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The Redhead and the Pirate Queen

Chapter Text

"You're going to marry one of lord Macintosh's children, whether you want it or not!"

The words still echo in Merida's mind. She doesn't want to be married to someone she barely knows. Hell, she doesn't even want to get married. Relationship, okay, but marriage? Way too overrated, thank you very much.

It's what her mother wants though, and her mother, Elinor of the island Dunbroch, has it her way, always. If she tells you to marry a purple sea monster, then you marry a purple sea monster. It's always been like this and her mother certainly does not want to change that.

Her mother always telling her what to do makes her furious. 'Merida, you have to marry a Macintosh. Merida, ladies don't eat cake in such an uncivilized manner. Merida, you can't storm off now, they're trying to catch a pirate.'

A pirate? Pirates are everywhere, but Mother doesn't seem to realize it. Chances of being attacked by a pirate are always there. A treasure-obsessed lunatic running loose is the least of her problems right now.

She sits down at a crate, looking at all the busy people in the harbour. Some are preparing their ships, others are just coming off of them, ready to hit the bar and get drunk. However, there's not a pirate ship in sight.

Ha. Pirates. Heartless, brainless creatures, as Mother put it. If pirates are really brainless, she'll have no trouble dealing with one of them if she runs into him or her.

"Excuse me, but aren't you the daughter of Elinor, the ruler of Dunbroch?" She hears someone ask.

Merida resists the urge to sigh. Why do new people always ask her that? She looks at the person asking the question and is pleasantly surprised.

The woman, who is still giving her a questioning look, has hair almost as white as snow and blue eyes that remind her of ice. They pierce her soul, as if they're trying to freeze her. Merida almost shivers.

"Yes, I am. Merida Dunbroch." She shifts uncomfortably, trying to escape the woman's gaze. "And who are you?"

A grin appears on the woman's face. "Absolutely perfect!"

There's a dagger placed on Merida's throat before she has a chance to react.

"What the hell!?" She yells, panicking. This is bad, very bad.

"Nice to meet you, Merida Dunbroch. I'm the Snow Queen." The woman whispers in her ear.

The Snow Queen. The coldest pirate of this age. Relatively new to being a pirate, but incredibly dangerous nonetheless.

Today is not her lucky day.

"What do you want with me, you monster?" Merida asks calmly.

She feels a small stream of blood trickling down her throat. The dagger is sharp, it hurts her.

"First of all, while it's the truth, I don't want to be called a monster." Whereas her voice was rather kind before, it now sounds cruel and maybe a little hurt. "Second of all, you're alive now, but another noise and you'll be dead."

"Hey! You there!"

Merida never thought she'd be happy to hear Macintosh's voice, especially not today. He's here, he's got the royal guard, he can safe her. She wants to call for help, but the dagger still rests firmly on her throat.

"Let go of Ms. Dunbroch!" Macintosh yells at the Snow Queen, who pulls her closer upon hearing the words.

"Let me think about that… how about no?"

"Give up and come with us. You can't escape anymore."

"To the gallows? No way in hell. But if you let me go, I'll release this unfortunate redhead."

"Hey! That's offensive"

"Didn't I tell you not to speak?"

"...Deal. Let her go." Macintosh yells.

"I apologize for the inconvenience," the Snow Queen whispers, roughly pushing Merida away. The redheaded girl groans as she hits the ground.

"Get her!" Macintosh's men run off, going after the pirate. Macintosh himself stays behind, bending down to help Merida up.

"What just happened?" She asks, slightly confused.

Macintosh pulls her up, glaring off into the distance. "The Snow Queen happened. She arrived here today and tried to steal a ship."

Merida joins him in staring at the distance. "Why the hell doesn't she have a ship?"

Macintosh shrugs. "I have no idea. I only know that she's pretty and extremely deadly."

Merida finds herself agreeing with both of those things. The Snow Queen was prettier than she imagined a pirate to be like.

"Go home, Merida. We'll catch her and you won't have to worry about her anymore."

When she arrives home, she gets yelled at by her mother, who isn't at all amused by her story ("I told you to stay inside, but look what happened!"). Her father's response is milder. He just tells her that Macintosh managed to capture the Snow Queen and that she'll be dead tomorrow. "Try to forget it happened," he says to her, in an attempt to cheer her up, "That nasty cut won't leave scars."

It doesn't help. Merida does not forget. The Snow Queen's face is still haunting her. Scratch pretty, she was beautiful… for a pirate. She finds herself thinking that the Snow Queen shouldn't die, even though she would definitely have killed her if it had been necessary.

Maybe she's going crazy. The Snow Queen is a pirate, a dangerous one even. Her death is a good thing.

Before falling asleep, Merida makes herself a promise: she'll talk to the imprisoned pirate and get her name.

Chapter Text

Elsa Arens, the Snow Queen, is not much of a talker. When the bunch of male pirates try to strike up a conversation with her, she ignores them, only replying when it's absolutely necessary.

Today did not go as planned. She came here for a ship, not for prison and a one-way ticket to the gallows. The gallows are the next stop and there's no way out of here. Everything she went through, everything leading up to this moment… it was all for nothing, apparently.

If only the guards had kept their promise… she gave them their hot girl back, they gave her freedom. They had agreed to it, but did not grant her that freedom they promised. And then they say pirates are cheats.

She tries to sleep, but it doesn't work. The jail floor is hard, definitely not suitable to be a bed. Not that she'd sleep well on a bed; Elsa is sure she hasn't slept well in years. Goddamn nightmares all the time.

She's almost drifted off into sleep, when she hears a cannon shot. Not just a shot from any cannon. She recognizes this. This ship used to be hers. If only that jerk Hans hadn't taken it and left her to die on an island, she wouldn't be in here.

Now, hearing Hans raiding the island, it just makes her roll her eyes and sigh. She wants to get out of here and personally rip his vocal chords out (after he tells her exactly what happened to Anna and Kristoff, of course, she's not stupid). Sadly, she's still stuck, unable to escape this prison and death.

She's really lost the game of life now.

She closes her eyes, trying to fall asleep once again.

---------

"Hey, Snow Queen. Wake up."

Elsa opens her eyes and is immediately blinded by the sunlight. She hasn't slept well, as expected. Her mind is still being plagued by horrifying nightmares.

She sits up, looking right at a girl with a messy mop of red hair. A smirk begins to appear on her face.

"You again, Ms. Dunbroch? Why are you here?" She asks. Merida seems to be weary around her, and it amuses her.

" I'd like to know your name," Merida states, trying to keep a straight face.

Elsa gives this a quick thought. Revealing her name might be dangerous, but on the other hand… she's going to be dead in a few hours. This girl knowing who she is will not be the end of the world.

"Elsa Arens," she says, holding out her hand. Merida does not accept it, probably thinking that pirates do not understand the concept of 'personal hygiene'. In fact, judging from the smell coming from the bunch of fools in the cell next to her, that might be the truth. She withdraws her hand.

"Elsa. That's a nice name. I suppose you remembered mine?"

Elsa nods. "I do, Merida, but I don't believe you're only here to ask me about my name."

"Why do you need a ship?"

Elsa looks the redhead dead in the eye. "You're… asking a pirate why she needs a ship?"

Merida starts laughing. Elsa involuntarily finds herself thinking the laugh is adorable, but decides not to mention it.

"Let me rephrase myself… What happened to your ship?"

"It got taken by Hans, the guy who raided your island in the night," Elsa explains, "I need a new ship to find my sister."

Merida stays silent, leaving Elsa wondering if she said something wrong. Why is she giving all the personal information away so easily anyway? She never liked talking, but this conversation has a nice flow to it.

"You know that guy from last night? Are you friends with him?"

"'Mortal enemies' is a better way to describe our relationship."

Merida's eyes light up. "I want to propose a deal with you, Elsa" Merida begins, "A deal that might just be a bit crazy."

"Whatever it is, it can't be worse than the gallows. Tell me all about it, I can handle crazy."

"My mother got taken by this guy you call Hans. I want to save her."

Now it's Elsa's turn to laugh. She lies down on the hard floor again, crossing her arms.

"Are you kidding me? That's too much crazy. In fact, It's downright ridiculous."

"… It's not that crazy."

"Yes, it is. You don't like your mother. I don't like your mother. Why should we save her?"

The redheaded girl gives her a glare. "She's still my mother, and my father and his buddies won't get the job done fast enough. I can't just do nothing"

Elsa isn't convinced. "Why don't you just say you desperately want to get off this island and go adventuring?"

Another glare. "The adventure is a fun bonus. My main motivation is saving my mother."

Yeah, totally.

"Just hear me out," Merida tries again, "If I give you your freedom back, will you help me save my mother?"

Elsa's expression hardens. "Here's the thing, Dunbroch: I've still got a little dignity left. I'm not gonna lose all of it at once by trying to help someone who will have me murdered as soon as she's back on this godforsaken island."

Merida shrugs. "If that's what you want… Tell the executioner I said hi, will you?" She turns around, waving at Elsa and walking away.

Saving Elinor Dunbroch? Who does this Merida think she is? Being pretty does not give a person the right to manipulate others.

It does offer a chance to escape the gallows.

"Dunbroch. Wait." Elsa groans. "I changed my mind. I accept your offer."

Merida turns around, a bright smile on her face. "That's what I wanted to hear!"

She walks over to the desk in the room, searching for the keys to open the door, Elsa watching her every move.

"Quick question: why me? I almost killed you yesterday," Elsa mentions, glancing at the wound on Merida's throat, "I don't see how you can trust me."

Merida holds the keys up. "Have you looked at the other pirates here? They're even worse than you."

"I beg to differ."

"Do you want out or not?"

"Aye."

Merida is about to open the door, but stops. "Hold up. Who says you won't break the deal when I let you out? You're still a pirate. You could try to kill me again."

Elsa mentally screams. What's up with stereotypes these days? It's 1715, people, why can't you all calm down?

Or maybe it isn't 1715. Elsa hasn't checked the date in a long time. It could be 1718 already and she wouldn't have the slightest clue.

Anyway.

"I'm afraid you'll have to trust me on this one, Dunbroch, but if it helps, I promise I won't break the deal. I never break a promise."

Merida hesitates for a second, but eventually opens the door. Elsa steps out of the cell, looking around. The pirates in the other cell are yelling at them, begging to be released. Pathetic.

"Thanks. Being locked up isn't a fun experience."

"If you don't want to be locked up, you shouldn't be a pirate," she hears Merida mutter. She pretends she didn't hear to those words.

"Tell me, Merida, which ship is the best ship in Dunbroch?"

"That would be the Black Bear. But why take the best ship? That one must be the hardest to steal."

Elsa clicks her tongue. "I'm not sure if you understand, but if I'm going to be the captain of a new ship, the ship better be good."

"But how do you want to steal it?"

"That's easy enough."

"Right. Not like you got caught last time you tried."

The sound of a something hitting the desk in the room is heard and Merida quickly turns around, frantically searching the room for someone who could've been spying on them. It's better if nobody catches her talking to a pirate. There is no one besides them and the imprisoned pirates.

When she turns back, Elsa is nowhere to be seen either.

"Hey! Snow Queen! You said you'd help me!"

Apparently, Merida has let herself be fooled. Elsa has escaped. Or not?

Someone taps on her shoulder, startling her. It's Elsa. Merida doesn't know if she should be happy about that.

"You didn't see me, huh?"

"Christ, why did you do that!?" Merida does her best not to shout.

"To demonstrate how easy it is to distract people. If I can go unnoticed in a tiny room like this one, I sure as hell can steal a ship."

Elsa has a point, and Merida can see she's proud of that. The annoying grin still hasn't left her face.

"Let's… let's just go and get out of here." Merida opts.

"Lead the way, Dunbroch, I'll follow."

Elsa doesn't trust Merida… yet. It might all be a trap. She follows her, careful to walk behind her the whole time. You can't be stabbed in the back when you're the one walking behind.

Fortunately, people pay little attention to them and she is not recognized. Elsa figures the people see her as a new friend of Merida's, as someone who's been living on this island her whole life and was never important enough to remember.

They reach the harbour, further disappearing in the crowd. Elsa can easily spot the ship Merida was talking about; it is, by far, the fanciest ship here. Maybe it will be tough to steal after all…

"There's your future ship, Ms. Genius. Now where's your plan?"

Elsa holds her hand up. "Cut it on the attitude and talk to the hand. I'm trying to think."

Elsa is intelligent, even if not everyone believes that. It's never taken her long to come up with complicated plans, and today is no exception.

The ship itself is empty, its owners being out to drink. A few members of the royal guard are standing in front of it, guarding it from people like her. If she can get the guards to leave, she can take the ship. This is where Merida comes in.

"Listen carefully. I'll stay here, while you go to those guards. You tell them I escaped and tried to kill you, then you point at me."

"…Do you want to go back to prison?"

"No, but it's a risk I'll take. You get the ship ready to leave, and I'll get rid of those idiots when they start chasing me. Clear?"

"Crystal. But I don't know how to get the ship ready."

Elsa looks at her in utter disbelief. "You. Do not know. How a ship works."

"If I knew, I wouldn't even need your help. I thought that was obvious?"

Elsa facepalms. What follows is a rapid, complex explanation. Merida tries to understand all the pirate jargon, but completely fails to do so.

"I think I'll manage," Merida interrupts the story. She doesn't understand a thing yet, but if the sailors come back, they won't have a ship.

"Alright then. Go for it."

Merida approaches the guards nervously, hoping she'll sound convincing. She'd lied to people before, of course, but she never truly mastered the skill.

"Guard! Guard!" She attempts to sound panicked.

The tall guard looks down on her, a stoic expression on his face. "Ms. Dunbroch. What is it you need?"

"Pirate," she pants, "Snow Queen. Escaped. Attempted to kill me."

She points at Elsa, who's standing in the crowd, glaring deviously at the guards.

"How…?" The guard begins, motioning for his men to follow him. Merida enters the ship, hiding, watching Elsa run off with the guards chasing. It's an enjoyable sight.

Elsa finds the experience to be less enjoyable. She's fast, she can outrun these guards, but it's tiring and unpleasant. She sees Merida watching, not doing anything.

"Goddamn it, weren't you listening to me?" She growls, turning around. She runs straight towards the surprised guards, who did not expect their target to suddenly come running at them. Elsa takes advantage of this surprise effect by avoiding them and sprinting to the ship. When she enters it, she starts doing what the redhead was supposed to do.

"Your help is appreciated a lot, Merida, thanks."

Merida simply shrugs. "Hurry up. The guards are comng back.

They sail away before the guards reach them, leaving the island behind. Merida wasn't joking when she said the ship was fast.

