Chapter 1 - Vanishing Act
Queen Elsa of Arendelle had never been one to show off. Far from it, she’d spent most of her life trying to avoid all unnecessary attention. The only person she’d ever cared about impressing was Anna.
Nonetheless, she couldn’t help flaunting her powers today.
She waved her hands, feeling the power flow so easily through them. It used to terrify her but now that she’d learned the secret of controlling it, the feeling gave her pleasure and pride. The snowflake quickly formed above her hands, shards expanding in an intricate pattern. Elsa twirled her hands and the flake grew until it was the size of her head. After a quick flurry of her fingers to freeze the sculpture permanently, Elsa let it go. The unique sculpture floated gently into the eager hands of the child waiting.
“Thank you Queen Elsa!” The little girl said with a huge smile that melted Elsa’s heart. The little girl ran off with her prize, quickly drawing a crowd of admirers to gape at the beauty of her ice-snowflake.
Elsa chuckled and leaned back, a pillar of ice quickly rising up to support her exhausted frame. She wanted so desperately to fall asleep but knew that would be impossible. The sun was starting to set, slowly falling into the fjord to the west.
It had taken a day to reorganize the visiting lords and ladies, find replacement ships for those whose had been damaged in Elsa’s storm and finalize all termination of trade agreements with Weselton and the Southern Isles. She hadn’t slept that night, trying to figure out where new sources of income would come from after the end of trade with two of their closest partners. Then this morning, after the first cup of tea she hadn’t accidentally frozen in years, she’d organized the Arendelle scouts to compile reports from all over the kingdom of areas and businesses that had been particularly hard hit by her freak storm. She had to make this right as best she could. She’d hardly finished that when her presence had been demanded in the courtyard to prove to the citizens of the capitol that she was in complete control of her powers. She’d gone a little overboard, she would admit but she couldn’t help it. She’d held it in so long it was nothing short of a relief to let it out. And now that she knew she wouldn’t hurt anybody, she let her powers shine like she never had before. She had created an ice rink, frozen the courtyard fountains and spruced up the castle a bit with some ice sculptures and ornaments that would never melt. It wasn’t her ice palace in the mountains but it finally felt like home.
Now it was day two of Elsa showing the kingdom her gift. They had all been so accepting, her people. Especially after her crazy escape barely three days ago, the few days of bitter cold and the cloud of fear that had clung to the kingdom all that time. Apparently, lifting the winter and showing human emotion after believing she’d killed her sister was all it took to win the sympathies of the people of Arendelle. Today, they had asked her to make them a summer ice rink. She was all too happy to comply.
“What are you smiling about?” Elsa turned her head to the voice of her sister and gestured after the excited girl.
“She reminds me of you.” She told Anna.
Anna smiled, leaning against Elsa’s ice pillar. “Please tell me I did not shriek that much as a child.” She said as the little girl let out a high pitched squeal and skated around the ice with her snowflake held high above her head.
Elsa chuckled tiredly. “You still do.” She assured Anna, which earned her an incredulous look. “Especially around that handsome mountain man…”
Anna’s blush was as red as the sun. “I do not!” She shrieked, drawing the attention of several people in the courtyard. Elsa chuckled.
“I do not shriek around Kristoff!” Anna hissed at Elsa but she was still blushing.
Elsa chuckled. “Relax Anna, I’m only teasing.”
“Sorry…it’s just…I’m not used to you…being like this.” Elsa tensed at the timidity in Anna’s voice. The two sisters were silent, watching the others skate and shout as the sun continued to sink.
As she so often had for the last fourteen years, Elsa watched her sister without letting the other girl know. Anna and her hadn’t had a chance to spend much time together after the thaw. Elsa had insisted that Anna get some food and sleep while she dealt with the fiasco resulting from her storm. Then this morning, Anna had gone off with Kristoff to finalize their promise to replace his sled and belongings.
The sisters had skated this afternoon but since then, they’d hardly seen each other. Anna had gone off with Kristoff somewhere and Elsa had had to rebuild Olaf after he’d learned the hard way that the forge and the baker’s shop was not the best place for a snowman to hang out if he wanted to remain a snowman.
Elsa shook her head in disbelief still amazed that her powers had been able to create and sustain life. She’d have to teach Olaf the difference between heat that his flurry could hold back and unbearable heat that would cause him to melt.
