It seemed as though someone had gone over the dark blue sky with a paintbrush, leaving streaks of orange and purple hues along its surface. The clouds hung low over sleepy little Corona, and all but the birds seemed to be awake this morning.
All but the birds, and Mattias.
Former-Lieutenant Destin Mattias was an early riser, and admired the tranquility that morning brought about. He stuck his head out the window, breathing in the cool air and looking up at the sky feeling fondness in his heart. From where he stood he could see rows of houses and multiple store signs and he smiled again. Though it slept soundly through the early morning, Corona was always teeming with life at noon. He enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the town, and he especially liked the tight-knit community, but there was something about peaceful mornings that made him reminiscent of life elsewhere. At this thought he chuckled lightly to himself and scratched his chin. It was too early to bury one’s self in such deep thoughts. Perhaps age was catching up to him, and he was becoming one of those grandfathers who talked too much about the past to live in the present. Whatever the matter was, he pushed it aside for now and busied himself. Today was important.
Just as daylight began to creep in through the windows, he stepped out of his room into the corridor and began making his daily rounds. He was a volunteer at Corona’s residential child care center and though he had his own place he slept here more often due to his attachment to the children. Being a single man of nearly fifty, he often fell into a somber state when left alone. He had wanted a family of his own with a woman from his youth who he had sworn to marry but when he enlisted in the military, they were driven onto separate paths and he hadn’t heard from her since. He pushed these thoughts out of his head.
The kids at the center brought a pop of color into his otherwise bleak life, and he was content. He made his way around the facility, tidying up and sorting out paperwork from the night before. He didn’t dare enter the kitchen, knowing that the resident cook, Selena, would be there any minute and quickly shoo him out again anyway.
After everything that needed to be taken care of was done, he arrived at a plain white door, identical to all the other doors in this wing of the center. He brought his fist up to its surface and knocked. A grunt sounded from inside and he took that as a signal to enter.
There wasn’t much in the small room but somehow the clutter seemed to be everywhere. Clothes and papers were strewn across the floor. No, wait. He picked one of the papers up off of the ground and upon closer inspection he realized what it was. He grabbed a few of them and placed them on the mostly-empty desk. There were two beds in this room but only one of them was occupied at the moment. At the far end of the room, a not-so-tiny lump groaned as the sun hit her face, rolling onto her side. Mattias smiled fondly and sat at the foot of the bed. He tapped her gently. “It’s time to get up.”
She opened one eye and upon seeing who it was groaned even more and covered her face with her arm. “I really don’t want to.” She felt a shift of weight at the edge of her bed and hoped that it meant he had given up on waking her, but after a moment there was just another dip to the other side of the bed. Her bag, most probably. “Maren, you haven’t even packed yet. They’ll be here any moment now.” His voice was soft yet firm all at once, and she knew he was just looking out for her but—
“Do I have to go?” She sat up, running a hand through her messy hair.
“I’m gonna end up back here in a few months, anyway.” He gave her a small, reassuring smile and clasped her hand between both of his.
“I promise you, these ones are different. They’re friends of mine.” His voice shook with sincerity but still she narrowed her eyes and cocked her head, but after no more than a few heartbeats she sighed.
“Alright, alright. I’ll pack.” At this, the elder gave a little fist pump and exclaimed a little celebratory ‘yes!’ She couldn’t help but crack the tiniest of smiles. “Help me?” The girl motioned to the messy room, and he obliged.
Honeymaren was a snarky girl with a reputation for running away. She was notorious for talking back to whoever took her in, and if she didn’t do that, she would up and leave if she had enough of them. Even at the center, she had difficulty forming any friendships with the other kids, and seemed disinterested at any and all events that entailed socializing. She wasn’t well-liked at the center but she was usually excused for her behaviour. Mattias always had her back, and she felt as though she owed him for that.
She had also turned seventeen a month earlier than today, and since the last time she had been brought back, she had insisted on staying at the center until she turned eighteen since she would always find her way back there anyway. She had been bounced around households and brought back so many times that by now she was indifferent. She had joked that she was trying to set a record, but Mattias didn’t laugh. She knew he pitied her she hated being pitied. It made her feel small. It wasn’t like she had much to ground her, given her difficulty with people, and she never stuck around long enough for them to get attached to her, anyway.
At this point, all she wanted was to be legal and not have to deal with living with strangers who didn’t want her anyway anymore. She’d been through a lot for someone her age but she was so closed off that it didn’t seem to affect her anymore. The only one who truly understood her was Mattias, since she had known him since she had first entered the foster system, but even he couldn’t get through to her when she didn’t want him to.
She tried hard not to think about it, but every time she had to pack her bag bad memories came rushing back to her. It made her saliva feel like tar as she swallowed thickly. Though she wouldn’t say anything, she still shook slightly. As she haphazardly folded her clothes and stuffed her belongings into her backpack, a sharp pain jolted through her skull. One of her ears were ringing and her body felt heavy but she wouldn’t do this now. She didn’t want to admit to it being too much, so she pushed those thoughts out of her head. Breathe, she told herself. She was going to be fine. Ignore them, they aren’t real. But she felt as though her clothes were much too big for her. She felt as though she was drenched in tar and that she was being pulled down, down, down— No. She was stronger than this. She’d be back in four months tops and she could hopefully spend the rest of her months as a minor at the center in peace. If these were friends of Mattias’ they probably wouldn’t be the worst of the worst. Before turning to face the man and taking whatever he had in his hands, she grit her teeth to ground herself. You’re fine. Get a grip.
He handed her a few more shirts and papers then helped her to her feet. Her heart was drumming in her ears and her hands felt clammy but she grabbed her bag and followed him out the door anyway. He saw her shaking, but didn’t say any more. They made their way to the waiting area, taking their seats on the incredibly uncomfortable metal chairs they had there.
“They’re a good family. I’ve known them for a very long time.” Mattias started in an attempt to ease her worries. She nodded, half listening and half not.
“Two girls and a boy. The eldest is around your age, I think.” Honeymaren shuddered, knowing what he was going to say next. She opened her mouth but was quickly cut off when he put his hands on her shoulders, looking her in the eye.
“Look, I know that you try your best not to make any ties but promise me you’ll try. I promise you, you’ll be safe with them. I know them, as well as I know you, and—”
She tapped one of his hands and forced a small smile. “I appreciate you trying, Destin, but I can’t promise anything. You know that.”
He sighed, letting his hands drop. “I know.”
A few moments passed as they both tried to look anywhere but each other, before Honeymaren spoke again.
“I’ll update you every now and then.” She muttered, features uncharacteristically softening.
He nodded. After a few more minutes, a gentle rapping came at the door. “They’re here.” announced a young man, though his name had slipped Honeymaren’s mind.
She got up and looked to Mattias who was already on his feet. She trailed behind him as they made their way to the receiving area. She had caught sight of them already. They all seemed so tall. A pale woman with dark hair stood next to her husband, who was already waving to Mattias excitedly. Holding one of her hands was a young boy still in his pajamas, eyes droopy. He had probably just woken up. Honeymaren didn’t want to look at him. Behind the couple stood the two daughters Mattias had spoken of earlier. One of them had her ginger hair twisted into twin braids, and was enthusiastically explaining something to her elder sister and—Oh.
The eldest was platinum blonde, and she had her hair fashioned into a single braid, in a mostly-clean, partly-messy kind of way. She seemed to glow as the sunlight bounced off her pale skin. As they came closer into view, she saw that all three of the siblings had striking blue eyes. They were all very attractive. Shifting her attention back to the sisters, she studied them as the eldest laughed at whatever the younger had said. Judging by their body language, it seemed that she was the awkward, shy type whereas her sister was the energetic and outgoing one of the pair. By now, the ginger had scooped up their little brother and he giggled as she passed him to the elder. A pang of envy hit her as she watched the siblings interact. She knew for certain she would feel incredibly out of place in this household.