"Well, I'm sorry I'm not a pirate."

At least she has a ship. Now she only needs a competent crew. Also…

"Dunbroch? I have a serious question."

"Hm?

"…What year is it?"

Chapter Text

Merida just cannot figure out what Elsa thinks of her. It's like the girl has no idea what to do with her.

"I'm the captain of this ship," Elsa had stated, like that wasn't obvious. "You know what that means?"

"It means you're allowed to throw to the sharks whenever you feel the urge to do so?"

Elsa blinked a few times at that. "Now that you mention it... yeah, that too. But I was only going to say you should follow my orders."

"Oh. I shouldn't have given you that idea."

"Whatever. Just... go and explore the ship or something. Maybe there's something useful here."

Merida hesitated for a second, but quickly decided she did indeed want to see whatever this ship had to offer.

"I have one final question. What if the guards from earlier today hadn't all left? What if one had stayed behind?" She had asked before leaving.

Elsa grinned at that. "I know that kind of people. They're never the sharpest tools on the shed. They see pirates, they just run off to catch them, probably hoping they get promoted."

That was 30 minutes ago, and the answer still doesn't make much sense to her. Elsa still doesn't make sense to her. First she's kind of scary, then she changes to friendly and awkward, just to turn and suddenly become all smirky and smug. All in under three minutes. How does a person even handle that much emotion?

She leaves the enigma that is Elsa Arens alone to admire the ship, noticing how well crafted it is. Her father had been serious when he told her it was one of Dunbroch's finest pieces of work.

Speaking of her father, his strange behaviour of earlier today is still bothering her. When she told him they had to do something and go find her, he just looked at her with a dumbfounded expression, like he didn't even know who he she was talking about. So did her brothers, and even the servants seemed to have forgotten, like her mother had never even existed. She wonders what Hans did to them. When Elsa hadn't flat out denied her mother's existence, Merida had genuinely felt surprised.

She doesn't want to think about it anymore. She decides to go back to Elsa, seeing if she can now get something more out of the strange pirate.

--------------

Elsa has no idea what's happening to her. She almost stumbles backwards, slightly dizzy, but manages to stop herself from falling somehow. Her brain hurts and she feels a little nauseous. This can't be right.

She searches the pockets of her coat for the small book she hid, quickly turning to the page she needs while stopping the hastily scribbled notes from falling out. Fortunately for her, those idiots back ashore weren't smart enough to consider searching her for anything other than weapons.

She quickly reads through her half-finished translation of that particular page. She knows she should've waited until she had translated it all. She must've done it wrong, she has to get back to the translating as soon as possible. She has to help the Redhead find her horrible mother, and also get some advice on this matter from her friend.

In the meantime, she ignores the throbbing pain in her head and goes back to concentrating on navigating to their temporary destination safely. Whatever is going to happen, it can't be that bad, right?

"Hey, captain!'

Oh god, there Merida is again. Elsa quickly regains her natural composure, doing her best not to let her currently weak physical state show. The little book is shoved back into her pocket, hiding it from Merida's curious eyes. Maybe if she just doesn't do anything, she'll also steer clear of more awkward conversations. In fact, wouldn't it be a perfect idea to just jump off the ship right now and drown?

"Y-yes?" She ends up stuttering, not prepared for this conversation .

Merida gives her a weird look. "I'd really like to know where we're going."

Oh, that's a question she can answer.

"Corona. Have you heard of that?"

Merida nods. "I heard it's an island primarily inhabited by pirates. Like, some sort of secret base."

"Yes. We're going to see a friend of mine and get him to help us. He'll find us a crew."

Merida snorts. "You have friends?"

"Why does that surprise you do much?"

"How many friends?"

"Three."

"Including family members?"

Elsa grits her teeth. "Yeah."

"You mentioned you have a sister and you also said that she has a boyfriend, so that makes only one friend. Liar."

"I'm not a liar, I'm just being a little creative with the truth."

It's silent for a second, but then both girls burst out in laughter.

"I'll admit, that was a good comeback." Merida says, still laughing a little.

"Yeah. We've arrived at our destination, by the way." Elsa points at the island they're slowly approaching. "There's Corona."

Elsa watches as Merida stares at the island in awe. She can see why, the view is rather beautiful. Someone who's never seen it before will definitely think of all the lights in the night as enchanting.

Once on the island, everything is a little less beautiful. The streets of Dunbroch are definitely safer for a non-pirate than the streets of Corona. Pretty much everyone here is a pirate, with people like Merida, people who got here by chance, being the exception. Even for a pirate, this place isn't entirely safe. Not every pirate follows the rules, certainly not when drunk.

"I want you to listen carefully now, and I mean it this time. Please don't just ignore it like you did earlier, when I told you about the ship."

Merida opens her mouth to protest, but Elsa continues before she can say anything.

"If a shady person approaches you, don't hesitate to cuss them out or knock their teeth out. Also, make sure I can see you at all times, got it?"

Merida flashes her a mischievous grin. "You like looking at me?"

"I'm serious. It's dangerous here, especially if you're here for the first time, without weapons."

"Aw, you care!"

That's it. No one messes with Elsa Arens. Merida is not the only one who can play this game.

"Fine. Do as you please, but don't expect me to help you if you get yourself in trouble." She starts walking away at a quick pace, not looking at Merida once.

A few seconds later, Merida is walking next to her again. "Don't just abandon me like that!"

"Missing me already? That's fast."

"Shut up. I don't have a weapon and I don't want to die yet, that's all." Merida replies, slightly annoyed. She doesn't like being beaten in her own games.

They arrive at a bar not soon after. A worn-out board shows that it's called 'The ugly duckling'. Merida wonders if a pirate bar is any different from a normal one.

"For your information, this bar is not safe either." Elsa warns.

"I get it, I get it! I won't try anything funny, calm down."

As they enter, Merida sees that it's not very different from a bar in Dunbroch. People -primarily men- are drinking, laughing and fighting everywhere. The place reeks of alcohol, blood, and dirt. She's not sure if she likes this place, and decides that staying close to Elsa might not be a bad idea.

Elsa, however, does not seem to be phased by this place at all, probably used to being here. She walks towards the bar in a straight line, ignoring all the ruckus her, avoiding the bodies of passed out pirates.

The bartender is a girl with long, blonde hair, who appears to be happily talking to her customers, amused by their stories and weird, drunk behaviour. She's probably used to this too. Her face lights up when she sees Elsa, but her expression shows confusion too.

"Elsa! You're… not dead?"

"Why would I be dead, Rapunzel?"

'Rapunzel' awkwardly scratches the back of her neck. "We heard of what Hans did. People were starting to make bets on if you would be alive or not..."

"Then I suppose a lot of people will lose a lot of money." Elsa chuckles. "We're actually looking for Hiccup. Have you seen him?"

"We?" Rapunzel notices Merida only now, but gives her a nice smile nonetheless. "Oh, are you here with Elsa? Welcome!"

"Nice bar you got here," Merida tells her. Rapunzel's smile grows wider, and she starts asking Merida more questions, obviously interested in why she's here.

"Rapunzel. I need my question answered before christmas, okay?" Elsa interrupts, impatiently tapping her fingers on the bar.

"Right. Hiccup's over there, in the corner." Rapunzel replies, pointing at two guys.

"Thanks." Elsa grabs Merida's arm and drags her along, towards the guys.. "Hiccup!"

The guy with brown hair and a peg leg turns around as if he's seen a ghost. Upon spotting Elsa, his frightened look turns into a surprised one. "What the hell?"

Elsa halts, releasing Merida's arm. "wow, you're friendly today, Hiccup. Happy to see me?"

"Actually, I now know that I lost a bet."

Elsa sighs. "Good to know you have so much faith in me."

"Most people who are left to die on an island don't make it out alive, so I couldn't know. How'd you even get away from there? How'd you get here?"

"I'll tell you some other time. I actually want you to get me a crew."

Merida listens to the conversation, soaking up all the information. Elsa hadn't said a thing to her about being left alone on an island, she had only said Hans took her ship.

"Leave it all to me. I'll assemble the best crew I can find!" Hiccup says, raising his glass.

"Thanks a lot, Hiccup. Come to my ship in the morning with whoever you can find."

"Got it. I'll be there." He sets his glass down and leaves the bar, the guy he was talking to following him.

"We're leaving too," Elsa tells Merida, "I don't want to stick around here any longer."

Merida wants to stay, to talk to some of the interesting people. The people she's met so far have all been nice, so what's Elsa making a fuss about? Her previous doubts about the place are gone, it isn't that bad.

"Can't we stay? I want to talk to more people."

"Hell no. You think they're nice, but you really can't trust most of them."

"Hiccup and Rapunzel seemed nice."

"Just because some of them are nice doesn't mean they all are."

"Just because some of them are untrustworthy, it doesn't mean they all are."

Merida thinks she's got Elsa with that, but the latter is having none of it.

"This is not up for discussion. As captain, I'm responsible for your life. If something happens to you, it'll be my fault, and I don't want to deal with all that right now. We're getting out of here, right now!" Elsa raises her voice a bit, hoping it's enough to convince Merida.

Merida scowls, but gives in. She still needs Elsa's help, after all. "Have it your way."

They leave The Ugly Duckling, not saying another word to each other.

Chapter Text

As long as Merida is asleep and doesn't notice her absence, everything will be fine. Well... as fine as things can be right now. There are multiple big problems she still has to take care of.

Elsa walks through the dark streets, hoping she can find Hiccup again. She couldn't discuss this earlier with Merida being present too. She'd refer it if no one knew about this, but Hiccup might be the only person who can offer some help, or at least, advice.

"Hiccup!" She yells when she spots the peg-legged pirate. He had been talking to a dark-skinned woman, but tells her to wait for him and approaches Elsa.

"What is it with you interrupting my conversations all night? You're crew will be ready tomorrow, don't worry about it." He tells her, failing to hide the annoyed tone in his voice.

"Actually, it's about something else." She grabs his arm, pulling him along with her. "C'mon, this streets to busy for this."

"Hey, what-" Hiccup protests, struggling. Elsa fixes him with a cold glare, and he lets himself be dragged into a dark alley.

"Okay, so this totally isn't safe. You know anyone could jump us here?"

"I'll take that risk."

"What's up with this anyway?"

"Well… see, I might've messed up a little here and there..." Elsa admits. God, how can she say this carefully?

"I've seen you mess up approximately 1279 times. Did you think I'd be surprised?"

"Well, no. But this time, it's a little worse and more complicated then all those other times."

Hiccup now looks genuinely concerned. "Worse than that time you tried to sell your soul to a random guy in the street for just one piece of gold? 'Cause really, I didn't believe it could get worse than that."

"We don't speak of that incident. We also don't speak of the other 1278 incidents."

"Really? Remember when you-"

"Hic, do you want to hear about mistake 1280 or not?"

Hiccups expression turns serious again. "Of course. Hit me with it."

Elsa sighs. "Don't freak out."

"What makes you think I'll-" Hiccup begins, only for his jaw to drop when he sees ice forming on the wall Elsa is touching. A high pitched squeak escapes his throat, resulting in Elsa putting her hand over his mouth.

It feels too cold.

"I told you to not freak out, didn't I?" She removes her hand, allowing him to breathe again.

"Sorry… but… how?" Hiccup asks, and Elsa can't tell if he sounds scared or intrigued.

She pulls the tiny book out of her pocket again and hands it over to him. Hiccup opens the book, looking at the pages and the hastily scribbled notes inbetween them.

"Is this a book on magic?" He asks. "How'd you get your hands on this?"

"Does it really matter?" Elsa pulls a specific note out of the old book. "I'm translating it. Here are my notes on cryokinesis. Notice anything weird?"

Hiccup stares down at the note. "It's incomplete."

"Yes, exactly. Can you figure it out now?"

He nods. "I'm guessing you tried to get magic powers without fully understanding the consequences of it."

"Correct again. You're good at this, Hic."

"So? What do you think'll happen now?"

Elsa shrugs. "Not really, but I've been feeling downright miserable. It can't be right. I must've messed up something."

"Who says that's not what's supposed to happen? Besides, what can a little ice and snow do?"

"That's the thing." Elsa looks down at the ground. Hiccup follows her gaze and notices that the ground around them has frozen over. "It's still pretty weak now, but it'll get stronger. I can't control it."

"What's your plan now?"

"Don't know. I think I'll hide it as long as possible. But can you do something for me?"

Hiccup nods. "Yeah, of course."

"If this gets out of hand and I become dangerous, I need you to kill me. Promise me you do that."

Hiccup gulps. "Okay. I promise."

 


The next morning when Merida wakes up, she sees Elsa standing ashore in front of the ship talking to Hiccup. He's brought a bunch of people, and she guesses they will make up the new crew. She decides to go and see for herself.

"This is everyone I could find," Hiccup explains. He starts giving everyone a quick introduction, but Merida has to admit that she's not really paying attention.

 "I'm coming too, of course. And I'm guessing your  friend with all the red hair also joins us?"

"Hell yes, I'm joining."

Elsa nods, apparently not opposing to that. She can't do that anyway. They have a deal, and Elsa promised to stick with it.

"This should be fine. I'll take them." Elsa says, before walking back to the ship.

Merida does notice Elsa sending a suspicious glare to a tiny, sly looking man. If Elsa does not trust him, she should probably stay away from him. Who knows, maybe she'll freak out again when Merida tries to be a normal, social human being?

Speaking of last night's incident, Elsa still hasn't talked to her and does a good job at avoiding her. Even now, when adressing the whole crew, she stays away from Merida, never even looking at her.

Once they set sail, Merida thinks it's time to solve the problem. Elsa, who apparently made sure she didn't have to do a lot of work by herself, is about to disappear in the captains cabin, but Merida stops her.

"Are you just going to ignore me now?"

Elsa gives her a look that might be a weak attempt at a glare. "If you want an apology, you won't get one. You realize that, right?

Merida sees Elsa reaching for the door, but she's not going to let it happen, she's not going to let Elsa run away. She grabs the other girl's hand and feels Elsa flinch.

Woah, her hands are cold. 

"Let go." She sounds a little panicked, but Merida ignores it.

"No, I won't. Not until you stop ignoring me."

Elsa opens the door with her other hand. "Fine, I'll talk to you. About what?"

"Maybe tell me about what we're going to do now? How we're going to find this Hans?"

"Fair enough." Elsa pulls Merida inside and closes the door. She sits down at her desk, looking at Merida expectantly. Merida does not realize what she means at first, but then remembers that she should sit down.

"So, what do you think Hans wants with my mother?"

Elsa leans back in her chair, crossing her arms. "I only knew him for, hm, a week or two,  so I can't really predict his actions based on what I've seen. If I have to guess, I'd say he's keeping her as a back-up plan."

