Restoration

a Once Upon A Time / Frozen fan fiction by

Douglas Neman

Author's note: This story closely follows the events of the television show, with the major exception that Elsa, Anna and Kristoff did not immediately find a way to return to Arendelle after Ingrid died. I wrote it before the next season aired, so it does not take into account anything which happened afterwards.

Elsa paced anxiously up and down the beach, her blue cape whipping in the wind. Anna and Kristoff stood nearby, holding hands and looking out to sea. Kristoff's face was a little tight, but he seemed relatively calm. Anna was tense from head to toe.

"Are you guys sure you don't want to wait back at the apartment?" Emma asked. "I mean, I know it can't be easy, but at least we can talk about things and take your mind off your troubles until you hear something."

Elsa shook her head, holding herself tightly. "I can't go anywhere."

Emma gave her a sympathetic look. It was obvious Elsa was dying inside, and Emma couldn't blame her.

A pretty redhead broke the ocean's surface. "Hi there!"

"Ariel!" Anna shouted, running forward and practically dragging Kristoff with her because she forgot she was holding his hand. Elsa and Emma were right behind her.

"What did they say?" Elsa asked frantically.

"It's okay, Elsa," Ariel said. She didn't get out of the water. "Hans has taken over your kingdom, but in name only. No one likes him. The other kingdoms are refusing to recognize his rule. Your generals won't obey him; the troops he brought with him are all he has. He's afraid to leave the castle because he knows he'll be assassinated the moment he does. Your people refuse to bow to him. They love you, and they believe you'll come back. Hans says you're dead, but there's no proof so no one believes him. Your people are on your side, Elsa."

Elsa raised her clasped hands to her face and paced around again, obviously relieved to hear this, but still beside herself with worry.

"Did you meet with Gerda and Kai?" Anna asked.

"Yes. They're very nice, and your little snowman is adorable! They were thrilled to hear you were still alive! I told them you were trapped in another realm and that you would come home as soon as you found a way. They said they were going to tell the whole kingdom they had heard from you. They said everyone would be so excited."

"Ariel, is it too much to ask to relay messages between us and our home constantly?" Elsa asked.

"Well, I don't know about constantly. It's a long haul to swim between realms. And I want to get back to my husband."

"I understand," Elsa said.

"And I'm not sure there would be anything new to report, anyway," Ariel said. "I'll be happy to return in three or four days and make a second trip. Will that be acceptable?"

Elsa nodded. "How can we ever repay you?"

"Tell your fishermen if they ever catch a mermaid, let it go!"

"I think they would anyway, but I will make it a royal decree, just for you," Elsa said. "And you are welcome to visit Arendelle any time."

"Thanks! The hubby and I might take you up on that. You know that was my first fjord? It was so beautiful! The waterfall! The castle! The cliffs! Oh, yes, I would love to go back."

"And we would love to have you, so please do," Anna smiled. "Thank you, Ariel. Thank you so much!"

"Now go keep your husband company before he thinks we've kidnapped you," Elsa said.

"Will do. Bye!" She ducked below the waves, and with barely a ripple of fin, she was gone.

Anna turned to Emma. "You have the most interesting friends."

"Oh, you've just seen the tip of the iceberg. Pun intended. We have a wooden boy named Pinocchio who became a person, we have fairies, we have Captain Hook, we have an evil queen who's not so evil any more, we have Snow White and Prince Charming, we had Robin Hood until just recently, we have Mulan, we have Sleeping Beauty, we have Jiminy Cricket, we have Belle, we have Cinderella, we have Little Red Riding Hood..."

"And I'm sure they're all wonderful," Elsa said as they walked back into town. "And as much as I'd like to meet them, I'd like to do it on my terms, not because I'm exiled here."

"I know," Emma said. "We're trying to find a way home for you. I know it's difficult, knowing that someone else is sitting on your throne."

"Not just someone else," Anna said. "That particular someone else."

Emma gave Anna a sidelong look. From the way the princess spoke, it seemed obvious that there was some personal history, there.

"And you're sure Rumplestiltskin is truly gone?" Anna asked nervously. "There's no way he can come back?" When Anna had learned the previous night that Rumplestiltskin was in Storybrook, she had had a minor meltdown, which had surprised everyone since Rumplestiltskin had claimed that he and Anna had never met.

"There's no way that I know of that he can come back," Emma said. "Belle banished him from Storybrook last night, and he no longer has any magic. I'm just grateful you mentioned knowing him. That told us he was lying, which led us to saving Hook and freeing everyone from his stupid hat. I just feel badly for Belle. She really thought Rumplestiltskin had reformed. She was so happy, and now she's so miserable."

At the mention of Belle's name, Anna grew pensive. No one noticed.

Kristoff stared as a car went by. "So does everyone here have magic?" he asked.

"No, just a few of us," Emma said.

"But everyone has these horseless vehicles," he said. "Do those of you with magic make them for everyone else?"

"Actually, our vehicles operate under purely mechanical means. They're just machines that the people of this world have invented."