Unconsciously as the two sisters stood there in silence, Anna’s hand reached for Elsa’s. As the girl’s warm fingers brushed the back of her hand, a sudden jolt of fear shot through Elsa.
Reflexively, she leapt away from the contact.
“Elsa…I just want to hold your hand…” Anna looked hurt.
Elsa took a few deep breaths and waved her hands at the icicles that had popped up around them. Slowly, they broke apart and melted. “Anna, please.” Elsa pleaded, clasping her hands tightly together and trying to get herself back under control. “Give me some time. I…this wont be easy for me.”
“You were fine earlier.” Anna pointed out, standing up.
Elsa ran her hands through her hair. “I know…I’m sorry…I’m sorry.” Her heart was still pounding, even though her head was reminding her that this was okay now. She could touch her sister if she wanted to.
“So what’s wrong?”Anna asked, her concern written all over her face.
Elsa stopped wringing her hands before she answered. “Anna, I spent fourteen years sealing myself off. It’s going to take me some time to be comfortable opening up again.”
Anna sighed sadly. “It’s okay Elsa.” She pushed away from the ice pillar, not looking at Elsa.
“Anna…” Elsa tried to grab her sister’s arm but Anna was too far away.
Anna turned away. “I’ll be here. As soon as you’re ready to be my sister again.”
Even thought there was no spite in Anna’s words, only gentle encouragement, it didn’t stop the statement from cutting into Elsa’s heart.
But her sister had gone back inside. And Elsa was left feeling strangely empty inside.
It was midnight when the three cloaked figures reached the far side of the fjord. Their arrival had been somewhat delayed by the enormous winter storm that had brutally swept across the northern forests for two days and then suddenly lifted the previous day.
“That is some fearsome power Winter has…” Said a woman as the group made their way across the thawed fjord.
“You know the winter spirit.” A short man replied. “Very temperamental, governed by its emotions.”
The woman nodded in agreement. “Some tantrum then.”
“She’s twenty-one years old, this is no ordinary fit.”
“Could be. I mean, after all, she is a princess.”
The final member of the trio was silent, staring ahead at the large gates of Arendelle Castle.
“What’s on your mind?” The man asked, snapping the final member from her thoughts.
“Many things.” Was all the other woman would say as she guided their vessel out across the still fjord. As they flew across the water, the woman spoke again. “Remember: she’ll have white-hair, blue eyes…”
She glared at the man until he ducked his head.
“No one sees us, no one gets hurt.” The woman continued as the others nodded in agreement. “But this is done. We do not leave without that which we came for.”
Even though it was late and Elsa hadn’t slept at all the night before, she still could not sleep. She wandered around the courtyard, alternately creating and destroying patches and sculptures of ice just because she could. It was such an odd feeling to be able to remove her ice and snow from whatever it had touched. She’d wished her entire life that she could do that. Who knew the answer had been so simple?
Anna. The one person she could never hurt.
Elsa left the courtyard and ascended to the secondary balcony that stretched along the second floor of the castle. Her heels clacked against the stones but no ice formed under her feet.
She’d missed her sister so much these last two days. Learning she could control herself around her, that she could touch her again and let her into her life was the best thing that had happened to her in her entire life. She was desperate for more. She wanted to know everything her sister had felt these past years when they’d been separated. What her sister had done these past few days that had led to her jumping in front of a blade for her. What her sister’s plans were going forward with Kristoff. She wanted to hug her, to stroke her hair and slowly begin to make up for fourteen years of forced icy indifference.
But it was so hard to open herself up like that. She’d wanted something like this for years. But now that is was possible again, she couldn’t seem to reach out and take it.
The queen jumped. She had been so lost in her thoughts that she hadn’t heard or felt Olaf walking up to her.
“Hey Olaf, why aren’t you in bed?”
“I couldn’t sleep.” The snowman replied, toddling up to her. “Something hurts.”
Elsa crouched down next to him. “What hurts?” She asked gently, placing a hand on his head. In the few days Elsa had known him, she’d never known the snowman to feel pain. After all, his entire body came apart four times a day and he hardly batted an eyelash.
Olaf squirmed in delight under the attention. “Right here.” He told her, pulling off one of his arms and using it to point at his chest.
Elsa was intrigued. “That’s your heart, Olaf.” She told him with a reassuring smile.
Olaf tilted his head to the side. “Heart?”
