Persuasive Influences Budding
Later that evening, Eliza opened her eyes slowly as she sat up, rubbing her head. She couldn't remember how she got here, or exactly what had happened prior to her losing consciousness. Her mind felt clouded, her head a bit dizzy as she tried to get to her feet. She had barely taken two steps when she felt a hand on her back, swaying a bit as she glanced over.
"Hey, uh... Hiccup asked me to stay here and watch you. You look like you're about to fall." Gustav said.
Eliza blinked, clearing her throat as she sat down slowly. "Gustav... oh dear, I missed riding with Fanghook today..." She frowned.
"Hey, don't worry about it. There's always tomorrow. Besides, I was able to show all the other kids some cool new tricks." Gustav replied. "Hey, if you're still feeling pretty bad, something that always helps me is some sheep's milk."
"Sheep's milk?" Eliza tilted her head. "I don't think I've ever tried that before." Gustav took out a small bottle from one of his pouches, smiling as he handed it to her. Eliza drank some, making a bit of a face as she shook her head. "It's got a bit of a pungent taste."
"Trust me, you'll feel better soon. Hey... if you want, I can take you out to the meadow to make up for earlier." He said.
"Won't we get in trouble?" Eliza frowned.
"They won't even know we're gone. And it's getting dark so we'll be harder to spot." He reassured.
"Alright..." Eliza smiled lightly. "You're right, I am starting to feel better."
Gustav smiled back, going over to the window to open it. "I know a shortcut around back. I'll help you down."
They both snuck out the window, quietly taking Fanghook out of his pen before making their way across the north western part of the lake over to where the meadow was on the other side. Once there, Gustav hopped off, going around the other side.
"Aren't you going to fly him?" Eliza asked.
"I was thinking you could give it a try." He said. "If you're not too scared to, that is." He smirked a bit.
"Of course I'm not!" Eliza exclaimed, scooting up a bit. Gustav hopped back up, taking a seat behind her.
"Okay, put your hands here and here. Lean forward a little to keep the wind against your back. I won't let you fall off, and Fanghook will go easy on you this time, right pal?" Gustav smiled, patting the dragon lightly.
The Monstrous Nightmare gave him a nod, Eliza exhaling slowly as she became determined.
"Alright, I'm ready to try." She said.
"Okay Fanghook, hover in the air nice and easy." Gustav said, the dragon grumbling lowly in response, taking to flight as the dragon remained only a few yards over the ground. "Alright, not bad! Now we're going to make a slow turn to the left, you have to move with him to keep balance." Gustav said, Eliza nodding as she followed his instructions.
"I'm doing it..." She beamed. "I'm flying a dragon!"
"We're going to try a little higher now, okay? When we go up, lean forward a bit more, and keep your feet against his sides." Gustav said, smirking when they started to ascend. "Ready to go a bit faster?" Eliza gave him a nod, Eliza quickly getting the hang of the maneuvers. Gustav taught her a few basic tricks, Eliza giggling as she performed them all successfully. After some time, they landed, both of them hopping off of Fanghook. "So, who's the best dragon flight instructor around?"
"That was so much fun, Gustav! I can't believe I actually flew him! I can't wait to tell Jack and Alice all about... it..." Her smile faded quickly, frowning as she slowly hung her head. "I can't believe they still haven't visited me..."
Gustav frowned a bit, crouching down when Eliza sat on the ground. "Hey... I'm going to tell you something but you can't tell anyone, okay?" When Eliza nodded, Gustav took a seat in front of her. "I'm the kind of Viking that... if you're nice to me, I'll be nice back. If you give me something good, I'll be loyal. But... no one back at Berk ever gives me a chance. All they do is make me do all the stuff THEY don't want to do. 'I'm just a stupid kid that doesn't listen and messes everything up.' And you know what's worse?" Eliza shook her head. "My own mom gave me up for a stone of good fortune." He sighed, shaking his head. "Makes me wonder if I was meant to always be a rogue Viking."
Eliza tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "My mother and father gave me up too."
Gustav raised his brows. "Really? What did they get for it?"
Eliza looked down at the ground. "Peace." She replied. "After my brother died I always had nightmares. Mother and father fought because they missed Jack and I made them feel worse. They sent me away to a doctor in London."
