The Snow Queen and the FireHeart

Tragedy of Birthright

XIII

Tragedy of Birthright

The pathway to Fria had been growing smoother, with fewer rocks and more indicators of its inevitable course down from the mountains. There were even signs, some obvious and some cracked or strangled by plant growth, but it was now almost harder not to follow the path, or resist the journey that lay along its way. As Elsa and Yasha went, it was no longer a matter of who was leading who, but an equal road for them as they walked, closer than before and far warmer. There was still little conversation, but more was said with brief glances and the calmness of their pace, almost as if they chose this path together. Just the silence was enough to cultivate the connection that they had discovered, and Sid was fuming as she watched them, sighing in disgust at how cliché the journey had become.

"Ugh, get a room," she scowled.

As they walked, Elsa had been distracting herself on purpose, to try and keep the drone of the FireHeart out of her thoughts. It was still growling in her mind, like a fierce beast lingering just outside of the firelight. The words he had given her were crucial in keeping the whispers from overwhelming her, and it was strange to imagine that even his presence was helping to drive away the haze, even as his powers had the opposite effect. If Anna had been around, she would have certainly been intrigued by this newfound attitude. With Fria coming closer and the FireHeart surging strongly in her heart and mind, she suddenly had a powerful urge to talk with him, even as she didn't know what to say. While she had promised herself not to pry too deeply, the words and their origin were the only subject she could bring up, even if she regarded the subject with almost religious caution.

"Will you see her when we get to Fria?" she suddenly asked, her voice a bit shaky at the personal subject. Inwardly, she hoped it wasn't as perilous as she feared.

He was surprised by her sudden desire to chat.

"Will I see whom?" he asked.

She winced and suddenly felt like this was a bad idea, but she had already started and felt that retreating now might be worse. Swallowing heavily, she rubbed her lips together, trying to prepare herself.

"Your mother," she whispered, slightly hoping he could not hear her.

Yasha's pace slowed and his eyes became angry. She winced when she saw them and her lips moved to try and retract the question, but her voice didn't follow. Her instincts seemed true and she regretted asking, but she was still looking to him with expectant eyes and an open heart. If there was going to be any progress between them, she knew she would have to face his angry eyes.

Blindsided by the inquiry, he seethed angrily and let his eyes wander, to try and spare her their heat.

"No," he finally answered, walking stiffly in the air she had cast upon them, "I will not."

The response was mild for his expression and she let out a strange sigh of relief. "Oh," she replied, not sure whether she was glad that he didn't lash out at her or sad that he offered no other details. It appeared their connection wasn't as strong as she had started to believe and she scolded herself for souring the mood.

Continuing forward, time passed as he stared coldly at the path ahead, with Elsa looking off to the side. She questioned whether she really had any right to ask him about such things, as they weren't really companions, but rather two unfortunate souls thrown together by a common fate. The atmosphere smothered any further conversation and not even Sid tried to speak to him. Unlike Elsa, she knew of his past and knew when to leave him alone. She was secretly satisfied that the Snow Queen didn't know the same.

Walking slowly and uncomfortably, Yasha suddenly let out a long sigh and pushed his hands back through his hair, letting his exhaustion show through and his frustrations stretch out. His eyes showed just how tired he was, though they were surprisingly receptive to her attempts to dig into his soul. "Mother died when I was young," he revealed without warning, snaring Elsa's attention. His voice had become steady and he slowly looked over to her, his face showing the most remarkable expression she had ever seen.

"A house fire."

She came to a stop and stared, her chest clenching. By the look in his eyes, she knew what that meant and why this might have been the only thing about his past that he would share with her. There were almost the sounds of screams hanging in those eyes and the heat of a blaze out of control. The loss of one's parents was something she could relate to, but not nearly as powerfully as the common tragedy they had for trying to control powerful magic with a child's hand.

"I'm so sorry," she said, watching him come to a stop ahead of her.

He almost laughed as he looked up into the black sky, then shook his head. "Your apology is unnecessary. It is not your misfortune to bear, but mine," he replied.

Knowing a common past, she wouldn't accept that and felt compelled to try and comfort him, despite the pain being ancient and unconquerable. "You can't blame yourself for it. I'm sure it wasn't anything you did on purpose. These powers are too much for a child to handle," she offered, slowly looking down to her own hands.

"Any child."

