The Kingdoms of Fallen Stars

Gathering Reunions Abound

Pitch quietly set down a bowl on the side table beside Elsa's bed, placing some Eucalyptus sprigs in some hot water so the vapors took to air. He glanced over at her as her form began to stir, Elsa rubbing her eyes a bit as she began to sit up. "Shh... you should slumber a bit longer. It's too early for you to be up." He said. "I apologize for disturbing you."

"No, no... I'm used to getting up early..." Elsa said softly, stretching her arms a bit.

"How are you feeling? You certainly sound much clearer already." Pitch said.

"I feel clearer... I have to make it up to you and Anna for taking such good care of me." She smiled sleepily.

"Indeed... and even more so for me, because I kept my end of our little bargain." Pitch smirked lightly, floating over to other side of her bed to sit on the edge.

"I'll have to get an official approval from Anna first before I determine whether you did or didn't." Elsa chuckled.

"Oh come now... you don't trust me? That hurts quite a bit." Pitch said, holding his heart.

Elsa rolled her eyes playfully, coughing a bit soon after. "Well... I'm not a hundred percent, but I still need to be decent enough to welcome our guests..."

"In which half of them were in combat with us just a few months ago..." Pitch sighed with annoyance.

"So this is an opportunity to make amends to them." Elsa said as she took her covers off.

"Make amends? They should be the ones making amends to us!" Pitch exclaimed.

"They weren't the ones who lied." Elsa said quietly, turning when Pitch made no response. He stared at her regretfully, and she sighed as she approached him, taking his hands. "I know you meant nothing malicious against me... I'm sorry."

"No... I'm being unreasonable. It's in my nature, I suppose." He held Elsa close from his seated position, Elsa gently petting his hair. "I'll try to at least be civil."

"Good." Elsa smiled, leaning down to kiss his forehead. "What's the hour?"

"Barely past dawn. I was thinking of sleeping for a few hours. I just... wanted to see how you were faring." Pitch admitted.

"Alright... but some of our guests are arriving in the early afternoon, so not for too long." Elsa said, taking his hands to gently pull him towards her for them to snuggle.

Sometime later, Anna woke and readied herself for the day, helping Elsa to become decent for their guests arriving from afar. She felt well enough to host everyone, smiling when a boat arrived at port. As she went towards it, Anna stopped when she saw something approaching from the skies. "Elsa, Merida and Hiccup are here!" She beamed.

Elsa turned, smiling. "Alright, I'll be back in a few minutes." She said as Pitch joined her.

Anna and Kristoff smiled when Toothless made a landing, the dragon snorting lightly in greeting as Hiccup hopped off, extending his hand to Merida to help her down like a gentleman. They took off their masks, Hiccup shaking his head a bit as Merida ruffled her hair a bit.

"Top o' the morning to ye, your highness!" Merida beamed, strolling over. "It's great t' see ye again!" Anna was about to curtsey politely when Merida pulled her into a hug, Anna squeaking a bit as she giggled. Kristoff and Hiccup shook hands before giving each other a short hug.

"Well, you weren't kidding when you said Arendelle is a beautiful place." Hiccup smiled. "Looks like a nice place to live."

"Thank you." Anna smiled, straightening her dress out a bit from Merida's hearty hug. "How was the trip?"

"Well, we'll have to get a few more snow globes to take with us on the return trip… Toothless got a bit queasy but he's handling snow globe travel better." Hiccup replied.

"We're just waiting for Elsa and Pitch to get back, she went to the docks to help some other guests that arrived." Anna said.

"Huh… that scallywag's still around, huh?" Merida asked.

"Yeah… Elsa thinks he's a keeper." Anna shrugs.

"Is that so? Gonna be a bit awkward with everyone back here, ye ken?" Merida tilted her head.

"Don't worry, my sister seems to have a pretty good handle on him." Anna smiled as she giggled lightly.

Meanwhile, Elsa and Pitch reached the docks, their guests making their descent off the ship along with several servants carrying their things. While Elsa remained poised, the young woman who emerged beamed happily, crying out the queen's name and running up to hug her. Elsa retained her balance, clearing her throat as she happily returned the hug.

"Rapunzel, it's been a long time." Elsa said.

"I haven't seen you since your coronation ceremony! Elsa, I'm so glad to see you finally happy and content." Rapunzel said. Pitch raised a brow, taking note of the young woman. He could see a slight resemblance, Elsa having made him aware of their relation prior to their arrival. A young man approached behind the two women then, Rapunzel taking a step back to hold his hand. "Elsa, this is my husband, Eugene… we've been married for almost two years already… so hard to believe!" She giggled.