"Man... at least my mom traded me for something... why would parents just give you up for nothing?" Gustav bit his lip. "Guess we're both rogue, huh?" He stood up then. "We should leave this place... just the three of us, you, Fanghook and I. We can explore the world and plunder ships and get all kinds of treasure!"
Eliza smiled lightly. "I wish we could... but they would all come after us, then we would be punished again."
Gustav sighed. "Well, maybe we can just stick to flying Fanghook then." He smirked a bit when Eliza nodded. "I'll be the most popular Viking in all of Arendelle! Kids from near and far will want to see me fly him. Maybe I can try some pyrotechnics tomorrow..."
Just then, Eliza gasped lightly, realizing she had forgotten something very important. "Gustav, I... I need to get back, I need to use a snow globe to get somewhere... will you help me?"
Gustav blinked for a moment, chuckling. "Well not me, but ol' Fanghook can! Hop on!"
They flew back to the palace area, securing the dragon before sneaking back into the castle. It was a miracle that with all the guards posted at the borders, that they managed to do this each day. Once inside, Gustav helped Eliza to the room where the extra snow globes were kept without being seen.
"Thank goodness… I must go quickly." Eliza said quietly.
"Say… where do you go with that thing, anyway?" Gustav tilted his head. "Like, what do you do?"
Eliza bit her lip. "I… can't really say… I shouldn't speak about it." She looked up at him apologetically. "I should be back soon... thank you, Gustav." She smiled lightly, casting the globe down to walk through the portal. When she did, the young Viking smiled to himself.
"She would make a pretty good Viking." He said quietly, heading out of the area to avoid any suspicion.
The Queen was pacing about impatiently, clenching her fists when she realized how late it was. She was moments away from having a total screaming fit when she saw Eliza arrive, hurrying over towards her in a panicked fashion.
"I- I'm so sorry for being tardy, please, don't be cross with me…" Eliza said with a worried tone, biting her lip anxiously.
The Queen raised a brow, taking a moment to calm herself. "Hm… indeed, you are quite late… what may the reason be, I wonder?" She motioned over to their usual setup. "Sit, you may tell all just there."
Eliza nodded, hurrying over and sitting down, placing her satchel on the seat beside her. "I lost track of time… y- you see, I've made a new friend, and… we were spending time together."
"Oh?" The Queen asked, waving her hand so that tea appeared, pouring them each a cup. "Here you are…" She smiled lightly. "What is she like?"
"W- Well… my friend is a boy, actually…" Eliza cleared her throat, not feeling very comfortable sharing all of this with the Queen, hesitantly taking a sip of the tea after thanking her quietly.
The Queen nodded slowly. "You are a growing child… I am quite sure you are capable of performing the same activities that boys can.
It was then, upon closer inspection, that Eliza did not notice the parchment and quill on the table. "Where are the writing materials?" She asked.
"Oh, I held them off for a bit… I didn't want the tea to mess them up, after all… you've worked so hard on it already." The Queen smiled. "Isn't this nice? I'm sure you're quite used to being pampered at home, though, such a precious girl you are."
Eliza glanced down, frowning a bit. "Y- Yes…"
The Queen smirked a bit, Eliza's response not very convincing. She then reached over, surprising the girl a bit as she lifted her face gently. "My dear… why, it looks as if you had been crying…" She frowned. "Whatever is the matter?"
Eliza hung her head when the Queen retracted her hand. "N- Nothing… I should just write some more and head home…"
"Now, now… you can tell me if something is wrong… it is what friends do for each other after all, they offer consolation when the other is in distress." The Queen said.
Eliza twiddled her fingers. "I'm sorry, but… we aren't friends."
"Why not?" The Queen asked.
"… well… you're Alice's enemy… and Alice is my family." Eliza said.
"But we aren't fighting, remember?" The Queen asked, smiling lightly. "We can't be enemies if we aren't fighting." Eliza paused a bit at that, the Queen's smirk growing. "Besides… we've already begun to express the deepest contents of our hearts to each other."
"No, I haven't…" Eliza tilted her head.
The Queen raised a brow, the tea kettle disappearing and was replaced by the parchment, quill and ink. "What do you think this is, my dear?"
