Admissions and Regrets
She needed to find him, needed to tell him all that had been discussed at dinner. Things had changed, were changing because she had finally decided to trust her brother. She wondered faintly when, exactly, she had ever stopped. Azim had proven his love for her and their sisters throughout his young life. How stupid she had been to push him away this time, especially when it involved his kingdom, his children...his wife.
She had to admit that she, too, was smitten by the young queen. The woman had won her over with her kindness, her selfless nature and a dry wit that you wouldn’t expect from one so young. But Elsa’s experiences had tempered her, matured her far beyond her years and made her the perfect mate for Azim, the perfect complement to a rugged warrior with the heart of a poet. Perhaps she, too, could find that measure of love.
If only she could find the man, dammit!
Amina wove her way through the halls of the castle, growing more frustrated with each empty room, until she found herself in the training yard. There, basked in oranges and reds from the sunset, muscles straining from exertion, was her beloved. He hadn’t noticed her, too intent on punishing the training dummy with brutal blows from his staff. His torso glistened with sweat and occasionally he would raise an arm to swipe angrily at his brow. When there was a lull in activity, she spoke up.
“Erik?” His back stiffened as he recognized her voice.
No one called him by his first name these days; it was always “Captain” or “Skogerson”. His first name had been reserved for family and close friends though he was unsure that the woman speaking fell into either category. He had schooled his features into calm disinterest by the time he faced her.
“Milady.” He addressed her formally, eyes cold. “What can I do for you?”
“I wanted to talk...if you don’t mind...” She fidgeted under his cold gaze, knowing how angry he was with her and for good reason.
“Talk?” He scoffed, throwing his staff to the ground before stalking towards her. “What would a future QUEEN have to discuss with a lowly guard such as myself?”
"Erik...” She began again, even as his words elicited a growl. “It was never my intention to hurt you. You must know that I feel as strongly as you do!”
“And yet you’re marrying him!” They both knew of whom he spoke.
“No, I’m not.”
“I’m not marrying Greger. My brother would never use me for political alliances and I...I want to marry for love.”
Erik’s rigid posture began to slip as her words sank in. She wasn’t marrying Greger? She wanted to marry for love. Wait, did she...? As if noting the confusion on his face, Amina clarified.
“I love you, Erik. I have for quite some time but I was scared; I was terrified that love would change me.”
“And has it?” He spoke quietly, the moment painfully tense.
“Yes.” She answered after a long pause. “But I do not regret it. Lying to you, I regret. Keeping you and Azim in the dark, I regret. But falling in love with you...the idea of sharing myself so wholly with another? That is something I could never regret. I wish to be with you, until my days end... that is... If you’ll still have me?”
If you’ll still have me, she said. What a fool he had been. All along he’d known there was something more behind these sudden nuptials. And yet, he’d allowed his foolish male pride to push Amina away, cast her as the uncaring harlot who’d toyed with his emotions. But that wasn’t who she was. If she had been even a shadow of such a woman he would never have given her a second glance. In fact, Amina had allowed him to push her away. She was willing to let him go rather that tie him to her in some bizarre royal love triangle. She would give up her happiness...for him.
Erik found his feet had begun moving long before he realized and in a beat, he had Amina crushed against his chest. He knew he should have asked permission, knew his sweaty skin was staining the exquisite silk of her dress and yet he couldn’t have cared. The moment his lips touched hers, all other cares were soon forgotten. He lost himself in the warmth of her mouth, in the way her hair slipped through his fingers like silk, the velvet tone of her skin. His entire body was alight and judging from Amina’s hurried, almost desperate response, she felt the same. Erik knew that if they didn’t stop soon, he would need to take her, right there on the training field. The night sky lit up suddenly causing the lovers to finally separate.
Erik glanced around and gasped!The sky was now bathed in a breathtaking blue light, the shade distinct to only one person.
“Her Majesty...” he whispered before pulling his sword.
“Elsa?” Amina was still flustered from the kiss but her mind was clearing as Erik grabbed her hand and practically dragged her from the yard. He spun quickly and kissed her once more.
“We shall finish this later...” He whispered fiercely before hurrying them out the yard.
Another flash of light illuminated the sky and they knew. The queen’s control was too great for accidental releases. These were distress flares. The royal couple was in trouble.
“Wait...” Amina ran back into the yard and retrieved his staff from the ground before returning to him. “If it’s a fight they want...”
Down on the beach, Greger was moving through another series of training exercises with his guards when he,too saw the display and hastened toward it, half a dozen guards in tow.
His thoughts filled with panic as he barreled down the beach, heedless of the danger!
I will not fail you again my friends!
Hours later Greger, Amina and Erik sat in his study with dour expressions. Despite their best efforts, they had indeed been too late.