Eugene smiled, nodding his head respectfully. "Pleasure to meet you, Elsa." He made a face when Rapunzel elbowed him lightly. "Sorry, sorry… QUEEN Elsa." He cleared his throat.

"A pleasure for me as well. Unfortunately we didn't formally meet the last time you were here…" Elsa sighed as she remembered that fateful night. "A lot has happened since then…" She turned, smiling and nodding her head at Pitch.

Eugene widened his eyes, opening his mouth to say something when Rapunzel closed it, leaning in to whisper. "I told you to act natural, Elsa wrote to me a month ago and said her new beau looks… different."

"I understand that, but I didn't think we were going to meet Count Dracula!" Eugene whispered back in a hiss before straightening up, smiling unnaturally as Rapunzel pinched the bridge of her nose. "Hey, nice to meet you! Welcome to the family!" Eugene said through his teeth, his voice a bit higher pitched than normal.

Rapunzel sighed, taking a step forward and curtseying. "Hello Pitch, my name is Rapunzel, I'm Elsa's cousin. I'm a princess from the kingdom of Corona. Elsa told me about you and I'm pleased to hear that she's happily courting someone."

Pitch bowed his head lightly. "I've heard of you as well, princess Rapunzel. I must admit this is a bit overwhelming, I'm not used to these family reunion type events."

"Don't worry, we're all pretty laid back…" Rapunzel glanced over at Eugene, still appearing a bit freaked out and rolling her eyes. "Please don't mind him, he's-… it takes him time to get used to new people."

"I'll try not to give him too much of a scare." Pitch chucked. "Besides, it's after the sun sets that you really need worry about me." He laughed at his joke, Elsa rolling her eyes playfully.

"Right… King of Nightmares…" Rapunzel forced a smile.

"Oh, yeah, that totally helps me right now… yup, everything is completely normal here." Eugene squeaked, his muscles getting tired from trying to maintain a smile.

"Well, let's head back to the castle, other guests have arrived by now." Elsa said, not wanting to make this scenario any more awkward as she turned to make her way back. Pitch was just behind her, smirking when Eugene watched him warily. He turned quickly, making Eugene jump as he laughed to himself.

"Oh, this will be fun…" Pitch said to himself, Elsa shooting him a look.

"Will you all stop dilly dallying and get a move on?!" Alice shouted up the stairs as she rolled her eyes.

"Crickey Alice, how am I supposed to go out like this? This is humiliating!" Bunny stormed down the stairs, pointing to his tail. Alice couldn't help but snicker lightly, trying to remain composed. "Yeah, yeah, everyone laugh at the hairless rabbit!"

"Well, it's only your rear end that's hairless…" Alice said as she tried not to burst into giggles. "There's really no hiding it Bunny, due to your aversion to clothing."

"What? It's totally constricting!" He crossed his arms.

"Just don't face your back to anyone and you'll be fine, Bunny." Jack said as he came downstairs with Eliza. The other guardians entered the room then, all ready to go to Arendelle.

"Fine, but you can sit next to mister heat miser over there." Bunny said, pointing to Wick.

Wick wasn't listening, staring at a s'more in his hands with deep concentration. When his name was called by North, he jumped a bit, sending a fire blast at it and burning it to a crisp. "Aw man!" Wick pouted.

"Come now Wick, you may practice that later!" North said as they all headed to his sleigh.

"Alright Eliza, sit between Jack and I." Alice said.

"I want to sit by the edge so I can look out." Eliza replied.

"That is out of the question." Alice responded, and Eliza whined as they all piled in.

"I wonder what Arendelle is like…" Tooth smiled, snuggling up to Sandy and holding his hand.

"Come on you two, get a room…" Bunny rolled his eyes.

North shook the reins of his sleigh then, the group taking off. Bunny held onto the rim of his end for dear life, Eliza crying out as she rose her arms in the air.

"Eliza!" Alice cried, holding her arms down a bit.

"Alice, I'm fine!" She replied as they exited through the lower level of the workshop, going through an ice tunnel before soaring into the arctic tundra outside. Wick giggled as he held onto his hat, glancing over the side to take a look at the landscape.

"Wow… hey Bunny, it's so pretty!" Wick exclaimed.

"First of all, do not talk to me; second of all, I am NOT looking down, mate." Bunny replied.

