Emotions Running High
Alice used a stone she had found to sharpen the edge of her vorpal blade, guiding it along the edge. She sighed lightly, lifting her head when she heard footsteps approaching. When she saw it was Jack, she straightened up a bit. As he drew closer, she sheathed the weapon, getting to her feet and dusting herself off. She became even more uneasy when he approached her calmly, smiling a bit.
"Hello Jack..." Alice started. "... I was just... sharpening my blade."
Jack blinked, raising a brow as he chuckled lightly. "I can see that..." When he noticed Alice's uneasiness, he sighed lightly, gently pulling her into a hug. "Look... you don't have to feel guilty... it's okay."
"No it is not, Jack Frost!" Alice cried, exhaling sharply as he allowed her to pace a bit. "What I did was nothing short of deplorable towards you... I just... I couldn't stop it. All of the barriers I had placed just... crumbled. I deserve all the scolding in the world, I should be reprimanded to the greatest degree."
Jack frowned, gently holding her shoulders to keep her still. "Alice... after all the suffering you've dealt with in your life, it's no surprise that you want a little extra love... it's just... you went about it the wrong way. Bunny just got lucky that time."
Alice furrowed her brows deeply. "But you're right, Jack... I think I still do harbor much love for him. It all stems from when I saw him as a little girl... before the fire."
Jack blinked at this. "Well, I know about the whole... I mean, how you like rabbits and stuff..."
"He inspired my love for adventure... I used to love the break of spring, Easter around the corner... I loved to search for eggs with Elizabeth. She always left me the lavender ones... though I'm beginning to think she didn't act alone." Alice smiled sadly. "The air was always pleasant... not stifling, the last cold breath of winter lingering upon the wind." Jack smiled lightly at that. "When I began to draw, I tried to include as much detail as possible, as small as I was. When I began to dream... that is how I saw things at first. It was... quite odd. I used to see the outlines of things, just enough to understand my surroundings. I was able to see the space between the lines... it was my imagination that filled that space."
Jack tilted his head lightly. "I thought your favorite color was blue?"
"It is... since I've become a guardian, Jack, many memories that had been lost to me are slowly resurfacing... memories from before the fire." Alice said. "I've rediscovered the presence Bunny had in my life before everything went wrong."
Jack frowned a bit at this; not that he wasn't happy that Alice was beginning to recall the pleasant times in her human life, but that perhaps she and Bunny shared a closer bond than he had anticipated...
Would this drive them even closer together?
"Why wouldn't he remember you if you were that special to him?" Jack asked.
"I can't be sure... but remember our first meeting briefly." She chuckled. "I snuck out early one morning to get a head start for the egg hunt. It was just barely after sunrise. I turned a corner in the garden and witnessed him there. He was quite surprised, to say the least. I remember asking him why he wore no clothes, and how he was able to keep the time so well without a pocket watch. Before leaving, he gave me a lavender colored egg, and I was awed when he made his own rabbit hole to disappear into. The flower he left behind was lavender also." She smiled to herself. "From that time on, that color always represented rejuvenation for me... a chance to see the small but innocent things in life. Each year after that I anticipated him. I told my sister and I would awaken every now and then to find a lavender colored egg, believing she had done that purposely. The first painting I did of him, Lizzie said she preferred he was white, for his grey color did not stand out so well in the grass. 'it's why he hides away so well,' I had told her. I began to see everything in a whole new light after seeing him, Jack. Suddenly, I began to wonder if cats could talk... if caterpillars could speak in riddles... I found all the wonder in the little things everyone else seemed to miss."
"Hence the creation of Wonderland?" Jack asked, leaning back a bit.
"Indeed..." Alice smiled sadly. "That all went away after the fire... all of my witty and nonsensical creations went to ruin. Even now... the after effects still sting their environment. Some damage simply cannot be repaired."
Jack sighed lightly. "Maybe that's why Bunny has an abnormal aversion to fire..."
Alice glanced over, smiling lightly as she planted a small kiss on Jack's cheek. The Ice guardian draped an arm around her shoulders, drawing her close. He glanced over when he noticed Sandy hovering nearby, sitting up a bit. "Hey, Sandy?"
The dream guardian glanced over, smiling lightly as he hovered over towards them.
"I was- well, Alice and I were wondering... is it possible for guardians to... forget things? Like... for certain memories to just... disappear?" Jack asked. "It's the best way I can ask, it's a bit hard to explain.
