Up the North Mountain
The mountain man looked up and when he saw Anna waving at him from the stable door he put down the piece of tack he had been cleaning and waved back. Standing, he wiped the leather soap that coated his hands on a rag before walking towards her, smiling.
Anna felt her face heating up and stomach do an impressive somersault.
Oh no. No. No. No. I can't handle this. HE ISN'T WEARING A SHIRT! WHY ISN'T HE WEARING A SHIRT!? Christ, look at his arms! It should be against the law to have that many muscles out in the open all at once. But just look at his arms! Oh my God, Anna, stop staring at him!
Tearing her eyes away from his bared mid-drift Anna attempted to focus all her attention on a spot in the middle of the man's forehead.
"Well, good morning, your Highness. What brings you down here with the rif-raf?" he teased, laughing when she scowled at her royal title.
She stuck her tongue out at him in response.
Sorry I missed breakfast I-" His smile quickly faded when he noticed the sling. "Anna, what happened to your arm? Are you okay?" he asked, eyes full of concern and cupping her cheek in his large, callused hand to check for any other signs of injury. He'd been taking care of some business in town yesterday and not seen Anna at all that day.
She felt the familiar warmth fill her chest at his touch. "I'm fine Kristoff, just a little misunderstanding. It's a long story. Let's just say that Elsa will no longer be leaving her bedroom locked. Even when she's not in it."
It was then Anna realized how close she was standing to his exposed chest and hastily took a step back. "Maybe you should put some clothes on. There are children around here you know."
Kristoff looked down at himself and smirked. "What? It's hot in here and I didn't want to get any soap on that shirt you gave me. Why,? Like what you see?"
He watched as her eyes flickered down but immediately shot back up to that spot on his forehead when she realized he could see. He couldn't help but laugh at her expression.
"I'll take that as a- " he began, but the jest turned to dust on his tongue when he saw the queen stride into the barn behind her sister.
"Anna, have you found Mr. Bjorgman ye- Oh!"
He stood there in horror as Elsa's eyes widened a bit as she took in the sight of him.
Great Mother Earth this cannot be happening. This is a nightmare! I am standing half naked in front of Anna's sister, the Queen for shit's sake!
"Apparently you have," she said in amusement and raised an eyebrow. "Good morning, Mr. Bjorgman."
"I… uhh… um…" he stuttered getting redder in the face with each passing second.
This can't possibly get any worse. Form words you idiot!
"G- Good morning, Majesty. I apologize for my... my... this!" he stammered gestering vaguely at himself. "Excuse me while I just... I.. sorry! I'll be right back!" he said frantically running to get the shirt while mentally kicking himself for sounding like a complete fool in front one the one person he desperately wanted to impress.
"Oh my goodness Elsa, I think you broke him," Anna giggled.
"It appears I have," she laughed, covering her mouth with her hand. It wasn't polite to laugh at another person's expense. "Maybe I should wait outside, call me when you're done," she said and made her way back out of the barn.
"Where did your sister go?" Kristoff asked nervously, now fully convinced that Elsa was going to ban Anna from ever talking to him again.
"Jeez, relax Kristoff. Stop trying so hard, she already likes you y'know." Anna snickered at the man's fidgeting and lay a comforting hand on his arm.
"Wait, what? She likes me? Really?" he said in shock.
"Yeah you goober, can't you tell?" she asked walking past him and over to Sven who was sticking his head through the door of his stall trying to get her attention. She giggled when he snuffled her face, tickling her with his whiskers and eventually handed him a carrot from the large bag that hung outside his stall.
Kristoff was still staring at Anna as though she had just told him that the sun had decided to start rising in the west from now on. He was having hard time wrapping his mind around the idea that the Queen did not find him repulsive. She was so hard to read, always wearing that mask of cold indifference. How Anna was able to decode even a portion of what was going on in that mysterious woman's heads was beyond him. He was still pondering this when he realized Anna was speaking.
The redhead rolled her eyes at the distracted ice harvester. "I said that Elsa and I are going up the North Mountain today and we were wondering if you would be our guide. Elsa doesn't really remember the way, plus you'll get to see the Ice Palace," she sang.