After what seemed like forever, they were finally face-to-face. The father had shushed his three children so that when she stood before them, it was much too quiet for her taste. Mattias and the other man hugged briefly, and he bowed playfully to the woman who had let out a laugh as he did. He greeted them warmly before introducing her.
“Honeymaren, these are Iduna and Agnarr Arendelle.” They both waved to her. “You’ll be staying with them from now on.” He added, as if she didn’t already know that part. Honeymaren shook both of their hands.
As Agnarr and Mattias fell into easy conversation, Iduna smiled warmly at her. “May I?” She asked, about to put her hand on her shoulder. She nodded. Her hand’s cold, thought Honeymaren as she was led to face the kids.
“This is Olaf—” Iduna began, but was quickly cut off. “I’m six!” He grinned. She forced out a chuckle. “Hey there.” Iduna rolled her eyes fondly. “Anyway, this is Anna, she’s—” Again, she’s cut off.
“Fifteen! So nice to meet you, Honeymaren!” She giggled. “ You’ve got really pretty eyes, and woah--” She gasped. “Your hands are so soft! Oh, sorry, I’m rambling, aren’t I?” She chuckled awkwardly, looking to her older sister for help, but the eldest just gave her a fond yet reprimanding look. Honeymaren raised her eyebrows, but tried to seem friendly. “It’s alright. Nice to meet you too, Anna.”
Iduna pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed. “I hope this isn’t too much for you, they’re just very excited.” Honeymaren hummed. “It’s alright, this isn’t my first time.” She replied, and Iduna gave her a look of… understanding and chose not to comment. Well, that's new. “I’m sorry anyway, I know it can be a little overwhelming.”
She wanted to ask but she was already face-to-face with the platinum-haired teen. “I’m Elsa,” Her voice was smooth. Cool. Calm and refined. “Seventeen, as well.” She blinked. “How did you—” Honeymaren was cut off by the sound of Mattias clearing his throat and she whipped around to look at him. “It’s time we get going. Do you have everything, Honeymaren?” Agnarr asked, not unkindly. She nodded. “Yes, sir.” He put his hand up. “Now, now. None of that. Agnarr is fine.” He smiled, and she tried to return it, but she couldn’t ignore how her stomach was already filling up with dread.
Mattias placed his hand on her shoulder once more and pulled her into a hug. “Promise me you’ll call.” He whispered, voice shaking no matter how much he didn't want it to.
“I will.” She mumbled.
After they had separated, he looked her in the eyes and smiled. She sighed as she walked with the Arendelles out the door, just as she had done with several families before.
Well, here we go again, she thought, ignoring how cold the room seemed to have gotten.
hhh sorry it took so long! i've been busy cooking and stuff but this chap's meant to highlight the arendelle family bond. it gets shippier later on i promise!!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The Arendelles only lived in the next town over, so the car ride should have only been for about an hour but the silence that filled the small space of the vehicle was so awkward that it felt like years to Honeymaren. She wasn’t new to this. She had been placed in many awkward situations in which people weren’t sure whether they wanted to socialize or not, and she had definitely dealt with many first-time foster families that didn’t know how to strike up a conversation, so she tried not to acknowledge the fact that this was tenser than usual. Olaf had fallen back asleep next to her, snoring lightly with his thumb wedged between his lips.
The two sisters behind her were deeply engrossed in their own conversation, and she swore she heard her name once or twice, and Agnarr kept glancing up at the mirror to check on her, whistling to the music on the radio all the while. Iduna (and Olaf, she supposed) seemed to be the only ones who hadn’t made a huge deal of her presence and she was grateful for that. She turned her head to stare out the window, watching the houses, people, and greenery flit by and eventually blur behind her. Suddenly, she became much more aware of the present, and her palms were beginning to sweat.
Here she was again, in another car with another set of strangers being taken somewhere strange and having it feel so normal . This wasn’t normal. She should be home—her own home— with her own family in their own van and not here. She groaned internally, trying to focus on anything other than herself like she always did. Still, she could feel the lump growing in her throat and the corners of her eyes beginning to sting and all she really wanted right now was to curl up into a ball and never move again but alas, she couldn’t. She took a few ragged breaths before opening her eyes, blinking a few times to get them readjusted to the light of the sun which was beginning to intensify. Fucking sun.
A few long minutes of silence passed and she was starting to space out again ‘til she felt a tap on her shoulder. She craned her neck to the side to see who it was. Anna grinned sheepishly and waved. Honeymaren cocked an eyebrow.
“What’s up?” She hadn’t meant to sound so disinterested or rude but, well, that flew out the window as soon as she tried to respond. Nice. No. Focus.
“Oh, nothing much. Elsa and I were just talking—” Honeymaren looks to the elder questioningly, to which she groans and pinches the bridge of her nose. “—about how nice Mattias was—er, is, and how cool and friendly the people at the center seem to be because we’ve been to other ones and they weren’t quite like…”
Honeymaren nodded absent-mindedly, peering at the older sister every now and then. She seemed to have spaced out, looking out the window just as she was moments prior to the conversation she had just been sucked into. Speaking of which,
She turned back to the redhead, who had been going on about the other residential care centers they had visited. Honeymaren gave her a tiny side-smile, which with her luck probably looked like another disinterested expression but Anna didn’t seem thrown off. In fact, with every little gesture and sign of reciprocation she gave, her eyes seemed to sparkle. She was cute, she had to admit, and she was taken aback in both the good way and the bad way by the friendly, sunshine-y warmth she seemed to ooze. But since the Arendelles hadn’t done anything to her yet, she tried her best to match even a fourth of the younger girl’s energy, but ended up grunting and nodding at her questions and comments anyway.
“...and I said ‘Elsa! You can’t tell him yet!’, but—“
Yet. God, she hated that word. Yet gave her anxiety, because she’d had her fill of terrible yets. She wasn’t legal and she couldn’t live on her own yet. She hadn’t accomplished anything or done anything even remotely remarkable yet.
They hadn’t done anything to her yet.
Her paranoia was quicker than her rational thoughts. She found herself thinking too far into the future—thinking about what they could do to her. She fought back the shudder that slithered down her spine. Like a snake it wrapped itself around her, crushing her lungs and constricting her air-ways. It felt like she had been punched in the gut and gotten the wind knocked out of her and all she wanted to do is fold in on herself and try to quiet her building anxiety.
All at once she felt hot and cold all over. Suddenly her hoodie felt too itchy and scratchy, and she wanted to yank it off and burn it, or throw it in a creek, or something. She looked down at her hands and hated how clammy they were getting. She hated how she felt like she was going to spontaneously combust any moment now, her thoughts making her feel small and unimportant, but she didn’t say anything. She couldn’t say anything. She didn’t have the right to say anything.
“Honeymaren?” Anna’s warm, bright voice snapped her out of her daze. She blinked a few times, then re-focused her attention on the middle sibling. Anna tilted her head to the side, and gentle sunlight caught her features perfectly. Her hair shimmered and her skin glowed, and she swore she had a light dusting of freckles which only made her even more charming than she already was. The younger girl was beautiful, and this fact made her even more uncomfortable in her own skin. She felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand as she answered, “Yeah?”
Anna let out a breathless, awkward chuckle before motioning to the seat next to her. Honeymaren looked to the side and saw Olaf looking right back at her, eyes wide and glassy having just woken up. He cleared his throat, bringing his little fist to his mouth as he did so before he spoke. “You’re pretty, and you have a pretty name.” He muttered, then put his arms up. “Can I have a cuddle? You look soft and cuddle-able.”