As Alice looked up at him in surprise, she glanced over when Sandy's expression became a bit serious, sighing lightly. Alice became more alert as be began to communicate with the floating words again.
"He's saying that this is explained in the secret book he showed you once." Alice said, Jack raising a quizzical brow as he looked between them.
"Okay, can someone explain to me this... staring thing you two have been doing lately?" Jack asked.
Alice sighed. "I told you before, Jack, I am now able to communicate telepathically with others."
Jack blinked. "Wait... you can hear Sandy's voice in your head? But he doesn't have a-"
"Not quite... just hush so I can concentrate." Alice said, pursing her lip a bit. "Anyhow... in the book, it states that immortal beings like the guardians, and Pitch... their minds have the ability to forget certain things for a number of reasons; to decrease unnecessary attachment, to focus upon one's purpose, for survival reasons... for the guardians, to remain true to their oath... and sometimes to forsake emotional trauma they may have experienced. It's... possible for those memories to return, but only if initiated somehow."
"That's... that's kind of sad, actually..." Jack frowned. "It would be like... me forgetting about Jaime."
"Sandy says that there are many children who stop believing in the guardians as they become older, their child mind's eye slowly closes, so ours does to them as well. It makes sense Jack, with so many children in the world it's impossible to have such a deep connection with each one... including the ones we hold dear. Sometimes, when a child mind's eye is not closed, but blinded..." Alice hissed as a brief flashback of the night of the fire played in her head. "... it has the chance of becoming just as traumatic for a guardian close to that child..."
Jack furrowed his brows deeply. "You don't think that... maybe one of the reasons Bunny feels so strongly for you is because he had such a close bond with you all those years ago?"
Alice nodded. "It's hard to say what he remembers or doesn't... I've honestly never asked him, it's not something I enjoy discussing. Some buried memories should remain so."
Jack nodded, not wanting to press the subject any further. He began to question his own mind, wondering if there was any memories he had forsaken; it was certainly possible, he had forgotten his own sister until he saw his memories in Tooth's box, and he did not recognize her until he had read her file when Alice brought her to North's workshop to find safety. His mind began to sting, shaking his head and deciding that giving his brain a break would be for the best right now.
Eliza gasped as she jolted awake, her breathing quick and shallow as she realized she was back in her bedroom. She took a moment to catch her breath, wiping her brow as she slowly recovered from yet another nightmare. "I thought he wasn't making nightmares for children anymore..." She whispered to herself, turning so her feet lightly touched the ground. "... I must put this to an end... my memories will help me. I will have to find Tooth." She quietly exited her bedroom, heading down the hall to smuggle another snow globe. As she was about to use it however, she gasped when she heard someone open the door behind her, sighing lightly when she saw it was only Gustav.
"Hey... you're coming, right?" He asked.
"Y- Yes... I need to do something first. I won't be long, you can set up the dummy and I will meet you in the meadow." Eliza answered. "You can't tell anyone I was in here."
Gustav nodded. "Okay... you know where to find me then." He replied, closing the door quietly.
Eliza sighed, whispering to the snow globe before casting it down, entering the portal. When she emerged, she glanced around when she found herself in a beautiful clearing, smiling upon seeing a tower in the distance. "That must be Rapunzel's!" She exclaimed to herself, hurrying towards it. "Hm... how to get up there...?" She heard a sound then, turning to see a familiar face as she beamed.
Wick sat against the outer wall of the tower, narrowing his hollow eyes in concentration. "Don't burn it... don't burn it..."
"Wick!" Eliza called out, running towards him.
"Huh? Eliza?" His scythe blasted a small but powerful stream of flames, quickly looking back at it and groaning. "Oh come on, I almost had it right!" As Eliza ran up to him, he pouted at her. "You messed up my s'more, Eliza..." He frowned. "How did you get here anyway, North said no one's allowed!"
Eliza slowed to a stop, her smile fading as she tilted her head. "Wick, you always like to see me... aren't you happy that I've come to visit?"
Wick rubbed the back of his neck a bit. "Well, yeah, I am... I'm just trying to control my fire powers, and it's hard... I almost had it. I miss playing pretend games with you, but I have to protect Tooth and all her little fairies."
Eliza frowned at this. "I need to see her, Wick... I need to ask her something."
Wick twiddled his fingers nervously. "North said not to let anyone come up and-"
"Wick, I'm begging you..." Eliza whimpered. "I thought you were a dear friend, I need your help..."