As if Kristoff needed to be persuaded to spend the day with Anna; she could have asked him to jump in the ice cold Fjord and he'd have done it merrily. What made him apprehensive however was the knowledge that the Queen was coming with them, that scared him out of his wits. For half a second the man was tempted to make up an excuse but a chance to see the ice palace up close was just too good to pass up. How bad could one day with Anna's sister be?
"Sure," he agreed.
"Are we almost there yet?" whined a bored Anna. Her horse snorted as she slumped in her saddle jostling his back. "Sorry boy."
The group had been riding for over an hour now and the redhead could feel the air getting colder. Here and there drifts of snow dotted the terrain. Even at the height of summer, the peaks of Arendelle's mountain range remained capped in snow.
"Elsa, how in God's name did you get up here in one night?" she asked urging her horse to trot up alongside her sister's tan mare.
It had been nagging the girl for a while now; on horseback the trip only took two hours at most, but on foot it had taken a full day – although that run in with the wolves probably set them back more than a few hours. But that still meant that Elsa made what should have been a day long journey in just a few hours.
The young queen pursed her lips at Anna's choice in language but decided to let it slide since they were well outside the palace gates. Elsa gave her sister a sideways glance before looking forward again and noticed that Kristoff, who was leading the party atop his friend's back, had turned his head slightly in her direction. It seemed he too, was curious as to how she reached the top of the North Mountain so quickly. Even Olaf who was seated snuggly behind the mountain man stared at her in rapt attention - Elsa had decided to bring him along to make sure he did not wander while she was away.
"Well…" she began slowly, bringing her horse to a stop and looking down at her gloved hands. Unlike her sister, Elsa held no fondness for riding a 1,000 lbs animal that could easily cause her serious harm if it so desired, and therefore required riding gloves to prevent blisters. It was the gloves she now played with as an embarrassed flush crept up her neck.
Looking up at the princess, Elsa was comforted by the warm smile she found, through it did little to quell her guilt. And with a sigh Elsa reluctantly proceeded with her explanation as Olaf, Anna and Kristoff stopped to listen. "I may have... and I'm not proud of this... stole a horse," she said, wincing slightly at everyone shocked expressions.
Anna was the first to recover. "You did what!"
"I wasn't really thinking about what I was doing. I just knew I needed to get away as fast as possible," Elsa said sadly. "He was just tied up outside one of the inns... I didn't know what to do, I panicked!" she said, getting more and more upset. "It's not like I wanted to do it! I just didn't see any other option! I-"
Anna and Kristoff shared a look. They could see Elsa's anxiety building up to a unhealthy degree. When Elsa's horse began to shift uneasily beneath her, the redhead interrupted her sister before it could escalate any further.
"Hey, hey, Elsa it's okay. Anyone would do the same thing in your position," she soothed. "You gave the horse back right?"
The girl's comforting words pulled Elsa back to the present. "Well I just sort of let it go when I was far enough away. I assume it found its way back."
"See, there you go. No harm done."
"I suppose," Elsa replied, feeling her guilt beginning to evaporate.
"Now let's get to that castle, because I don't know about you but I am really excited to see it again." Anna said, urging her horse forward.
Giving her sister a weak smile Elsa nodded before steering her horse to the rear of their party.
As the last in line she could stay lost in her thoughts while still keeping an eye on Anna, who was now animatedly chatting with Kristoff and the snowman seated behind him. The queen couldn't help but ruminate on the mountain of work she still needed to attend to when they returned home.
Elsa shifted her weight trying to get comfortable in the leather for the longer they traveled, the more stiff she became. Elsa had chosen to ride side-saddle and it was a decision she was very much regretting.
She had been thinking of needing to speak to Kai about all of the new plans Anna had thought up for the celebration when she heard the princess' cry.
"There it is, I see it! Look up there!
Elsa looked up and there it was indeed, just as magnificent as the day she had built it. In the afternoon light the palace born from the queen's ice magic, glittered and shone like a diamond in the sun. Elsa felt a wave of nostalgia wash over her as she gazed up at the shining ramparts. To Elsa this was more than just some building she'd constructed, hastily made to protect her from the elements. It was symbol; a symbol of her freedom to use her magic without fear or judgement, a symbol that her powers were capable of more than just pain and suffering. She could create.
Race ya," Anna suddenly called digging her heels into her horse's sides and surging ahead, snow flying from under it's hooves.
"Anna!" Elsa yelled in panic as the girl disappeared from sight.