Honeymaren couldn’t stop the slight grimace that had likely formed on her face but nodded ‘yes’ anyway. Truth be told, she wasn’t the biggest fan of physical affection as she hadn’t received much of it growing up, so it was usually very awkward and sometimes even painful to give or reciprocate, but here was this little boy peering up at her through his brown hair with his bright blue eyes and his arms wide open and it had struck a chord, the feeling humming in her chest. She couldn’t deny him this tiny favor, especially because he had been so polite and respectful when he asked.
She opened her arms, and right as Olaf squealed and moved in to hug her, Iduna had turned to check on them and smiled as she caught the two in the act. She had her proud mom face on as she giggled quietly to herself, though as quickly as she had spotted them she settled back into her seat and set her focus back on the road. Honeymaren groaned internally as Olaf returned to his side of the car with a content smile on his face. Now they were going to expect her to be okay with touching and touchy-feely things and assume she liked kids and make her spend time with the other kids and it’d be awkward all around.
Oh well. She’d focus on that later. For now, she shifted her attention back on Olaf, who had his chin resting on his fist and muttering as she had been worrying. He exclaimed a little ‘aha!’, thrusting his pointer finger in the air.
“What’s up, little guy?” Elsa, who had finally been shaken from her trance, inquired, leaning forward and settling next to her sister who had the same curious expression on her face.
Smugly, Olaf clapped his hands together. “Well after weighing all of the varinackles, I have come to the seclusion that Honeymaren is, indeed, very cuddle-able, and I was the first to figure that out. So there!” He beamed at his older sisters, who exchanged a knowing look. Anna bit her lip while Elsa bit her cheek, but neither of them could fight the grins quickly creeping onto their cheeks.
“I think you meant ‘variables’,” Anna giggled. “And ‘conclusion’,” Added Elsa. Honeymaren watched the three interact as the feeling of dread in her stomach grew. Would he react badly at the correction and throw a tantrum and soil the mood and cause a fight that would escalate into a huge one with hissing and yelling? Or—
“Oh, yeah! I get them mixed up sometimes. Thanks guys!” Answered Olaf sincerely, with no trace of offense or hurt in his voice whatsoever. Oh, huh. The three of them giggled as Anna ruffled his hair. They had a really good relationship. At this point, Honeymaren was a little repulsed by them and their way-too-perfect bond. She turned away and and looked back out the window.
Before long they began slowing down as they pulled up into the Arendelles’ neighborhood. Passers-by waved as they drove past them, and they waved back. She was already beginning to feel truly out of place, but pushing those bad thoughts back down so she could deal with them later, she wondered why, but didn’t ask.
“We’re almost home, guys.” Agnarr reminded from the driver’s seat and she could hear the smile in his voice. She felt a little bit like a new pet or something. Why were they so happy? Immediately, the three of them began checking the seats for anything they might have dropped. Honeymaren tucked her phone into her pocket and bent down to pick up her bag, but as she felt the car slowing down even further she looked up to look through the window, her jaw nearly dropped, but she had caught herself at the last minute.
The house was huge.
Actually, she wasn’t quite sure if it even qualified as a house. It seemed to be more of a little manor of some sort. It wasn’t loud or overly-intricate, but it certainly was majestic, almost as if nobles had lived in it rather the average rich (she assumed they were by the way they behaved) family. It sat atop a modest hill not too far off the ground but tall enough that it was obvious that it was the residence of someone important. The Arendelles were clearly rich enough to afford pretty landscaping, as all their shrubs and trees were perfectly rounded. Patches of flowers and other tastefully colorful plants nicely complemented the oyster-white walls and ashland slate tile roof. The intricate trimmings that adorned the house seemed to be the only other thing aside from its size that gave the impression that it was old and expensive.
Honeymaren thought it looked like a cut-out from those magazines that posh snobs read, albeit looking slightly out-dated thanks to the arched windows, but she took note of this fact. She had them now. They couldn’t possibly as perfect as they seemed. Alright, they may be nice to each other but they probably treat other people like shit. She sighed in relief because at least she knew that there was a chance that these perfect, beautiful people had ugly flaws, too, just like her. That there was a chance that they weren’t that much above her after all.
But as soon as she stepped out of the car and watched Agnarr interact with a well-groomed and clean-looking man who had come running out the double front-doors. She had braced herself for sweet victory, hoping he would throw his coat at him or something but she was once again stumped as Agnarr greeted him warmly, more like a friend than an employee.
“Agnarr!” He called, shaking his head disapprovingly. “Damn you, you didn’t tell me you were leaving so early to pick her up I had to-” She winced. Okay, they may not be snobby assholes, but if it hadn’t been clear enough before that she’d feel unwanted and out of place it certainly was now.
“Sorry, Kai! Must’ve slipped my mind.” The younger man simpered. Kai groaned and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Luckily, we were able to ready her room in time.” He then turned to her with a kind smile on his face. “Honeymaren Nattura?” He turned to her, directly addressing her for the first time. She clutched onto the strap of her bag out of habit and nodded. “Welcome home. I’m Kai, pleasure to meet you.” She shook his hand.
Just as he and Agnarr were beginning to talk about what the latter had missed in the few hours he was away, Olaf darted into the house, followed closely by Anna. Elsa, however, chose to hang around Iduna who was watching her husband and Kai interact with a fond smile. Honeymaren excused herself, though they didn’t seem to notice, and sidled up next to the pair just as they began to follow the other two up the steps of the porch and inside the house.
Honeymaren’s eyes widened as she scanned the interior of the house. It was much cozier than it appeared on the outside. All the rugs looked so soft and the chairs and couches seemed softer than any bed she’d ever slept in. Walking along the polished hardwood floor, she knew she didn’t belong here, and it made her want to vomit.
Iduna, ever watching, placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. “How are you, Honeymaren?” She waved her off. “I’m fine, thanks.” The older woman didn’t look convinced but smiled anyway. Elsa hadn’t said a word. In fact, she hadn’t tried to interact with her at all, but she had caught her staring a few times. She didn’t want to read into it. She probably hated her already.
As they made their way deeper into the house, she caught sight of a room cut off from the rest of the foyer by an arched entryway. It seemed to be a hobby room, she observed. They hadn’t been walking all that quickly so she caught a glimpse of a few paint cans on the floor, and off to the side was a shiny, white grand piano. It had always been a dream of hers to learn to play, but given her situation and personality no one had ever bothered or had her around long enough for her to learn anything. Her good friend ‘Envy’ bellowed in the pit of her stomach, and drove a nail into her skull, twisting it and turning it painfully only furthering her discomfort. There it was. Another thing they had that she never even got the chance to own.
Agnarr and Kai had finally followed them into the house, rousing her from her thoughts. They approached, still in heavy discussion and without skipping a beat, easily absorbed Iduna into their conversation. Elsa stepped back to give them room to talk, but looked as though she was listening in. She couldn’t be sure though. Her expression was stoic and unreadable. In the corner of her eye, Honeymaren caught Anna and Olaf running down a corridor, nearly slipping as they hadn’t bothered with shoes and had been sliding across the floor with socks as the only barrier between their feet and the ground, giggling all the while and disappearing into behind one of the doors. Elsa watched them, too, and opened her mouth to say something to her but was quickly cut off by her father.
“Oh, Elsa, dear, would you mind showing Honeymaren her room? I’d do it myself, but your mother,” He paused to glare at Iduna who huffed in response, “Somehow thinks she can best me in the kitchen. Laughable, isn’t it?” He shot his wife another cheeky grin. Iduna bit her cheek to stop herself from smiling and instead lightly punched him in the arm.
“Flavor speaks louder than words.” She answered simply, a cocky air about her.
He gasped dramatically, feigning offense. “Well then, we shall see whose flavors come out the loudest today, my love!” He winked at his eldest before he disappeared behind his wife, who hadn’t bothered to stay for his theatrics. “I’m so winning today.” He mouthed. Elsa groaned at their antics. The older girl’s parents disappeared into the kitchen, and they were left alone together.
