Familiarity Breeding Contempt
That evening, everyone gathered in the dining hall, Elsa sitting at one end with Pitch on one side, Anna at her other. Everyone had taken their own seats from there, Eliza giggling lightly as she sat with Wick. Jack glanced over, noticing how quiet Alice was.
"Hey, what's the matter?" He asked.
"I haven't much of an appetite." Alice replied.
"You look really pale, Alice... maybe you should go lie down." Anna said, sitting on the other side of Alice.
"I'll be alright, thank you." She said, taking a small bite of her she glanced up, she nearly had a panic attack when Eliza went to sneak sip from Hiccup's goblet. "Eliza!"
The young girl jumped in surprise, the room quieting a bit when she accidentally spilled its contents- red wine- all over her white day dress. She froze in place, shocked. Hiccup took his napkin, trying to clean the table and around Eliza. The girl looked over at Alice angrily.
"This is all your fault!" The girl cried.
Alice hesitated for a moment, slowly getting up from her seat to try and help her. "Eliza, let me help you tidy up-"
"No!" Eliza shouted, slapping Alice's hand away. "I was supposed to have a fun day and you ruined everything!" She pushed her chair in before storming off, leaving Alice in a silent but heartbroken state.
"Eliza come on, don't be like that-" Jack started, sighing when Eliza ran out of the dining hall. "I'll go talk to her." He said briefly to Alice before leaving the room. Alice grabbed a napkin, silently helping Hiccup clean the area; she felt if she focused on something it would help keep her composed.
Anna gently placed a hand on Alice's shoulder when she sat back down. "Hey, don't take it so hard... sometimes kids just go through rebellious stages like this... I did when I was her age." She smiled lightly.
"I don't want her to loathe me... I love that child like a sister." Alice replied.
"I know... don't worry, she'll come around. Part of growing up is learning to appreciate the people who love you." Anna said. "I know I appreciate Elsa."
"Yes... it still hurts, I suppose... seeing her upset... resenting me." Alice sighed.
"Eliza? Eliza!" Jack called for Eliza as he searched through the corridors. He finally found her when he came up to her bedroom door, hearing her shuffling around inside.
When Jack lightly knocked on the door, Eliza bit her lip. "Leave me alone!" She cried.
"Eliza, come on... please let me in?" Jack asked.
After a few moments, the door opened a crack, Eliza glancing up at him. "You're going to scold me, aren't you?" She asked.
"No... I just want to talk." Jack smiled lightly.
Eliza nodded, opening the door and letting him inside. She was in her night dress, her day dress soaking in a wash bin filled with soapy water. "I don't feel well." She said, holding her stomach.
"Maybe you should finish your dinner." Jack suggested.
Eliza shook her head. "Jack, ever since Alice became a guardian, she's changed." She said sadly.
Jack sighed lightly, hugging Eliza lightly. "You know, before I became a guardian, I was pretty irresponsible. I did whatever I wanted to do and didn't care what other people thought. But when I became a guardian, I realized I had a job to do. You mean more to Alice and I than anything, Eliza. After what happened a few months ago... I think Alice is just worried that something will happen to you. All she wants to do is protect you."
Eliza thought on his words, twiddling her fingers a bit. "I wonder if Elizabeth was like that."
"Elizabeth? Alice's sister?" Jack asked.
Eliza nodded. "Maybe she wants to be like her, and I'm kind of like Alice now when she was younger."
"Maybe... if that's the case, you both have to be nice to each other." Jack said.
"I was rotten earlier, wasn't I?" Eliza asked, beginning to feel badly about her prior behavior.
"Why don't you just take a break in here and cool off... when Alice comes by later, you two can talk things out." Jack said.
Eliza nodded, taking a porcelain doll into her hands that she brought with her to hug to her chest. "Okay."
After dinner was finished, everyone either settled into their rooms or found something to do throughout the palace. Alice was about to go to her bedroom when Tooth fluttered over to her.