North laughed heartily, taking out a snow globe. "Alright… take us to Arendelle!" He exclaimed, shaking the snow globe and tossing it. It broke open, forming a portal which they all soared through.

Upon entering, they saw the kingdom of Arendelle in the distance, circling around it as they made their descent and made a proper landing. Bunny held his mouth for a second, trying not to lose the contents of his breakfast as everyone got out.

"Oh boy, I can't wait to see Elsa and Pitch!" Wick smiled.

"I can't wait to see Olaf either!" Eliza giggled. "Come on, let's go find them!" She said, taking his hand as the two ran ahead of the group.

"Eliza, wait for the rest of us to-" Alice started, sighing lightly when Eliza neglected to listen. "I swear, that child is becoming more and more disobedient by the day…"

Jack wrapped an arm around Alice's waist, pulling her close as they walked. "It's okay, Alice… it's the first time she's had any fun in a long time… let her have a little freedom."

"Yes, but you know how I fret over her." Alice replied.

"I know, I worry about her too… she'll be okay though, let her enjoy the day." Jack smiled.

Alice sighed. "Jack, you don't understand… yesterday, she told me that-"

"Hey, Mer!" Bunny shouted, walking up and hugging the Scottish princess to him.

Everyone greeted each other, making small talk. They were all introduced to Rapunzel and Eugene, and vice versa. Eugene was absolutely bewildered by the group he was with, glancing over at Hiccup when he was elbowed by him lightly.

"Don't worry, I felt this way the first time too. You get used to them after a while." Hiccup smiled.

Eugene smiled nervously, glancing behind Hiccup to see Toothless going around Bunny, the Easter guardian turning to try to get him to buzz off and swatting his hands, trying not to bring attention to his hairless tail. "Huh, you don't say?" He said as he chuckled lightly. "What did I get myself into…"

"So Hiccup, how are the wedding plans going?" Jack asked as he approached the Viking.

"They're coming along really well…" Hiccup's expression softened as he smiled. "Merida's parents are shocked by how excited she is over the whole thing. They're going to make her queen of Berk on the day of and her whole clan is coming."

"I'm happy for you, Hiccup." Jack smiled, patting his shoulder. Merida approached then, having overheard the last bit of their discussion.

"You and the others are going to come, right lad?" Merida smiled.

"Of course!" Jack replied. "After all, you guys deserve it after all the turmoil you had to deal with."

"Yes… by the way, no more trying to get out of anything, if I'm going to be married I want to do it right." Merida said to Hiccup.

"Uh… what do you mean?" He raised a brow.

"Get out of something?" Alice said as she approached, tilting her head.

Merida turned to Alice, pursing her lips for a moment in thought. "There's one part that I heard Hiccup was speaking to the elder yesterday about not including… I forget what it was called, a public something or other-"

Hiccup's eyes widened then, quickly covering Merida's mouth. "Oh, hey, I had no idea you-… you, are a little eavesdropper, missy!" Hiccup chuckled nervously, running a hand through his hair. "A- And that's exactly WHY I talked to the elder in private, darling, because I too, want this wedding to be done right and trust me, you will thank me later for it! Because like that, certain… things, should be done in private…"

Jack raised a brow, confused as he glanced at Alice as she snickered behind her hand. Merida was also clueless, shrugging.

"Whatever you say, lad… I'm going to feast on some apple pie." Merida smiled when she smelled the pastry's lovely aroma.

When she left, Hiccup groaned, covering his face. "For the love of Thor, I cannot believe she heard that."

Alice giggled lightly, biting her lip. "Well, it seems that you will have much to teach her after the wedding is over…"

"That's the problem, Alice, isn't someone ELSE supposed to teach her about that… that stuff? Like, her mom?" Hiccup asked.

"Uh… are you guys talking about what I think you're talking about?" Jack raised a brow.

"Well Hiccup, we both know that before the whole 'bear incident,' Merida didn't listen to her dear mother much… so if she had delved into explicit details on the subject of what she would be required to perform upon being wed… well, it would seem that she missed all that."

"Yeah, I think I'll take that as a yes." Jack said flatly.

"Alice, what am I going to do? If she doesn't know anything about… THAT… then she's going to be totally freaked out on our wedding night, and the elder will put my head on a stake if we DON'T, not saying I don't want to or anything, but if she isn't ready then- ohhh I am in such big trouble…" Hiccup whined.

"Here. Why don't you sit Merida down and speak with her. As a matter of fact, Rapunzel there is a married woman, perhaps she could be of assistance." Alice said.