For the first time since they left the center, Elsa turned to her. Honeymaren found the blue of her eyes fascinating. Both Anna and Olaf’s eyes were lighter, and much brighter, while hers were darker and deeper. Piercing and gripping, and while her siblings’ eyes were filled with only warmth, hers seemed to be cold as ice. “Honeymaren?” the platinum-blonde quirked a brow at her. She blinked. “Yeah, I’m coming.”
She followed the eldest Arendelle girl down the corridor as Agnarr and Iduna disappeared into the kitchen. They hadn’t even gotten too far along before she heard their laughter echoing from the other room, followed by a sudden boom of 80’s pop music. Elsa rolled her eyes, but the corner of her lip turned upwards ever so slightly.
“Sorry about that. They’re both competitive to a fault so on weekends they do this whole cook-off thing...” She explained, making cute little motions with her hands as she spoke.
Honeymaren nodded dumbly. “Oh. Nice.” She replied, unsure of what to say. She immediately wanted to face-palm after. Why did she have to be such such an awkward mess? An awkward silence resonated in the air and they continued making their way down the hall. It wasn’t that long, really, but the sheer intensity of the awkwardness in the air made it feel like forever.
One of the doors had been left ajar and she could make out Anna’s upper body laying down on a child’s bed with her legs resting on the headboard and her head hanging off the bed as Olaf rummaged through a wooden toy chest. He must’ve heard their footsteps because he turned just in time to see them pass by.
“Elsa? Have you seen my animal facts book?” He asked, running up to him and tugging his sister’s pant-leg.
“I’m afraid not.” Elsa shrugged. “You’re reading to Anna?” At the mention of her name, the red-head gave a little peace sign and a lazy smirk.
Olaf nodded. “Yeah. She didn’t even know that turtles can breathe out of their butts ‘til I told her.” Then he cupped a hand around his mouth and whispered. “Poor thing, am I right?” He chuckled.
Elsa ruffled his hair. Honeymaren didn’t catch the rest of their exchange because she had turned away to inspect the picture frames on a nearby table. Most of them were pictures of the siblings in various places. She turned away in disgust. The three of them were inseparable it seemed. Her head throbbed. Could they be anymore perfect?
Her mood, not that it had been pleasant to begin with, was quickly souring and she was close to snapping. Breathe. She internally snapped. She was on her way to her room and she could rest up there, she reminded herself, but it was clear that she was on edge because Elsa had apologized as soon as her attention was back on her.
Honeymaren waved her off dismissively. “I’m fine.” Elsa didn’t think she was fine. She practically had a sign on her forehead that said I really don’t want to be here, but she made no comment. They trudged along in awkward silence and even though the corridor wasn’t that long it felt as though they had been walking for ages. When they had finally arrived at the room, Elsa placed her hand on the knob just as she had reached for it, the tips of her fingers making contact with the back of her hand before she pulled away sharply. She watched for any sign of disgust or discomfort, but other than the awkward chuckle she let out, Elsa didn’t seem bothered.
She followed her into the large bedroom, dropping her bag by the door. The light grey walls and white trimmings were easy on the eyes, and the soft carpet underneath would allow her to walk around with socks without slipping later on, so that was good. On one side of the room stood a queen-sized bed with at least two blankets and a comforter thrown onto it. The pillows looked soft and— Oh. They were. She took a seat on the bed and sighed contently as she took it all in.
Elsa brought her hand up to her mouth, stifling whatever reaction and/or emotion she felt watching her—she couldn’t tell—, then gestured to the room. “I hope this is to your liking. I mean, we could always have it changed but…” Honeymaren stiffened, her pulse quickening. She felt jittery, all of a sudden. Even she couldn’t explain why. “Oh, no, it’s perfect. Really!” She blurted out, cramming all the words into one breath.
They stared at each other, both trying to guess the other’s next move and both unsure of what to say next. Honeymaren coughed in shame then peered over the other girl’s shoulder. The wall behind her which was parallel to the bed had been converted into a full-on book-case filled from end to end with simple, classy looking books. Elsa caught her gaze and followed it to shelves. “Oh, I was wondering where these went.” She muttered softly, mostly to herself.
“They were yours?” She sat up, folding her hands on her lap. Elsa shrugged, and walked over towards the book-case. “Not all of them. The romance novels were Anna’s.” Honeymaren had to laugh at that.
“Not a fan of mushy romance stuff, huh?” Elsa chuckled. “The ‘prince saves princess’ scene isn’t for me.” Now that was an interesting answer. The slightly-younger girl shimmied off the bed walking over to the book-case as well. She let her fingers trail across the spines of the worn books.
“Who owned this one?” She looked up to the platinum-blonde, her voice quiet but her eyes sharp. This was something she could work with.
It was a little black Penguin book entitled Come Close. Under it was the author’s name, as any book would have it. ‘Sappho’ it read in italic white. Elsa’s eyebrows quirked upwards. She turned to look at her. Honeymaren’s breath caught in her throat. Was she…? but before she could even finish that thought, six staccato raps came raining down upon the door, followed by a blur of red-hair and white pajamas that crashed right onto the bed.
“Lunch is ready!” Olaf cheered. He let out a squeal as Anna wrestled him off the bed. She whipped her head around to say something but upon seeing the two on the other side of the room grinned instead.
“Yeah, lunch is ready.” She giggled, waggling her eyebrows. Elsa glared at her, then coughed. “Alright, we’re coming.” She looked the darker-skinned girl then down then up again and nodded towards the door, signalling for her to follow.
Anna laughed as her sister passed her, nudging her with her hip playfully.
She reached for Honeymaren’s hand, making grabby motions before she taking it.
She was quickly tugged forward, nearly losing her balance as the ginger lead her to the dining room where Agnarr and Iduna were staring the other down, each with a dish in hand. As the kids approached they beamed, setting the plates down at the center of the table and introducing each. It was ‘heirloom’ recipe day, They have themes for every weekend they cook, Anna had supplied helpfully as she ushered her into her seat and the content and mellow that Honeymaren briefly felt was slowly sapped from her again.
An heirloom was a family thing, and as they ate the admittingly-delicious meal (neither Agnarr nor Iduna won, but they were proud that the kids adored their cooking nonetheless and practically inhaled their dishes) Honeymaren couldn’t help but ponder the fact that the Arendelles had such a perfect family set-up with their strong bonds and happy parents and sibling pictures and their damn heirloom recipes, and felt resentment towards the kind strangers because the only thing she had inherited from her family was a reputation for fucking good things up, which she would probably do here sooner or later.
For now, though, she ate and nodded along, pretending everything was fine. It was the polite thing to do.
thanks for reading!! btw, u can follow me on twitter (@edgykid_) if you'd like to know when i post updates! that's all! comments are greatly appreciated :> love y'all and thanks for the support!
I'M SO SORRY THIS TOOK SO LONG BUT SCHOOL HAS BEEN EATING UP ALL MY TIME URGH.
anyway, if you're still reading this, thank you so much! This chapter is, again, longer than the last, so I hope you enjoy!
If u wanna talk or something hmu on twitter! (@edgykid_) thanks loves!~
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Pleasant as the Arendelles had been (thankfully there were no more grossly perfect bonding moments at the table), Honeymaren wasn’t used to or fond of being around other people for longer than necessary. She had to recharge more often than the average person because socializing was quite physically draining for her. As soon as everyone had cleared their plates she slipped away, not bothering to excuse herself. She was exhausted both physically and mentally, as she usually was on her first day with a new family.