"Aren't you going to say goodnight to Eliza?" When Alice looked at her as if she were about to cry, she frowned lightly. "Alice... she doesn't hate you. She's just... going through a rebellious stage, I guess. Now that she's more comfortable, found her voice..."
"I've already lost one sister in my life, Tooth." Alice said. "I'm afraid I'm losing another."
"You won't lose her. We're all here to support both of you." Tooth said, placing a hand on Alice's shoulder. "When we have a chance, we'll start helping you make Wonderland a reality so you can take her to live with you. And Jack, I'm sure."
Alice smiled lightly at that. "Yes... there is a special place I have in mind for him... a little place called Tundraful. Cold enough for him to call home and make what he wishes of it." She sighed then. "I suppose I can try to see if she'll be civil... at the sake of my overly sensitive feelings lately. I fear she's making me quite soft."
Tooth giggled a bit. "It's something children have done to all of us. It takes a lot of love to care for a child, and we take care of all the world's children."
Alice nodded, looking towards the guest room where Eliza was. "Thank you, Tooth." She said, saying a brief goodnight before heading down the corridor.
Jack sat inside his and Alice's guest room, Elsa's words from earlier playing back in his mind. He pursed his lip in thought, wondering if what she said was true. He couldn't figure out why Elsa would lie to him at this point; unless of course, Pitch had in turn lied to her. Even so, he couldn't make sense of that scenario, either. He took some time to reflect as he waited for her to return.
Meanwhile, Elsa was settling in herself, still a bit worn down from the tail end of her cold. She had politely excused herself from everyone, Anna more than happy to take her place as host. As she did, she glanced over quickly when she noticed Pitch suddenly appear, drawing the bed curtains around them to settle in himself.
"Did I surprise you?" He asked lowly.
Elsa cleared her throat lightly. "You're a bit too quiet sometimes..." She said.
Pitch draped an arm around her shoulders, gently drawing her close. "It's in my nature." He smiled lightly. "How are you faring?"
"I'm feeling alright... just a bit tired." She said, resting her head against his shoulder as his fingers gently played with her braid.
"So... I was curious to know something." Pitch said after a few moments of content silence. "What exactly were you discussing with Jack Frost, earlier?" He asked, glancing down at her as he raised a brow.
Elsa glanced up at him, blinking as she scrambled for an answer. "W- Well... I wanted his opinion... o- on something..." Elsa stuttered.
"Opinion on what?" Pitch asked, taking one of her hands in his, kissing it lightly.
Elsa gulped a bit, his actions not helping her nerves any. "It was... I was wondering if... if he knew something..."
"And what might that something be...?" Pitch asked, placing kisses on her wrist as he traveled along her arm.
"S- Something..." Elsa bit her lip as Pitch's lips now grazed along her shoulder. "Something to... make you happy." She squeaked out.
Pitch gently rested his head against the side of hers, Elsa crossing her eyes to glance over at him. "I have all the happiness I need right here... so questioning him on that subject is unnecessary." He stated. "Besides... Jack Frost is my former adversary... curious as to why you would ask him of all people such a question." He tsk'd her, waving his finger at her lightly. "Someone is behaving suspiciously."
Elsa sighed lightly. "Pitch... you know I would never do anything malicious behind your back."
"Oh, I know that, darling... but you did do something behind my back." His expression became serious then. "I'd like to know what it is. I wouldn't mind so much if it didn't involve Jack Frost. We may be civil now, but I still harbor a certain degree of bitterness for him."
Elsa furrowed her brows, rubbing her arms a bit. "I was trying to... to keep this a surprise, at least for a little while... but I should know by now I can't keep anything from you." She glanced up at him as he raised a brow at her. "I asked Jack if he knows anything about... about your daughter."
Pitch was honestly shocked by this, straightening up a bit and furrowing a brow. "My daughter?" He questioned after a few moments. "You would ask Jack Frost, of all those you could ask, about MY daughter?" He asked a bit louder, getting a bit on edge.