Wick glanced up for a moment. "Well, okay... I don't like seeing you being sad, so I'll take you up there. Just for a minute, okay?"
Eliza nodded, Wick crouching down so she could hold onto his back. He then ascended slowly, letting her into the window as he continued to hover outside. "She should be at the bottom of the stairs. North is guarding the way though, he may not let you go through..."
"Okay. I'll tell him what's wrong, he will have to let me see her." Eliza said before heading towards the stairs. She had barely made it down two steps before North jumped out, startling her when he unsheathed his swords. He blinked upon seeing who it was, sheathing them and bending down a bit.
"Ramsy-Korsikov! Eliza, what are you doing here?" He asked. He then groaned, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Wick!" He shouted.
"Don't scold him, I begged him to bring me here. North, I need to see Tooth, I need help with something and she's the only one who can." Eliza said.
"Eliza, do you realize what is happening here? Maharaja, the Monkey King, will stop at nothing to find Tooth and hunt her down. No one can come here or whole hideout will be compromised!" North exclaimed.
"But North, the nightmares are getting worse... I need her to find my memories, it may help me..." Eliza replied.
North shook his head. "Eliza, you are smart girl, yes? Tooth cannot stop her job as guardian to find your tooth box now. With Sandy now with Alice and Jack helping them, we need her to keep doing her job so that the lights on big globe keep glowing. I am sorry Eliza, but there are many children who still need us."
Eliza frowned deeply, staggering back as she slowly made her way into Rapunzel's old room. She could hear Tooth chattering away directions to her fairies from downstairs, a couple about to fly through Rapunzel's room to head out when they saw Eliza. Some of them went up to her, squeaking with confusion and calling Tooth, sensing something off with her. She tried to move away from them, but not knowing why she was there, they began to chirp with alarm, swarming around her and some pecking at her when she tried to swat them away.
"S- Stop! Stop it, that hurts! Get away from me, leave me alone!" Eliza cried, waving her arms to protect herself. North came in to try to calm them down, sighing lightly.
"Do you see, Eliza? Other people coming here is making them more nervous, they have become very protective of Tooth and-"
"What's going on here?" Tooth appeared then, gasping. "Eliza! All of you, stop it right now!" She tried to get her fairies under control, Eliza tripping over herself and falling back as a few kept trying to peck at her.
"Stop hurting me!" Eliza cried, covering her face. All of her emotions began to boil over, Eliza's hand suddenly shooting out to grab one of the fairies. Her tension transitioned to pure anger as she reared her hand back, tossing the small creature away from her. "I said stop it!" She grabbed a second one, tossing it to the ground where it squeaked with surprise, shaking its head. Eliza clenched her fists, gritting her teeth. "Have a taste of your own medicine!" She shouted, lifting her foot to bring it down when she was pulled back, North lifting the thrashing child to hold her steady. The other fairies helped the ones she had tossed, Tooth horrified as she cradled them in her hands.
"Eliza, what were you thinking?!" Tooth exclaimed.
North finally placed Eliza down on her feet, the girl breathing heavily as she clutched her head. "You're supposed to be my family... why does everyone keep ignoring me, why does everyone keep hurting me?!"
"No one is hurting you!" Wick said, having flown in when he heard the commotion. When he tried to take her hands, she yanked herself away from him.
"Didn't you see what just happened?! All I want is for the nightmares to go away, I need comfort and everyone tells me to go away, to stay in my room, that I'm bad!" Tears began to roll down the child's cheeks, Tooth trying to hold her shoulders steady, but she backed away more. "Don't touch me, don't come near me! I didn't want the nightmares to be real, but I'm beginning to see that it's happening again!"
Tooth frowned deeply. "Eliza, I know it's hard, but we're all in danger, we're just trying to keep everyone safe-"
"No you don't know! They're not even fighting, no one is coming after you! That only means one thing!" Eliza exclaimed.
"Wait, what do you mean by that?" North asked, narrowing his eyes as he took a step forward. "Have you been up to no good? You had better not be getting into trouble!"
"Stop screaming at me!" Eliza wailed. "Stop screaming at me, mother!" She fell to her knees, breathing heavily as her hands raked through her hair. The room fell silent, everyone shocked at Eliza's condition as she began to hallucinate. The three guardians looked at each other uneasily, one of the fairies now feeling badly about earlier as Eliza began to sob. When the fairy approached her in an apologetic manner, Eliza glanced up, taking this the wrong way and rearing her hand to slap it away. As Tooth gasped, Eliza backed up to the window quickly as she looked upon them angrily.