The house, though large, was pretty easy to navigate so she had no trouble finding her way back to the corridor where all the rooms were on her own. Now that she was alone, she could take her time checking out the picture frames that adorned both the walls and the little tables they had in the hallway. There were a few of Agnarr and Iduna when they were younger, presumably taken prior to having children. A good number of them were stolen shots, and it usually depicted Agnarr staring at his wife doing literally whatever with the world’s biggest heart-eyes.
Others were more formal with them both looking into the camera and smiling pleasantly,
but they were always touching one way or another. Agnarr usually had his hand on her waist or she had her hand on his chest and in a few it was a combination of both. They seemed to be so in love that she wanted to gag. She shook her head— Oof. Bad idea. That just made her headache worse— and moved on from those pictures. She swore she could taste bile in her throat.
She walked further, looking up at the frames on the wall. There were many pictures of different men and women all done up in formal wear in the colors that Agnarr wore in a few of the photos she’d walked past earlier. Dark hues of greens and deep velvety purple seemed to be the theme they were going for and she had to scoff at that. Purple is such a rich people color. She rolled her eyes—
—then pinched the skin on her wrist out of habit, scolding herself silently for being so judgemental. Lay off, asshole. They’ve been nice so far. She trailed her fingertips over the smooth surface of the next table she had arrived at. It was adorned with pictures of the kids when they were younger. One of them was taken in the room with the piano— the den, she assumed—that she had seen earlier.
Elsa was at the baby-grand piano, her hands blurry in the shot as she’d probably been playing something when it was taken, laughing at Anna who appeared to be dancing while playing a fiddle. Olaf was sat on a bean bag, clapping and grinning widely as he watched his sisters, his eyes practically sparkling with excitement. He looked to be out two or three in the shot, so it was fairly recent. May we all be so lucky, I guess. She set it down.
The next was a picture of a much younger Anna and Elsa, skating in some indoor rink it seemed. They were a lot younger, she noted, upon closer inspection. The younger sister looked to be around Olaf’s current age when the picture was taken, and the elder smiled much wider in the picture than she did now. Honeymaren noted that while her sister had kept the same childish and innocent aura about her, Elsa’s eyes didn’t seem to shine quite as bright as they used to. She always looked as if she was lost in thought, or wrapped up in a day-dream. In fact, while Anna seemed to radiate warmth and sunshine like the daytime, Elsa was as cool and mysterious as the night. She exuded a certain cold that she couldn’t quite understand. It was neither pleasant nor unpleasant. It was just… there.
She set it down and studied the other frames a little more closely, watching and taking mental notes for anything odd she could use but they all seemed so perfect. The Arendelles were— or seemed to be— the perfect family that anyone and everyone dreamed about. Honeymaren wanted to reach into her chest, rip out all the bad feelings in it, then stomp on the bad feelings ‘til they shrieked and died.
Or maybe she wanted to shriek and die. Or maybe she was just sleepy and cranky. Really, with how moody she was (another reason why she hated herself, honestly) she couldn’t tell. Her thoughts were much too muddled and messy for her to be able to understand them. She let out a ragged breath she didn’t know she had been holding and took a step back, pushing her hair back and smoothing it down.
She hadn’t even realized she had her eyes screwed shut until a cough sounded from behind her and they snapped open. Agnarr coughed awkwardly as she turned to face him, evidently frazzled and red in the face. She braced herself for anything he would say to her.
She didn’t want to generalize but more often than not it was the man of the house who had problems with her presence in their home. She had been confronted many times before by an angry husband who would tell her that if she didn’t act a certain way she would be out of the house before she had even settled in, or a frustrated husband who would hiss that he was only letting her stay because his wife had begged him to, or the creepy, touchy husband that would try to make advances on her every time they were alone together.
Honeymaren was ready for any of those, but even if she wouldn’t admit it to herself she was silently praying that this wouldn’t be like any of those cases. She wouldn’t admit she was afraid, but her body betrayed her even as the voices in her head screamed at her not to let it show. She wanted to run. She needed to run. Oh Spirits, it’s happening. Her eyes were glossing over, she felt it, and all the feelings she had been pushing down suddenly shot back up. The lump in her throat made it dry and painful and her knees felt weak and she felt queasy. Oh God.
Her clenched fists shook and she gritted her teeth as she met Agnarr’s gaze. She wouldn’t speak first. She was scared but she had pride and no matter what he threw at her she’d be ready to answer. In fact, if handing foster families’ asses to them after they insulted her was a sport she’d be a gold medalist. Hell, I could be a national champion if it were a sport!
As Honeymaren psyched herself up silently, Agnarr smoothed out his shirt which had wrinkled quite a bit over lunch. He cleared his throat before he spoke. He moved the same way Anna did when he was nervous or unsure, but was much better at hiding it, she noted.
“My apologies, Honeymaren. I didn’t mean to startle you.” He looked at her, his voice earnest and his eyes sincere. “I just happened to see you checking out the frames and,” He paused to look down for a moment, trying to look for the right words to say, she guessed.
“If we’ve made you feel uncomfortable, I’m so sorry. I just want you to know that we’re happy to have you around. All of us. And that you don’t need to hesitate to come to us if you ever need anything, alright?” He offered her a small, yet genuine smile. It had almost seemed as though this perfect family was reading her mind because they always managed to hand her judgemental ass back to her at the exact moments she would be expecting something bad.
She offered a smile that she knew didn’t quite reach her eyes. “Thanks,” she offered lamely. His eyes comically lit up and he instantly seemed more relaxed. That must’ve been where Anna got it from.
“Well,” even his voice had gone from purely sincere to cheery and delighted. “I won’t keep you any longer. I’ll send one of the girls to call you for supper if you decide to stay in your room. I know they’re both dying to get to know you.” With a little typical dad-like belly laugh he waved goodbye, turned, and walked off to wherever he had originally been going.
Stunned, but too tired to put in the effort required to think about it, Honeymaren sighed and made her way to her room, flopping on the bed as soon as she made it in. Everything hurt. Her ears were ringing and her sight was blurry and she didn’t feel good about anything. Sure, they had been nice to her so far but they were a little overwhelming.
Anna was only trying to make her feel welcome, but she was at that age between being a kid and growing into a teen so she was still a little much. Agnarr had this kingly air about him, but his inner child shone through every now and then, and she didn’t even want to think about Olaf. In her opinion, he was the worst of them with his blue eyes and his brown hair and his grin. Ugh . Iduna had been careful not to overstep any boundaries, and she was thankful for that, but Elsa had probably made her feel most normal, because awkward silence was her normal and she and Elsa had that.
She tried to find more good things about today. She opened her eyes and stared at the ceiling before looking around her. Her gaze settled on the book wall across the room.
They liked reading books, so that was a plus. Although she hadn’t gotten to read as many English books as she would have liked to growing up— Don’t go comparing yourself again, — she believed that she knew enough to be on-par with the older Arendelle siblings at least. She walked over to the book-case and trailed her fingers across the spines of the mostly hard-bound books, jumping from title to title, leaping from author to author.
The romance books, as Elsa had said earlier, belonged to Anna. To be fair, they weren’t so much romance books as they were teen fiction books, most of them with the typical boy-meets-girl plot-line. They were fun to read every now and then, she had to admit, but they never really were her thing. As the colors of the books began to get darker she realized that she was trailing off into Elsa’s old books. She had several classics, as well as stories that inspired plays, anthologies, and poetry books. Many poetry books. Honeymaren wasn’t exactly the poems and prose type though— she much preferred a gripping novel instead. Reading made her feel like she was chasing words and actual meaningful lives instead of feeling chased. It made her feel important, because she usually was able to predict how certain characters would behave learning certain things, but she'd give poetry a try, sure.
Reading made her feel smart and valid. It made her feel content and at peace, which she hardly ever felt on her own. Good stories to her were like good wine to others. They were intoxicating, addicting, and she would quickly fall into it, chasing each word on each page as if she was afraid that they were going to run away from her, and that if she didn’t read fast enough she’d never know what happens next.
