Warnings: Norse mythology references
Characters: Elsa, Jokul
Summary: Across the room stands something ancient and terrible in the shape of a man. But she knows better.
Ao3 | FF.net
Elsa knows what this might look like to others.
She, her face flustered and her hair askew, stands with her hands half-raised and curled, magic dancing at her fingertips and the slightest edge of naked fear in her eyes. She must look a fright, like a thing half-mad.
Across the room stands something ancient and terrible in the shape of a man. Were it not for the unmistakable evidence of his nature and the complete lack of fear he shows at her display of power, he might have seemed a mere innocent at her mercy. But she knows better.
Oh, his disguise had been good, she does grant him that, but it had not fooled her for very long: there had been too many inconsistencies in his claims and his mannerisms, echoes of a bygone era that now only the trolls understood the full measure of. And so she had gone to confront him.
The graceful ease with which he had batted aside her power, however, had been entirely unexpected.
“Who are you?” she demands archly, her magic bristling with the full weight of her authority brought to bear.
The man – no, creature before her smiles and it is a jarring thing, all teeth, and it gives the impression of icicles like daggers. His eyes, once a warm brown, now shine the frigid blue of old sea ice, and his skin slips from fair to a deathly white. Hoarfrost crawls slowly from his skin to his clothes and spreads across the floor from his feet. “You know who I am,” he says, at last, and in his voice is the rumble of landslides and glaciers separating.
And she does, in a way that defies her conscious ability to explain, but she dares not give an inch: she is the ruler here, not he, and that, too, is something she understands instinctively as paramount.
“Your name,” she demands.
The illusion slips that much more and she can see the way his skin and hair shimmers beneath a thick rime of frost. “I have many names,” he answers, stepping towards her. “I am Icicle.”
He steps forward again. “I am Frost.”
Again, he takes a step and though he is of a lean, sharp build, he is suddenly dwarfing her. “I am the son of the Wind and the father of Snow.”
On the edge of her senses, Elsa can feel the storm in him: it is a blizzard that doesn’t end, a blizzard that she had previously only believed to exist in myth and legend and one that makes her endless winter look like a child’s effort by comparison. With each step he takes closer, he grows only larger and the storm greater still. It howls through him, around him, within him – he is the storm and the howling wind and snow.
“I come down from the north every year with my children,” he intones, bowing his head as it begins to scrape the ceiling, “Tracing the mountain paths as I have done since ancient times. And I have watched the line of your people from the beginning, shared with your kin my blood and power.”
And, in that moment, she knows him completely. All fear flees her and she lowers her arms.
The world stretches and slides and he is once more cloaked in the shape of a man, no more extraordinary than the next. It is such a laughably small container, she thinks, for one such as him.
He smiles at her, a too-wide thing showing far too many teeth. His breath issues from between his clenched teeth like smoke from a dragon’s mouth. Overall, it is a grin that only serves to make him appear more feral.
But then, she supposes, given what he must truly be, it is to be expected.
“What business do you have with me, giant?” Elsa asks, after a moment. “Why have you come?”
His eyes gleam with the shimmer of ice-covered snow in sunlight and he laughs. “Have you not noticed? Summer has run its course, my dear, and so I have come, as I am bound to and as I have done for countless years and will do for ages to come. Only now, you can see me, for now you believe.”
What he thinks she believes in he does not say, but she knows what he implies all the same. Her magic bristles and itches in her fingertips, thrumming in heart, and she lets it go, lets it fizzle as her irritation at his presumption is sublimated by reason. She watches him, confident in herself, in her power, in her authority.
“Rest assured, your majesty,” he says, his smile razor-sharp with amusement, “I shall harm none that do not fail to respect my power, as it has always been for your kind, and I shall leave with the turning of the seasons, as is tradition. Whether or not you wish to continue to see me in the course of my travels – that, I’m afraid, is entirely up to you.”
He pauses then and again his presence seems to dwarf her, smothering in its greatness. Snow gathers, swirling around him, and the windows rattle, shaking until they unlatch as his form becomes obscured in the whirling flakes. His voice booms, keening with the sense of a wolf’s howl on a frozen mountain: “But know this – I see you now, too.”
The snow gathers and rushes, blasting out through the open window in a torrent and melting into the raging blizzard beyond. Nothing is left in the room, save for Elsa and the lingering frost where he had once stood. He, the giant, is gone, but she can still feel his presence. It is everywhere, in the storm, in the wind, in the old snow and the new alike, and she can feel his eyes on her.
The shiver that slips down Elsa’s spine has nothing to do with the cold.
She shuts the window anyway.