It took only a few second for Elsa and Kristoff to react, but it felt like hours to the queen. Soon both were charging after the wild princess, whose elated whoops echoed all around them.
"Anna slow down, please!" Elsa screamed trying desperately to catch up with the girl.
When the princess finally did come into view she was waiting next to her steed at the bottom of the staircase that lead up to the Snow Queen's palace.
Elsa leapt from the back of her horse and strode over to the girl with deliberate angry strides, snow crunching under her boots. "Anna, don't ever do that again! What if something happened to you!? You already have one injured arm, you could have fallen, or - "
"Elsa, I'm fine," Anna said, frowning at how upset her sister was. The blonde looked close to tears. "Really Elsa. Please don't be mad… I- I thought we were having fun," she said hanging her head like a chastised child.
The queen sighed and took her sister's hand between her own. "We were, it's just… I worry about you with that sling Anna. I know you're a skilled rider, but I need you to take it easy until you are fully recovered. At least for the sake of my sanity… please?"
"I have to agree with the Queen on this one feisty-pants," Kristoff piped up as he jumped down from Sven's back before helping Olaf down. "First rule of the North Mountain, stick with the group," he said matter-of-factly, earning an appreciative look from Elsa and a raspberry from the princess.
After conjuring a shelter and hitching post to tie up the horses, the four of them made their way inside the glittering castle.
An ecstatic Olaf ran through the open door giggling loudly and narrating everything he saw.
" -and those were the doors we came through when we first came here. Oh, there's the fountain I saw the first time we came here. Look, look there's the balcony where we saw Elsa for the first time, the first time we came here."
Anna was close behind him giggling at the snowman's commentary and sliding all around, bouncing from one room to another.
Elsa and Kristoff took up the rear, walking side-by-side each lost in their own thoughts. Kristoff was busy trying to memorize every detail, every facet of the beautiful structure. While Elsa, was revelling in the feeling of being back in her element.
She could feel the hum of the ice calling to its mistress as she strode through the entrance hall. Elsa smiled as she recalled the day she had built the palace. Of feeling the unbridled power bristling under her skin as the magic flowed from her body, into the ground, and rising into the sky at her command. Although now separated from its source the ice was still very much a part of her, intricately woven into her very soul. And the blonde knew that if she concentrated hard enough, she would be able to pour her consciousness into every crystal that made up the monumental structure.
The queen's thoughts took an unpleasant turn as the memories of fighting for her life in this very same castle flared in her mind. Had it not been for him, there was no telling whether she would have died during the encounter or instead become the very thing she had fought so long to avoid. A killer.
She was suddenly jolted back to the present when Anna grabbed her hand began to drag her up to the second landing.
"Wait, Anna," Elsa said, trying to think up a good excuse to explain the huge mess they were sure to find, that didn't involve assassins and falling ceiling fixtures. But to her never ending surprise the room was swept clean of all debris, even her defensive ice was gone. Elsa looked up to make sure that she hadn't simply dreamt the whole thing up, but the chandelier was still missing. A broken shaft was the only evidence that it had been there at all.
Did Hans clean up before taking me back to Arendelle? No. Why on earth would he do that? Could he even do that?
"Come on I want to see if we can spot home from here," Anna announced pulling her sister to the balcony, completely oblivious to the Queen's confusion. However, the princess came to an abrupt halt when she heard booming footsteps and what sounded like grunting, coming from the adjoining room.
Without a second thought Elsa placed herself in front of her sister, ready to use any means necessary to keep her safe. The queen tensed her body for whatever it was, hoping her power would be strong enough to protect them. She could feel the surrounding structure reacting to her fear as the ice popped and crackled beneath their feet. With a sweep of her hand Elsa conjured three very large, very sharp stalagmites and pointed them directly to where the noises were coming from.
"What is it, Elsa?" Anna asked pressing close to her sister's back, the contact making her feel safer somehow.
"I don't know, but once I have it distracted you are to run and find Kristoff. Then you are to leave. Understand?" she said, eyes never leaving the direction of the ever approaching footsteps.
"No way, Elsa. I'm not going anywhere! I- "
She was about to argue further but the source of the sound rounded the corner with a warning growl. It lurched forward as though hindered by a limp, towering well over ten feet tall and large glistening spines rose from its broad back. Empty sockets focused on the girls and narrowed as if it were trying to decide if they meant it harm.