Elsa nodded nervously. "I- I didn't feel comfortable asking any of the other guardians, I just wanted to know if they-"
"If there is anything you need to know of her, you will ask ME. You shall not seek them out concerning her, do you understand?" He said threateningly. When he sensed a spike of fear in Elsa, he instantly calmed, actually feeling a bit badly as he sighed. "I apologize. I didn't mean to alarm you. She... she is still very precious to me. She may not believe that, even now... but her hatred towards me... it has caused me to retain much pain in my heart."
When she relaxed a bit, she resumed resting her head against his shoulder. "I'm sorry... it's just... what you did for my family... I want to try to help bring you together with yours."
Pitch certainly regretted his prior outburst against Elsa now, exhaling slowly as he drew her into a gentle hug. "I should have known you had good intentions. I suppose I'm the one who has making up to do now." He said as he lightly pet her hair once more.
"You say that like it's a bad thing." Elsa glanced up, smirking lightly and earning one in return.
It took barely a moment for the remaining space to close between them, any tension dissipating between them as they shared a passionate kiss.
After Alice had returned from Eliza's room, appearing quite relieved and content, Jack waited for her to go to sleep, smiling lightly as he leaned down to sneak a kiss on her forehead before silently sneaking out of the bedroom. He quietly closed the door behind him, tip toeing down the corridor.
Bunny was fast asleep, his ear twitching a bit and he kicked his foot lightly under the covers. "Ohh yeah... scratch in the back left side right below the rib..." He muttered in his sleep, not aware of someone entering the room until Jack poked him lightly with his staff.
"Bunny. Psst, Bunny...!" Jack whispered, groaning lightly when he didn't wake. He then smirked mischievously, carefully reaching over to tickle some of Bunny's hair on the bridge of his nose. The sensation caused Bunny's hand to fly to his face, Jack yanking his own hand back just in time. He snickered when Bunny woke himself, wiggling his nose and hissing lightly.
"The bloody- Jack, you buzzard! You know what time it is you bloke?" Bunny shouted, Jack shushing him.
"Be quiet, you idiot!" Jack hissed in a whisper. "Look, I'm sorry, I need to ask you something."
"No, you don't look bloody fat in the formal attire, princess, now buzz off and let me get some sleep!" Bunny exclaimed a bit quieter.
"Will you stop playing around for one second and listen to me?" Jack said with a sigh. "Besides, I don't need YOU to tell ME that I look good, thanks very much."
"Whatever, just say what you need to and get on with it." Bunny said in annoyance.
"Okay. I need to just clarify something..." He shifted his weight a bit. "... does Pitch have a daughter?"
At Jack's posed question, Bunny's eyes popped open as he flew up into an upright position. Jack was a bit startled by this, stumbling back a bit. "How-... where in the hell did you get that information, mate?"
"Not from you! So it IS true!" Jack exclaimed.
Bunny waved his hands in a panic. "Okay, mate, you're the one who needs to pipe down. You are going to tell me where you got this from, right now-"
"What does it matter who I got it from? Look, as heartless as Pitch has been in the past, the guy at least deserves to be with his family, everyone does!" Jack hissed in a whisper.
"Look... there is a LOT you don't know about their situation, which is why none of us told you. It's too complicated, Jack. Too... volatile." Bunny said as he shook his head.
"Can you at least tell me about her? The daughter?" Jack asked.
"Jack, I'm telling you, this is not something you want to get involved with, whatever this is." Bunny said.
"So you're telling me that you know something about where she is and you're keeping them separated on purpose?" Jack frowned.
"It's not like that... Jack, it's too late to get into this now-"
"I'm not leaving, until you tell me about her." Jack said with a serious expression.
Bunny let his head fall forward, groaning lightly with frustration. "Will you get off my back if I do?"