Like a mirror, he was looking to his hand with a cold expression, finding their shared legacy miserable. While he had long gotten over this, he was surprised to find himself feeling so emotional at her mention of it, especially when it was her that he was speaking to.

"So it was said to me," he replied distantly, "More times than I can remember."

As the both of them scandalized their hands, silence lingered once more. It was a tragedy itself that the only things they had found between them were fury, terror and regret, as if those things were the birthright of anyone born with magic, yet it was those things that eroded the mistrust and forged a peculiar link between them, and forced them to realize that this snaking fate they shared also opened the door for understanding and that perhaps there was no one else in the world that could hope to know them as well as they could know each other. Elsa felt that movement strongly as she looked up from her hands to him, feeling the overwhelming urge to repay his openness with some of her own. "When we were children, I hurt Anna with my magic," she explained sadly, still flinching at the memory, "It was an accident, but it made me fear my power and I spent most of my childhood locked away in the castle, afraid to harm anyone else or let these powers get out of control. I closed the door between us, between me and everyone else in the world. I was terrified of what I might do again."

He was intrigued by her story and offered her a consoling expression.

"It must have been lonely," he remarked.

She nodded, but for some reason felt better talking to him about it. "It was. And I didn't realize that locking myself away probably hurt her worse and that hiding from my powers only made it harder to control them. When I froze everything," she explained, wincing as she remembered that terrible incident as well, "it was because I was afraid, afraid that no one would accept me for who I am, or what I can do. I had nothing but fear and I didn't think anyone could help or understand what I was going through." Her eyes rose the memories and she saw the expression on his face. She felt compelled to continue her quest to help him, not for the FireHeart, but a heart of another kind.

Her face was glowing.

"Anna taught me that sometimes the only way we can help ourselves, is to be helped by others. Sometimes we have trust in them, and in the way that only they can save us."

He took her point reluctantly. It wasn't as if this was the first time he had heard others trying to console him or offer him advice, but in all of those countless tries he had dismissed it as ignorance. No one had known the life he had known and their words had always felt hollow. However, as the words came from her, he found they resonated with him in a way he had never felt before, and that he couldn't simply dismiss her words, for the two of them were the same, in spite of their vast differences.

He had to respect the pedigree in her words.

"I think…" he began, searching her with cooling eyes, his face relaxing. A part of him wanted to open up to her and see how deep their connection was, but a lifetime of being guarded against others felt like an impossible obstacle and he struggled to weigh his desires against his fears. It made a particularly pensive look overcome his face.

She found this expression striking.

Just as the temptation to speak to her welled up within him, he noticed Sid hovering nearby, glowering at them. His lips froze. It was not the jealousy burning in her small frame that stalled him, but the realization that this wasn't a simple matter of his own heart, but something far greater. There was too much at stake for this selfish wish to share these burdens and too many of his own hopes and dreams tied up in his cause. The idea of slipping the weight from his shoulders in the twilight of his fate made a wave of indignation come over him and he let out a slow breath, looking back to Elsa. As unfair as it was to drag the innocent along with him, whether it be Elsa, Anna or Sid, it was just one more burden to bear, and he had gotten used to playing the criminal. "I think your sister may be wiser than she lets on to the world," he finished, turning his lips into a patronizing smile, hoping she could believe the mask he put on once more. While nothing would have relieved him more than truly opening up to her, he realized he didn't have the right after all.

He didn't even know if he would be seeking her help or her life when they finally stood before the FireHeart.

Elsa was disappointed by his obvious retreat, but felt content that they had more in common than she initially thought. Like him, she found that speaking to someone who shared the magic was comforting, even if that person was the one that caused her so many moments of terror and panic. It was tempting to think about how their lives would have been different had they met under different circumstances, such as meeting glances across a ballroom or being introduced by the hands of others. It was also disturbing that she could now see his noble side, even as all she had seen his wicked side, and that she didn't know which to imagine when facing him. Anna had seen fit to dig into him, unafraid of what she would find.

Elsa felt somewhat ill-prepared to do the same. "Yes," she replied, thinking of her sister fondly, "I feel the same way about her."

He retained his masked smile in response.

"Come. Fria is not far now," he said, herding her on.

She simply nodded and they continued their journey, once more letting the pleasant silence settle over them, afraid that any more conversation might reveal that the connection they had was either vaporous and thin, or something far more substantial than either of them were prepared to admit.

In both of their hearts, they didn't know which prospect was more frightening.

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