Anna clutched the queen's gown tightly as she recognized the snow golem... Although, this time it looked much more menacing, for this time it had claws and fangs made of jagged ice. Someone had obviously angered the snowman with more than just a snowball since she'd last seen it.
Both women started at the voice. It was deep and rumbling, like the sound of an avalanche crashing down a mountain's slopes. The golem took a step forward and all at once the threatening spines, teeth, and claws shrunk away as a huge grin spread across his face.
"Did that thing just call you mama?" Anna snorted, bursting into fits of laughter.
"It would appear so," Elsa said cautiously lowering her defensive spikes. "Um… hello," Elsa greeted, unsure of how much the creature understood. However, her voice seemed to further excite the creation as he shuffled a little closer and extended a hand down to her.
"I think he wants you to sit in his hand," Anna prompted.
"Oh I don't think - "
But Elsa never got a chance to finish her objection as she was shoved from behind to stumble into the waiting palm. Before she could compose herself the queen felt the ground shift beneath her and had to sit in order to prevent herself from falling as the golem brought her close to his face.
"Mama?" he asked again, icy breath blowing strands of hair loose from the blonde's plait.
"Yes, um… I suppose I must be. Did you clean up in here?" she inquired gesturing to the lack of shattered ice and smiled when he nodded enthusiastically. "Oh, well thank you," she said reaching up and giving him an appreciative pat on his chin.
"Sweet mother of reindeers, not that thing again! Anna, run! Don't worry Queen Elsa, I'll get you down from there!" hollered a frantic Kristoff who had run up to see what was causing all the commotion. He quickly jogged over to a still giggling Anna and took out one of his pick axes to use as a weapon.
Olaf on the other hand, had other ideas as he ran over to the feet of the now growling snow giant who was clutching his creator close, shielding her from the possible threat. "Brother!" he called, waving to get the other living snow creature's attention.
"It is alright Kristoff," Elsa assured. "He isn't going to harm me. Put me down please," she commanded calmly. The giant slowly lowered Elsa to the ground, glaring at Kristoff all the while. "Thank you. It's okay, these are my friends. This is my sister Anna, her friend Kristoff, and Olaf… who is a lot like you actually," she said gesturing to each of them respectively.
"Hi there, brother!" Olaf giggled, wrapping his twig arms around one of the golem's enormous legs.
Anna waved up at him while Kristoff simply continued to eye the giant apprehensively. The snowman grunted a greeting before picking up Olaf to examine him further.
"Does he have a name?" Anna asked hopefully.
"I don't think so," Elsa responded, looking up at her two magically forged creations thoughtfully. "Any ideas?"
"His name is Marshmallow," Olaf announced as the giant placed him back down on the floor.
"How do you know that?" asked Kristoff, crossing his arms. He had yet to see any similarities between the fluffy treat and this monster.
"Because he is a big softy of course!" exclaimed the little snowman as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
"Do you like that name?" Elsa asked the massive snow creature.
"Yes mama," he rumbled happily.
"Sorry I threw a snowball at you before, Marshmallow. No hard feelings?" Anna asked and grinned up at him when he nodded. "You know Elsa, I'm no expert but if we are going to open up your castle to the public I'm pretty sure our friend here is going to give some people quite the scare."
"Hm, good point. Let's see, what shall I do with you?" she thought aloud. The queen seemed to reach some sort of decision because she suddenly began to weave her hands through intricate patterns in front of her. Swirling and casting her magic so that glittering snowflakes danced around the giant, surrounding him completely. Slowly, Marshmallow began to shrink. And once he had reached a more agreeable size, one that was less likely to send people fleeing in terror – about a head taller than Kristoff - Elsa stopped. Her chest heaved and sweat dotted her brow from the amount of effort it had taken to work her magic.
"There," Elsa said between breaths. "That is *breath* much better *breath*. Marshmallow, would you be able to take care of the palace while I am away and show people around two weeks from now? Just for the day that is," she asked laying a hand on Marshmallow's arm.
Anna frowned when she noticed the woman's face had drained of colour.
"Elsa are you okay? You look a little pale, and I mean paler than usual pale. Not that you look sickly or anything, you just have pale skin, which isn't a bad thing, it's just - "
"Anna," the older woman interrupted, smiling.