"Yes, then you can catch up on your beauty sleep... you kinda need it." Jack smirked.
"You are so lucky I'm tired mate, or I'd sock you one." Bunny grumbled. "Alright... where to start...? Her name is Emily... Emily Jane. She's almost as ancient as Pitch is... she's his only kid. Real tragic what happened to them, but the damage can't be undone."
"What do you mean? She's still alive, isn't she?" Jack asked.
"Yeah, she is... it was his wife who bit the dust. Their palace was raided, there was no way she could hold her own. It all really changed Pitch... until the whole prison incident... that really sent him over the edge, made him the cold hearted bloke he is now." Bunny said.
"... Prison incident?" Jack raised a brow.
Bunny scratched behind his ear a bit. "See, ten years after she was separated from Pitch... she was trapped inside of a star. That's when she met Sandy. At one point, she-"
"Wait, Sandy? Our Sandy?" Jack asked.
"There's only one Sandy, you bloody moron, of course our Sandy! And by the way, he will skin me if he knows I'm telling you all this..." Bunny sighed.
"I won't tell anyone what I know. Just tell me more about Emily." Jack said.
"Well, after she made a wish to see Pitch again while in the star, Dream Pirates caught wind and devised a nasty trick. They evoked his greatest fear... and when he opened the door of the prison, they overwhelmed his form with darkness. He was never the same... and Emily... there really is no word to describe her." Bunny said.
Jack stared at Bunny in silence for a few moments. "So... you're telling me... that Pitch was... Bunny, him being the way he is was never his fault... all this time we've been fighting him when we- he needs help!"
"Jack-!" Bunny grabbed his shoulders, getting his full attention. "We are NOT doing anything. Just leave Pitch the way he is, he's with Elsa, he's out of our hair, Emily is where she's been for centuries, SHE is out of our hair."
Jack blinked in shock, shaking his head. "I don't believe you, Bunny... no one deserves to lose their family like that... especially if Pitch was once... he was good once... haven't you ever thought that maybe if he had Emily in his life he could be good again?"
"I know where your heart is, mate... I wish we could do something for them too... but sometimes, we just can't be with the ones we love. Bringing them together... it would do more harm than help. You don't know anything about Emily Jane. She's not one you want to tamper with. Besides, she doesn't want to have anything to do with us. Only one she even tolerates is Sandy." He sighed. "Now will you just go to bed, please?"
Jack sighed also, nodding in response. He would back off for now, but he wasn't going to give this up, not by a long shot. He muttered a good night, shuffling back to his and Alice's guestroom as he flopped on his back. He felt Alice shift a bit towards him, her long fingers hugging him close.
"Alright, what's happened?" She whispered. Jack glanced over, explaining everything to her. She blinked a bit, shocked herself that Pitch once had a family. "Curious... I wonder what the reason they're reluctant to have them meet is... even now that Pitch has changed his affiliation... to a degree."
"I don't know, and I don't care what Bunny says... I won't rat him out, but I'm going to ask Sandy tomorrow." He glanced over at Alice. "Everything went okay with Eliza?"
Alice nodded, smiling contently. "Yes, thankfully... my heart doesn't feel so heavy now."
"I told you she would come around... I'm sure she'll forget all the anger by morning." Jack reassured.
The two of them soon fell asleep, the whole palace finally silent and tranquil as the moon shone through the tall glass windows lined neatly across every corridor. Little did anyone know that this silence would soon be broken when Eliza's door opened slowly, the young girl breathing heavily as she walked out of the room stiffly. Trapped in a surrealistic nightmare, she quietly traveled the halls through the night, none aware of this as she returned to her bedroom before morning.
The next morning, only a few were awake, most choosing to sleep a bit later. Elsa was certainly a morning riser, feeling much better and wanting to occupy herself with something after being cooped up for a few days. She went and did her morning rounds, checking up on everything in the palace to make sure things were running smoothly, and to alert the kitchen staff to start preparing food for when everyone else woke up. On her way back, she slowed to a stop as she approached her mother and father's covered portrait. She stood tall before it for a moment, looking at their faces behind the translucent black curtain. She closed her eyes for a moment, exhaling slowly.