Usually what pulled her in was the set-up in the first few pages of the book. She was picky about writing styles and if she didn’t like how the author worded their descriptions she would quickly put the book back on the shelf and look for something else to read. After getting sucked into the world she would try to psycho-analyze the characters. In cases of book series sometimes she would keep a little notebook to keep track of the characters’ personality, behavior, speech patterns, and development if she liked it that much.
She knew it was weird but she couldn’t be bothered. She didn’t have much to look forward to and rarely enjoyed doing anything so coming across a good book was already a victory for her. Reading was something she had enjoyed since childhood that nobody had gotten the opportunity to ruin for her yet. Yet. She shuddered, but she wouldn’t have it. Not now.
She pulled out the book from earlier. Come Close and examined it more closely. It was a short collection of some of Sappho’s poems. Though she hadn’t been exposed to as many poets as the Arendelles clearly had according to the other books in the same shelf as this one, she at least knew who Sappho was. Unfortunately though, it wasn’t clear who owned the book. Neither of the sisters abused their books or left any sort of marking at all, so there was no way to tell whose was whose.
She muttered to herself, telling herself didn’t matter who owned it anyway because she was reading it now and that was what mattered, and that was the end of that/ She walked back to the bed, book in hand, already skimming through the pages before finding something that piqued her interest. She read the poem’s lines softly to herself, the words rolling off her tongue like rich chocolate— sweet, intoxicating, and delicious. She loved it already.
In fact, she had gotten so into reading that she had forgotten to text Mattias, so when her phone began to blast the default ringtone she couldn’t have been bothered to change, she literally jumped out of her seat, nearly dropping the book in the process. She stuck her hand under the thick comforter she’d tucked herself into and fished for her phone, huffing as she answered it.
“What?” She sounded annoyed, she was sure of it, but to be fair she was in the middle of one of the longer poems.
“Oh, hey Maren!” It was him alright. She pinched the bridge of her nose before setting the book aside. “Just checking up on you.” He quickly added. She could see him in her mind’s eye, bouncing on the balls of his feet awkwardly. He was using that question-y tone he only ever used when he wanted her to do something but didn’t want to say it out-right.
Honeymaren rolled her eyes fondly. “I’m fine, Destin. We just had lunch and now I’m reading, so…” Yeah, kinda busy. she didn’t bother adding the last part. She didn’t want to hurt his feelings.
“Oh! Alright, I’ll leave you to your…” He paused for a moment, and she could practically hear him narrow his eyes. “—reading… and…” Mattias strained his voice ever so slightly at the end, like his modulation throughout the entire conversation was an ascending line and it had ended with a change of intonation. A point, if you will. Ah. She knew what he was getting at now.
She groaned, throwing her head back. “I’m not going to go out there and socialize. It’s not my thing.” Honestly, she had told him this so many times but he still insisted on trying. He cleared his throat on the other end of the line. “I know, and I didn’t say anything.” Then he suddenly took on a firmer, yet at the same time gentler tone. “But try. Please.”
She rubbed the pads of her index finger and thumb together as she thought about it. She really didn’t want to, but they were friends of his, and he said they would be nice but still she was hesitant.
“No promises.” She answered honestly. It was the safest thing to say, and it was enough for Mattias, too. He let out a sigh and lightened up. “Alright. You be safe. I’ll let you get back to your reading now.”
She smiled. “Bye.” He mumbled a quick good-bye of his own before his icon disappeared from the screen of her phone. She placed it on the bedside table before getting back to her reading.
Her headache refused to let up and tears of exhaustion began to well up in her eyes but she tried to focus on the words on the pages of the book which, too, were already beginning to slur together, and eventually just stopped making sense. Her motions grew sloppier and her eyelids heavier, then there was a calm. The headache had gone away, and she felt light all over.
She was somewhere else— somewhere happy— strolling along with someone who made her feel light and at ease and they were happy together. The other figure had grinned at her— that goofy, charming grin— and she ruffled their hair. They were walking through some sort of forest, hand in hand, making their way through the tall birch trees. The ground was littered with orange, red, and golden leaves and they were laughing together. She felt as though a harpist was plucking at her heartstrings, playing melodies that made her feel bouncy and giggly. Light, carefree, and happy with...him.
Without warning though, the ground started to crack under her feet. She let go of her hand for just a split second to find her center of gravity but the ground had given out under her. She was falling, and the forest was quickly melting into an endless ebony void. All the light she had felt in her body quickly turned into lead in her bones. She struggled and gasped as she tried to reach for him.
He extended his hand towards her, grunting as he did so and calling her name, but she couldn’t grab it. She was too far gone. The last color she could remember she seeing was gentle river blue before he was swallowed up by the darkness too. She felt heat coursing through her veins like liquid fire had been injected into her bloodstream but when she opened her mouth to scream, no words came out. Just the same black tar that always appeared in her dreams only this time it just kept on oozing out of her. Out of her mouth, her nose, her ears, even her pores. Her flesh rippled as the searing heat took over and then quickly numbed as the tar encased her, trapping her in a thick black cocoon. She drew one last breath in and—
—jolted awake. With a start she shot up in bed, gasping for air. Fuuuck. She hated when that happened. The sun was nearly gone and the sky painted purple and blue with only hints of pink and orange. It was probably later than 5 ‘o clock. Probably.
She blinked to refocus her vision as her pupils readjusted to the light. Damn, how long was I out? She pushed her hair out of her face before dragging herself out of bed. She had at least been smart enough to set the book on the bedside table before she fell asleep, but she had lost her phone somewhere in the sheets.
“I’ll get it later,” she mumbled to herself, cringing at the raspiness of her voice. She cleared her throat a couple of times and tried to speak again, but the roughness persisted. She listened for any voices in the hall as she made her way to the door. It was dead silent. Satisfied, she twisted the door-knob open and set out for the kitchen to fetch a glass of water.
She figured they would have probably been in their rooms too, but she didn’t hear anything as she passed their doors. Whatever. She didn’t care, though she was kind of curious.
As she drew closer and closer to the kitchen she realized where they were. They were in that activity room with the piano. She head whooping and clapping as Iduna counted down from 15. Agnarr coaxed Olaf on, encouraging him to do whatever it was they were doing as Anna giggled maniacally. Someone had rung a bell and Agnarr groaned.
“This is gonna be a cinch!” Anna declared loudly. “Two sisters, one mind. Let’s go!”
Honeymaren grabbed a glass off of the counter and filled it up, taking a sip immediately after as a precaution to lower her chances of spilling water on the floor. Anna shouted all sorts of things as she washed her glass, and Olaf and Agnarr were beginning to tease her as she turned to head back down the hallway.
“Honeymaren?” a feminine voice called to her. She whipped around to see Iduna standing there, regal and elegant even in her pajamas. “Yeah?”
“Would you like to join us for game night?” Honeymaren paused for a moment. It would feel like she was intruding on their family bonding but if Iduna had offered then it wouldn’t really be intruding but it was possible that the rest of the Arendelles wouldn’t be okay with it but wouldn’t say anything and then the room would just be filled with this awkward tension because of her presence but they would try to keep the game going anyway and—
“You can say no if you want, dear.” Iduna added. understanding. She blinked once, then twice before sighing. “Yeah, sure. I’ll come with.” She said as cooly as she could muster. She promised to try for Mattias. She promised to try for him.
She followed Iduna into the den where her youngest daughter flailed her arms around in panic as the eldest made less enthusiastic gestures around her head, awkwardly moving about the center of the room in little steps as she tried to get her message across to her sister who at this point was shouting out literally whatever came to mind, not even taking her sister’s acting into consideration anymore.