"I'm fine, thank you. Why don't you, Olaf, and Marshmallow here go and see if you can find anything I need to repair or add as decoration," she suggested.
All previous concerns forgotten, Anna snapped to attention. "Challenge accepted! C'mon guys," she called sprinting from the room.
"Wow, you really know how to stop a ramble in its tracks," Kristoff chuckled shaking his head as he watched the adorable redhead slide out of sight, the two snowmen hot on her heels.
"Yes well, it seems Anna has not changed much since we were children in that regard," she said smiling after the girl. Then, turning back to the man her expression became more serious. "Thank you for bringing her back to me, Mr. Bjorgman."
The sincerity in her voice caused him to blush and he shifted uncomfortably under her gaze. "Oh, well it was no problem really. And please, call me Kristoff," he said rubbing the back of his neck as she nodded. "Besides, Anna has a way of making you drop everything and do whatever she needs."
Elsa laughed at that, pressing a delicate hand to her lips. "Yes, she does seem to possess a certain talent for that sort of thing doesn't she?" Elsa agreed.
The two had begun a slow circuit of the room, and for a few minutes walked in comfortable silence. Elsa, repairing any chips and cracks in the ice while Kristoff observed, captivated by her ability to bend the frozen crystals to her will. Spellbound, Kristoff watched as the ice bordering a rather large fissure in the wall liquefied and spread over the gap, sealing it once more. Never being good with words, Kristoff simply said the first thing that jumped into this mind.
"Thank you, I'm glad you like it," she said. It was nice to be around someone who didn't view her powers as frightening; that job was usually reserved for Anna.
"Like it? It's amazing," he said running his gloved hand over the now smooth surface.
"Anna tells me that you became rather… overwhelmed the first time you came here," the queen said as a sly grin tugged at her lips.
When the man realized that the Queen of Arendelle had just informed him she knew he had come exceptionally close to tears upon laying eyes on her magnificent ice palace two things flashed through his mind. One, he was going to need to have a 'chat' with Anna when he found her and two, there was a good chance that he was going to melt a hole in the floor with all the heat that was radiating from his face.
"I – well – you see – about that – I - " he sputtered, desperate to think of something, anything to say that wouldn't make him sound like a complete fool.
Kristoff was seriously considering jumping off the balcony when he noticed the woman was giving him an amused look and he quickly realized she was teasing him. Once he came to this realization the mountain man couldn't help but form a grin of his own.
"Well, as someone whose life quite literally revolves around the stuff I have become attached to it," he said with a shrug.
"I suppose I can relate to that," Elsa replied with a chuckle and resumed their stroll around the castle once more.
"Have you been an Ice Harvester long?" she asked after a few moments.
"Yes your Majesty, almost my whole life in fact. The trolls weren't the only ones who raised me. The local ice harvesters taught me how to survive on my own when my parents died and helped me learn how to make a living," he explained, remembering how worried Bulda had been when he finally decided to return to the ice.
"Is there a high demand for ice here in Arendelle?"
"In the summer yes, but work is much harder to come by during the winter months. Most people can gather their own ice once the fjord freezes," he said. "However, the ice we collect from the mountains is the highest quality for leagues, so it is a pretty high commodity for the nearby kingdoms year-round."
"And you sell your ice to Arendelle which in turn sells that ice to our neighbouring nations. Is that correct?" she asked, absentmindedly producing a few benches.
"That's right," he replied, impressed at her knowledge of the topic. But he supposed as ruler Elsa would need to be well versed in the kingdom's affairs. That being said, Kristoff was still a little unsure as to why the Queen would show any interest in his line of work.
She seemed to sense his confusion. "I am in the process of developing a new form of trade, which I am hoping may solve some of the… financial problems that our kingdom may be facing in the coming months," she explained. "And since it involves our ice exports, I believe that someone such as yourself, who is well versed in the subject, might be able to help me," Elsa said turning to face Kristoff so she could speak to him properly, hands folded neatly in front of her.
"I'll do what I can, Majesty," he replied, apprehensive he could provide any kind of useful advice.