Greger had only arrived in time to see a masked man pitch the queen’s limp form into the dark water! Fearing the worst, he immediately dove in after her, while his men forced the assailants to retreat. When he resurfaced, Elsa unresponsive in his arms, all he could do was watch as the men rowed into the night, Azim trapped between them in chains. The young king closed his eyes tightly, trying to banish the sounds of his friend screaming his wife’s name in agony.
While Greger paced the room like a caged animal, Erik did his best to comfort Amina. She sobbed into his shoulder, nearly inconsolable at the loss of her brother and the pain the attack had inflicted on the woman she had come to love so dearly. As she wailed, Erik rocked and consoled her, pushing aside his own feelings of guilt until he could properly berate himself in private. He had failed. Failed his queen, failed his best friend. He had to make this right, even if he had to sail to Egypt and bring Azim back on his own. A small knock on the door broke each person out of their tortured fog.
“Come.” Greger barked shortly. Katerine entered quickly, unperturbed by her grandson’s tone, knowing he was as worried as the rest of them. “How is she?”
“Not well...” Katerine shook her head slowly. “Seawater does terrible things to one’s lungs and she suffered a serious injury to her head. I fear she will not wake and I also fear what will happen if she does.”
“Dammit!” Greger slammed his fist against the wall, relishing in the pain that shot through his arm. After a few tense moments he turned back to Katerine, knuckles bloody. “Can she be moved?”
“I suppose... If we had to...”
“We must.” Greger stated before clarifying. “This attack happened on my shores, on my watch. She is NOT safe here; our protection is not enough. Keep me appraised of her condition, do your best to stabilize her. It will take me less than a day to ready a ship. I want you, Amina and Erik to accompany Elsa back to Arendelle. Once I can settle matters here, I will follow.”
“I’ll do what I can...” Katerine promised quietly. She cast a sad look at Amina. “Come, my dear. I could use your help in preparing the queen’s things.”
Amina nodded solemnly as she rose. She gave Erik’s hand a quick squeeze before following the old woman out. Once they were alone, Greger finally spoke again.
“Do not blame yourself.” He told Erik quietly, placing his un-bloodied hand upon the man’s shoulder. “It is my fault. I should have known they would get tired of waiting...”
Erik only nodded before rising. As he opened the door, he looked over his shoulder. “I believe there is more than enough blame to share, Majesty.”
Greger nodded sadly as the other man left. “So there is.”
Amina followed Katerine down the halls to the guest quarters, noting the legion of guards that were now posted at every turn. She wiped furiously at the tears that would not stop falling. The old woman in front of her remained stoic, the consummate medical professional. It was obvious that she was doing her utmost to keep her emotions in check. Amina knew she was just as worried as the rest of them. They paused as the guard outside Elsa’s room opened the door for them and followed Katerine inside.
“Elsa...” she whispered, unable to stop herself from hastening to the queen’s side.
She began to cry again when she took in her sister-in-law’s condition. The queen was covered up to her waist in a warm blanket, her torso covered in a soft sleep shirt, but her arms, neck and the right side of her face were littered with bruises. Her skin was a sickly pallor and her breathing came in strangled gasps. Katerine had propped the queen up to assist her breathing yet she still seemed to struggle. Amina placed a shaky hand against Elsa’s cheek before pulling back in shock.
“She’s burning up!”
“I know.” Katerine grunted in frustration as she approached the bed, cup in hand. She nudged Amina aside before lifting Elsa’s head and pouring the mixture into her mouth. The queen swallowed on instinct though she showed no signs of waking. “I need you to pack...their things.”
Amina nodded and began to empty the drawers into open trunks, eyes flitting towards the bed every so often. Katerine was now seated next to Elsa, gently wiping her brow with a cool, wet cloth. Occasionally she murmured to her and Amina knew she was urging the queen to wake up, to recover; for her family, for her children. Amina could only imagine the anguish her brother must be experiencing have been taken prisoner, unaware if his mate was alive or dead. A sob from the bed drew Amina’s attention and she found Katerine hunched over Elsa weeping! She rushed to the old woman’s side.
“I...I cannot lose another daughter!” She sobbed as Amina pulled her close.
“I know.” She whispered, holding the old woman tight. “Elsa is strong. She is probably the strongest person I have ever met. She will live, she will recover. And when she does... we will bring Egypt to it’s knees for this.”
Katerine nodded, finding solace in the other woman’s steely tone. She reached a wizened hand out and stroked Elsa’s warm face.
“Did you hear that?” She asked the unconscious woman quietly. “You need to wake up so that we can retrieve your husband. Your life does not end here. So fight, dammit!”
Elsa’s eyes seemed to flutter at the woman’s words and her breathing appeared to even out. The two women grinned at each other, encouraged that she seemed to be responding to Katerine’s treatments.
“That’s right, dear.” Katerine cooed. “You fight. You keep fighting...”