"I hope that someday you can look upon me with pride... with happiness." She started. "I'm doing what I can to make amends for my past mistakes. Anna is safe here, and happy... I know you will bless her with it in abundance... I can only hope and ask humbly that you can do so for my life. I can never make up all those years of happiness I took from yours. I hope... that I can finally live up to your standards."
Elsa glanced behind her when she felt a hand lightly squeeze her shoulder, Pitch staring ahead at the portrait. "You deserve all the happiness in the world, my dear." She smiled lightly at his statement. "And I believe they would agree. The presence of loved ones is always a blessing; their absence, a curse... I can say you've been a blessing in my life... and I'm grateful that I am in yours."
Elsa turned, her arms lightly hugging around Pitch's waist as he returned the embrace. Their peaceful moment was broken when they heard a shriek from somewhere in the castle, making them both snap into alertness. Pitch focused in concentration for a moment, taking Elsa's hand.
"Do you know who that was?" Elsa asked as he led her up the winding stairs to the corridor where all the guest rooms were.
"I do... as to why, I'm not sure as of yet." He replied, stopping at a door and opening it. Elsa hurried inside, approaching a very distraught Eliza as she sobbed.
"M- Miss Elsa..." Eliza cried as she sat up in bed. Elsa crouched down by her, placing a gentle hand on her arm and trying to get her to calmly explain what was wrong. Pitch observed quietly, narrowing his eyes a bit as he sensed something was amiss. Before he could focus further, Alice and Jack appearing in the doorway distracted him, Alice making no hesitation to go on the other side of the bed to crouch down by Eliza. The young girl had finished whispering something to Elsa, the queen clearing her throat as she looked towards Pitch and Jack.
"Alice and I will handle this... if you please, we'd like the room to ourselves." Elsa said.
"But- Eliza, is she okay-?" Jack started, but Pitch turned to look at him, shaking his head.
"She'll be alright. Might I have a word with you, Jack?" Pitch asked as he ushered the ice guardian away from the door, shutting it lightly.
Once in the drawing room, Jack paced around a bit as Pitch sat down calmly. "Pitch, what's going on with my sister?" He asked.
"I believe her current source of distress would be better explained to you by Alice... you'll understand why later." He said. "But there is however, another matter regarding your sister... and Alice as well, that causes some concern. I'd rather this remain between us."
Jack stopped, surprised by Pitch's words. Former enemies, speaking as acquaintances would. Deep down, he was truly impressed by Pitch's progress over the last few months, supposing that this was thanks to Elsa's presence in his life. He slowly sat down, resting his hands on his knees. "What is it? Is something wrong?"
"There may indeed be... you see, while you were speaking to Elsa yesterday..." He noticed the change in Jack's expression, raising a brow. "... what? You think I don't know all that addresses her?"
"N- No, I mean... I hope you're not, you know... angry or anything." Jack said.
"Jack, I believe you know me well enough now to know when I'm cross." Pitch said. "Anyhow... yesterday, Alice sought out my council on a matter which has been causing her worry. Certain... nightmares... not my doing of course, but she asked me to look into it. In both a literal and figurative sense."
"Wait..." Jack widened his eyes a bit. "... she... told you about her nightmares? She hasn't even told..." His voice faded, shaking his head.
"Yes. I witnessed a number of disturbing things. A series of conflicts... all of which should be internal... but I don't believe it is, or will be." Pitch answered.
"What kind of conflicts?" Jack asked. "Is it from all that fighting from a while back?" He asked.
"Not quite." Pitch replied. "You do remember the origin of Alice's greatest nemesis, don't you?"
"Who? Bumby?" Jack asked suspiciously.