"Back-up plan?"

"Yes, precisely. Do I have to explain?"

"Please do so."

"When I was captain of the crew Hans was in, I told them about a treasure on an island. I'm guessing Hans plans on going there. However, the succes rates for that plan aren't high, so he kidnapped your mother in case it doesn't work. So he can get money in exchange and isn't left empty-handed."

Merida can see how that would work.

"How come my father and brothers didn't even remember my mother?"

Elsa eyes widen. "I'm sorry, I'm confused." 

"When I went to my father to tell him he had to send out a search party, he didn't even blink twice. He just sort of… waved it off. And then he basically denied the existence of my mother."

Elsa looks down at the desk, muttering incoherently.

"Can you say that to me, but louder and in English?" Merida tries.

Elsa looks up at her. "It has to be hypnosis. That's how makes everyone forget. That's how he set ny crew up against me. There is no other explanation."

Merida can't stop herself from laughing. "You believe in magic?" 

"What? Do you know what else it could be?

"That island you believe Hans is heading for, where do you think it is?" Merida asks, avoiding having to answer that.

Elsa glares at her, but there is no real malice in it.

"You're avoiding my question, but I'll let it slide. To answer yours, I don't know... its exact location is unknown."

"How can we go to an island without knowing its location?"

"One second." Elsa opens the desk drawer, pulls out a sea chart, and lays it open on the desk so Merida can see it too. "Look, this island over here is..."

She stops speaking. Squints. Opens her mouth, closes it. Squints again.

"If this is... Tor... tuga, yeah, Tortuga, and this is-"

"Can you read?"

"Of course I can read, I'm not stupid."

"Then why do you make reading look like it's the hardest thing in the world? It says Tortuga here very clearly."

"I was trying to avoid this," Elsa mutters, phishing a pair of reading glasses out of her pocket. "If you laugh at me, I swear to God..."

Merida does her best to surpress her laughter, she really does, but to no avail. She didn't expect a badass pirate to need reading glasses and it's just so damn funny, she can't conceal it.

"See? You're laughing. I look fucking horrible."

"No, no, not at all, it looks  kind of adorable." Merida blurts out, immediately regretting it. Elsa does look about 100% cuter with the glasses on, but she hadn't been intending to say that. Wait, when did she start thinking of Elsa as cute?

Elsa smiles at her. "Thanks. I'll try to believe you."

"You should."

Elsa nods, then points at the map with a crayon. "So if Tortuga's here, then this is Jamaica, and then the island is supposed to be somewhere inbetween. It's not on the map."

Merida mentally lets out a sigh of relief, glad that Elsa  hasn't said anything about her previous comment. It wasn't a very subtle thing to say…. At least they talk again.

 

Chapter Text

 

Nobody can say Elsa isn't observant. The young pirate notices a lot, taking in all the info, silently learning everything there is to know about her crew.

 

She knows Hiccup already, of course. He was in the same crew as Anna and her when they were completely new to this whole 'piracy' thing. He's a trusted friend, so she sees no need to be wary or suspicious of him.

 

The other crew members are a different story. 

 

The guy Hiccup was talking to is the first. He goes by the name 'Jack Frost' in an attempt to hide his real identity, but he really should do a better job at that. She found a letter from someone who must be his sister in his belongings, and it was adressed to a 'Jackson Overland'.

 

His tendency to use the nickname could make him suspicious, but his behaviour suggests otherwise. He's carefree, kind to pretty much everyone and loves having fun. Even though she wasn't too amused when he claimed she should 'loosen up a bit' and immediately challenged her to a race to the crow's nest, he isn't that annoying and he doesn't raise any alarmbells. As long as he does his job and stays the way he is now, she might even start to consider him a friend.

 

The second is Tadashi Hamada, the gunman. While he is in control of the weapons on the ship, he definitely strikes her as more of a pacifist type. Instead of being all weapon-crazy and talking about nothing but guns, like she's seen most other gunmen do, he just… well, he does his job, but it looks like he only likes the job because he likes how the weapons function and not because he wants to kill people.

 

He's also quite gifted when it comes to anything medical. The guy is a living first-aid kit. When Jack fell out of the crow's nest the other day and miraculously didn't die, Tadashi was the first to arrive and offer medical help. She wonders why he never considered a career as a doctor.

 

Tadashi has a little brother, Hiro, who is the swabbie. He doesn't like his job. In fact, Elsa thinks he despises it. He swabs the ship deck with a bored expression and looks enviously at his brother, whose job he might like a lot better.

 

He also doesn't seem to fond of her, as opposed to his brother. If it's that he doesn't like the way she runs things or if it's just weird puberty issues, Elsa doesn't know. The other day he was swabbing the deck so furiously he accidentally hit her in the face with his swab. He apologized, but the look in his eyes told her he didn't mean it. At all.

 

Whatever. The kid is fourteen and literally everyone on the ship can lift him up with only one hand and no difficulty. He can't be a threat, not even if he'd want to be.

 

Then there's the cook, whose name remains unknown to her. Not even Hiccup knows who she is, while he's the one that got the woman on the ship in the first place. At first glance, Cook is a  normal woman with dark skin and exceptional cooking skills, and Elsa thinks she's not much more than that, even when nobody knows who the woman is. So far, no one has died from poisoned food yet, and that makes Cook okay in her book.

 

That would be the most notable crew members, in Elsa's opinion.

 

The motives of the tiny man, who goes by 'Wiesel', are getting more clear to her too. He's German, a european like her, and wow, she's lucky she bothered to learn some german when she was younger. She hides that fact from him though, so he won't get suspicious of her when he's muttering to himself in his native language again. He frantically tries to get the rest of the crew to like him, but without a lot of success so far. Hiccup mostly ignores him, Jack almost tricked him into swimming with some sharks and Hiro whacked him in the head with his swab, which only strengthened the suspicions she had about the kid doing that to people he dislikes.

 

Elsa has seen this behaviour before. Hans acted the same, though he was more charming and actually able to turn her former crew against her. Wiesel wants to lead a mutiny and he should be stopped.

 

Lastly, there's Merida, who appears to be having a lot of fun and is able to blend in with the rest perfectly, even though she isn't a pirate. Not yet, at least. She wants to help with everything that looks like fun to her and she gets along with everyone, something which Elsa envies just a little. 

 

Merida also tries to get closer to her, a thing that Elsa doesn't particularly like. Sure, she's nice and cute and all (fuck, don't think that), but Elsa can't get too close to people, not right now, at least. This… magic, this curse, can hurt and kill people, she has to get it under control first.

 

It's not like Merida can't find ways to entertain herself without Elsa around though. Right now, she's swordfighting, furiously trying to defeat the more experienced Hiccup. She's definitely not bad, Elsa has to admit that. She was honestly surprised when she learned Merida could handle weapons ("you can fight but you don't know how a ship works. Seriously?"). With some more practice, she could really do some nasty damage.

 

Still, Hiccup doesn't have time to play now. Elsa walks up to them. "Hiccup, don't you have work to do?"

 

Hiccup shakes his head, not looking away from his opponent once. "Nuh-uh, nothing else to do. Everything is fine. Besides, your friend here could use a little practice."

 

Can she consider Merida a friend? Elsa hopes she can, even if it's not a thing she should want right now.

 

"Okay, keep on fighting, but if you're needed, you stop immediately. Got it?"

 

She walks away without waiting for an answer, but stops upon hearing Merida's voice.

 

"Captain! Fight me!"

 

Elsa can't help but look at her like she's crazy. Doesn't this girl realize that she is way more experienced?  "Do you realize what you're asking?"

 

"I'm asking you to fight me, obviously. Please? I want to test my skills."

 

"No, sorry. I really don't want to hurt you."

 

Merida gasps, obviously exaggerating. "Have a little more faith in me, captain. I'm sure I can handle you."

 

Elsa knows Merida will not let this go. Refusing isn't an option this time. She'll just have to take the risk.

 

"Okay, I'll fight you. But don't come crying to me if you do end up getting hurt."

 

Merida excitedly pumps her fist up in the air while Elsa takes her own sword. "Ready?"

 

The clashing of swords resounds in the air. Merida is determined to win, giving Elsa a hard time. Elsa does have more experience though, and while Merida's stabs are wild and brash, Elsa can fight with an effective, deadly elegance.

 

 Elsa focuses a lot on her defense, Merida can tell. She keeps stabbing and swinging her sword, but Elsa blocks her every time. It's a clever strategy. Merida feels tired already, which must be what Elsa is hoping for. The Snow Queen will only strike when the time is right.

 

"Captain!"

 

Elsa flinches, loses her focus. She feels a sharp, stinging pain as Merida's sword leaves a cut in her cheek. It's bleeding.

 

Merida now gasps for real, staring at Elsa with a concerned face. "Oh my god, sorry! I- I didn't expect that one to hit…"

 

"It's fine. You couldn't help it." Elsa turns around, looking into the eyes of Wiesel. "He's the one who should apologize."

 

Wiesel is definitely furious. He's had it up to here with whatever Elsa's done. The look in his eyes reminds Merida of a predator, hungry for power.

 

"Captain!" He yells again. A few other crew members stop doing their work, instead choosing to watch and see what will happen. "Aren't you too old for games?"

 

Elsa clutches the sword tighter, while trying to stop the bleeding at the same time. "Mr. Wiesel, last time I checked you weren't in a position where you could tell me what I can and can't do."

 

"Not right now, but what if I were the captain? Wouldn't that be much better?" He raises his voice, frantically looking at the crew members around him. "Wouldn't it!?"

 

It's Hans all over again. Only Wiesel isn't going to be able make his mutiny work.

 

Elsa starts laughing. A lot. She doesn't even now if it's out of amusement or fear.

 

"What? What's so funny?" Wiesel shouts, looking at no one in particular.

 

"Seriously?" Elsa stops laughing and looks at the crew members. "Do you think any of these people would choose you as leader?"

 

No one speaks.

 

"I'll ask differently: If you want this old fool as your captain, raise your hand."

 

No one raises a hand. Elsa turns to Wiesel, a triumphant look on her face. "There's your answer."

 

Merida does not want to admit it, but she's nervous. Is Elsa going to die? Are they all going to die?

 

Wiesel starts cursing in a language Merida can't understand, the words that must be insults primarily aimed at Elsa. Elsa apparently does know what he's saying, because she says something to him in the same language.

 

That's when the blood starts flowing. Wiesel's body falls backwards, with his hands clutching the wound on his stomach and a shocked expression on his face. He doesn't move anymore; he's dead, no doubt about it.

 

"If anyone else gets ideas like him, they can join him," Elsa exclaims, still holding the bloodied sword. "Hiro, can you clean this up?"

 

Hiro grumbles something in reply and starts cleaning, while Elsa disappears into the captain's cabin after that.

 

Merida tries to comprehend what just happened, but can't. The other crew members don't seem phased and are going back to their work. She feels she has to talk to Elsa about this, she has to understand this better.

 

She barges into the cabin without warning. "I don't get it!"

 

Elsa stops cleaning the blood off her clothes. "Don't get what?"

 

"You."

 

"Me? What?"

 

"First you take me to Corona and tell me you don't want anyone to die, so you obviously care about what happens to others. But then you just sort of go and kill the first annoying person you come across. What the hell is up with that?"

 

"He would've killed both of us, do you realize that?"

 

Merida blinks. "Why?"

 

"Did we just witness the same scene or not? That guy was definitely crazy. He would've killed me so he could be captain himself."

 

"Then why would he kill me too?"

 

"Because your useless, that's why." Elsa says this with a straight face. 

 

Merida has to admit that those words hurt a lot when they come from Elsa, and she's not proud of it. She slams her fist down on the desk. "I'm not useless! I can fight, you just saw!"

 

"I know. You're a good fighter. But tell me, if Wiesel had become captain, would you fight for him?"

 

Merida calms down a bit. "…No. I wouldn't."

 

Elsa nods. "Exactly. He would've killed you because you're too stubborn to listen to him. You would never fight for him, and that's why you're useless to him."

 

Now that that's cleared up, Merida feels brave enough to go back to interrogating Elsa on… more personal things. "And what makes you think I would fight for you?"

 

"I certainly don't think so. You would never fight for me either."

 

"What?" 

 

"You fight mainly for yourself. For your own sake and freedom. Respect for that, by the way. I couldn't tell you to fight for me, even if I tried."

 

Merida pulls up a chair, sits down and relaxes. Elsa doesn't talk that much, so she seizes the opportunity.

 

"Who do you fight for then? Somebody special?"

 

She can almost feel Elsa contemplating what to say. "Anyone who needs me to, I suppose."

 

Merida fully expected Elsa to lie or end the conversation, but the answer seems sincere. She does look like she doesn't want to keep talking about it, so Merida changes the subject.

 

"How did you deduce all that stuff so fast? That Wiesel was bad news and such?"

 

Elsa laughs a little. "Told you I wasn't stupid. I went to school too, you know."

 

"Yeah, sure. Lemme guess: you got really bad grades, so you decided to run away from your parents to become a pirate and be free. Am I right?"

 

"Wrong. And right."

 

Could this woman be any more of an enigma?

 

"You're gonna have to tell me a little more, Ms. Cypher."

 

"My grades were the highest, believe me or not."

 

Merida snorts. She's never heard of a pirate without a fucked up childhood and education. Then again, she doesn't know that many pirates on a personal level. "Then how did you end up here?"

 

"There was an… attack. My parents had a lot of money, so we were always a target for criminals. They didn't survive. My sister Anna and I did. At that point; I didn’t know what the hell I had been doing all my life. I was always busy being the perfect daughter, and then that suddenly wasn't something I had to do anymore."

 

Merida can relate. She has to be the perfect daughter too, she knows what it's like. "I get what you mean. I have to be perfect too."

 

"I figured. You were muttering some stuff about your mother and pirates when we met."

 

Did she seriously say everything she thought out loud that time? That's embarassing.

 

"… please just continue with your story."

 

To her surprise, Elsa continues.

 

"Then a pirate ship arrived in town, and Anna decided she wanted to join the pirates. I tried to talk her out of it, but I ended up coming along to make sure she wouldn't die. That's why I'm here now."

 

Merida laughs a little. "Sounds plausible. But I  still don't believe the good grades part."

 

"Oh, come on! When did I ever lie to you?"

 

Merida has to admit that Elsa hasn't lied to her once so far. She's not going to give the other girl the satisfaction, though. After a lot of digging in her mind, she remembers something.

 

"When you had that dagger against my throat, I called you a monster and you said I was right. That was a lie, so that makes at least once."