Eliza's eyes widened as she put two and two together, glancing to the side uncomfortably.
Why was it that everything the Queen said made sense, even if it didn't seem right?
Right… what was right, anymore? What was wrong? Who was there for her to confide in and who wasn't? Who was nice to her and who wasn't?
Her head began to spin as all the answers seemed to point to the Queen.
Eliza bit her lip, snatching the quill and dipping it, hovering the point over the paper. She looked at the words she had written upon Alice's and Jack's side, her eyes glancing to and fro as she wrote one word, two words, three… she was struggling now, her mind trying to come up with the next thing to write. Her mind was so clouded now, so turned around, she could barely concentrate. The Queen grinned darkly as she watched her, placing a few lumps of sugar in her tea before sipping on it.
"Having some trouble, Eliza?" The Queen asked.
"N- No… I'm just fatigued… I had quite an active day." Eliza sighed, becoming more and more stressed. She wrote a fourth word, two more to go… she whimpered lightly, her knees bouncing up and down from her nerves.
The Queen tapped on her chin, pursing her lips. "I shall make a deal with you." She started. "If you do a little something… well, two little somethings for me… they shall be acceptable substitutes for the words you seem to be… having some difficulty with."
Eliza furrowed her brows, placing the quill down. "What would you want me to do?"
"Hm… for the first thing… I want you to reveal to me the reason behind the tears you shed earlier in the day." The Queen pondered a bit more. "For the second thing… I want you to try to trust me." She straightened up a bit. "What you know of me comes from mostly Alice's testimonies. There is more to who I am than what she has told you. I can be a friend just as I can be a foe. And to you, my dear, I would be most honored to be called a friend."
Eliza narrowed her eyes warily. "Why? Why me?"
"Because… you are a most extraordinary child. You do not yet see it, but I do. I am privileged to have you in my company. A child like you, to have overcome so much adversity and remain so strong, so brave… I do not doubt those back at home must appreciate your strength to endure." The Queen said.
The Queen knew she was beginning to further touch upon a nerve with her comments, Eliza avoiding her gaze as the child realized more and more how things seemed to look through the Queen's perspective; she hated to admit it, but in a twisted way, everything she was saying was true. She tried so desperately to come up with just two more words, feeling like an utter failure to Alice and Jack. She felt like she didn't even deserve to be called her sister…
Maybe it's why they had neglected to see her, she thought. Maybe it was because she had been scolded upon once too many times, wandered off once too many times, did something she wasn't supposed to, burden them, once too many times. She bit her lip, knowing she was left with no choice but to comply with the Queen's demands, lest all her efforts thus far went to complete waste.
"Alright. I'll consent to what you ask." Eliza sighed as she closed her eyes regretfully for a moment.
"What a good little girl." The Queen smiled, patting her head. "See how nice compromising can be? Now…" The Queen walked over, retaking her seat across from Eliza. "… why don't you tell your good friend about what seems to be troubling you." She poured herself some more tea, taking a sip.
Eliza bit her lip, feeling extremely uncomfortable discussing anything personal with the Queen. Maybe she could just lie… no, Eliza knew well enough that one thing that the Queen was, was smart. She could see through people, she would know that she was lying and it would ruin everything.
"Well…" Eliza managed to squeak out, hoping if she just gave general details, it would be enough to satisfy the Queen. "… I was visiting some… friends… I wanted them to help me with… with something. But they said I needed to leave… that I shouldn't be there. Many of my friends don't pay attention to me anymore… like my family in the past. I'm afraid to be sent away again… when I was sent away the first time, I… he didn't treat me very well."
"Who didn't, my dear?" The Queen asked.
"… doctor Bumby." Eliza said barely above a whisper.
"Oh… yes, that dreadful man, good riddance to him." The Queen waved her hand.
"You knew him, didn't you?" Eliza asked.
"I did, dear girl. He afflicted Alice's Wonderland very badly… it was I who helped her to overcome him the first time. When poor little Alice was in shambles, she went all over seeking aid from the other creatures… but it was I, when she came to me groveling, begging for assistance, that granted it. I was the one who revealed her true enemy, subsequently leading to his demise. You see, despite how she mercilessly dethroned me… I, who had empathy, helped her in her greatest time of need." The Queen rested a hand on her chest. "You see… Alice resents those with more power than she. She will stop at nothing to ensure they are destroyed."