"You're sending me away, aren't you... you're sending me away to the bad doctor! You promised you wouldn't send me there, you promised to help the nightmares!" Eliza screamed, her vision distorting as she began to experience a mental break.
"Eliza, what are you talking about...?" Wick whimpered, trying to come near her, but the young girl would not allow it.
"I know why you're sending me away, I know why you always bicker! I'm to blame for what happened to Jack, you told me to be careful and he died because of me!" Eliza sobbed.
North took a cautious step towards her. "Listen to me carefully Eliza... what you are seeing is not real, you must open your eyes and-"
"No! No, I know that you don't love me anymore! I have no one in this world!" Eliza screamed, taking out a second snow globe to toss it out the window, jumping out of it before anyone could stop her to fall into the portal. When she disappeared from view, the three guardians remained in shocked silence for a moment as Tooth gently cradled her shaken up fairies.
"Oh, North... what have we done? She's so distraught." Tooth breathed, frowning deeply.
North felt a pang in his heart, straightening up. "Wick, remain here. I must speak to the others back in Arendelle of this. With all that is going on, we cannot lose Eliza now." When he received nods from the other two guardians, he cast a snow globe, intending to remedy this problem as soon as possible.
Hiccup sighed, taking a break from once again working on wedding plans with Merida to go check on Gustav. When he saw the boy standing in the same exact spot as he had been the last time he looked, Hiccup sighed sharply as he threw his hands up.
"What am I going to do with this kid?" He shook his head. "Merida, I'll be right back." He stormed over to the door, opening to poke his head out. "Gustav, get back to work! Gustav!" He sighed, shaking his head as he approached him. "Did you stuff hay in your ears? I said get back to-" Hiccup gasped when he turned what he thought was Gustav around to see it was not Gustav at all. The Viking widened his eyes, clenching his fist as his frustration boiled over. "Ohh he is in such big trouble when I find him!" He was about to get Toothless to search for him when someone emerging from a snow globe portal stopped him, taking Hiccup by surprise. "N- North? What are you doing here, I thought you were-"
"No time, Hiccup. We have very serious problem with Eliza." North interrupted.
"What do you mean? Is someone trying to come after her? Did you hear something?" Hiccup asked.
"No... Eliza came to us and acted very unlike herself. She was crazed, Hiccup, she is losing her grip upon-"
"Wait a second." It was Hiccup's turn to interrupt now. "Eliza is up in her room sleeping. How in Thor's name could she have seen you?"
"She came to us and left by snow globe, just now." North said. "She tried to harm Tooth's fairies, she would not allow any of us near her."
Hiccup staggered a bit, running a hand through his hair. "Oh my gods..." He breathed, his eyes widening. "We have to find her. I just found out one of my younger friends staying here is missing too... I'm guessing she'll be wherever he is."
North gave Hiccup a firm nod, going with the Viking to alert the others inside.
Meanwhile, Eliza stumbled through the halls, her breathing uneven as her mind faded in and out of reality. She began to see her parents once again, manifesting as two very sinister apparitions. She could hear their screaming and shouting echoing in her mind, experiencing that feeling of being completely and utterly alone in her suffering. She vaguely remembered what happened back at the tower, whimpering apologies as she sobbed. The pressure had built up so much in her mind she thought it would explode, falling to her knees before passing out.
Gustav was returning Fanghook to his pen, shrugging. "She just doesn't know what she's missing." He said to the dragon, turning to stroll out when he walked right into Hiccup, the older Viking standing there with a serious expression, one hand on his hip. "H- Hiccup?!"
Before speaking, Hiccup raised a brow as he held out his arm, handing Gustav his helmet. After he placed it on his head, Hiccup slapped the back of the boy's head with his hand, Gustav wincing from the contact.
"Are you out of your mind?! Do you have any idea what's happening right now?" Hiccup exclaimed.
"I can tell you that I'm going to get a huge bruise from that... hm... maybe I'll look manlier to the other kids- well, of course, if I did meet any other kids around here..." Gustav chuckled nervously.
"Focus, Gustav! Have you seen Eliza at all this morning? Is she with you?" Hiccup asked.
"Uh... no, I haven't seen her. Just Fanghook and I." Gustav lied.