"No... even greater than that, even." Pitch said.
"... the Queen? Her nightmares involve the Queen? But they're both dead." Jack said.
"I have a feeling you may only be half right about that, Jack." Pitch said. "Her origin was from Alice's mind herself. She knew all there was to know because her connection with Alice, even after becoming part of the tangible world, was very strong. Like two opposing forces, one thing always connected them until that balance was broken. Alice proved victor over her, and the Queen was left in shambles."
"What was that thing you say always connected them?" Jack asked.
"The presence of a sisterly figure. You see... Elizabeth was what Alice drew her strength, happiness and creativity from; and most importantly, love. When that was taken from her, it left her with guilt, resentment, sorrow. The Queen grew in power. She did not want Alice to overcome all of that, but she did with the help of her closest allies. Alice's companions... those that have translated into the tangible world." Pitch said.
"So... what do the nightmares mean, Pitch?" Jack asked.
"It means... that the Queen is in fact, still alive. Alice's connection with her is still stronger than even she realizes... and the Queen will rise up again and attempt to shift the balance of power back into her favor." Pitch answered.
Jack nearly flew out of his chair in a panic. "Then we have to stop her!" He exclaimed.
"Will you calm down?" Pitch asked. "When the time comes... we can properly monitor her and get an exact report of her condition and what sort of threat she poses. As of right now, she is her only ally. She cannot fight us all alone. She certainly could not overwhelm you even with my help, so even if her intentions are to mean us harm, it is unlikely she shall succeed in doing so."
"Pitch... when you've fallen to the bottom of the bottom, the only other way to go is up." Jack said. "Even if what you say is true... should we really take a risk?"
"Panicking and making a big fuss over this will do no one any good. Besides, I told you this remains between you and I." Pitch made clear.
Jack grunted in frustration, letting his head fall back. He stopped for a few moments before turning around to face him. "Pitch... I have to ask you something. Back when I was ousted for Easter being ruined... and I confronted you in the tundra... you said that you finally someone who understood your... longing for a family." Jack started. "For a long time I thought it was just some cover. But... I think I believe you now... that what you said was true. So... is there any way that I can help Elsa to-"
"No." Pitch cut him off. "Neither you nor Elsa understand the full capacity of our history... or that of my daughter herself." He looked up at him. "Though your intentions are admirable, Jack Frost... it would be a wasted effort."
"S- So you never want to see her again? Emily is alive out there somewhere and-"
"Jack..." Pitch cut him off again. "I implied earlier I had no anger towards you. However, if you say my daughter's name again, that will change."
Jack got the point, sighing in defeat and nodding. "Okay, I... I'm sorry."
"Her affairs are not your business to involve yourself with." He said, leaning back in his seat. "Now... as for your sister, I sense something is off with her as well. Her nightmares are not as easily distinguishable, more abstract and erratic. But I sense it is being afflicted from a source beyond herself."
"Wait... SHE'S having nightmares? The Queen's not affecting her too, is she?" Jack panicked once more.
"I don't know enough to determine if there is a correlation between Alice's and Eliza's nightmares... I am making you aware simply to have to pay careful attention to both." Pitch said.
"You didn't tell Alice about the Queen when you saw her nightmares?" Jack asked.
"No… I do not want Alice to know of this yet; she has the tendency, like yourself, to make rash decisions." He rose from his seat. "I think our conversation has passed enough time... your sister is probably in decent condition by now." He was about to walk out of the room, when Jack stopped him.
"Look, Pitch... I... I am sorry for misjudging you in the past. If I had known about..." He sighed. "I just wish that you had been as lucky as I was when I found Eliza. And... I owe you thanks for looking out for them. Maybe I wouldn't have hated you so much."
Pitch gave him a light smile, nodding. "Your heart is in the right place Jack, there's no denying that. You were smarter than I was in that regard. There are those who would say you deserve your happiness, just as there are those who would say I don't." He said before continuing along his way.