Agnarr wheezed as he bounced Olaf on his knee. The little boy clutched onto a little bell with one hand and clung onto his father’s pant leg with the other. “We’re playing charades.” whispered Iduna as she sat on one of the couches, patting the space next to her for Honeymaren to sit.
Elsa continued making unsynced swirling motions above her head then flailing both arms in front of her like she was trying to slap something away but not really.
“Tyrannosaurus Rex! Dragon Lord! A gremlin!” Anna frantically shouted, to which Elsa cringed and signalled for her to keep guessing. She did the swirly motion one last time before rubbing hands together. The redhead yelled out even more guesses, but to no avail. “Fifteen seconds!” Olaf giggled.
“Oh, come on, Elsa! We can do it! Give me something! Just do something with your body!” Anna desperately tried to encourage her sister, but her . The platinum blonde leaned forward and kicked her left leg backwards ever so slightly, repeating the same flailing motion. The younger began listing mythical creatures to which Elsa shook her head in defeat to.
“Stag?” Honeymaren offered lamely before she could even stop herself from speaking. She wanted to slap her hand over her mouth and apologize but Elsa’s eyes widened and she pointed to her enthusiastically, urging her to go on. Anna gasped too,but she couldn’t tell whether she was surprised that she got something right or that she had suddenly appeared. Whatever it was, it didn’t stop her from yelling “Go!” over and over again, clapping her hands to tell her to hurry up.
“Ten seconds!” Olaf reminded. Agnarr had stopped laughing for a moment to watch her, a curious glint in his eyes. “Oh, uh. Moose?” Elsa shook her head no, but still kept that encouraging smile on her face as she motioned for her to go on. “Antler? Reindeer?” Elsa nodded, and threw her arms up in relief. “Yes!” The eldest Arendelle sibling giggled, uncharacteristically. She couldn’t stop the chuckle that bubbled in her own throat too and ended up coughing to cover it up. Olaf clapped wildly while Agnarr and Iduna laughed. Anna beamed at her, giving her two thumbs up to which she responded to with a lame finger gun.
She couldn’t help but genuinely smile at that moment. It was a little thing, her guessing correctly and all, but it was a huge victory for her She felt light and happy and for once, not like a huge disappointment.
She smiled at them before turning to face Elsa again who was coming to sit down on the couch beside her and woah. She thought. She was even more beautiful when she smiled for real. The expression on her face was unlike any of the others she’d observed that day. Her eyes were so full of life and happiness and she had that same smile she had in that picture she saw of her and Anna skating in the indoor rink when they were kids. She looked so happy.
Olaf giggled and rung the bell. “One point for team Anna and Elsa!” He announced, scrambling off Agnarr’s lap to scribble a line under the sisters’ names on a chalkboard she hadn’t noticed ‘til then. Elsa quickly returned to her cool, collected self by the time she took her seat beside her. “That was awesome! I never would have guessed it!” Anna exclaimed, moving in to hug Honeymaren before her eyes widened and she paused midway. “May I hug you?” she grinned sheepishly, bringing her arms to her sides.
The darker skinned girl nodded half-heartedly, but Anna didn’t seem to notice. The younger girl squealed and wrapped her in a quick hug, giggling all the while. “Seriously, you have really good guessing skills. I haven’t been able to guess anything all night! No offense, Elsa.” The elder sister shrugged and nodded, clutching onto a pillow and thankfully with a small smile on her face.
“How’d you know it was reindeer?” Anna’s eyes glimmered in the warm light. Honeymaren froze, rubbing her hands together. They were his favorite animal. That’s why she knew. Swallowing the anxiety that was beginning to build up again, she shrugged. “When I saw ‘this’,” She copied Elsa’s swirling motions from earlier to which the blonde groaned at in embarrassment, “I just kind of knew.” Good cover up.
Anna nodded along, eyes fixed on her politely but also full of wonder. But when she looked to her sister, her demeanor changed, evolving into something more playful. She smirked at her older sister, who frowned and huffed, pouting in the process. They’re talking with their eyes. she noted.
“You still have mad skills though, right Elsa?” Anna giggled, drawling out the 'right'. Honeymaren looked to the girl in question who had began to clutch the pillow tighter to her chest. She caught the tiny quirk of her eyebrow that she sent to the middle Arendelle child before she answered, voice suddenly raspier than it had been earlier. “Yeah.”
Honeymaren shivered, probably from the cold. Seriously. Was it always this cold with this family? Did they hate the heat or something? Oh well. Whatever. Anna sent one last smug look her sister’s way before turning to her. “I’m glad you came out.” The redhead smiled, taking on a genuine and sincere tone.
The brunette froze. “I— what?” She sputtered, pressure quickly building in her chest. How could she…? . Anna’s eyes widened comically and she waved her hands around in panic.
“I mean— out of your room! To play. With us.” She added quickly. ”I mean, if you came out that way— Oh Spirits, uh, no. I mean— yes! I’d be totally okay with it. We all would be really. Why wouldn’t we be?” She winced, looking to Elsa for help, but she had been stunned too. Anna took a deep breath in and sighed. “Sorry, I’m bad at words when I get excited.” she looked down, biting her lip.
Though she wasn’t used to or comfortable with excessive touching, Honeymaren felt the need to put a hand on the younger girl’s shoulder. “Hey, it’s okay. I do too. You’re okay.” She offered, and Anna smiled at her, embarrassed but appreciative. Elsa watched her, eyes unreadable. The room was a whole lot colder now. She couldn’t stop the shudder from wracking her body.
She bit her lip to conceal it, but found that she didn’t need to. A warm blanket had been placed around her shoulders and she looked behind her to see Iduna fixing it up for her. “Oh, thanks.” She gave the older woman a tiny side-smile as she adjusted the blanket. It was a tiny gesture, yes, but it had been a long time since anyone had done anything like this for her (save for Mattias). It had been a long time since she had felt that someone had actually cared about her and her comfort. Iduna smiled and squeezed her shoulder affectionately.
She turned to focus her attention back on the game and found that as she had been talking to the Arendelle women, Olaf had added her name to the scoreboard on the sisters’ team and Iduna’s name to the boys’ team (which had been renamed to team Mama, Papa, and Olaf).
Honeymaren took a deep breath in and looked around the room, taking in the scene. It was family game night, the energy in the room was light and fun. No one was a sore loser, so there was no need to worry about any tantrums. Agnarr and Iduna were a healthy, happy couple. Olaf, Anna, and Elsa were kind and respectful. No one seemed to hate her. It all seemed so surreal to her, being in such a peaceful environment, and normally she would feel very out of place— well, okay she did just a teensie bit— but more than that she felt at ease. She felt welcome. She felt relieved. The next round was about to start and Iduna had just picked a paper out of the hat and Olaf was setting the timer, so she let that deep breath out and decided to try her best to let this distract her from her worries for even just a little bit.
The night had gone by so quickly that she didn’t even realize how tired she had gotten from all the playing they had done. They’d played a handful of rounds of charades after she had joined in then they quickly moved into playing Monopoly and Uno, and now were currently in the middle of a Scrabble game. Olaf had already fallen asleep on Iduna’s lap, who decided to sit out on the Scrabble match claiming she didn’t have enough active braincells to play anymore for the night and Agnarr was nearly asleep as well.
Anna’s eyelids drooped but she at least was awake enough to nudge her father awake for him to finish his turn. The blond woke with a start before letting out a long yawn. “I think we’re done for tonight.” He announced, looking to his wife for reaffirmation. She nodded, rubbing one of her eyes as she readjusted her sleeping son so that it’d be easier to pick him up.
“Definitely." She nodded. "Girls, go wash up. Bed time. I mean it.” She addressed her daughters firmly, each of them nodding obediently. Honeymaren smirked lazily, knowing she wouldn’t be able to sleep through the night and would probably end up going online in the wee hours of the morning.