Hiccup rolled his eyes. "Yeah, let me go up to the princess of Corona; 'hey, just wondering if you can help me out here, can you explain to my fiancée all there is to know about s-'"

"Excuse me, I couldn't help but hearing my name!" Rapunzel smiled as she came over.

"You should not have thrown yourself into this, Rapunzel." Jack said, leaning against his staff.

"Why not?" Rapunzel asked, Alice leaning in to whisper to her. Rapunzel's eyes widened a bit, covering her mouth and giggling. "Oh, Merida is such a sweetheart! Don't worry Hiccup, I'll take care of everything. Eugene had to explain all of that to ME on our wedding night… boy, were my eyes opened! Among other things…" She chuckled nervously, tucking a strand of brunette hair behind her ear as she made her way over to Merida.

"Well, I did not expect to come here today to have the most awkward conversation of my life." Hiccup threw his hand up.

Meanwhile, Elsa giggled lightly as Wick chattered his head off, happy to see him again. Eliza and Olaf ran past them, the two giggling as they did so. She glanced over to notice Jack wandering over to the snack table to grab a bite while Alice walked over to speak to Anna. She politely excused herself, telling Wick that he could say hello to Pitch. She made her way over to Jack, clearing her throat as she approached.

"Oh, hey Elsa…" Jack started. "How've you been?"

"Very well, thank you." Elsa replied, giving him a polite nod. "Yourself?"

"Not bad. I think I can say for both of us, that it's good to have our families back." Jack said.

"Yes it is." Elsa smiled lightly. "I was wondering if I could speak to you in private for a moment, Jack."

He blinked in surprise, glancing around. "Me? Did I do something wrong?"

"Not at all… there's just something I would like to ask you." Elsa replied.

Jack gave a nod, the two heading inside the castle and entering the art gallery. They sat down on one of the benches, Elsa folding her hands in her lap.

"So… what did you need to ask me? Is Pitch giving you a hard time?" Jack smirked.

"N- No, no, he's wonderful… well, you know what I mean." Elsa replied. "But no… though it concerns him, it's something that I hope you can help me with."

"Yeah, I guess I can try… what is it you need help with?" Jack asked.

Elsa sighed lightly, twiddling her fingers a bit. "Well… regardless of how either of us had intended it… Pitch and I of course… he kept his promise to me in reuniting my sister and I. He helped me to get my life back, my family back… so… I want to do the same for him."

Jack raised a brow. "You really love him, huh?"

Elsa glanced over at him shyly. "I know you both have your differences… but he's right for me, Jack… and I think I'm right for him."

"Well, just the fact that he's around all of us and not trying to destroy us all… it definitely convinces me." Jack said as he leaned back against the wall. "But I don't know how you would be able to return the favor as far as family goes… unless you um… you know… start off new?" Jack shrugged.

Elsa looked over at him flatly. "Jack, that's not appropriate conversation."

"Sorry, just saying…" Jack cleared his throat.

"Anyhow…" Elsa continued. "… what I want to ask you is… what you know of Pitch's daughter."

Jack blinked for a moment, shaking his head. "I- I'm sorry… I must be a bit lost, can you run that by me again?"

Elsa sighed with a bit of frustration. "Jack, I know you heard me perfectly well. What do you know of her? Is she alive? Do you know where she is?"

Jack shook his head. "Elsa… I know close to nothing about Pitch, I-… he has a daughter?!"

"Well, that answers that question. This was a waste of time." Elsa sighed, getting up to leave.

"W- Wait, hang on a second!" Jack stopped her. "When… how do you know this? Like, when did he tell you?"

Elsa turned, beginning to believe Jack was being serious. "Have you noticed the locket he's been wearing?"

"I think I may have seen it, I… can't be sure. What about it?" Jack asked.

"That locket… was the last thing he gave to his daughter before he left to answer a distress call. He was once a valiant and honorable general. But the distress call was a trick. While he was gone, his enemies stormed into his palace and his wife was killed. For many years, he thought his daughter had also suffered but she had survived. All those years she thought she had been abandoned. There is much resentment between them." Elsa bowed her head sadly. "Just like I abandoned my own sister… thankfully for me, she was more forgiving. I… I would be so happy to see Pitch reunited with her as I was with Anna."

Jack was at a loss of words for several moments, shaking his head. "I don't believe this… I… I had no idea he even had a wife… a kid… do the other guardians know?"

"I have no idea, Jack… I wanted to ask you because I didn't feel comfortable enough to ask the others, asking you was… hard enough as it is." Elsa replied.