Eliza's eyes widened at this, shaking her head a bit. "Alice… never told me that… she said it was the caterpillar that told Alice about her memories, and the Hatter."
"I'm not surprised… you see, I was Alice's most loyal advisor once… I taught her patience, perseverance, persistence… I tried to rule Wonderland in her stead, to do what was best for all after the fire… she saw it as a threat, that my assistance was an attempt to usurp her. She took much of my strength, but I lingered… waiting for the day for her return…" The Queen said.
"But… Alice told me you had tried to hurt her… that you tried to kill her." Eliza said.
"In self-defense, perhaps… but always with a pinch of regret, I'm afraid." The Queen said, leaning back. "As for these so called friends of yours… it seems that they do not deserve you. They do not see the greatness you have to offer… but my eyes are sharp. I can see your incredible potential. You have power you do not realize, my dear."
Eliza shook her head. "But… if it's true what you said… about how Alice resents those with more power than her… no, she would never harm me."
"Perhaps not; after all, you are still quite young. She may simply try to subdue you, at first… prevent you from expanding unto the world." The Queen said.
"It can't be… she had just… she was just trying to protect me…" Eliza said quietly.
"Protecting… or hindering…?" The Queen asked. "Your friends… how much influence does she have over them?"
Eliza's eyes widened, shaking her head more. She slowly clutched her head, her mind twisting in an attempt to wrap her brain around what she was trying to comprehend. "No… I don't want to be confined again… it wasn't my fault… it isn't my fault… I didn't mean for anything bad to happen… I just want the nightmares to stop, the… I want my mind to stop hurting!"
"Then fulfill my second request, my dear. Confide in me. I shall bring you comfort. Allow me to look into your heart, and I shall drive away your pain, your suffering." The Queen said. Eliza looked upon her a bit fearfully, wiping her eyes as the Queen extended her arms in a welcoming gesture. The girl gulped, slowly stepping towards her. She stiffened, holding her hands to her chest as the Queen hugged her as gently as possible. It was awkward to say the least, Eliza still staring at her uneasily once the Queen terminated the gesture. "Hm… how about I give you a tour of my new home? It's only proper of a good host. You are a welcome guest here now, and all of my friends would love to have you in their company."
Eliza nodded, again not wanting to insult the Queen or make her angry by denying her. The Queen stood, motioning for the girl to follow her. She smirked lightly, showing her around a bit and trying to engage her in conversation. Soon, she approached some of her card guards, introducing Eliza to them. They bowed, kneeling down on one knee to Eliza when she discreetly snapped her fingers.
"Why… are they doing that?" Eliza asked.
"Quite peculiar… they've only ever done that for me… they must think you are of high standing rank, my dear." The Queen raised a brow.
"Really…?" Eliza found the card guards to be a bit unsettling, gulping a bit.
"Well, it's rather late… you look quite fatigued." She handed Eliza a snow globe, but not before crouching down a bit. "I leave you with a warning I hope you shall heed, Eliza. Be on your toes…" She then opened her other hand, a pair of red shoes sitting upon her palm. "Take these… may they assist you in fleeing from those who do you harm… or placing your foot down when you have opportunity."
Eliza thanked the Queen lightly, taking the shoes before glancing around a bit. "I was wondering…"
"Hm? What is it, my dear?" The Queen asked.
Eliza paused a moment, shaking her head. "N- Never mind…" She took her satchel. "I should return home…" She spoke into the snow globe, casting it down and entering through it.
As the Queen watched, she chuckled lowly to herself. "Yes… my words are festering…" Her thoughts were broken when the sound of footsteps approached from behind, turning to see Hans with several of her card guards. "My dear Hans… what do you have for me?"
Hans smiled lightly, holding up a bottle containing something wriggling inside…
A small sprig, having originated from Emily's protective vines at the border of her domain.
Elsa giggled lightly as Vanellope began to skate to and fro on some newly formed ice, Ralph chuckling as he watched his small friend get the hang of balancing herself. "Hey, I'm pretty good at this!" Just as she said that, she stumbled a bit, Elsa reaching forward to help Vanellope stay on her feet.