“You too, Honeymaren.” Iduna told her, as if she had read her mind. She knew she didn’t do a good job at hiding her shock because Agnarr patted her on the back as he stood up and stretched. “Yeah, don’t be surprised. She’s good at doing that.” He let out another yawn. “What’s that thing you kids say?” He scratched his chin thoughtfully. “Ah, yes.”
“It be like that sometimes.” He winked, scanning the room for any reactions. Iduna visibly cringed while his daughters giggled. “Please don’t ever say that again, Papa.” Elsa chuckled as she walked past him, squeezing his hand. He feigned offense. “What? Why?”
Anna shook her head. “That was really bad, Papa. I’ll give you an A for effort though!” She winked back at him, offering a fist bump he gratefully took. Honeymaren let out a chuckle in response and turned to follow the other girls down the hall. She had fun tonight, she wasn’t going to lie. She’d have to text Mattias before going to sleep to tell him that she actually had gone out of her comfort zone and socialized. Bless his heart, it would make him so happy.
Agnarr looked to Iduna, who only frowned as she passed Olaf to him. He batted his eyelashes at her which at least earned him an amused huff. Iduna squeezed her shoulder as she walked past her. “Good night, Honeymaren.” The blond followed up with a quick good night of his own as he carried his youngest to his room. Olaf stirred ever so slightly, waving absent-mindedly before falling back asleep.
“Good night.” She called as she watched them go. There was a rumbling in her chest, low and steady that she wasn’t that well acquainted with. She felt it tingle in the tip of her nose and her fingertips and it was warm all over, then cold, then warm again. It enveloped her and trickled into her skin but it wasn’t anything painful like she had felt in her dream earlier. It was gentle, it was kind, and it was easy. She smiled, and put a hand on her chest, feeling the rhythmic drumming course through her palm. It was nice.
After a moment, she let out a breath she didn’t know she had been holding and let her shoulders fall. She turned off the light and quickly skidded down the hallway after them. It had been a good day, and honestly she felt like a dumbass for being so happy about such a tiny thing but she felt dumb in a soft, happy way. She’d never admit it to herself but this was the type of comfort she’d been longing for. Maybe things here wouldn’t be so bad after all. She twisted the knob to her room open and disappeared for the night, laying down and falling into an easy sleep for the first time in forever.
Meanwhile, Anna peered out from her bedroom, thanking the spirits that Honeymaren hadn’t noticed her slightly open door. She waited for a moment more after the door had been shut, making sure that neither her parents nor Olaf would suddenly waltz out of their bedrooms before she made her move. When nobody had appeared, she watched Elsa’s door, which was a little further down the hall on the same side as hers. Like clockwork, the pale blonde appeared right on schedule, checking the halls for anyone who would suddenly burst out of their rooms with her hand on the doorframe, unaware that her sister had been watching her every move.
With a final glance around she carefully tiptoed out of her bedroom, doing more sliding instead of stepping thanks to her socks as she tried to skate her way out of the corridor. “Here we go!” Anna whispered to herself, timing her attack perfectly so that just as Elsa reached her door, she planted both hands firmly on her shoulders and dragged her into her room. Her sister would’ve screamed and alerted everyone in the house had she not clasped a hand over her mouth before she shut the door.
The redhead leaned against the door, listening for anyone who might’ve heard the slight change in routine but the hall stayed dead quiet. She narrowed her eyes, keeping still just a moment longer just in case and probably would’ve stayed like that even longer if Elsa hadn’t licked her palm.
“Elsa! What the hell!” She hissed, frantically wiping her hand on her nightgown, cringing at the disgusting feeling.
Elsa brought a sleeve to the corner of her mouth. “No, you what the hell, Anna!” She whispered back. “Who thinks it’s a good idea to abduct people when they’re walking in the hallway at night?”
Anna narrowed her eyes then jabbed a thumb at her own chest. “Me! Obviously! That’s why I did it! It's literally the best time to abduct someone!” Elsa groaned.
They glared at each other for a moment, before the younger sister cracked a smile. Slowly, the elder’s features softened and she smiled back. “What did you want to talk about, bug?” The blonde took a seat on the bed, visibly relaxing.
She squealed, flopping onto her bed and laying on her belly next to her sister. “So earlier was a thing,” the younger grinned, nudging her thigh with her elbow.
Elsa pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed. “Uhuh? Really?” The blonde quirked a brow, daring her to go on. Anna groaned, prodding her insistently as if that would get answers out of her. “Come on, Essa!” She closed her mouth tight and scrunched her nose (something she often did when she was beginning to lose her patience), hoping that the childhood nickname would thaw Elsa’s icy wall of “I’m-so-not-telling-you-anything”-ness.
“It wasn’t a thing, Anna,” She tried to reason, but she knew that the little smile she couldn’t fight back gave her away. The redhead’s frown quickly disappeared as she began to explain herself. She bit her lip and tried to stop herself from laughing, knowing it would make her sister go back on opening up to her.
They were still working on the whole talking about things and not keeping secrets from each other because of what happened when they were younger but she was practically buzzing with excitement. The eldest Arendelle sibling struggled, trying to find the right words to express how she felt but ended up starting sentences only to cut herself off right in the middle of them. She made a little motion with her hand, tempted to act out her emotions and Anna watched closely but there was nothing there tonight. Hm.
Elsa thought long and hard, biting her cheek and rubbing her hands together before finally organizing her thoughts. “We’ve only just met her, bug. I guess I just got a little surprised at how she was able to understand my terrible acting is all.” She shrugged, knowing that it wouldn’t satisfy her sister but choosing to only say that much.
“And the whole book thing earlier? That was so fanfic.” Anna teased. Elsa scrunched her nose up, flinging the covers over her sister’s face. “Whatever, Anna.” And the younger girl knew her sister was done for the night. She watched as her older sister stood and made her way to the door, but before she could even say her good-night, it swung open. They both gasped, afraid that they had been caught awake past their bed-time, but it was neither Mama or Papa.
“Are you having a sleep-over? Can I join?” Olaf mumbled, hugging his turtle stuffie close to his chest with one hand and rubbing his eyes with the other. The sisters shared a look, Elsa, uncertain while Anna, pleading. After another quick staredown the eldest sighed and let him in the room. “Of course, buddy, I was just about to go get you.” She smiled, watching him waddle over to the bed and have Anna pick him up.
The redhead beamed, but her eyelids dropped lower and lower every time she blinked. Elsa checked the hallway one last time, before leaving the door slightly ajar—Olaf wouldn’t sleep if it weren’t— and walking towards the bed. She settled in the middle of the bed (she knew from experience that sleeping on either side would get her kicked off the bed as they were both messy sleepers), spreading her arms for each of her siblings to settle under. Anna dragged the covers over the three of them as she angled herself to cuddle both her siblings by splaying her arms out as wide as she possibly could. She knew she would end up moving them later, anyway, so she didn’t mind the mild discomfort.
“Alright. Cuddle close. Scooch in,” Elsa yawned, mumbling the words her mother would say to them to get them to fall asleep. She lightly dragged her pinkies across the bridges of their noses and almost instantly, they were asleep. Olaf brought his thumb to his mouth and Anna’s light snores filled the room. She looked hummed her mother’s lullaby quietly to herself before closing her eyes and following suit, feeling more than content as she dozed off dreaming of forests, flowers, and honey. Two doors over in Honeymaren's room, it's occupant dreamt of lullabies, campfires, and baby reindeer. It was safe to say no one in the house had much problem sleeping that night so,
it had been a pretty good day, all things considered.
EYYYy we're finally getting somewhere! Thanks for reading! Comments are much appreciated, y'all are so sweet!
(i haven't really edited this so i'll prolly come back later to fix up some stuff)