Jack nodded. "Well… I obviously don't know anything… so I'll tell you this." He held a hand up. "I'll talk to Bunny. He and I are buddies, so if he knows anything he'll tell me."

Elsa smiled lightly. "I would greatly appreciate that, Jack. Thank you."

Meanwhile, Pitch was wondering why on Earth Elsa had left him out here alone with all these people; how she could even fathom doing such a thing was beyond him. His eyes darted silently, hoping to finally spot her. As he searched desperately for her, he noticed Sven trot up to North's reindeer, the proud creatures standing tall and poised. When Sven tilted his head, smiling in a silly manner at them, North's reindeer looked at him quizzically, snorting lightly. They stiffened a bit when Toothless approached, Sven glancing back and grunting happily upon seeing his friend. Toothless smiled, wiggling a bit and chirping. North's reindeer remained alert in the large creature's presence, Rudolph's nose in particular glowing brightly. Toothless stared at it with interest, leaning forward a bit. The reindeer scooted back a bit, Toothless emitting a guttural laugh as he pranced around, throwing his head back to shoot a fireball into the sky. North's reindeer cried out in surprise, North noticing the activity finally and laughing heartily as he calmed them. Between that, Rapunzel and Merida talking and giggling, Eugene and Hiccup both whining to themselves and pacing around, and Wick having joined Olaf and Eliza in their merriment while Sandy and Tooth tried to get a corner to themselves, he was almost relieved when Alice approached him, thankfully finding something to at least distract him from the general atmosphere.

"You look positively thrilled at the moment..." Alice commented as she approached.

"Oh, so you noticed." Pitch replied. "Tell me, have you seen Elsa anywhere? I'd like to make a grand escape to wherever she's gone off to."

"Well I'm afraid I don't know that, but I may have a solution to your dilemma anyhow. You're the King of Nightmares, so I believe it would be appropriate to seek your aid for my own dilemma I've been having." Alice said.

Pitch raised a brow, genuinely interested as to why someone who desired to have his head at the end of her vorpal blade just a few short months back was now seeking his help. "Oh? What might this dilemma be?"

"Over the course of the last several weeks, I've been having these repetitive dreams... well, nightmares rather, as they are less than pleasant in nature. I'm beginning to believe that they may hold some significance to them... despite its main source being presumed dead in reality." Alice replied.

Pitch pursed a lip, pondering for a moment. "Well, I'll certainly have to take a closer look... but we'll make no progress out here with all these noises and distractions. Shall we go inside?"

"Yes." Alice replied, Pitch leading the way as Alice followed. He glanced back over his shoulder every once and again, her silence somewhat intimidating to him, knowing how fierce and unstable she could be. He also knew that her mind contained a vast horizon of tangible creatures and landscapes, and he was quite curious to find what exactly could be causing the Wonderland creator concern. They entered the drawing room, Alice taking a seat as Pitch pulled up a chair to sit in front of her.

"If you'll allow me..." Pitch muttered quietly, Alice giving him a nod and closing her eyes as Pitch extended his hands, resting them on either side of her head. He squinted his eyes a bit, focusing on delving deep into the recesses of her mind to extract the nightmare in question. When he was able to grasp an image of it, he concentrated, trying to see clearer into it. He saw flashes from the sequence, seeing Alice's sister, whispering voices, the battle between her allies from Wonderland and their enemies battling fiercely as storms raged. He then saw through Alice's perspective as she was dragged back, the chaotic whispering erupting into chaotic screaming and wailing as she was turned to face the Queen herself, now in place of Elizabeth, as she was about to become devoured. Pitch retracted his hands a bit, jolting lightly as he cleared his throat. Alice's eyes opened upon the broken connection, exhaling sharply.

"Tell me." She began. "Does she still linger?"

Pitch took a moment, thinking deeply as he stared at his hands. He could hear the Queen's laughter echo in his mind, distant and subtle, but clearly present. "She was once a very significant portion of your psyche, Alice. The fact that she has been extracted from your mind... I suppose it is attempting to adjust to that... on top of what you endured with her months ago."

"But why now?" Alice asked. "Why so suddenly? Is it not some sort of omen? A sign?"

"It's certainly telling me you are still enduring some sort of struggle. I will need some time to determine if it's truly a threat to you or not." Pitch said.

"I suppose this will have to do then." Alice replied, glancing up at him. "I appreciate this."

"Well... all the better to establish some form of acquaintanceship between us. I would rather not have to worry about someone cutting my throat in my slumber." Pitch said.