 

Why does it feel like it's getting cold all of a sudden?

 

Elsa seems a bit taken aback by her statement, her smile disappearing from her face. "Believe me when I say that it was the truth."

 

Now it's Merida's turn to look taken aback.

 

"What the fuck do you mean with that? You're not a monster, serious-"

 

"Enough! Okay? Don't talk about what you can't understand!"

 

Merida jumps out of her chair, shivering slightly. "The only thing I can't understand is you. Do you know that?" She walks out of the door and slams it closed behind her, leaving the cabin.

 

Elsa buries her face in her hands. "I know."

Chapter Text


They're back to not talking to each other, just like when the ship set sail. Merida hates it. Elsa avoids her like the plague now, only talking to her when there's absolutely no other way.

Merida is fine with it. Or at least, that's what she tells herself. She isn't going to be the first one to try and engage in conversation again. If Elsa doesn't want her around, she'll give her exactly that what she wishes for.

She uses the time she has for herself to spend more time with the crew. Hiccup proves himself to be a great friend, and Tadashi and Hiro are pretty cool too. Hiccup wasn't kidding when he said he'd find a great crew; Wiesel was the only person to think about mutiny, the rest are loyal and friendly. As friendly as pirates can possibly be, that is.

Elsa is still on the back of Merida's mind, though. No matter how hard she tries, she can't forget about the blonde pirate. She finds herself hoping Elsa will just take the initiative and talk to her again. Which doesn't seem to be happening any time soon, but they're still on this ship together, with that deal they made some time ago, and Elsa can''t avoid her forever. Merida is tired of making amends all the time and swore to herself to stubbornly wait for Elsa to make things right this time.

The only thing that really clears her mind of the Captain, is dinner time. She eats with the crew, laughs with them. Elsa is never there, probably eats alone (it doesn't surprise Merida at all). The food isn't anything to write home about, but it's good enough. Cook does her job and makes edible meals out of food that looks like something her mother would've had the servants throw in the trash weeks ago.

She watches as Hiccup pours her a bowl of hot soup.

"There ya go." He says with a smile.

Merida gratefully accepts the soup. It still surprises her that the food is so different from what she got at home, much simpler. She loves it that way. Learning to eat it wasn't difficult at all.

Not that she wouldn't eat it if she didn't like it. She wouldn't get anything else and she's seen how Cook looks at the people who think the food is disgusting. Hiro claims that Cook can kill grown men with a mere teaspoon, and while she doubts his credibility, she is not going to test it.

So she spends another evening laughing and talking with the crew. Also drinking. Pirates really do have the best rum, and she's happy she's good at handling alcohol. It takes a lot to get her drunk, a skill that comes in handy in this kind of life.

After two bowls of soup and three glasses of rum, Hiccup gently reminds her that it is her turn to help Cook with the dishes, wearing a smug grin; He had to help yesterday, now he watches how Merida suffers.

Doing dishes isn't that horrible. Cook is an excellent conversation partner (Certainly better than a pirate captain she knows).

Merida has decided that she likes Cook. Heck, she likes everyone. Elsa too, even if the woman is a damn idiot.

A sexy idiot, that is.

Fuck. This is exactly what she did not want. She's falling for a pirate, the coldest one, one who might not even like her… at all. She should want to kill pirates, not kiss them, dammit.

As if reading Merida's thoughts, Cook steers their conversation to another subject: Captain Elsa Arens.

"Do me a favour, Merida." Cook points at a bowl of soup on the table with the spoon she's washing. "Bring that to the captain when you're finished, will you?"

Merida nods, putting a now dry glass down. "She hasn't eaten yet?"

Cook focuses on her dishes again. "See, the captain eats only when she tells me to make her something, and it's been two days. Girl's got to eat something, right?"

Two days. Two fucking days. Elsa, what the hell is wrong with you?

Merida contemplates it. Part of her wants to say no, wants to let Elsa take care of this herself. It's a weak attempt to keep her promise to herself. She goes over the list of character traits and other things she has mentally noted, and asks herself: 'Would Elsa overwork herself so much that she forgets about eating?'

The conclusion she reaches is: Yes. Yeah, she goddamn would. She doesn't know if that realization or the fact that she's most definitely going to break her vow to herself frustrates her more.

"Sure, I'll do it. No problemo, Cook!" She throws the towel down to get the soup, but Cook pulls her back.
"No way in hell, young lady. Dishes first!"

Well, it almost worked.

She can't just let Elsa starve, she decides. She cares about the girl more than she probably should, and if she has to move mountains to get Elsa to eat, then that's what she'll do

------------------

Don't fall asleep. Don't dare to fucking fall asleep.

Elsa rubs her eyes. She's tired, exhausted, but the guaranteed nightmares are enough to keep her awake. She's good at avoiding, does it all the time. She can't avoid sleeping forever, she'll sleep eventually, but not now. Now is not the time.

Speaking of time, she doesn't even have enough of that to sleep. She has the book, that little book on magic she got when she involuntarily stayed at Motunui. It has to be translated. She needs to figure out everything, to find out what's happening to her, to find out more about the hypnosis she suspects Hans is using. It can't wait. Sleep is less important than the mess that is this book and its content.

The translation has proven to be difficult. With nothing but Chief Moana's notes on the language to aid her in her work and the issue of the Tokelauan language being an absolute mess, the task is time-consuming and incredibly frustrating.

She is rudely awakened from her semi-asleep state by someone swinging the door open. She panics a little when she sees all the red hair. She is so not ready for this confrontation, no matter what it's going to be about.

Merida marches in and sets a bowl of soup down on the desk, almost spilling a little on her carefully translated documents.

"Merida, what are you doing?" She asks, more confused than annoyed, while trying to collect her papers in a calm, non-suspicious way.

The expression on Merida's face is mix of anger and concern. "Cook told me you haven't eaten anything in two days."

Oh. She forgot again. She doesn't know how to explain to Merida that she doesn't need the food, that if she forgot, she probably just wasn't hungry and that she doesn't even have time to eat, she has to get her work done.

Apparently she's taking too long to answer, because Merida feels the need to explain what's happening.

"This is soup. It's something you can eat. And you are going to eat it, that's for sure." Merida pulls the familiar chair up again to sit down, which is strangely comforting.

Elsa is about to just get over with it and eat to get Merida out of here fast, when she remembers she's the captain of the ship. She's not going to be bossed around by a random hot girl, and wait, what was that adjective? Oh god, this isn't happening. The lack of sleep must be getting to her.

"As captain, I refuse your offer." She slowly states, reaching out to grab her quill pen to start writing again.

Merida literally slaps it out of her hand, with just enough carefulness to not injure her. "As someone who cares about the captain's health, I demand you accept my offer."

She cares. Why does Merida still care about her? Elsa can't say she's treated the other girl with a lot of kindness the last few days. And why is she so glad that Merida doesn't hate her after all?

"I'm going to sit here until you eat. I have time, I can do this all night, every night." Merida crosses her arms, still staring at Elsa with that mixed look.

Merida isn't going to let this go, not today. Elsa can feel it. So she yields and tells herself it's because she wants the redhead to leave quickly and that it's definitely not because Merida saying that she cares made her feel a little better.

"Fine, I'll eat. Only because you asked so politely."

Merida's face lights up, not even bothering to comment on Elsa's last sassy remark.

The soup does taste good, especially after two days of nothing at all. Merida keeps watching, making sure she does eat everything.

"Are you happy now?" Elsa shoves the empty bowl off of her paperwork.

"Very." Merida picks up the bowl and gets ready to leave, when she suddenly gets an idea. "By the way, we're gonna do this every night."

"What?"

"You heard me. I'll eat with you instead of with the crew."

"...Why would you want that?"

"I don't want you to die because of your ridiculous stupidity." Merida opens the door, but Elsa walks up to her and stops her. She needs an answer.

"You know, I don't understand you either! I keep pushing you away, but no matter what I do, you come back. Why are you still trying to get close to me? Why can't you just hate me already?"

Merida closes the door again, realizing the conversation isn't over yet. "Why would I hate you?"

Damn it. She's revealing too much. "…Because I'm a pirate…"

liar. It's because you're a monster.

"Do you want me to hate you?" Merida asks slowly, as if she's trying to solve a challenging puzzle.

"Yeah. Yes. Well, no, not really, no." Elsa doesn't know what she wants anymore.

"Can you explain that?" Elsa sees that Merida tries to be careful with what she says, probably hoping to steer clear of another fight. There's not a high chance of more fighting; Elsa is too tired to try.

"I... I hurt… everyone." She manages to choke out. It's not even a lie; it's part of why Merida should stay away, though it's not the main one. The magic. The magic can hurt her. Elsa can hurt her. "My parents died becauae of me. Anna and Kristoff… I don't even know, but whatever they're going through, it's my fault. Hiccup losing his leg was my fault."

It's the truth, nothing bit the truth, and yet, it's still.a lie.

"Is that why I shouldn't get close to you?"

"It's why you should stay the hell away from me. For your own good."

Merida is radiating conflicted feelings; if Elsa had to guess, she'd say that Merida's thought process is a mix of 'I sort of understand but I think it's ridiculous and I'm not sure if I can handle you and all your goddamn complications'. But of course, that's just a thought.

"Listen… I want to make another deal with you."

Elsa finds herself nodding. This is business. She can talk business.

"You stop shutting me out, or at least try to, and I promise you I won't let you hurt me, while I doubt that's a thing that could happen. Deal?"

Oh, you wouldn't know how badly I'll hurt you. I'll break your heart into a thousand pieces and tear you apart with cursed snow and ice. It'll hurt me more than you can imagine, it'll destroy both of us. It's what I do. It's what monsters do.

Elsa doesn't speak that scarily disturbing thought out loud. She knows she needs to refuse this, needs to make Merida just go away, away from her, so she can't be hurt in any fucked up way. But she knows it won't lead anywhere. Merida is too stubborn and reckless to know what's good for herself and she won't leave Elsa alone, she's proven that. She's not leaving. She has to leave, but she doesn't. Because she cares.

And secretly, Elsa is extremely happy she does.

"Deal." With that one word, she seals both of their fates. There is no way back.

Merida pulls Elsa into a hug. "Awesome! Thanks! Oh, wait…" She quickly releases the pirate, blushing slightly.

Elsa wants to yell at her for touching her and risking getting hurt by cruel ice, but it would reveal everything. She goes with her other option: be nice and say you don't mind. "Oh, uh, doesn't matter. It's fine." Again, only half of a lie. Hugs are nice, she likes hugs.

"Yeah, still a little... embarassing…. I'll just… leave... as in, right now." Merida practically runs put of the cabin, while Elsa watches with a tiny smile tugging at her lips.

The paperwork can wait; maybe it's time to get some sleep.

Chapter Text


The following days are, according to Merida, better than the last few. She still helps the crew, but she isn't angry at Elsa anymore and they talk again. There are some things that have been bothering her though, and Hiccup is the one who can fix that.

"Hiccup!"

Hiccup smiles and walks up to her. "What's up?"

"The sky."

Hiccup groans at the reply. "For once, I'd like you to answer the question differently. Let's try again: what's up?"

"The clouds."

Hiccup gives up and asks her what she wants.

"How did you lose your leg?"

Hiccup chuckles. "Haven't told that story in a long time."

"Are you okay with me asking?" Merida remembers Elsa's reluctance to talk about certain things, and she wonders if this is a sensitive subject to Hiccup.

"Of course, but it's nothing special. We attacked a ship and I got into a fight with the captain of the ship. Can't remember a name, but people called her 'the Red Death'. Now that I think of it, that nickname would suit you."

"Oh, shut up and continue."

"In that fight, I lost my leg. That's it, end of the story. Nothing special."

Hiccup is definitely sincere, Merida can tell. But where is Elsa in this story?

"What about the Captain? Was she there too?"

Hiccup frowns. "Yes, she was. Are you asking about my leg because she mentioned something about it?"

Merida nods and Hiccup groans again. "What did she- wait, no, don't tell me. She said it was her fault, right?"

"Exactly."

"If it comes up again, tell her she shouldn't think about it anymore. It wasn't her fault at all, but she's the only one who doesn't believe that."

"But why does she think it was?"

"I have no idea. She probably believes she could've helped me."

The topic changes after that, and Hiccup has to go back to work.

---------------------------

Merida still enjoys dinner a lot. Eating with the crew was fun, but eating with Elsa is too. It's a different kind of fun, but Elsa seems to enjoy the company, although she is a little wary. Merida's favourite part, aside from the good food, is that she can get to know Elsa better. For example, she never noticed that the pirate was left-handed.

Elsa also enjoys the dinners with Merida more than she probably should, and not only because she actually eats something now. It's been a long time since she let someone get closer to her, and she admits she missed it. It was always a little lonely after Anna disappeared.

"Can you speak in that stereotypical pirate accent?" Merida asks this evening. Elsa speaks normally, but perhaps she knows the accent?

Elsa stares her dead in the eye, putting her glass down. "Aye, 'course, matey. Ye seriously askin'?"

Merida almost spits out her drink from laughing. "Does every pirate just know that? Is it in the code or something?"

"No, it isn't." Elsa slips back into her normal way of talking. "But I met some people with really thick accents. I just spent a lot of time imitating them behind their backs."

"How many other pirate stereotypes apply to you, I wonder?"

Elsa shrugs. "I don't know. Name a few."

"Obsession with gold, money, and treasures, drinking lots of alcohol, no problem with incest," Merida sums up.

"Why are you making this sound like an interrogation?"

"Hush. Answer my questions."

"Alright. I do like money. The only one drinking alcohol in this cabin is you, I have water." Elsa takes another sip of her drink. "As for the last one, why do you think I want to find my sister so badly?"

Merida really does spit out her drink this time.

"Jesus Christ, I'm just kidding. I don't even want to know how you thought I was being serious."

"Haha, that was so funny. I can't stop laughing," Merida replies, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

"Be sarcastic all you want, I'm fucking hilarious."

"…And your sister."

"I just said I wasn't!"

Merida does laugh this time. Yeah, she's definitely not letting go of this. She gets out of her chair. "I'm gonna get another drink. Do you want too?"

"Yeah, alright."

Elsa hands her the glass and Merida disappears to get drinks. She pours two glasses of rum.

Wait. Elsa said she didn't drink alcohol. Merida contemplates whether to throw the alcohol away and get the pirate a glass of water.

Nah. Elsa will have to deal with it. She probably won't even notice, girl looks tired all the time. And perhaps the rum will magically give her a better sense of humour?

This idea has literally no downsides.

Merida enters the cabin and hands Elsa the glass. "There you go."

Elsa looks at the brownish liquid like it's mud. "I said I didn't drink."