"Someone needs a little more practice." Pitch said, gliding over to offer his hand to Elsa. "Would you do me the honor, my dear?"
"Well, I should really make sure Vanellope can handle herself." Elsa smiled. "Maybe in a little while."
"Hey, I can keep an eye on her, Elsa." Jack said, approaching the group with Alice and Sandy, with Bunny and Emily lagging a bit behind. "Besides, I don't think this is a big enough patch of ice." He waved his staff, chuckling a bit as the ice extended outwards.
"Hey Ralph!" Bunny called out. "Why don't you give it a try, mate?" He smiled, nodding his head towards Elsa.
"Uh… yeah, I'm not the most graceful, Bunny…" Ralph said.
"Neither am I, mate." He winked, glancing over as Elsa waved her hand, making ice blades on the bottoms of Alice's shoes. She then took Jack's hands, the ice guardian helping her to balance at first before, surprisingly, she began to skate like a pro.
"Alright… but if I fall and break the ice, I'm blaming you." Ralph smirked a bit, cautiously stepping on the ice and trying to stay steady. When he sighed with relief, he scrunched his face as out of nowhere, a snowball hit him right on the side of his face.
"It's about time you got here, stinkbrain!" Vanellope laughed, holding a second snowball as she fist pumped Jack with her other hand.
Ralph was about to get back at her, scooping up some surrounding snow bordering the ice patch to chase after her with when he caught something out of the corner of his eyes; Pitch was pulling a Gomez Addams on Elsa, one arm coiled around her waist, the young queen giggling lightly as Pitch kissed up her arm, his other hand holding hers delicately. Ralph blinked, curling his lip as he narrowed his eyes, compacting the snow as his lips slowly melted into a mischievous smirk. One moment, Pitch was romancing Elsa, in the next, he was flown backwards by the impact of a huge snowball larger than his head colliding into his chest. It certainly gained everyone's attention; Bunny threw his head back as he howled with laughter, Sandy and Alice paused their own merriment to raise their brows, Sandy whistling inaudibly as golden hued notes floated and disappeared above his head. Vanellope tried to hold back a snicker, covering her mouth.
"Ohh boy…" Jack said. "This is going to make things interesting."
Emily pinched the bridge of her nose. "Those who battle simply for the attentions of another are fools. It's not as if you are competing for a mate to continue the life line of a species-"
"Hey, um, Emily?" Jack interrupted her, nodding towards Vanellope. The forest nymph stared at Jack flatly for a few moments, rolling her eyes before turning to wander away from the group.
Jack frowned a bit, about to call after her when he felt something cold hit the back of his head. He turned, blinking when he saw Alice with a hand on her hip, smirking lightly.
"Never turn your back on a fight, Jack." Alice chuckled lightly.
"Oh, you are so on!" He laughed, conjuring a snowball to throw back at her.
Elsa sighed, looking between Ralph and Pitch as they stared each other down. "Alright. Either you will both stop this, or I will refuse to speak to either of you for the rest of the day. I'm going to see what one of the others are up to."
Pitch raised a brow. "Very well. Say, Ralph… how good are you at figure skating? Must be difficult with two left feet."
"I happen to be an expert at the Robot, thank you very much." Ralph said, crossing his arms.
"That's DANCING, you idiot!" Pitch exhaled sharply. "Let's put it to the test then. It is, after all, one of Elsa's favorite past times. Not that you would know that… after all, I know all there is to know about her."
"Pfft, as if! I know plenty about her… and even if I didn't, I've been around for thirty years pal, I've seen some stuff… I can figure things out." Ralph said.
"Alright… one, add about… two zeros onto that number, that's how long I have been around. I have you beat by quite a long shot, mister home wrecker." Pitch said.
"I am n- what did you call me?!" Ralph exclaimed.
"SECONDLY… you lived in a DUMP, as I recall. So that makes you unruly, unsophisticated, and severely lacking in culture- not to mention basic hygiene! You honestly think you are fit for someone as high standing as Elsa? Royalty wouldn't so much as look at you let alone wish to be in your company!" Pitch snapped.
Ralph frowned. "Hey, that's… that's not true! I'll have you know that Vanellope is a p-…" He stopped short, clearing his throat.