She simply nodded appreciatively and continued, "Well as I'm sure you've noticed, the ice under my control is quite a bit different from its natural counterpart. The most glaringly obvious distinction being that it can withstand heat for a lot longer than your average ice," she stated. "My idea is a rather simple one: I sell my ice. It will be much easier to transport to distant nations and will last much longer than what we are currently selling. This would both broaden our market and I am willing to bet some would pay rather handsomely for a product such as this. What do you think?"
He thought about her proposal for a moment. He had to admit it had merit, people would most definitely be willing to pay more for ice that didn't melt within days of purchase and that would mean Arendelle could transport perishable goods much further. Plus, the fact that it was magical would probably draw folks to it. There was only one problem, "I think you are trying to put me out of business, Majesty," he said, grinning.
She smiled back at him, surprised at just how comfortable she was becoming around the Ice Harvester. Maybe it was because she could see just how much he cared for Anna or maybe it was the way he all but worshipped her powers. Whatever the reason, Elsa found herself thinking that they may one day become very good friends.
"Fortunately, I have considered that little detail. Although not a poor kingdom, there are those here in Arendelle that may not be able to afford a rise in price and I must consider their needs as well. So I don't believe you or your fellow harvesters shall go wanting for work, Mr. Bjorgman," she said.
"Kristoff," he corrected.
"Apologies… Kristoff," she amended. "Additionally, I will not be able to conjure individual orders, it would simply be too time consuming. Instead I think the more practical option would be to produce a very large quantity and hire a select few individuals to distribute the ice accordingly," she finished, rather pleased with her foresight.
"Hmm, well it seems as though you've thought of everything. Anna was right, you are really smart."
Elsa felt herself blush at the compliment. "Anna talks about me?"
"Are you kidding, you're all she talks about. You're like her hero or something," Kristoff replied earnestly.
The queen absolutely lit up at his words. Warmth bloomed in her chest and she felt happy tears prick the back of her eyes.
Whoa, hold on! I'm making the Queen cry! Shit, what do I do!?
But as quickly as the tears had come Elsa forced them away, deciding she was not quite that comfortable with Kristoff. Instead she decided to change the topic, "Well I know Anna cares a great deal for you as well."
It took all her strength not to laugh at the wide-eyed expression on Kristoff's now beet-red face. "It is alright Kristoff, no need to be embarrassed. You seem like a very nice man and I can see that you make her happy," Elsa said giving him a reassuring smile. "Although, I hope you realize that should you hurt my sister in any way, you may no longer see my powers in such a positive light. Anna is my quite literally my everything… but I'm sure you already knew that," she said nonchalant.
Part of Kristoff knew she was just teasing him. But the other half, the half that kept reminding him of Elsa's face when she had advanced on Hans, knew that Elsa was deadly serious.
"Hey you two, I'm back. Whatcha talking about?" Anna called skipping through the entryway and sliding over to the pair. Elsa braced herself to catch the enthusiastic princess but to her surprise Anna came to a stop right in front of her.
"Oh, just exchanging some friendly advice," Elsa replied flashing Kristoff a smile, that in Anna's opinion, seemed a little suspicious.
The redhead narrowed her eyes at her sister. "What kind of advice?"
"Oh, you know just boring ice stuff. Nothing you would be interested in," Kristoff interjected, grinning down at Anna who pouted in response.
Anna decided there was something the two weren't sharing with her and she wasn't sure how she felt about that. The princess didn't like feeling like the odd man out, but at the same time she was ecstatic that her two favourite people were getting along.
"Where are Olaf and Marshmallow?" Elsa asked before Anna could drill the pair further. "Have you misplaced my snowmen?"
Ever the proper lady, Anna stuck her tongue out at Elsa. "No," she replied smugly, placing a hand on her hip. "Marshmallow said he needed to get something and Olaf went with him. They should be up soon. Also your palace looks fine, nothing to repair and there isn't much furniture anywhere, which might be a good thing. No one can steal stuff."
It was then that the two snowmen emerged from the far-side of the chamber; Olaf waddling as fast as his little legs would allow, and Marshmallow limping behind him. It suddenly occurred to Elsa that she still didn't know when he'd acquired the injury and made a mental note to fix it before she left.
"Elsa! Elsa! Look what Marshy found." Elsa smiled at the nickname and raised an eyebrow, giving the little snowman a questioning look.
Once he'd hobbled over to his mistress, Marshmallow extended a single arm out to her. "Mama?" When he opened his hand she was surprised to see it held something Elsa thought she would never see again.