"What if I told you that she went out and got herself hurt?" Hiccup asked. Before Gustav could respond, Kristoff burst through the pen door.
"Hiccup! We found her, she's in the castle!" Kristoff exclaimed.
Hiccup gave him a nod before jabbing Gustav's chest with his finger. "Stay here." He followed Kristoff back into the castle, Anna and Rapunzel following Eugene and Merida as they helped her to her bedroom.
"The little lass is as pale as a ghost!" Merida exclaimed, setting her down.
"I had no idea the nightmares were getting worse..." Anna sighed lightly, biting her lip. "What are we going to do?"
North sighed as he closed his eyes for a moment. "This has all been too much for little Eliza to handle." He glanced up as Hiccup and Kristoff entered the room.
"I know that you guys have to keep this place secure... but I think that being confined to the castle may be making her feel worse... we should try to let her have some fun, help her get her mind off of whatever is causing her to act out." Rapunzel suggested.
"We can't risk her going out there and one of the Queen's cronies finding her." Hiccup said. "They could show up at any moment when we're not expecting it."
"Well obviously there's been things going on with her we weren't expecting either." Anna sighed. "We've all been so caught up with our own concerns that we've been leaving her to fend for her own."
"I must return and help protect Tooth. You must make sure that Eliza becomes well again. With all that the Queen is doing to work against us, we cannot afford to allow one of our own to be hurting. Jack and Alice are counting on you all to help her." North said. "Come to me only if it's absolute emergency." He stood, using one of his snow globes to return to Rapunzel's tower.
"I think we should just let her rest for a while... some sleep should help her cool off and clear her head a bit. I'd be going stir crazy too if I was in her situation. How did you deal with it, Rapunzel?" Eugene asked.
Rapunzel shrugged. "I was naive... but Eliza doesn't seem to be. Poor thing... she must be so scared."
Hiccup rubbed the back of his neck. "I can't believe I'm saying this, but maybe it's a good thing that Gustav is here."
Merida's eyes widened. "Have your lost your mind, lad? Gustav? His middle name is trouble!"
"But North is right, Merida... she needs someone who's going to take her mind off of things... and as much of a piece of work as Gustav is, maybe he can be a distraction for her." Hiccup replied.
"Ye can't expect me to take ye seriously, lad." Merida said with a flat expression.
"Think about it, Merida; Anna and Rapunzel are taking over Elsa's responsibilities while she's gone. Kristoff and Sven go out every day to do his ice deliveries, and with all of the guards sticking to the borders, he's even bringing Olaf and Eugene to help him with that every day. I've been trying to get these wedding plans done with you when we're not taking care of Toothless, Angus, Maximus and the other pen animals. Tell me how we can possibly spend time or keep an eye on Eliza when we're all up to our heads with this stuff?" Hiccup asked.
The room fell silent, all of them glancing at each other unsurely. Merida sighed, rubbing her temples a bit. "I suppose you've made a point... I still don't trust Gustav, Hiccup. He doesn't listen to anyone!"
"I'm going to go out and talk to him... let's give Eliza some space and let her rest." Hiccup said, everyone getting up and filing out of the room quietly.
Gustav groaned, kicking his feet as he rested his chin in his hand. "Come on Hiccup, this is so boring!" He exclaimed, waiting in the pen as he was instructed. He perked up when the door opened, Hiccup entering the pen. "Finally! Can I leave now?"
"Not until I say something to you first." Hiccup sighed a bit. "I don't know how close you and Eliza have gotten... I'm sure there's plenty I don't know. But I need to ask you to do something very important."
"Now what?" Gustav whined. "If I have to clean the stables for one more day I'm going to go crazy!"
"It has nothing to do with that." Hiccup waved his hands. "I need you to keep talking to Eliza and just... keeping an eye on her. Make sure she's safe. She's gone through a lot, Gustav... and we want her to feel happy and comfortable here but with everything we have to do every day, it's hard to find time to talk to her and give her comfort. She needs a friend now more than ever. If you can do that, you won't have to clean the stables anymore."
"You mean it? Awesome! You're the best, Hiccup!" Gustav exclaimed, about to run out of the pen when Hiccup grabbed the back of his collar, pulling him back over.
"I need your word, Gustav." Hiccup said.
"Okay, okay, I'll do it, now let me out of here!" Hiccup rolled his eyes playfully as the boy burst through the doors, cheering happily.