"Really?" he asked, awed. "And what else have the people of this world invented?"

"Well, that's a really long list," Emma said. "Just wait until you see a television."

"A telewhat?"

 

Anna stood in front of the TV in the Charmings' apartment, mesmerized by the man on the evening news giving the weather report.

"And we have a mysterious and highly unusual cold front sweeping up from New York and into New England," the man said.

"Do you think that cold front could have anything to do with my sister?" Anna asked, but the man kept talking.

Anna turned around. "Why doesn't he answer me?"

"He can't hear you," Mary Margaret said with a smile. "The television is one-way communication only. It's mass communication; millions of people are watching the same thing you are. We can all see him, but he can't see us. It's...a way of making public announcements."

Anna turned back to the television. A commercial came on which featured a ball bouncing directly at the screen. She flinched and shielded her face with her arm. "That ball almost hit me!" she squealed.

David chuckled. "It's a moving picture, only. Nothing can come out of that screen."

Anna slowly walked forward and tentatively touched the screen with her finger.

Kristoff came through the front door. "Hey, where's your outhouse?"

"Aaaaaaaaaaand this is where the conversation gets interesting," Emma said.

Mary Margaret looked at David. "You explain."

Anna turned back to them. "The man on the television just said that I have to buy this car, right now, or I won't be happy. Where do I go to buy this car?"

 

"Knock, knock."

Mother Superior was sitting at her desk. She looked up. "Emma! What can I do for you?"

"Well, first, I wanted to make sure all you guys were doing okay after being imprisoned in that hat."

"The sorcerer's apprentice is still in a coma, but the rest of us are fine. We may be dainty little fairies with wings, but we're tough enough."

"That's good. I also wanted to know, do you have anything that will give someone a general working knowledge of this world, in the same way the rest of you were when the curse brought you to Storybrook?"

"Hmm. Not at the moment, but I'm sure we can find a way, if it's important."

"It might be. Elsa, Anna and Kristoff are just overwhelmed. Earlier this morning Anna almost got run over by a car because she didn't know she was supposed to look out for them. And then we caught Kristoff playing with the blades inside a blender while it was still plugged in."

"Goodness! Why ever would he do such a thing?"

"He wanted to see how it worked. Men. Anyway, the point is, it may be a while before we can figure out how to send them home, and I'd really rather not send them home in coffins."

"Agreed. We'll get to work on it right away."

"Thanks."

 

Anna almost choked on her root beer. She slammed the drink onto the table and sputtered at Henry. "We're all stories?! In some movie?!"

"I know," he said with a grin. "Existential, right?"

"But...but..." She desperately looked around at the rest of Granny's Diner as if that would somehow help. It did not. It was midmorning, and the diner was almost empty save for them.

"Look, I don't know why it's this way," Henry said. His hands rested on the table on top of a magazine he had brought with him. "I don't know if the stories in this world somehow created your world, or if your world created the stories in this world."

"I would hope the latter," Kristoff deadpanned.

"I just know it's really weird," Henry said. "Mary Margaret and David are actually Snow White and Prince Charming, but in this world, they're characters in a fairy tale hundreds of years old. Almost everyone in Storybrook is."

"So...there's a fairy tale about us?" Elsa asked.

Henry looked pained. "Noooooot exactly." He grimaced. "Brace yourselves."

He opened the magazine to a marked page and turned it around so they could see it.

Anna, Elsa and Kristoff stared. And stared. And stared.

"Is that...us?" Anna finally asked.

"'Fraid so."

Elsa slowly read the advertisement aloud. "Now you can own the smash hit Frozen. Fall in love with this instant classic all over again, with its hit song, "Let It Go." Buy it now on DVD or Blu-Ray." She blinked at it.

"So," Henry said. "They made a movie about you last year. And it was really good! Everyone fell in love with it. And I mean everyone. It became the best-selling animated movie of all time."

"Animated?" Elsa asked.

"Yeah. You're all rendered in artwork, rather than as real people."

"So that's why our eyes are so big," Anna said, staring at the magazine. "Hey! They got my freckles right!"

"What's this about a hit song?" Kristoff asked.

"The movie is a musical."

"A musical?" Elsa asked.

"Yeah. Every now and then, you – the you in the film – stop what you're doing and sing a song."

Granny arrived. "Here's your ice cream."

"Thanks," Anna said, completely dazed. "We might need to make this a double."

"I'm not sure there's enough chocolate in the world to help with this," Elsa said.

"Am I in this movie?" Kristoff asked.

"Mmm-hmm," Henry answered, eating his ice cream.

Kristoff looked at the magazine again. "Then how come I'm not in the advertisement?"

Granny patted his hand sympathetically.

Emma came into the diner with a thermos, and Granny pointed at her. "Ah-ah! Read the sign. No outside food or drink."

"This isn't just any drink, it's a special potion made by the nuns."

Granny looked over at Ruby, who was working by the till. "Ruby, we need to change the sign. No outside food, drink or magical potions."

Ruby just gave her a sardonic look.