"Vanellope is a what, now?" Pitch asked.
"… Vanellope is a… a pretty good example of what a real friend should be… uh, yeah!" Ralph finished.
"Well, you still know nothing about Elsa, anyhow." Pitch waved his hand.
"I bet you I know something you don't." Ralph smirked.
"I highly doubt that." Pitch crossed his arms, rolling his eyes.
Ralph pursed his lips in thought for a moment. "You know she nearly choked to death on an ice cube the other day, right? I had to do the Heimlich maneuver on her."
Pitch sputtered then, his eyes nearly bugging out of his head. "WHAT?!"
"HA! I was totally bluffing!" Ralph pointed at Pitch, laughing.
"Oh, that's it! Snow ball fight it is!" Pitch growled, taking a snow ball and throwing it at Ralph. "Darkness knows you're a big enough target!"
Meanwhile, Emily decided that she was better off away from all the noise and commotion, not accustomed to it. It wasn't until she felt someone take her hand, whipping her head back to see Bunny, that she stopped, grimacing lightly.
"I am not going back there, so do not even ask the question." Emily said.
"I won't ask then." Bunny said. "Come on, let's just slide on the ice a bit, we can hang back from those other buffoons throwing snow at each other."
Emily sighed lightly, glaring at him for a moment before consenting. "Very well… I must admit, I have been rather fond of our increasing durations of time spent together… you must be getting under my soil, Bunnymund."
The Easter guardian raised a surprised brow at this, the corners of his lips poking into a crooked smile. "Really? Me? The one you used to dismiss as nothing but a 'wild animal?'"
Emily smirked lightly. "Well, you are still a wild animal. I never said that was a bad quality, I simply thought it was the only good quality you had."
Bunny chuckled, the two heading back to the ice. Bunny stepped on first, steadying himself before taking Emily's hands, helping her on. He slid along the slippery surface with ease, Emily's small, delicate feet seeming to dance along it as the ice glowed a bit wherever her toes made contact. She glanced down, smiling lightly as her color began to change to a light shade of blue. Her hair swayed, floating weightlessly as her silky dress clung to her legs a bit, her shape better outlined. Bunny noticed this after some time, doing a double take as he watched Emily move effortlessly, elegantly along the ice. His ears and tail perked up a bit, never seeing Emily in such a carefree state. He smiled, his distraction causing him to fail to pay attention to where he was going, tripping and falling face first into a snow bank. Emily stopped, glancing over as Bunny's head popped out of the pile of snow, shaking it off his head. He chuckled nervously, shrugging a bit when she looked at him.
It was then that something happened that Bunny would have never expected.
It was a genuine, amused laugh, the smile gracing Emily's face brightening her whole presence. Bunny raised his brows for a moment before her laughing became contagious. He hopped out of the snow, shaking himself off before hopping back to his feet. It was then his comical clumsiness continued, slipping as he flailed his arms about to regain his balance. He fell forward, Emily gasping to shoot her arms forward under his to keep him off the ground. It was an awkward occurrence, Emily's hair lightly tickling Bunny's face. He wiggled his nose, her hair seemingly as silky as her dress as it brushed against his fur. It was a nice feeling to say the least, but he tried to just focus on getting to his feet before he unintentionally angered her. She was unpredictable, she could turn the switch in a single moment… he had to remember this.
"Oh, will you two stop fighting over there already?!" Vanellope shouted. "Elsa and I are already having a sleepover, if you keep it up, she'll leave you forever, Boogerman!"
"You stay out of this!" Pitch shouted, packing down a new snowball to throw at Ralph. When he tossed it, the Wrecker ducked, totally missing him.
The snowball soared right at Sandy, the dream guardian gasping inaudibly as he made a tennis racket out of sand, hitting the snowball with it. It then headed right for Jack, but Alice dove in front of him, opening her umbrella to deflect it. It flew in Vanellope's direction, the girl crying out in surprise and glitching out of its way. Elsa, who had been standing right behind her, waved her hand to divert the snowball out of her way. It flew up and over, behind her towards the other side of the ice patch.
When they all realized not where, but who it was now its target trajectory… they realized with horror it was too late to stop it.