Alice smirked lightly. "Oh, you must be mistaken; the King of Nightmares never sleeps, does he?" She got up, giving him a nod before heading out of the room.

Pitch remained seated, his expression becoming one of suspicion when Alice walked out. He was not pleased by the nightmare in the slightest, exhaling slowly as he quietly reflected upon it.

Anna took Elsa's hand once she and Jack came back outside, wanting her to try some of the pastries Rapunzel had brought with them. Jack glanced behind him when he saw Alice walk out of the palace, linking an arm with him.

"Hey, everything okay?" He asked.

"Yes, everything is fine." Alice replied simply, scanning the area. "Where is Eliza?"

"Oh, probably off with Olaf and Wick somewhere..." Jack replied.

"What do you mean- have you not been supervising them?" Alice asked.

"Alice, I already told you to relax... nothing bad is going to happen to her." Jack said as he gently rubbed her back, but this did nothing to console her. She wordlessly left his side, calling out for the young girl as she did so. Jack sighed, only distracted by the sound of a crunch beside him. He turned to see Merida walk up to him with an apple in her hand.

"What's got her kilt in a ruffle?" Merida asked.

Jack sighed. "I have no idea... she's just been so tense, especially with Eliza..."

"Is she having trouble with the new guardian post?" Merida asked.

"No, she's doing fine... that's what I don't understand. Everything is fine, I mean, Wick is still a bit out of sorts but it's nothing to panic about..." Jack shook his head. "I just don't get it."

Merida took another bite of her apple. "Try having a heart to heart with her, lad." She smiled. "Sometimes I have to have those with Hiccup, works like a charm, ye ken?"

"I guess so..." Jack replied.

Meanwhile, Eliza giggled as she pulled in a rowboat by the docks. She climbed inside, helping in Olaf as he tripped a bit, stumbling into the boat. Wick placed his scythe inside, holding it as he hopped in the water, his pumpkin like a flotation device as the top half of him remained above the water. Eliza took the scythe in her hand.

"I'm going to be the captain, and I have to lead us to the treasure. Olaf, you're my first mate, and Wick, you're going to push the boat where I tell you, okay?" Eliza said. They both nodded, Eliza pointing the scythe in a random direction for Wick to push around the boat. They enjoyed playing their pretend game for some time until Alice reached the docks, less than pleased by the scene.

"Eliza Bennett!" Alice shouted. "Return here at once this instant!"

Eliza turned to look towards the sound of her voice. "Alice, we're playing pirate ship!" She cried.

"I told you not to wander from the courtyard, now come back here before you injure yourself!" Alice shouted.

"Can't we play for a few more minutes?" Eliza whined.

"Eliza, you've got until the count of three!" Alice said.

"Please Alice, I'm not a toddler anymore, I'm too old to be treated like a baby!" Eliza pouted. Her distraction from concentrating on balancing the boat made her gasp lightly as the rowboat began to sway. As Wick's scythe clattered down into the boat, she cried out in surprise when the boat toppled over, sending her and Olaf into the water.

"Eliza!" Alice cried as Wick waded over to grab them. He floated back to the dock, Alice helping them both up. Eliza was soaking wet from head to toe, Alice keeping a firm hold on her arm. "You are going straight to your chambers, young lady!"

"Alice, you're embarrassing me!" Eliza whined as she was dragged through the courtyard and into the palace. She hugged herself when they stopped in their guest room, Alice taking out a change of clothing and some linens. She helped Eliza dry off, tying her hair up as she changed into a night dress.

"Now you will stay in here until supper time." Alice told her.

"I never get to have any fun…" Eliza said as she crossed her arms.

"Eliza, all I want is for you to be safe, and you make that more and more difficult for me to do each day!" Alice replied, clearly frustrated. "You know how I love you dearly, Eliza... I hate to be this way but you must learn to listen to me. You know I concern myself with your best interests."

"When am I going to be able to do what I want to do, Alice? I'm tired of being cooped up or kept in one setting all the time." Eliza whined lightly.

"When you are old enough to fend for yourself as I am. Now you are to stay here until supper, I don't want to see a single toe outside of this door." Alice said, collecting Eliza's wet clothing to take with her.

Eliza glared after her, plopping down on her bed. "You're not nice anymore, Alice."

Alice had her hand on the doorknob, hesitating for a moment as she felt a pang in her heart. She exhaled sharply, opening the door and closing it slowly behind her. She quickly wiped a tear from her eye, composing herself before continuing on her way.

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