Beneath the Envious Moon
Beneath the Envious Moon
A sky full of stars reigned above the kingdom of Arendelle. They burned overhead like the countless sparkles in the eyes of lovers, and cast pale light into the chambers of the Snow Queen, carefully lining the carpeted floor with straight lines and shadows. It was the cool of night, like an afterthought of winter's embrace, and Elsa had been moving between humming softly and groaning as she attended to every detail of her appearance, looking into the crystal clarity of the mirror before her, yet letting her eyes drift back and forth to the shadows. In the dark recesses of starlight, a figure was standing quietly, watching her and listening to her angelic voice. His presence brought her comfort, even if she was slightly annoyed at how little he was helping her focus on the task at hand. Letting out a short breath, she suddenly drew on her magic and caused her dress to change once more, making the sleeves run longer and the collar grow up her neck. Delicate loops slipped around her middle fingers and drew the sleeves tightly across her arms, while the slit in the skirt completely sealed up, making it far less practical and oppressive, yet reflected the pensive thoughts that churned behind her scrutinizing eyes.
For some reason, she felt inclined to cover up as much as possible.
"How about now? Does it look better this way?" she asked, flaring her arms out and letting her eyes linger on the shadow in the shadows.
The shadow's response was delayed as two pale eyes caught errant slivers of moonlight, showing that while he was trying to fulfill his duty as her fashion advisor, his mind had been somewhere else. "I believe that is the seventh time you have changed it," Yasha finally replied, shifting uncomfortably and letting out a quiet sigh, "It does not matter what length you wear it, or the shape of the seam. You are beautiful, and will unavoidably take their breath away."
The comments made her skin flush and she turned to him, smirking as she crossed her arms over her chest, feigning anger. "Don't think you can sweet talk your way out of this. I really need to know how it looks. This is an important reception," she complained, frowning at the thought of the impending gathering in the great hall and letting her concerns show through her expression. It had been so abrupt and so vague that she barely even knew how to respond. All she knew was that the regent had insisted she come, and that she dress appropriately.
She didn't know exactly what he meant by the second part.
He had been watching her fidget and groan for nearly an hour, seeing her dress change to any number of lengths. He didn't quite understand her mood, but was content to see flashes of her white skin, the way her red lips twisted and pouted, and turmoil in her blue eyes. While that might have betrayed some villainous intent, especially considering their history, it was innocently nothing more than a reminder of the intimate place he had with the queen of Arendelle, and how their turbulent past had bloomed into something wonderful under the starry sky.
"If you would like my true opinion, I would advise that you wear it as a queen should," he suggested.
His remark drew another dry glance from her.
"And how exactly should a queen wear it?" she asked.
"Any way she sees fit," he replied.
The suggestion, while simple and endearing, didn't take away the tension in her shoulders and she pressed her hands across the material, looking back to the mirror and trying once more assess the length. She was annoyed that he wasn't taking this serious, though it was the atmosphere of the evening that was truly aggravating.
"That's not very helpful," she sighed.
After another spate of anxiously trying to adjust the dress and painfully examining every aspect of her appearance, she was nearly settled on a more formal neckline and sleeves, once more feeling a pit in her stomach as she thought of the regent's warning about her attire. He was usually so straightforward with her. This vague reference to her appearance made her nervous, and she even considered putting her hair back up into a bun, though even just lifting her braid back up reminded her of the person she once was. She felt she had come too far to step backwards. "Honestly, I'm really not looking forward to this. For some reason, I have a bad feeling," she admitted as she knit her hands in front of her to try and give off a practiced, regal appearance.
Strangely, the person she saw in the mirror made her frown.
"Then do not go," he said, once more offering a simplified solution to her problem.
Turning around, she shook her head and tried to relax her strange posture. "I can't do that. This is the regent," she said.
"And you are the queen."
Elsa sighed. "Try to understand, Yasha. Regent Stenson is one of Arendelle's most trusted nobles, and my closest advisor. He was my father's best friend and steward of the kingdom until I came of age. He's also one of the few that knew about my powers from the beginning. I can't refuse his request," she explained, feeling the weight of her own words. Many times she had obeyed his requests, on any countless number of things, but this night felt different.
This night sent chills throughout her body.
He sighed as well and stepped out from the shadows, emerging into the starlight and leaning back against the frame of her balcony doors. His eyes wandered out to the kingdom beyond as his head rested against the wood. "A shame. Had you done so, I would have been able to refuse as well," he remarked. That stalled her for a moment, making her look to him with an anxious expression at hearing he was also scheduled to attend this mysterious meeting. That was something she hadn't been aware of.
"The regent invited you?" she asked, her mind already trying to find the meaning in it.
He nodded slowly, his face showing that he was doing the exact same thing. "He did," he replied, looking back to the confusion in her face. It only reassured him that the dread he shared with her wasn't just his imagination. His instincts appeared to be correct. "I am as surprised as you are. I do not know why they want an outsider to attend."