“But why does it hurt?” Olaf asked, sticking his arm back into place.
“It hurts because…because sometimes it’s hard to feel love for someone.”
Elsa had to smile at Olaf’s simple yet impossible question. “Because…sometimes you just cant tell that person how much they mean to you and it makes you feel weak.”
Olaf gently took Elsa’s hand in his own twiggy one. “Do you ever feel like this Elsa?”
Her thoughts were only of Anna. “…All the time.”
“Because I love my sister. And it’s hard for me to tell her that. I loved her for years and I couldn’t ever tell her because I had to keep her safe. And now I’m worried that she still thinks I want to keep things from her. That I’m still shutting her out.”
“Oh Anna knows.” Olaf said.
“How do you know?”
“Anna loves you.” Olaf reassured her. “And she knows you love her. Because she doesn’t give up on you. She never did.” He shrugged. “Maybe it’s not something you need to say but something you need to show. Like how Anna threw herself between Hans and you to prove her love.”
Olaf’s blunt but entirely innocent statement felt like it was sending an icicle straight through Elsa’s heart.
But he was right. What was the point of forcing this? She loved Anna, Anna loved her, they had both proven that in their own ways.
Olaf was patting his chest experimentally. “Thanks Elsa, I feel better.” He jumped up to hug her tightly around the neck. “Goodnight!”
Elsa chuckled and hugged him back briefly. “Goodnight, Olaf. Thank you.”
As Olaf ran back inside to his new bedroom. Elsa watched him go, feeling better herself.
Standing up again, Elsa shot ice from her hand, creating a wide base on the ground.
Olaf reminded her so much of the childhood that her powers had ripped from her. Those innocent days when everything was simple and hugging her sister had been second nature. She still wasn’t comfortable with human contact, her initial reaction was still to flinch away from it, to seal herself away where she wouldn’t hurt anyone. But even though her head knew she could never hurt Anna again, her heart would not stop worrying.
Elsa widened the base with a sweep of her hand, her ice following her thoughts more than it did her gestures. Olaf was right, maybe she couldn’t tell Anna how she felt in words. She’d just have to let her sister know that she was trying, that she still wanted this but just couldn’t open herself up yet.
Elsa would have to show her in her own way.
The air grew colder around her as she flaunted her powers. She sculpted the new statue as much with her heart as with her gift. Even though it wasn’t necessary, she began to dance, stepping lightly and spinning to form the ice not only with her hands but her entire body, the same way she’d created her ice palace.
The statue quickly took shape: two young girls surrounded by icy heaps of snow. In between them, there was the half-formed shape of a snowman.
Anyone who knew the sisters well would immediately realize it was supposed to be the two of them from long ago. Their maids might know and some of the others of the palace staff might figure it out if they admired it long enough. To anyone else, this was simply another sculpture. But only Anna would know its real significance. This was the relationship she wanted with her sister again. Open, innocent and fun.
Elsa looked up as she added the finishing touches: darker blue cheeks for Anna and a slightly lighter hair shade for herself. She nodded in satisfaction. The sculpture was positioned at the perfect angle for Anna to see it when she looked out her window.
With a final twirl, she froze the statue permanently. She took a step back to admire it.
It was only when she lowered her hands that she realized she was being watched.
Elsa whirled around and saw two hooded figures on the far end of the courtyard, patiently watching her. They were still and silent, as if they had risen from the shadows.
Elsa immediately stiffened, her hands coming up in defense. “Who are you? Show your faces!” How had they gotten inside the castle?
As one, the two figures raised their hands and lowered their hoods.
Elsa took a step back. This was certainly not what she had been expecting.
She was facing two women: one of them a black-haired woman about her own age, the other a shorter yellow-blonde woman who could not have been much older than Anna. The black-haired woman had her hair cropped close to her skull, the blonde’s ran long and loose down her back.
“Elsa of Arendelle.” The black-haired woman said without a hint of question.
“That’s Queen Elsa to you.” Elsa replied, drawing her head higher. “Who are you?”
The women did not answer her question.
“I’m very sorry, Elsa.” The black-haired woman said. “But you’ll have to come with us.”
Elsa smiled pleasantly. “I’m afraid that’s just not possible.” She said in a voice like ice.
“You will come or we will have to take you by force.” Said the black-haired one, her voice flat.