Elsa reached out and gingerly took the solid gold tiara from the snow golem, her mouth set in a hard line. Memories of tossing it away and vowing to never return to the life she'd left behind flooded her mind. How she had abandoned her family and shirked her responsibilities in an attempt to protect her kingdom.
A lot of good that did anyone, she thought bitterly.
Anna watched the barrage of emotions flashing across the young queen's face as she stared down at the crown in her hands. She was also quick to notice the very small tendrils of frost growing beneath her sister's fingers, a clear indication Elsa was upset. "Why don't you let Marshmallow keep it? I mean, it's not like you really need it anymore, the one you made suits you much better," she said hoping it wasn't some family heirloom or something.
A grateful smile lit up Elsa's features at Anna's suggestion. "What do you think, Marshmallow? Would you like to keep it?"
The sound that emanated from the larger snow creature was partway between a roar and shriek of joy. Elsa soon found herself being lifted off the ground as Marshmallow had enveloped his creator in a bone crushing embrace. Arms pinned to her sides, the queen could feel the air being forced from her lungs and her ribcage shifted painfully.
Olaf clapped and hopped back and forth at the affectionate display but Anna and Kristoff were a little less enthusiastic, both yelling frantically at the snowman to release the Queen. In the end it was Elsa herself who had to coax him to put her down. The second her feet touched the ice Anna rushed to her sister's side to make sure Elsa was okay.
Once the older woman convinced the princess there was no harm done she decided it was about time they headed back to Arendelle. But before they did, Elsa remembered to repair Marshmallow's injury, which apparently had been caused by 'a bad man' that the blonde could only assume meant Hans. Of course this brought up a few questions on Anna's part which Elsa did her best to deflect, promising they would discuss it later.
Just thinking of the Prince caused the ice in the queen's veins to stir restlessly, but it also reminded her that she had yet to repair the beautiful ice chandelier that had been her pride and joy. It had been the most complex piece in her palace before its untimely demise and although the logical part of her tried to reason that she did not have enough strength for the endeavor she decided she wanted to make a new one.
Asking the others to give her some space Elsa called upon the last of her dwindling energy to wield her magic. She focused on keeping her breathing steady as she reached out with her mind until she could sense every drop of water that made up her palace. Once she located the shaft, Elsa pushed her magic through her palms into the floor, willing it to climb to the spot where she had focused all of her attention. She could feel the sweat beading on her forehead and her limbs growing weak as she strained to maintain control. Once she felt her power reach its destination she simply asked it to spread and expand the frozen crystals into the hundreds of geometric shapes that had made up the original fixture.
Throughout the entire process, Anna's eyes never left her sister and she was not happy with what she saw. Anna could tell this was too much for the queen and was willing to bet that Elsa knew this too, even if she was too proud to admit it. It was clear in the way her arms and legs shook as she worked. As well as the damp stain on her back; Elsa's lack of sleep had left her completely drained.
Kristoff, however, could not tear his gaze away from the incredible sight that was happening right before his eyes. It was indescribable the way she was able fashion such a beautiful creation, just with ice. It was like music. Music she was weaving into something tangible, something you could see and touch.
If only I had half her talent. I would be able to make real ice sculptures. He thought as he recalled his old hobby. Maybe I can ask for some lessons or something.
He was broken from his reverie when he saw a flash of red fly past him. Anna had rushed over to her sister in order to offer some support. The Queen looked as though she were ready to faint.
"I'm fine," she said waving the princess away and taking a step forward. "I'm fin- Oh!"
Walking had clearly been a mistake as all her limbs had turned to jelly and her head was suddenly spinning. Just as her legs gave out Kristoff shot over and took over for Anna, holding out a large arm for her to grip.
"Okay... maybe not so fine," she said with a sheepish grin.
"Well, if you didn't have to be such a show off Kristoff wouldn't have to practically carry you. Sometimes you can be so stubborn Elsa I swear. How on earth are you going to ride a horse?" Anna scolded, throwing her arm in the air dramatically.
"Calm down Anna," Kristoff laughed, causing her to send him a glare. "I guess you will just have to ride will me, your Majesty," he said letting her lean heavily against him.
"Kristoff please," she replied with a grin. "Call me Elsa."