She frowned at the way he saw himself. It was easy to get dragged into an argument about his place in Arendelle, and she was already too troubled to make an enemy of him. They had been there before, and those weren't fond memories for her. Instead, she played the paramour and walked over to him, wanting to placate his concerns, but also be close to him for a moment. "Maybe it's a good sign. Maybe they're starting to see you not as an outsider, but as someone that belongs in here," she offered with a smile, "Like I do."
He sighed again, leaning his head back against the jamb.
"I wish I shared your expectations of the world," he remarked solemnly.
Sensing his slipping mood, she stepped closer and took his hands, feeling his warmth. For a moment, she mused at how her past self would have reacted to this scene, when she had hated him and fought him and nearly killed him. Now, she couldn't imagine a day without him, and marveled at the effect his simple touch had on her, for it felt like it could defeat even her strongest magic, even as he no longer had the benefit of the FireHeart. Strangely, she felt he might actually be more dangerous without it. "I know this has been hard recently, but it won't always be this way. The day will come when we don't have to hide behind curtains and slip through cracked doors," she said, smiling softly for him and trying to help him imagine such a beautiful world, "Someday, we'll be able to be together in the way we want, without the whispers and without the talk."
"Now, I also wish for your reveries," he replied, though he visibly relaxed and squeezed her hands back.
Her smile warmed as she saw him give in to her, and she slowly stretched up onto her toes to kiss him softly across his troubled lips, timidly but with much passion. "Be patient," she whispered, "You're not the only one who wants this without any strings attached. I'm the queen. I'll figure out how to make this work." His pale gray eyes stayed on her for the longest time, searching her for the source of her confidence. Feeling her heat, he cupped his hand across her back and held her even closer. Regardless of how he felt about the welcome he had received since coming to Arendelle, he found her embrace ample reason to endure, and look for this world she spoke of, the one that would allow them to be together. As one kiss wasn't enough, he repaid her with a much deeper one, denying the cool air of the evening with the fire that existed between them. There was a slight flare of her magic as a thin frost crept out from the floor beneath their feet, though it didn't disturb them. Not even the world mattered in those few quiet moments they had together, where the only sin was that they had to separate to breathe.
Love was a strange state of being, when even the air was nothing more than a petty demand for them to part.
The tender kiss ended. She struggled to catch her breath and softly patted him on the chest, not even daring to look up into his eyes as she tried to get her mind, and body, back on track. "We have to go, before you tempt me anymore to ignore the regent's invitation," she said hotly.
He didn't want to let her go so easily. "You rarely show such resistance with the moon overhead," he replied, and it made her laugh bitterly, then finally look up at him. She almost lost herself in his eyes, then softly ran her fingers down his cheek, feeling extremely temped to give in to his demands. Not even she had been prepared for how utterly helpless she had become when he looked at her with such passion.
Once more, she realized at how dangerous he was.
"Go," she ordered, then returned his playful mood with a weak smile of her own, "Before I call my guards and tell them there's a kidnapper in my chambers." Her words and her voice were a contradiction, and he inwardly mused how poorly the Royal Guard would do in trying to take her from him.
In the end, he obeyed her anyway. "Yes, my queen," he said, giving in the false demands and backing out onto her balcony, their hands sliding slowly away. She watched as he vaulted himself up onto the stone railing, standing inches from the sheer drop the rocky fjord below, his feet scraping over the stony edge. As it always did, seeing him standing there made her heart race, and she once more felt the utter terror that he should fall.
"Yasha," she suddenly blurted and it made him turn. At once, she remembered that he had disappeared over that cliff many times, taking the secret path that only he knew, only to return again to her the next time she longed for him. That security made a smile finally break through her troubles, and she gave him the most alluring look. "Don't be late." At once, he knew this wasn't a warning about the reception, but for another encounter completely. In their time together, he had grown to understand her in spite of her words and the meaning was so apparent that it made a smile tug at the corner of his mouth.
After the reception, don't be late in coming back here to me.
His eyes affectionately upon her, he repeated his words, though her heart fluttered at their potency, and she marveled how he could project so much more depth on the exact same melody of words.
"Yes, my queen."
With his eyes swearing that oath to her, he suddenly stepped back and fell into the night, becoming nothing more than wind that gusted through her now empty chambers. Once more, she felt the overwhelming desire to run over and see how he managed to escape her secluded balcony, but she stayed where she was, leaving him his secrets and the way they made her heart race. One day, she would find out how he did it. For the moment, she was satisfied that he knew how to return.
The chiming of the clock in her room signaled that she had to leave as well, and her hands went to grab the handles of her balcony doors to pull them shut against the cool night. Pausing, she smiled and let her fingers slip away from them. Leaving the doors wide open, Elsa turned and left her chambers, heading towards the reception and feeling her premonitions fall away to the fond thoughts she was having about him, and the night they would share after her duties had finally been attended to. As she walked over the crossing lines cast by the starlight through the plated windows of her castle, she was lost in the memory of her waiting shadow, singing quietly to herself, and utterly unaware of the forces that were already in motion to break them apart.