"Why not?"

"I, uh, I get drunk pretty fast?" If Merida knew about Elsa's magic, she'd realize it's actually because Elsa has no intention of figuring out the effects of alcohol on said magic. However, she doesn't know, and even if it's a cover-up lie, Elsa is not good at handling her liquor.

"After only one glass? I don't believe that."

"It really is that bad, believe it or not."

Merida gives her a teasing look. "Still don't believe you."

Well, maybe one glass won't cause a snowstorm. "Okay. Fine. But you deal with the consequences that will definitely be there."

"What consequences? Nothing will happen."

Elsa just rolls her eyes at that.

The glass gradually becomes empty, the temperature gradually drops and Elsa gradually becomes more…. Talkative? Merida doesn't know if there's a name for 'talking about random stuff without making any sense whatsoever'.

It's hilarious though.

"Do you know about the sea trolls?"

Merida shakes her head, trying extremely hard to not start laughing. "Tell me all about it."

"The sea trolls are the henchmen of Davy Jones."

Merida has heard about Davy Jones, but sea trolls are new for her. It's definitely something Elsa made up in her drunken state. Her pronunciation also gets a bit weird.

"What do the sea trolls do?"

"Well, ye see, the Davy Jones needs to get them to do things for him. That's what the sea trolls do. So if Jones doesn't want to sink the ship himself, he gets the sea trolls to do it for him."

Elsa's intensely serious look does not make it easy to keep a straight face.

"Anything else they do?"

Elsa stares of into the distance. "Well… I suppose Davy Jones keeps them as… official sandwich makers?"

Merida bursts into laughter after that.

"What? I'm being serious here."

Merida wipes a few tears from her eyes. "Sorry, but your 'serious' story is really funny."

"Yeah, sure…" Elsa mutters slowly, struggling to keep her eyes open. She almost falls asleep, but then jerks awake again. It's strange to see.

"Hey, I think you should maybe go to sleep." Merida suggests, already moving over in case she has to help Elsa up.

"…I don't want to sleep…"

Fortunately, Elsa does not resist when Merida pulls her out of the chair and acts as support.

"Why not?"

"Nightmares. Too much of 'em."

Merida hadn't heard that one before. "You're a pirate captain, a competent one. I'm sure you can handle a few bad dreams."

Elsa tries to glare at her, but fails horrible. "You don't understand. I can't go to sleep."

"Yes, you can and you are going to."

"What can I do to change your mind?"

"Nothing. Absolutely nothing."

"Oh, wait! I know!" Elsa sing-songs.

Before Merida can reply, she feels Elsa's lips against hers.

Elsa is kissing her. Actually kissing her. Well, she's drunk as hell, so maybe it doesn't count as a real kiss, but Merida is overjoyed either way.

When Elsa pulls away, there's a smirk on her face. "Aw, you're blushing!"

Yes, Merida's face is definitely as red as her hair now.

"You're still going to sleep though."

Elsa protests a little longer, but she eventually gives in. Merida watches as Elsa stumbles to her bed.

When Merida leaves to go to sleep herself, she can only wonder if Elsa will remember this.

Chapter Text

"You're saying you saw the Kraken once?"

Elsa nods, incoherently muttering something.

"What did you say?"

"Not the Kraken. A Kraken. There are more of them."

Merida blinks a few times in confusion. "What the hell? That's not how the legend goes. You're just trying to fool me now."

"If I find my sister at some point, she can confirm it. We were both there. I'm serious."

"Sure you are."

"Does this face look like the face of a liar?"

"Yes."

Elsa pretends she doesn't hear it.

"How about you just tell me the story and I'll judge if it's true or not." Merida proposes.

"Okay, fine."

-----------------

So far, Elsa deeply regretted tagging along with Anna. As far as she knew, her sister's impulsive desire to sail the seven seas was suicidal.

The food was bad, the people were bad (did they know what manners were?) and her sister seemed to enjoy every second of it.

The girl ran along with the pirates happily, practically stalking the captain until he gave her another job to do. Elsa, on the other hand, preferred to stay as far away from Captain Pabbie (or whatever his name was) as possible.

But if Anna was happy this way, she'd find a way to deal.

Even though that mentality was a lot harder to stick to now that it was storming like crazy.

The waves played with the ship as if it was nothing but a feather in the wind, with rain falling down and soaking the deck like there was no tomorrow. The Captain told them it might've been better to avoid the deck.

Naturally, Anna completely ignored that advice.

"I'm gonna join the others on the ship deck, Elsa! You comin'?

"Anna, do you really have a death wish? The captain even said we should stay here."

"Correction: he said it was better to stay here. Not that we had to."

"Anna, please."

"Going up now. Have fun here, sis!"

She left, leaving Elsa no choice but to follow her and make sure she didn't die.

When she made it up to the deck, she was immediately greeted by a splash of water in her face and her smiling sister.

"Elsa, look at this, it's amazing!"

"I wouldn't describe almost dying in a storm as amazing."

"Lighten up!" Anna grabbed her sister's arm and dragged her across the deck, with little difficulty to keep standing. In comparison to Elsa, she really nailed the sea legs thing.

Pirates around them were struggling to keep standing themselves, clutching tightly to whatever part of the ship they could find. Elsa knew she heard the captain yell orders, but Anna, for once, ignored them and kept moving.

"I mean, all these crashing waves and that dark sky… it's like they took it right out of those paintings Dad had in his office-"

"Anna, look out!"

Too late.

A big wave crashed into the girls, effectively knocking them off of the ship.

"I told you it was a bad idea!" Elsa yelled at Anna, before accidentally swallowing some sea water and almost choking on it.

Anna, much like herself, was trying her hardest to keep herself from drowning. "You might've been right…"

That was all Elsa heard before everything went black.

----
"Elsa. Elsa. Wake up."

Elsa opened her eyes and saw Anna. Or, a blurry version of Anna.

"I'll wake up when the afterlife stops spinning…"

"We're still alive, sis."

Elsa shot up straight, sending her into a coughing fit. Her clothes were soaked, her hair was wet, but surprisingly, she wasn't dead.

"Wha-what? How?"

"Okay, so there's someone you really gotta meet-"

"I keep telling myself the day will come where you actually explain things to me.

She was once again dragged away by her sister, but ignored it this time. The place they were in was actually a cave, with dark, stone walls and shining crystals on them. Washing up in a cave sure was possible, but together, and both alive? What were the odds?

They were standing in what Elsa would describe as a giant room. Of course, it was a cave, but it still looked ridiculously like a room, with its smoother walls, its lighter atmosphere and the throne-like rock on which the giant squid was sitting- wait, what?

"Don't tell me we got brought here by the Kraken."

"The Kraken? I am simply a Kraken."

It spoke too. Elsa was sure it was all a dream or other hallucination of some sorts.

"Of course, sorry. I should've known you went by Mr. Grumpy Tentacles."

That earned her a stomp in the side from Anna.

"What?"

"You are insulting the ancient monster that saved our lives."

"It's all a dream, who cares?"

"My offspring," said Mr. Grumpy Tentacles, "is what you landlubberd call the Kraken, though there is no one of him."

"Hey, I'm no landlubber! I'm a pirate!"

"Anna, you haven't even been a pirate for three weeks."

"Still!"

"If you're real," Elsa began slowly, "then why did you save us from drowning?"

"It wasn't your time to die yet."

Anna turned to her sister. "How do you think it knows that?"

"It's an ancient sea monster. Of course it knows exactly when we're going to die."

"If you want to, sarcastic one, I can tell you your exact date of death."

Elsa put her hands up in defense. "No, thanks, Mr. Kraken. Father-of-Krakens. Kraken overlord."

The Kraken paid no further attention to her and instead turned to her sister.

"Friendly one, it saddens me to tell you that you will face betrayal in your life."

Anna's face fell. "I'm all for free divination, but can't you tell me something more… positive?"

"Very well. You will not break under the betrayal and emerge victoriously. You will face grave danger, but it will never kill you."

Anna turned to her sister, beaming. "I might be immortal."

"Probably not. I think it's just a way of speech."

"I'm going to assume he means I'm immortal."

"Anna, no."

The Kraken turned to Elsa now.

"Fear will be your enemy."

She blinks a few times and raises an eyebrow. "That's all? You give Anna a clear explanation and you give me a cryptic message?"

"You are simply more difficult to read."

"Awesome. Look, if I want to live until the day fear becomes my enemy, we're going to need a boat to get out of here."

The Kraken lifted up a tentacle, pointing to his left.

"There is a rowing boat waiting for you there."

"We really are going to die at sea."

"Of course not. I'm immortal, remember?"

"Dear God, why did I ever leave the house?"

-------------

"You definitely made that up. It's almost as ridiculous as thinking Hans is some wizard with a knack for hypnosis." Merida places her now empty glass of rum back on the table.

"It's a weird story, and it defies every legend, but it's the truth."

"I have no trouble believing that first part, but the last part is what makes me think you're just playing me now."

Elsa shrugs. "Believe it or don't. Your choice."

Merida gets up. "Well, gonna wish you a good night now. Have fun with your imaginary squid."

"Sure. Good night."

As Merida goes back to the ship's deck, she can't help but glance up, half-expecting to see thunder clouds. Elsa's story and the rum have messed with her mind, she assumes.

And yet, it doesn't look like a failure of her mind when she sees the tentacle of a giant squid in the water, moving around as if waving at her.

 

Chapter Text


Elsa wakes up to a terrible headache. Damn. Deciding to prove Merida wrong was not a good idea, especially since her nightmares only get worse under the influence of alcohol.

Her memory of everything that happened after drinking is shrouded. She hopes there wasn't anything embarassing. She tries to remember, seeing as it's important to not say anything strange to someone who might just be your crush.

Wait. Something comes up. Something important, something very awkward…

Sea trolls.

Now, what kind of drunk idiot decides to talk to their crush about non-existent sea trolls?

She half-consciously notices how she unintentionally labeled Merida as her crush and really wants to beat herself up for it.

Smooth, Arens, very smooth.

Maybe she can go back to avoiding Merida? Or jump of the ship and join the sharks in the ocean?

On the other hand, it's just sea trolls. There are much more embarassing things she could've done.

She's almost forgotten about it completely when she goes back to work, the only reminder of the whole incident being the headache. Merida will without doubt tell her everything about whatever happened in great detail, and Elsa accepts that she will probably never live it down. She can live with that, she thinks.

Someone knocks on the door.

"Come in, it's open."

Merida cautiously looks around the corner, looking slightly nervous.

Well, that's unsettling. Elsa remembers the Merida from a few days ago, who didn't even bother with knocking and just ran in with a lot of confidence. She remembets how Merida wasn't even the slightest bit nervous during their sword fight, or when they stole the ship. She didn't even show a lot of nervousness when Elsa literally held a dagger to her throat when they first met.

Merida was never nervous about talking to her, and now she suddenly is? It doesn't make sense. It's odd. And 'odd', in this context, is a synonym for 'bad'. Elsa now tries even harder to recall what happened the night before.

"Are you… okay?" Merida asks. God, her tone of voice is off too. It's as if she suddenly decided that the captain is, indeed, some dangerous creature that should be locked up somewhere for eternity. Elsa wouldn't have minded if she had thought that days ago. But now, that thought just hurts.

Elsa raises an eyebrow. "Yeah, I'm fine? Terrible headache, but that's all."

"Good. Very good. Just wanted to check, bye!" Merida says rapidly, closing the door and leaving.

No way in hell Elsa will let that happen now.

"Hey! Get back in here!" Elsa yells, thinking she probably should've sounded less commanding.

"That… might be the first time you wanted me to come in instead of going out?" The door slowly opens again and Merida saunters in, avoiding eye contact. She's blushing a little.

Elsa is confused, to say the least. Now that Merida's actually in here, focusing on the floor rather than on the pirate in front of her, she's at a loss for words too. What was she going to say again?

"Are you going to ask a question or what?" Merida snaps, sounding a little pissed off.

"I… uh… what?"

The redhaired girl's expression softens up a little. "Didn't intend for that to sound so harsh. What do you want, captain?"

Elsa somehow manages to snap out of her state of muteness, but still doesn't really know what to say.

"I want to… I want to apologize? For whatever I said yesterday, I mean. To be honest, I don't remember. But you look kind of uncomfortable, so…" An apology seemed like the best way to go about it.

"So you don't remember?" Merida looks both delighted and slightly disappointed.

"Aside from something vague about sea trolls, my mind is blank."

"Ah. I see."

Silence.

"Look, I said I was sorry for…. Whatever it is. Please accept it so this awkwardness is gone. If I said or did something that upset you, I didn't mean it. But I don't even know what happened."

The blush on Merida's face darkens. "Honestly, it might be better if you don't know."

That comment only makes Elsa more curious. "No, it isn't. There's a problem here, I know that much. I want it solved."

"I thought you always ran from your problems?"

"I do, but I can make an exception. Please tell me what I did wrong?"

"Fine, I'll tell you. You sure you can handle it?"

Elsa almost feels offended. "Yeah."

"You kissed me."

Long story short, Elsa can't handle it. She feels her own face heating up too and goes mute again. She guesses the look on her face isn't the most intelligent one.

She guesses right, for Merida starts laughing a lot not soon after she realizes it. "Sorry, but your face is- it's ridiculously funny!"

Merida's laughter is comforting, more normal. Elsa almost forgets anything happened between them at all. However, when Merida calms down again, the awkwardness returns.

"So, I kissed you. That's it?"

Merida nods. "You're also right about the sea trolls." She tries to cover up the smile that appears on her face when mentioning Elsa's imagined sea beasts, bit does a horrible job at it. She shifts to being serious when she sees Elsa's expression. She's come to know that look.

"Hey, don't go blaming yourself again. I shouldn't have given you alcohol in the first place and I was warned about any consequences. We're both at fault here."

"But it was! I should've just poured that goddamn drink in the sea."

Merida gives her a steely look. "Stop blaming yourself for literally everything."

"I still should've refused."

"You are unbelievable."

"Yeah, I know."

Again, silence.

Elsa hesitates for a second, before saying: "If there's anything I can do to make up for this, just say it."

"What? You don't have to make up for it. it... was…" Merida's voice trails off into incoherent muttering.

"Can you maybe repeat that, but in coherent English?"

"Nice. It was nice. Okay, I said it, now please stab me to death so I don't have to live with the humiliation of being rejected for the rest of my life?"

Elsa takes a few seconds to register what she just heard. Merida thinks the pirate should maybe see a doctor to check if she doesn't have brain damage, with all the times she seems to simply black out. She watches in horror when a playful smirk appears on the captain's face.

