgetting about the eyesore minutes later.

The rat hurried inside as a storm began to brew, an abandoned building perfect for taking shelter from the elements. The creature made its way to a large hole in the floor, squeaking as it preferred the dank atmosphere that its descent provided. It continued to scurry along deeper into the darkness, its small nails clicking against the hard, smooth surface of the underground cavern. For quite some time, it was the only sound that could be heard as it was carried to echo off the stone walls. The sound abruptly stopped then, replaced by a surprised squeak, quickly followed by the sound of crunching and a loud gulp. Out of the darkness, the source of the subsequent sounds emerged into the low light, their eyes a swirling, chaotic mixture of green, like pure envy, and red, like blood fueled wrath.

All that was left of the rat was its tail as it stuck out between the jagged teeth of the Queen of Hearts. She slurped it up, gulping it down before grinning wickedly, emitting a low, sinister chuckle.

"I shall reign again…" She whispered.

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