Emily had realized she was quite close to Bunny as she helped him to his feet, feeling a tad bit uncomfortable allowing anyone this far into her space. Though she stared at him with curious interest, her lightness from Bunny's fumbling earlier still lingering.
However, it was cut short when something cold collided with the side of her head.
It wasn't enough of an impact to knock her off her feet, but it did make her sway a bit. Her leaf-like ears flickered, her eyes widening as her head whipped in the direction it came from. Everyone, even Ralph and Pitch, stopped dead in their tracks, standing completely still as tension put a halt on their merriment, bickering, whatever they had been doing before that moment.
Bunny looked from them to Emily, worry seeping into his expression. "Em…?"
The forest nymph briefly glanced back at him, her eyes burning with anger as she slowly hovered a few inches off the ground, floating over to the group menacingly as her expression twisted with a deep scowl. Jack gulped as she approached him and Elsa, her eyes darting between the two of them.
"… which one of you is responsible for striking me?" Emily asked, her tone dead serious.
Jack's brows raised as he gulped, his finger pointing at Elsa without hesitation. Alice rolled her eyes behind him, Elsa shooting him a glare. Emily narrowed her eyes at Elsa, slowly approaching her.
Pitch caught sight of this, hurrying over to them before his daughter more than likely killed the love of his life before they could even think about future plans.
"Emily, now let's just calm down for a moment, and-" Pitch was interrupted when the young woman's eyes seemed to burn through him in a death glare. She returned her focus to Elsa then.
"Do you have any idea what the punishment is for doing such a thing to me?" Emily asked.
"I- Emily please, it was an accident…" Elsa held her hands up. "Please don't take it the wrong way…"
"Em, come on…" Bunny said, causing the forest nymph to glance back at him. She stared at him for several moments, returning her gaze to Elsa. She lifted her hand, whisking the air with it. Elsa raised her arms to protect herself at the subtle movement, but blinked when she felt a snowball drop on her head from above. She glanced around, everyone staring at her for a moment before looking at Emily, a smirk now having replaced her prior scowl.
"It seems we are even now, Elsa." Emily said.
Everyone sighed with relief, Jack beginning to laugh at how nervous they had all been. Emily raised a brow, whisking her hand and cutting off Jack's laughing as a small pile of snow dropped on him from above. The rest of the group chuckled and laughed at this, the tension quickly dissipating. Emily turned to face Bunny, the Easter guardian smiling with approval and nodding lightly.
Pitch stared at his daughter, a small smile gracing his features when he realized the lightheartedness of her intentions. He was beginning to see her in a new light; a light that she had embraced so long ago as a child.
A light they had shared together and they had both been robbed of.
It was like a bud now, just barely poking out of the ground. The Nightmare King approached Elsa, gently brushing off any remaining snow on her head before kissing her forehead lightly, the young queen smiling in response. It was then that Pitch heard something, glancing over to see Sandy floating towards Emily and Bunny. Perhaps it was Bunny's chatter that had regained his attention, but that isn't what sustained it.
His eyes narrowed slightly as Emily seemed to focus much attention on Bunny; watching him, observing him. True, she would speak to her dear friend Sandy, but her eyes kept wandering over to the Easter guardian. Elsa seemed to notice Pitch's behavior, because when he went to take a step forward upon Bunny lightly nudging Emily's arm, he felt Elsa's hand take his lightly. Only she could tear his gaze away from his daughter.
"Pitch... let her be." Elsa smiled lightly. "I haven't seen her this social since we arrived here."
The Nightmare King sighed, nodding with agreement. He couldn't deny this fact, but he groaned lightly as he glanced back over at them upon hearing Bunny bursting out laughing, grimacing when he crouched down to scratch behind his ear with his foot.
Out of all the guardians, why did it have to be that contemptible ruffian?
He was loud, obnoxious, stubborn and improper; he was everything Emily wasn't. Emily carried herself with such grace and poise, something that Pitch still managed to do most of the time, even with arduous activities such as battle. The only thing that made Bunny even somewhat tame was painting eggs, and that was certainly not considered a highbrow talent.
The mere thought of Emily associating with this... this scoundrel... it made him shudder. It was bad enough that she held Sanderson in such high regard for darkness sake!