"See, the problem here is, I'm not okay with killing you. I like you. Stabbing you to death doesn't sound like a good solution to the problem to me."

Merida doesn't know how to react. "What do you propose, then?"

"Well, if I don't reject you, you won't force me to kill you. Actually, I wasn't even planning on rejecting you in the first place."

Elsa understands the risk. She's still dangerous. She has magic that she doesn't know how to control. But sometimes, you have to take the risk, or you'll regret it.

Merida gives her a big smile. Elsa knows she's made the right decision. For now.

"By the way," Elsa begins, "there's this thing I heard a while ago. Can't remember who told me, but they said kissing is 100% better when sober-"

She's almost immediately silenced by Merida's lips on hers and smiles into the kiss.

Smooth, Arens, very smooth.

Chapter Text

She can't see anything besides the fog. She goes outside nonetheless, even when she doesn't desire to do so. Elsa doesn't look back at the house she leaves behind. She never can, not even if she tries. She can't stop walking either. She has to relive what happened, knowing she can't change her action and the horrors they caused.

She only stops walking when she's on the streets in town, surrounded by people, trying to find her sister in the crowd. From the corner of her eye, she sees a tall man, dressed in black, step towards her. Strange choice of clothes for a summer day in the caribbean. His face hides behind a scarf as dark as his face, only menacing, golden eyes showing themselves for the world to see. He must feel hot, dressed like that, but he pays the sun no attention and he keeps walking in a straight line, people stepping aside for him. Whenever Elsa tries to get a clear look at him, his image turns distorted. Only his eyes never blur, always casting a brilliant, golden shadow over her. She wonders if he even has pupils.

"Can you tell me where I can find the Arens mansion?" His voice is scratchy and hoarse, sounding distant. Elsa knows it's the result of a memory buried deep down, yet the words never fail to unsettle her.

She doesn't want to tell him, tries to stop the words from leaving her mouth. A futile attempt. She tells him how to find her house and her family in vivid detail, once assuming him to be a business partner of her parents, now knowing better. What has been done can't be undone and she can never stop herself from talking to this man. Her tone of voice is strangely like his, but she doesn't notice anymore. When she finishes her story, finally asking the man why he wanted to know, he walks away, cackling, like he did five years ago.

Elsa continues on her way, reliving the monotonous moments. More searching in a suffocating crowd. Finding Anna at last and pulling her away from the market, scolding her lightlyfor not making it home for dinner. She finds herself walking home with her sister and she'd give anything to walk there again, only with the same ignorance as back then. Anna's rambling about something, probably about some sailor she thought was particularly good-looking, but Elsa's not paying attention. A long time ago, when these nightmares first started, she'd tried to tell Anna they had to go home fast, to stop a tragedy from happening even if it was only an illusion, but it never works. She's long stopped trying.

Slowly, the streets, the buildings, and the people morph into strange shapes, fading away into a bright, blinding white light. Anna and her surroundings, even the path she was walked on, have left her alone, merely accompanied by the light and a stone wall she's walking towards. A yellowed, old poster hangs on it and Elsa knows who she'll see.

The man from before is shown on it, an assassin, a high price on his head.

Elsa's hit with an overwhelming desire to run, to leave this goddamned space. She does not recognize this part of the nightmare and does not want to know what's coming. All she feels is the strong fear and nothing else. Her limbs have stopped reacting to her, refusing to move alltogether. Her eyes fixate on the familiar poster, glaring at it in utmost suspicion.

Her paranoia doesn't betray her. The man on the poster comes to life, shooting out of his paper prison like a fish out of water. Hands that feel like sandpaper close around her throat, making it incredibly hard to breathe all of a sudden.

He's choking her, and her whole body burns.

Just when Elsa thinks she might die for real, the scene changes yet again. She stands in front of her old home's front door, Anna standing next to her in a silence that feels abnormal for her. Someone left the door ajar.

She pushes the door open, once again not having a choice. The serene silence never fades, giving the hallway an eerie atmosphere, along with the smell she now recognizes as the smell of death. Anna looks disgusted and confused, trying to figure out what's happened.

The hallway is a mess. Elsa knows what they'll see if they cross it and enter the living room.

"Mom? Dad?" Anna shouts from somewhere in the distance.

Her parents don't answer. Of course they don't.

She hears Anna gasp when they see the mutilated corpses on the floor. Elsa wonders what expression lies on her own face. She's gotten used to seeing this. She isn't surprised anymore. The look of horror that used to be on her face when looking at this may have been replaced with an emotionless gaze, for all she knows. The only thought keeping her standing is the knowledge it'll all be over soon. She'll wake up in seconds and she can forget until next time. Seconds of watching the corpses, people who will never move again.

Mom and Dad turn out to have different definitions of 'dead' than Elsa does. Dead, to Elsa, means unmoving bodies with glazed eyes, it means the absence of a soul and a conscience. The rotting people in front of her aren't dead. Dead humans aren't supposed to move.

It's the second unfamiliar thing to her in the nightly, twisted show of hidden, stinging guilt. It's new. It's wrong. She should've woken up seconds ago.

Their faces are pale and bloody, already showing signs of rot. Their eyes roll in their sockets uncontrollably and they crawl, they crawl in her direction and she's still unable to move. They mutter words, but if those have a meaning at all, she can't find it. There is one thing she understands, a single sentence that haunts her almost every day:

"What have you done?"

She turns to Anna for help, for anything at all, but Anna's face looks the same as the haunting faces of the living dead in front of her.

The mansion grows darker and wider, removing her family for her, and for once Elsa doesn't complain. More people appear, all familiar faces. Hiccup, Jack, the rest of the crew... Merida. Elsa takes a step back in shock, almost slipping. Looking down, she sees ice. She looks away, trying to find a more pleasant sight, but to no avail. Jagged spikes of ice point from the walls, the ceiling and the floor alike, aimed dangerously at her and everyone she's ever loved.

There is no happines, no warmth in this room. There is only ice, cold, and too much pain for one person to take.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Elsa wakes up from her sleep that was anything but peaceful, breathing heavily. She feels a dull headache coming on and groans. Looking around, there is nothing out of the ordinary. She's lying in her own bed, able to look at her own desk and messy notes that are strewn everywhere, while her own ship slowly moves on the waves. Normal.

She likes her cabin. Though always on another ship, her cabin has never been anything but comforting, a safe zone, a place to hide from everything and everyone. Now, it feels more like a prison. She's trapped and the walls are slowly closing in on her. Briefly, she wonders if she hasn't woken up yet.

She doesn't feel it, she's unable to, but she knows the cold has clawed its way into the cabin. The temperatures have definitely dropped; it weighs down on her, making her want to get out. Elsa never quite realized how much she hates cold.

She pushes open the cabin door, stumbling out into the warmth of a summer night. The hot, caribbean temperatures Hiro tends to complain about feel more comforting than anything else. The sea is calm and gentle, not in a state to send huge amounts of water flying into her face. She walks to the front of the ship, leans on the ship a little and looks out over the sea, wondering what the massive body of water would look if it was covered in ice.

It's a warm summer night and she hopes it doesn't turn sour as it did all those years ago.

She doesn't know how long she's been standing outside, when someone's voice comes from behind her. "How are you still standing there without fucking melting?"

Elsa turns 180 degrees sharp, looking Merida straight in the eye. The girl looks like she's suffering a great deal in the heat, looking at Elsa like she's some heat-resistant creature. She laughs to herself in her mind; the opposite is true.

"Just couldn't sleep," she forces out, turning back to the sea, careful not to get too close to the red-haired girl.

Merida moves to stand next to her. "Nightmare?"

"How'd you know?"

"You mentioned a thing about having nightmares when you got shitfaced drunk a while ago. From only one glass, remember?"

Elsa laughs. "And where did that get us?"

Merida blinks a few times, still staring ahead in the distance. "It got us staring at some salty, glorified pond with no interesting sights whatsoever. How can you stand this?" She sounds both creeped out and mildly impressed. Elsa could have figured Merida did not have the same amount of patience as her.

"I don't know. What are you doing here anyway? It's late."

Merida scoffs. "You're awake too, you know?"

"That's not an answer."

"Well, I couldn't sleep either. It's a hot night."

"Right." Elsa enjoys Merida's company, but tonight she doesn't trust her magic. The nightmare lies too fresh in her memory and could still cause her to lose control. She turns around again. "Well, I think I'm going back to sleep-"

She's stopped by Merida's hand grabbing her own. She flinches involuntarily. Merida's looks calm enough, but her eyes are almost on fire. Elsa almost feels scared.

"Elsa, please. I've seen you stay awake for days just to avoid those bloody nightmares, and now you willingly go to sleep, all casual and happy? I don't believe that for a second."

Elsa swallows hard, wondering how she could be so stupid as to think Merida would believe such a lie. "Why else would I go, then?" She tries.

Merida's gaze only intensifies. "I know there's something you're keeping from us and I know it's bothering you. I just don't know what that something is."

Elsa stays silent, not in the right mind to answer. Merida's expression softens a little. "Look, I'm not trying to make you uncomfortable or anything, but I'm pretty sure we're dating now and I'd like to not be kept in the dark so much. I can help you, you know."

"No. No, you can't." Elsa removes her hand from Merida's grip, but deep down, she knows she won't escape tonight. She considers all her options carefully and they all lead to the same thing: Merida has to find out sometime. It might be for the best if she does so now.

Elsa merely hopes she won't regret the decision she makes.

"Maybe I can't, but we won't know until I try."

"Okay, okay! I'll tell you," Elsa says, putting her hands up in defense.

Merida smiles. "Thanks."

"Just don't freak out. Please?"

Merida nods, raising a confused eyebrow. "I won't?"

Elsa takes a deep breath, feeling the cold rise under her skin and letting it out slowly through her fingertips, creating a few small swirls of snowflakes. Harmless cold, the way she wants it to be. She's not out of control yet and eternally grateful for that.

When she finally gathers up the courage to look Merida in the eye, she's not sure what to expect. Merida's staring at her, a bit slack-jawed. She only regains her composure when Elsa snaps her fingers in front of her face, accidentally creating more snowflakes. She retracts her hand quickly.

"I'll admit, that's awesome. How are you doing that?" Merida asks, a hint of envy evident in her voice. She takes a step forward, while Elsa takes one back.

"Why were you hiding this?" Merida asks, trying to understand, but missing pieces of the puzzle.

"I don't… I don't have control. It slowly gets stronger and I don't know how long I'll be able to keep it hidden. I don't want to… to hurt you..." Elsa's voice trails off slowly. She doesn't know what else to say.

"You won't hurt me," Merida says full of confidence, not trying to close the distance between them this time. Elsa wonders how she can trust her so easily. "I won't let you hurt me, trust me. Please?"

Elsa doesn't trust a lot of people, but this is an exception. "Fine. I'll try."

"Good," Merida praises as she passes, kissing Elsa on the cheek in the process. Elsa feels her face heat up and Merida smirks. "Oh, look, you can be warm too."

"Sh-shut up."

Merida shrugs, walking towards the captain's cabin. "Mind if I test a little theory?"

"Theory?" Elsa asks, following the redhead inside.

Merida nods, her face lighting up when she enters the cabin and closes the door behind them. "Just as I thought. The temperature here is a lot better!"

"Better?" Elsa almost laughs out loud, pushing away some documents and sitting down on her desk. "It's just cold. I hate cold."

Merida's eyebrows furrow together. "Cold isn't the word I'd use to describe this." She flops down on Elsa's bed, as Elsa isn't using it anyway. "Cold is more like... the absence of warmth. This isn't like that. It's more of a nice, cool temperature. Chilly, but not cold."

Elsa blinks a few times, not taking her eyes off of Merida. Despite the girl's tendency to act impulsively, to act before thinking, she really does think. She's smarter and more observant than one would initially suspect, making her both so simple and complex at the same time.

"Done staring?"

"Huh? I was only thinking you really aren't as stupid as you look."

"… I feel I should be insulted…"

"Don't be. It was a compliment."

"Whatever." Merida yawns, stretching. "Wish the crew's quarters were as cool as this."

"You can sleep here, if you want; I'm not using the bed anyway."

Merida props herself up on the bed. "Why not? You need sleep to function."

Elsa tips her head to the side. "I know, I already got some sleep. I can function."

"Jesus Christ, do you hear yourself talking? Do you realize how bad you are at taking care of yourself?"

Elsa only shrugs half-heartedly. "I've been living on approximately 4 hours of sleep per night for a while now. I think I can manage."

Merida facepalms, grumbling something incoherent. "Get off of that desk and come here for a second, Elsa."

Elsa does as told, wondering what Merida wants and why she's following the command so easily. She sits down on the bed next to the other girl. "Now what?"

"Now we're both going to sleep." Merida says casually, pulling Elsa down and holding her closer.

"I-" Elsa tries to protest, but Merida's quick to shut her up.

"No, I'm positive you won't freeze me tonight, don't worry."

"But what if- my cold-"

"Calm down and relax. You won't hurt me. You're just nice and cool. It's kind of comfy like this."

Elsa has to admit she shares that opinion.

She isn't the easiest person to warm up to and she certainly doesn't warm up to people easily. It's a bit different with Merida. Lying next to her is strangely calming, her heartbeat even and her hair tickling just a little bit. Elsa finally manages to relax after a few minutes and she feels Merida's smile forming.

Maybe this isn't so bad. She finally closes her eyes, not minding having to do so for the first time in forever.

Chapter Text

"We need food," Elsa announces casually, leaning against the mast of the ship.

"That's right," Tadashi replies, "we are human beings. We can't function without food."

Elsa shakes her head. "Not what I meant, doc. We're running out of food, and as you pointed out so cleverly, we need that to survive."

"So we raid a ship, Captain. No big deal." Jack waves the issue away.

"Fantastic idea, Jack, a flawless plan," Elsa says, stepping away from the mast and spreading her arms, "do you see ships anywhere? I sure as hell don't."


"We're nearing Hans' hideout, according to your map," Hiccup says, "so can't we take food from him when we get there?"

"Considered it, but there's still a chance he's, you know..." she sneaks a quick glance at Merida, eyeing her reaction. "Not there."

"Fair enough. What do you propose?" Merida merely asks, ignoring what Elsa hinted at.

"Hiccup, what's the nearest settlement we can get something to eat?"

Hiccup thinks for a while. "Jamaica's pretty close. Port Royal would be a safe bet, though they've recently took some… measures against pirates. It would've been better if most of us stayed on the ship, to avoid suspicion."

"Alright." Elsa looks at her crew gathered before her. "If you volunteer to come with me, step forward."

No one moves. Elsa sighs; she'd expected a bit more of her crew.