“I’d like to see you try.” Elsa replied, flexing the fingers on her left hand, feeling the power run down them. “Maybe you just don’t know who you are dealing with.”
The black-haired woman smiled sadly. “Oh we know exactly who we are dealing with.” She nodded at the blonde woman and the two of them stepped closer together, their shoulders touching.
Elsa stamped her foot and the floor of the courtyard immediately iced over. The two didn’t even blink.
Gathering her power into a condensed ball in her palms, Elsa shot ice at the black-haired woman but none of it seemed to touch her. It all vanished as it approached her.
Realizing her attack was doing nothing, Elsa stopped, puzzled. There was a puddle of water around the women now, as if all her ice had simply melted upon coming into proximity of the two. Elsa flicked her fingers at the puddle and it instantly froze. And then instantly unfroze and returned to water.
The black-haired woman continued to stare at Elsa, not moving a muscle.
“Scara.” She said.
The blonde made a gesture with her hand and suddenly the courtyard plants all sprung to life, vines snapping. Elsa barely had time to blink before they were snapping at her ankles and twining their way up her legs.
She shot ice at a vine, freezing it in place but two more quickly took its place and trapped her hands. She struggled and fought, snow shooting ineffectively from her restrained fingers. The vines wrapped tightly around her, constricting her chest painfully and stretching her limbs out in all directions. Elsa feebly waved her hand at the vines but they shook off the thin layer of ice she sent around them.
The vines had reached her face, they were closing around her throat and mouth.
Elsa closed her eyes as leaves grew over them. This was it, she was never going to see Anna again, never get to apologize…
Her eyes snapped open and the cold burst from her in all directions. With a splintering snap, all the vines on her body froze and broke into pieces, raining down to the courtyard below. Elsa dropped to the ground, landing heavily but otherwise unhurt. She looked up.
Both the women were staring at her in alarm but not, she realized, in fear.
Slowly, she stood, her power glowing in her palms. The temperature in the courtyard dropped so much that everyone’s breath became visible as they exhaled. She saw them both shiver and glance at each other as if rethinking their strategy.
Icicles began to rise out of the courtyard floor, all of them deadly sharp and pointing at the cloaked women.
These two would come to fear her. She didn’t care who they were or what kind of powers these two had. No one walked into her kingdom and tried to kidnap her. No one threatened Arendelle. No one.
Elsa suddenly felt a tiny poking sensation on the back of her neck and the cold in her palms evaporated. When she rubbed the spot, her fingers came away clutching a tiny, bloody barb.
She called to the ice in her veins but none came. She swayed, suddenly woozy, two sleepless nights and the events of the last week quickly catching up to her and hitting her all at once. Every muscle clenched painfully, her breath became labored. Elsa tried to focus on the two women in front of her, tried to force her gift to immobilize them, or her throat to scream for help. Neither responded.
She fell. There was a large leaf under her, softening her head as it met the warming ground…
“Was that really necessary?” The black-haired woman called as Elsa dropped to the courtyard floor, unconscious. The blonde woman slowly lowered her hand, the giant leaf cradling Elsa depositing her gently on the ground.
The man in black dropped silently from his position in the shadow of a large statue along the wall to land beside the snow queen. “She put up quite a fight.” He commented tucking his dart gun back in his belt. “And I didn’t see you two coming up with any clever ideas right away.” He reached Elsa’s side and gently placed two fingers against her neck, taking a pulse. “Didn’t want there to be a huge commotion.” His eyes traveled her body curiously, as if searching for flaws.
“Garret, stop marveling and help us get out of here. Sooner rather than later would always be appreciated.” The black-haired woman snapped.
The blonde woman gestured at the plants again and they quickly curled around Elsa’s still form to wrap her in a cocoon. The man called Garret then easily hoisted the bundle across his shoulders.
“Ready.” He said to the other two.
The blonde woman gestured again and some of the remaining plants in the courtyard twined together to form a large platform. The three stepped onto it, Garret gently placing the bundle containing the queen on the platform.
“Hold on tight to her majesty there.” The black-haired one said. “The trip home is going to be a little bit faster.”
She swirled her hands around the air in front of her then thrust her hand out across the fjord. A strong, warm wind gushed through the courtyard and lifted the platform off the ground. The trio vanished into the night on a summer’s breeze, the still form of the queen resting gently between them. Back in the courtyard, a single drop of water fell from the newly-formed ice sculpture.