"Let me ask you something else: if you don't not want to come, step forward." Double denial. She says it fast enough for people to not notice it.

Two people have come forward.

The first is Merida, which is… pretty bad. Merida would've been the last person she'd pick for this, to ensure her safety. Yet, she thinks she'd rather have Merida with her than one of the others.

The second is Hiro Hamada, the smart-mouthed boy in full-on puberty mode who isn't very fond of her. Elsa mentally curses God, the Kraken and all other deities or eldritch monsters that may exist in this wretched world. Problem children are never a good idea.

~~~~~~~~

"So, to make it clear, the rules are like in Corona, except this time we don't fight at the end," Elsa states, sporting the brightest, most awkward smile.

Hiro rolls his eyes as he leaves their pram, despite not even knowing what Elsa is referring to. "I grew up in that criminal's den. I don't need you to tell me what to do."

Elsa opens her mouth to inform the boy that, yes, she is the captain and she deserves his respect, but decides not to do it in fear of him running off on his own or doing something rash. God, she's too old for this. Or too young.

"The 'kill people if they're asking for it and make sure I get to look at you' rules? I'll try to stick to them.

Elsa blushes at Merida's use of that particular way to rephrase that kast rule, but nods.

"Yeah. Good."

Hiro's already ahead of them. Not good.

"Hey, Hiro! Get back here!" Elsa yells, forgetting all about subtlety for a split second.

The boy turns around but doesn't stop. He sticks out his tongue and his pace quickens. He's almost running.

"Do you think we should run after him?" Merida asks. "He might get himself killed if we don't."

"It's either running or get food first and then search for him."

"But then we're taking a risk. He might get killed or kidnapped or raped before we get to him."

"Hm. This is quite the dilemma. Let's really think this through for a second."

Merida squints; the setting sun makes it hard to see the Hamada boy, who's running farther and farther away from them.

"We're losing him, Elsa. We gotta decide fast."

Elsa looks the redhead right in the eye. "Who am I kidding? This is the part where we run like hell."

They run after Hiro, who catches on quickly. He starts moving even faster, leaving the beach and entering Port Royal.

"Hey, I thought you were going for subtle there, Elsa!" Merida yells as they almost trample a merchant in their haste.

"Fuck subtle! Tadashi is a gunman and I don't want to find out what he'll do if I lose his little brother!"


They watch as Hiro comes to a sudden halt by bumping into a soldier dressed in red; British. They stop too, not entirely ready for this conversation.

"What do you think you're doing, boy?" The soldier snarls at the scrawny kid in front of him. Hiro winces at the tone.

Elsa thinks fast. "Sorry to bother you, sir! He's with us."

The soldier huffs. "Keep him in check, woman. I don't like troublemakers-" his eyes widen and he gives Elsa a quick onceover. "Say, don't I know you from somewhere? Perhaps from a wanted poster?"

Elsa dies a little inside under his harsh gaze, but talks anyway. "Me and my redhaired friend here? We're just lowly escorts of his majesty, our lord and saviour, the youngest child of the Japanese emperor."

Hiro stifles a laugh and the soldier raises an eyebrow. "Do I need bring a doctor?"

Elsa gets down on her knees. "No, no, don't need one! I've been tasked to protect his highness with my own life and no doctor can stop me from doing so!"

"She's always like this," Merida tells the soldier for the good effect, barely keeping a straight face.

"I don't have time for this," the soldier says, walking away from them without another look.

"Wow. Rude," Elsa mutters, getting up and wiping the dust of het clothes.

Behind her, Merida and Hiro start to laugh.

"Traitors. I did the right thing."

"Prince of Japan? Captain, you've almost earned some respect from me. Almost," Hiro laughs, making sure to emphasize that last word.

"We never speak of what happened here today. Never."

"Maybe," Merida promises playfully, earning a glare.

"To show some appreciation, captain, I'll listen to your orders. Only for today."

"Thanks, Hiro," Elsa mumbles, scratching the back of her neck. "Let's find something to eat."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

By the time they've found food, darkness has already fallen over Port Royal

The shop's owner was a friendly woman who was to send an employee with them to help take the food to their pram. The man chats quietly with Hiro, pulling along a cart full of food and water.

"I'm telling you, we could've been back a lot faster if you hadn't left all those other stores without paying in the past."

"I made some mistakes in the past. I don't think I'll do it again."

Merida narrows her eyes. "Wait, don't tell me you're not going to pay this-"

"How about we don't talk about that while the store guy is still here?"

"Fine. Let's remember our promise not to fight," Merida says, taking Elsa's hand in the process. Elsa flinches.

"No, you won't accidentally kill me or hurt me," Merida reassures once again.

"Don't… how can you... how can you be so relaxed about all… you know… this?" Elsa asks.

"Your freezy little issue?"

"If that's what you want to call it, yes."

"I don't know, actually. I thought I was gonna freak out at first, but I think I just started trusting you at some point."

She squeazes Elsa's hand a little. "By the way, what you said earlier, about Hans maybe not being where we think he is... I didn't comment on it before, but... do you really think he's not there?"

Elsa averts her eyes and stares at the ground, suddenly very interested in the dirty, dusty street. "That's really not something I can answer easily."

She can almost feel Merida's smile falter and it hurts.

"Listen, I don't want you to get your hopes up, but honestly? I do think he's there. There's no good enough reason he wouldn't be."

Merida face lights up in a second and she releases Elsa's hand, only to sling an arm around the captain's shoulders to bring her closer. Elsa laughs.

"Hey, don't do that without warning me!"

"Thank you."

"For what?"

"For being honest with me. And for giving me that ridiculously adorable smile again."

"It's nothing."

"Hey, captain, you're right on your way of losing my respect again," Hiro yells out into the night.

"So be it then!"

"Can you at least let each other go for a second? Hiro's trying to sound malicious, but his grin is earsplitting.

"Keep walking, kid!"

 

Chapter Text

CHAPTER 10

The nightmares slowly fade away.

Merida coming to the captain's cabin at night has become a repetitive happening, a strange ritual that somehow works for them. When the redhaired girl showed up in her little space of cold the night after she'd spent a peaceful night there, Elsa had still been sitting at her desk, looking at the various magical spells and techniques messily displayed on her desk.

She'd asked what Merida came for, but the girl just sat down on the bed with a wide smile and said: "keeping you company. It's still nice and cool here."

Somewhere, buried deep in that casual answer, Elsa had found a slightly worried tone. Merida came for the nice temperature, to enjoy her company and most important of all, to make sure she was okay.

Elsa could only smile in response.

And just like that, the nightmares became less frequent.

She couldn't quite figure out precisely what it was that changed. Maybe it was Merida's presence, someone warm and safe, someone who didn't fear her even when she had all reasons to do just that. Being with Merida made her feel calm and appreciated, and honestly?

That was a nice feeling.

"Hey, Elsa?" Merida asks. Elsa looks up from her hastily scribbeled notes.

"What is it?"

"Remember when you said Hans might've used hypnosis to make everyone at home forget about my mother?"

Elsa nods, pushing her reading glasses up with two fingers. "I remember you thinking I was crazy when I suggested it."

She feels generous enough to form two snowflakes, unique in shape and color, and allows them to twirl around, using her fingers to play with them gently. Her curse seems more controllable in situations like these, where she doesn't stress out as much as she does normally. It can't be a coincidence Merida is always there when she feels more in control.

Merida's face turns a dark shade of red, possibly out of embarrasment. "Yeah, well, I've been thinking it through and it sounds plausible enough."

"It does?" Elsa smirks and sends the tiny snowflakes up into the air, in Merida's direction. "What made you change your mind?"

One of the snowflakes lands on the redhead's nose and she wipes it off, pulling a funny face. Elsa laughs.

"Oh, come on, I'm sure you wouldn't believe in magic either if you hadn't seen it with your own eyes!"

"Can't say you're wrong."

Elsa's eyes focus on her papers again, but she still hears Merida's question: "If Hans can hypnotize people, how do we defeat him?"

Elsa looks her dead in the eye. "I don't know."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A week goes by and they are nearing Hans' hideout.

Elsa can feel the tension on the ship. It's present in everyone aboard the ship, from carefree Jack to rebellious Hiro. Even the food Cook makes tastes a little different, as if the woman's mind is in some place that isn't her kitchen or even the ship.

Elsa had told her crew about her theory.

She told them a short account of what happened on Motonui, the island Hans left her on, about a friendly tribe with magical abilities and Hans' encounter with them. She told them about her own meeting with them, about what they told her about Hans. She told them about the Dunbroch raids, the disappearance of Elinor Dunbroch and the peculiar reactions of her family members.

She told them about everything, except her own magic.

She had taken a risk by sharing this info with them; if they wanted, they could've had her thrown overboard right there. A captain isn't supposed to lie to her crew, even if the lies turn out to be the truth all along.

Hiccup might've saved her, by not missing a beat and asking her what she was planning to do. Her crew trusted her, but Hiccup, her oldest friend, was more trusted by them by far. His faith in her and his knowledge of her 'freezy little issue', as Merida had called it so elegantly, had made sure her crew didn't question her words too much.

They had believed her story and mentally prepared themselves for the battle to come.

Elsa can see land in the distance, just a tiny dot in the water, a tiny black dot that stands out against the clear, blue sky. Hiccup is standing next to her, looking through his spyglass.

"That has to be the place we're looking for. 'S got your old ship and all, on that beach."

Elsa squints, but can't see a thing.

"Give me that, I want to see it too." Merida, who had been standing on her other side, holds out her hand, demanding Hiccup's spyglass. He gives Elsa a questioning look.

"Give her the spyglass, Hic. You can go tell the crew to get themselves ready."

Hiccup nods, handing his redhaired friend the spyglass before walking away, shouting quick and clear orders.

Merida gazes at the island through the spyglass. "That doesn't look like an evil hideout at all. Just beach and a forest of palm trees."

"You were expecting dead trees, murky water and a rock in the shape of a skull? Think again."

Merida laughs, knowing full well Elsa's just trying to lighten the mood. She also knows there's still one thing they haven't talked about yet. Now might be the best time to discuss it, for there might not be another calm moment before the storm like this one.

"What do we do about my mother?"

Elsa blinks a few times, not knowing what Merida means. "We take her with us on the ship, obviously?"

Merida shakes her head. "No, not that. I mean, do we tell her about… you know. Us."

Elsa clickes her tongue, leaning on the ship's railing in an almost lazy way. "I don't think that's a good idea."

"It'll be difficult to hide, though. She's perceptive."

"Yes, but she was already happy to be able to lynch me before I even met you. I'm afraid she won't be happy if she finds out."

"What do you suggest then?"

Elsa gives this question some thought, choosing the words of her answer carefully. Slowly, she says: "We pretend nothing ever happened between us. We're just a pirate captain and a royal passenger. From now on, you'll go back to disliking me."

"That might be hard to do."

"Not really. Lots of people manage to do it easily."

Merida doesn't look convinced and Elsa keeps talking.

"You don't really have to dislike me, you just have to act. It'll be like a play, just a little less dramatic."

Merida's eyes remain focused on the moving water with its dancing waves and white seafoam. "I always stayed home when my family visited plays."

For a split second, Elsa is transported back to the past, when she felt safe and happy and all she worried about was school. It's a past filled with memories of a time when life was pleasant and easy, there in that upper-class mansion where they lived like the richest of royals. She shakes the thoughts away.

"Plays are overrated anyway."

She turns to Merida and gives her a quick kiss on the lips, before turning away to find Hiccup. "You still have that sword, right? Make sure you stay safe on that island."

Merida promises she will.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hans Westerguard will not die today, Elsa thinks to herself, a smile on her face.

What they would do with Hans, the man behind the whole mess, was decided quickly. Elsa would let her crew fight off her old one that now belonged to Hans, giving her the time to find and fight the bastard, bringing him back alive.

"I think we might as well keep him alive," Merida had said as they searched the island, "the people of Dunbroch would love to see him hang at the gallows."

Elsa had nodded. "I can imagine that's what they want."

They had agreed to let Hans live, so he could face his victims in Dunbroch, and Elsa felt strangely calm about it.

At first she wanted to kill Hans after he gave her the necessary information, to make him pay for his crimes against her and her family, but those feelings were buried away deep inside of her now. Hans would get what he deserved, but she wouldn't have to kill him. That alone made it worth it. Elsa's profession of choice had made her used to frequently taking lives, but she preferred to keep the number low.

Walking through the underground cave that functions as Westerguard's lair, she leaves her crew behind, the sound of clashing swords slowly fading away as she moves along. The air feels wet and hot and her shoes are soaked with water.

There's a big, open space, shining with a soft blue glow caused by slivers of rays of sunshine falling down on the rocks.

Hans Westerguard is sitting in the middle, on a rough-looking rock, polishing his sword. He looks up, alert, and shock becomes visible in his eyes.

"You… you are a ghost."

"I'm very much real." Elsa unsheathes her sword, grasping it firmly with two hands and avoiding eye contact at all costs. He won't be able to hypnotize her that way. "You should've killed me when you had the chance."

Hans snarls, taking on a fighting stance. His intentions cannot be mistaken.

He swings his sword at her wildly, but she manages to block him and ducks away quickly. She follows her regular pattern, focusing on defense rather than attack, hoping Hans will not catch on to what she's doing.

"I know you hypnotized the Dunbroch family. How do we undo that spell?" Elsa asks, still never meeting his eyes. Hans is the type to let slip that kind of information, thinking too highly of himself to consider not telling.

"You'll never find it," he growls, delivering another strong blow with no effect whatsoever. "I hid the notes in a little brown chest that my first mate has. He'll defend it with his life, I'm telling you."

"Thanks." Elsa smirks, circling around him to avoid his swinging sword. "I'll definitely keep that in mind. Now, I want to know where-"

She makes her first big mistake.

Distracted by the answer Hans gave and the forming of her own words, she lets her guard down. His sword seems to come at her in slow motion; in a flash, she realizes he will cut her left hand, her hand she uses to fight, clean off.

It's what he would've done if he hadn't been knocked back against the stone walls of the cave.

She takes a step back in shock as she realizes he got knocked back by a blast of ice from her hand: she's used the secret weapon she didn't want to reveal yet.

Hans groans in pain, placing his hand over his heart. Snowflakes stick to his clothes and to Elsa's confusion, his hair whitens slowly.

"What did you do to my sister, bastard?" Remembering what she came here for, Elsa's anger flares. Hans scrambles to his feet, still clutching his heart. He does not make an effort to pick his sword up again

"What the fuck did you do to me, you little bitch-"

"What happened to Anna, Hans!?" She pushes the point of her sword against his throat and he swallows hard.

"I don't know," he says slowly, "I put her and the giant blond guy in a broken pram and sent them off. I told her to go back to where she came from."

Elsa pushes harder. "You're lying."

"I speak the truth."

"Then what did she say to you?"

"She said she would do just that."

Elsa removes the sword from his throat, taking a step back and breathing heavily. She gives him a quick once-over and it scares her: his hair is white as snow now, his fingers turning a sickening shade of transparent blue, cold air radiates off of him in the dampness of the cave.

"You know what I told her before I sent her off?" Hans pants.

Elsa shakes her head.

"I told her I would soon go back to Motonui to pick you up. I told her it was your plan from the start."

The temperature drops more and Hans screams as he looks at his body, more and more of his body parts turning into solid ice at a rapid pace. Elsa's anger reaches its peak as she stares at him with clenched teeth, unable to stop herself from hurting him like this. His heart is frozen, his body freezes faster the angrier she gets, her curse takes over completely.

His body is almost fully frozen as he takes one last leap at her, his sword in his hand again, in an attempt to bring her down with him. She holds out her hands reflexively, her body reacting to the situation, and it's her second big mistake.

Another blast of ice and snow flies at her enemy and his eyes widen in shock.

And the blast hits his icy body.

And he shatters.

He shatters into thousands of tiny pieces, little shards of ice that were once a real, living, breathing human being. They rain down on her like fast-falling hail, barely different fron the normal kind.

Feeling numb, Elsa sinks to her knees, picking up one of the broken pieces and studying it closely. She examines it, carefully, but the only thing suggesting this was once a person is a light shade of red. A shade of blood.

Hans Westerguard has died today, Elsa thinks to herself, tears streaming down her face.

She doesn't move, not realising how much time passes. When her crew finds her, Hans Westerguard is gone. Her tears haven't stopped falling yet.

Chapter Text

Merida doesn't understand what exactly happened in Hans' hideout.

He's dead, she knows that much. Elsa must've killed him unintentionally. What confuses her is how that could happen and why there wasn't a body.

She asked various crew members what they thought, careful not to reveal their captain's icy secret. They knew even less than she did. All they knew was that they found the Snow Queen in a bad state and that they hadn't seen her since.

Only Hiccup seemed to know a little more.

Merida asked Elsa a few days ago if she was the only one who knew the secret, but the blonde denied that.

"Hiccup knows," she told the redhead, "I trust him. He won't spill a thing."

Merida asked Hiccup about the incident with Hans Westerguard, the day after it happened.

"I get you know about... it?" The first mate had asked her, and she'd nodded.

"Elsa told me a while back."

Hiccup had smiled, but shook his head. "Only Elsa herself knows exactly what happened there, and you know she's not opening that door." He'd given a meaningful nod towards the door of the captain's cabin.

"Do you think she'll open the door for one of us?" Merida had tried, starting to feel hopeful.

"You can try, but I don't think so. Not now, at least. But don't you have other things to do? How's your mother adjusting?"

"She's as much of a nightmare as normal. She hates it here."

Hiccup had just laughed at that.

Merida'd walked up to Elsa's door on her way to her mother's temporary residence and knocked. "Hey, it's me."

A muffled 'go away' was all she'd gotten. Feeling annoyed, she would've kicked the door in if there weren't more pressuring matters to attend to.

Those matters meaning, her mother.

"Pirates, Merida! You approached pirates! You could've been killed!"

Merida rolls her eyes. "Yes, mother, you've repeated that 8 times. I think I understand now."

Elinor nods. "You can't ever really trust a pirate, Merida. I've told you a hundred times."

"More like a thousand times. But what did you want me to do, mom? Leave you to rot there?"

"You could've tried to find a way to make your father send out a search party. You could've asked Macintosh, or Dingwall, or-"

"You know they wouldn't have let me come with them. They would've told me it was too dangerous for me to come."

"Because that's what it is!" her mother raises her voice ever so slightly, just enough to let her daughter know she isn't messing around. "You're my daughter and I want for you to be safe, in Dunbroch. I'm trying to protect you. That's what you do for people you care about!"

Merida, understanding her mother's reasoning, bites back the comment she wanted to make about Elsa almost slitting her throat weeks ago, in the harbour of the 'safe' Dunbroch.

"So you're saying you're only trying to keep me safe, even if the way you do it in doesn't make me happy?"

Elinor nods, slowly. "Sometimes, what has to be done isn't nice or fun."

"But what has to be done isn't always for you to decide. I can take care of myself."

Elinor remains silent. Good, Merida thinks, I've made my point. All she can do is wonder why everyone she's remotely close to always adopts that same mentality, that godforsaken 'I'm just trying to protect you...'

As it turns out, Elsa Arens isn't so different from Elinor Dunbroch.

And soon, Elsa Arens will learn the exact same lesson. Merida will make sure of that.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I said it before," Elsa begins, "and I will say it again. Go away."

"Can't even make an exception for your First Mate and best friend?" Hiccup, who knocked on her door, asks.

"No."

She hears him sigh. "If you don't open the door, I'll break it down personally. If I don't do that, I fear Merida will, and I doubt her mother wouldn't think of that as suspicious."

He's right. It's been three days. Slowly, Elsa opens the door.

"I'd feel terribly sorry for the door if you broke it," she states in a flat voice.

Hiccup, looking shocked, either because he didn't expect her to open the door or because she looks so horribly unhealthy, steps in. He closes the door behind him quickly, making sure no one can spy on them.

"Sit down, Hiccup."

He shivers as he takes his seat; Elsa can see it from the corner of her eye. It's never been this cold in her cabin before. Even though she can't feel it, she knows.

"You're not doing so good," is all he says.

"Good enough."

She looks him in the eyes and sees nothing but concern.

"You were pretty fast with letting me in. Why is that?"

She doesn't reply.

"Elsa."

"I… I didn't want to let anyone in. It would be too dangerous."

"That's not an answer. I'll ask again: why is it you let me in?"

"You promised me something before we left for Hans."

Elsa watches as Hiccups eyes narrow. His brows furrow together and he opens his mouth a little, trying to figure out what she means. When he finally understands what she means, his eyes widen. "You can't be serious."

"I am."

"No, you don't know what you're saying. Shut up-"

"No, you shut up!" Elsa jumps out of her chair, jabbing a finger in her first mate's face. "You promised me you'd kill me if I became dangerous, and I'm sure as hell dangerous! What are you even waiting for?"

Hiccup follows his friend's example and rises from his seat. "You killed one person, Elsa, one, and that person must've done something to make you do that! We aren't Hans. I don't believe you're dangerous to us."

"Maybe not, but I don't want to take the risk."

"Merida said you got more control. You were doing good. So why can't things be like that again?"

"Because I don't want you guys to end up like Hans."

"And I'm telling you, on behalf of everyone on this ship, we won't. Please. I have no reason to kill you."

Elsa smiles. "Thank you for trusting me." She unsheathes her sword. "But that was the wrong decision."

Hiccup swallows hard as he feels the sharp point of the sword on his throat. "What are you doing-"

"If you need a reason," she says, her voice sounding monotone, "then I'll give you one."

Hiccup dodges the blade's swing and ducks, before moving away as fast as he can with his peg-leg. He unsheathes his own sword. "I'm not going to fight to kill you, just so you know. And I know you won't either."

Elsa tries again to stab him, but he blocks her slash. She knows her fighting isn't as controlled as usual, but it doesn't matter; she's not fighting to kill anyway.

"What's the point of fighting if both of us hold back?" Hiccup tries again. "It won't lead anywhere. You're not trying to kill me-"

"Stop talking!"

"-and I'm still not trying to kill you. Your approach isn't working, Elsa."

"I told you to stop talking."

"And I tell you to give up, or I'll be forced to hurt you."

Knowing her plan isn't working, Elsa drops her sword. "As your captain, I order you to end this."

"As your first mate, I refuse your order."

She turns her back to Hiccup, too scared to look him in the eye. "If you're so adamant on keeping me alive, you might as well propose a good solution to the problem."

"I have an idea. Not necessarily a solution, but something that'll give me time to think. You're not going to like it very much."

It takes Elsa a few seconds to register what happens next. She feels hard metal hit her and her hand slowly travels to the back of her head. Her hair feels sticky as she looks at the blood in her palm.

"I'm sorry, Elsa."

The world in front of her disappears, fading into darkness. She loses her consciousness.

Chapter Text

"You did what?"

Hiccup backs away in shock, putting his hands up as a way to protect himself from her oncoming rage.

"I had no choice, Mer! She was going to do something stupid!"

Merida sinks back in her chair, grumbling to herself. She eyes Hiccup carefully as he lowers his defenses, just in case he admits to doing more crazy things.

"I'm not saying you did a bad thing, I'm just saying what you did wasn't the best thing you could've done."

Hiccup lowers his eyes to the ground. "I don't know what she would've done if I didn't do it. Elsa's unpredictable and she looked so… serious. About everything she said.

Merida rolls her eyes in exasperation, her mind wandering to the blonde pirate captain. She knows what Elsa did, what Hiccup did to her in return, and all she wants to know is why.

She gets up, looking Hiccup in his eyes, her own burning with fire and determination. "It's time someone brings her back to reality."

She walks past him, but he stops her with a fast-placed hand on her shoulder. "You'll get hurt again if you go there. I've seen it before. Maybe you should take a break and leave it to someone else this time."

Merida blinks. "It's Elsa. She wouldn't hurt me."

"I wasn't talking about physical pain." Hiccup never averts his eyes. They maintain dangerous eye contact, trying to see who lasts the longest.

"It doesn't bother me!" Merida finally spits. "And if I d0n't do it, who will? You and I are the people she trusts the most here! The others don't even know what exactly's going on!"

"That's another problem right there," Hiccup mutters, "if Elsa doesn't take up her duties as captain again within the next few days, there will be a mutiny. The crew might care about her, but we're still pirates. Don't think for a second they won't waste time picking a new captain."

"The best candidate for the job would be you, Hiccup. I'm sure they'd choose you and I know you don't want to do anything bad to Elsa."

"It's not about what I want," he hisses in reply, "if I, as captain, let my personal relationship to Elsa get in the way of the way I treat her then, it will be a sign of weakness! Then if they elect someone else, things might go bad for all of us."

Merida gulps. "You really think they'll do things like that? They're good people." Thoughts of laid-back Jack, caring Tadashi and grumpy Hiro flood her mind. No, she doesn't believe that.

"They're good people, yes," Hiccup says, "but they're also good pirates. I don't want to wait and see which side of them becomes dominant when everything goes to shit."

"So we need Elsa to start doing her job again, and who's better for getting that done than me? Maybe you, but you tried already, so let me go. Hiccup, please…"

Hiccup sighs and crosses his arms. "You remind me very much of Anna today. Just as determined to help Elsa."

"Is that a yes or a no?"

"If you want to give it a try, I won't stop you. Just don't come crying to me if things don't go the way you want them to go."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Merida does not bother to knock.

"Not you too." Elsa is conscious, avoiding her gaze. She's sitting in her chair, the one she always sits in. Merida takes a few steps forward, but Elsa does not protest.

"You're not going to tell me to step away today?"

Elsa's head snaps up, her eyes finding Merida's and burning into them. "No. My hands are tied anyway." She says it calmly, but the venom her voice is laced with remains audible. Merida finds herself thinking Hiccup made a good decision when it came to that.

"What did you come here for?" The captain asks flatly.

"I'm here to warn you," Merida says, taking a few more steps forward and resting her hands on Elsa's desk.

"Warn me?"

"Yes. If you keep acting like this, you'll lose everyone and everything you ever cared about. Is that what you want?"

Elsa averts her gaze. "What I want and what I need are two very different things."

"What if I told you that what you need isn't what you think it is?"

"Go on."

"Look, before the Hans incident," -Elsa fliches- "you were happy with us and you had perfect control. Then Hans said… whatever, and you lost it. No one here would deliberately upset you like that. Do you see what I'm getting at?"

Elsa smiles with empty eyes. "Face the facts, Merida Dunbroch: if you all need to watch your every move just so I won't accidentally kill you, that's bad for all of us. I'm better off gone."

"I think you're just too blind to see you're not half as bad as you think you are. We can also take care of ourselves, you know."

Elsa doesn't reply to that.

"I'm going to untie you right now, okay?"

Elsa shifts in her chair, but doesn't protest. Merida removes the piece of rope with ease, gazing up at Elsa expectantly.

"So, are you ready to become our captain again?"

"No." Elsa stands up, straightening her jacket. "But I'll try."

Merida resists the urge to pull her into a hug and gives her a light push forward instead. "If you say or do anything ridiculous, you won't live to tell the story, alright?"

Elsa smiles. "As if you could kill me."

She pushes open her cabin's door, letting the warm sunlight flood in for the first time in days. A few crew members look up, suprised to see their captain again. Elsa fixes them with a mere look, wordlessly motioning them to keep working.

"Hey, Merida? Where's your mother?"

Merida raises an eyebrow. "Hiccup put a bed and such in an unnused storage room. It's her new private residence. Why?"

"I realised we never gave her a proper welcome." The words sound dark and Merida follows Elsa down, curious and worried about what might happen.

Eleanor Dunbroch, sitting elegantly on dirty bedsheets, does not grace them with a smile.

"Hello, Merida. And who might this be?"

Elsa replies before Merida has a chance. "I'm the captain of this ship."

Eleanor's eyes widen. "Not the man with the pegleg?"

"He's the first mate," Elsa states, pushing her hands into her pockets. "And I highly doubt he explained all the ship rules, seeing how everything turned chaotic."

Eleanor nods, never taking her eyes off of Elsa. The captain paces around a little, Merida sees, a prime sign to recognize a nervous, restless person.

"Please do explain them, Captain…?" The sarcasm cuts. The temperature drops ever so slightly. Merida subtlely touches Elsa's hand for a second, to ler her know everything is okay. The temperature goes back to normal.

"I'm the Snow Queen. My name isn't important for you."

Eleanor sends her a steely glare that rivals her own. Elsa grits her teeth.

"The only important thing you need to know right now, is that everyone here has more authority than you. You are the lowest. If anyone, even your daughter, gives you an order, you listen. You obey. Is that clear?"

Eleanor narrows her eyes. "Even the deck swab-"

"That boy is more important to this ship than you ever will be," Elsa snaps, stopping her pacing immediately. Now it's Eleanor's turn to feel threatened.

Elsa turns around, not looking at either Dunbroch woman anymore. "That's all there is to this. Have a nice day."

She walks away without looking back.

"Is she always like this?" Eleanor asks her daughter. "How did you survive on this trip so far?"

"Honestly? I don't know," she replies, not showing her mother the smile on her face.