"Look, I'm the savior!" Emma said, coming to their table. "I've saved this town at least twice. Cut me some slack."

Granny smiled. "All right. Just this once."

"Thanks," Emma smiled back. "Okay, you three. I've got something for you."

"You found a way to get us home?" Elsa asked eagerly.

"No, but I've got something that will make life easier," Emma said. "When the curse brought the people of the Enchanted Forest to Storybrook, it gave them general knowledge about this world. This world is so different from your world that they wouldn't have survived without it. And the fairies whipped up a potion to give the three of you the same knowledge. That way you won't call any more 1-800 numbers to order ShamWow, or microwave a bowl of plastic fruit."

"I said I was sorry about that," Kristoff said.

"Yeah, I know, I'm just saying."

"Emma, I don't want to know about this world," Elsa said, pain in her face. "I want to go back to mine."

"I know! And we're still going to find a way home for you. This doesn't change anything about our commitment to help you. I'm just saying that this world contains dangers that would take far too long to explain and I don't want you getting hurt. It will be a lot easier to help you if we don't have to constantly worry about you."

"So...this potion is going to affect our minds?" Anna asked.

"Yes," Emma said. "It will give you general awareness and an explanation of your environment."

"What about knowledge of our own world?" Elsa asked, doubt clearly written on her face. "Does that go away? Does this replace our identity, somehow?"

"No!" Emma said. "No, no, not at all. No, it won't hurt you or take anything away from you. It will simply give you more knowledge."

Elsa clearly wasn't convinced. "And you trust these fairies?"

"Absolutely," Emma said, and Granny nodded enthusiastically. "They're the agents of the universal forces of good, in exactly the same way that the Dark One is the agent of the universal forces of evil. The fairies are Rumplestiltskin's polar opposite. They use light magic. Granny, can we get three glasses?"

Granny left to retrieve the glasses.

"Well...all right," Elsa said reluctantly.

Emma put a hand on her shoulder. "Trust me. It'll be okay. There's just one thing."

"Ah, the catch!" Kristoff said. "I knew it."

"No, not really a catch," Emma said. "It's just...the nuns say it's going to taste awful. Sorry."

Granny arrived with three glasses and Emma poured a thick green substance from the thermos into each one. "I recommend drinking it quickly to get it over with," Emma said.

Kristoff didn't hesitate. He grabbed a glass and chug-a-lugged. The others watched.

He grimaced, puckered his lips, tilted his head sideways, and breathed deeply. "Okay," he said. "I see now that I got really lucky with the blender. And I now know all the rules to basketball, a game I've never even seen."

"Are you all right?" Anna asked.

Kristoff nodded. "Emma's right. We need this knowledge. Badly. I mean...not knowledge of basketball, but all the other stuff. And she's also right that it's best if you drink it fast."

Anna downed hers. Elsa braced herself, braced herself again, tried to raise her glass, braced herself a third time, then finally managed to choke it all down in one go.

Anna stared straight ahead, not moving.

Elsa shook her head rapidly and let out a deep breath. "Oh, please don't ever make me drink anything like that again."

"Hopefully, we won't," Emma said with a smile. "So tell me, if I say the word electricity, do you know what I'm talking about?"

Elsa nodded. "Yes. And you were right. There is no way we would have survived long without this knowledge. Thank you."

Emma's attention was on Anna. "Anna. Are you all right?"

Anna breathed in tiny, quick gasps, and tears streamed down her face. "No," she whispered.

Elsa gripped her arm, then glared at Emma. "What happened? What did you do?!"

Emma was shocked. "Nothing!"

"Not Emma's fault," Anna whispered. "There was nothing wrong with the potion."

"Then what's wrong?" Elsa asked, beside herself with concern.

Anna's face twisted and she began crying hard. "I hate this world!"

The others stared at her, shocked.

"They, they...have nuclear weapons!" Anna said. "And they've used them! The Holocaust! Death camps! Suicide terrorists flying planes into cities! Pollution everywhere! This is a horrible place! Oh, Elsa, this is a horrible, horrible place!"

Elsa held her and Anna sobbed on her shoulder. Granny's Diner was filled with a terrible, awkward silence.

Emma desperately wanted to be anywhere else but there, and she almost turned and left. But she had to face this head on.

"Anna," she said. "If I made a mistake by asking you to drink this potion, then I am more sorry than words can say."

"No," Anna said, still leaning on Elsa's shoulder and trying to bring her tears under control. "You didn't make a mistake. You were right. As long as we're stuck here, we need to know about this world, and I now know the danger we were in because of our ignorance." She sat up and wiped her tears away. "I just wasn't ready. I didn't know. I had no idea such terrible things were about to enter my brain. Please don't blame yourself. It just takes a moment to...to..."

"I am so sorry," Emma whispered.

"It's okay," Anna said, and made a valiant attempt to smile at her. "I know these terrible things aren't your fault. But there is clearly a difference between this world and ours, and it's not just their science and technology. The evil here is different. Harsher. More impersonal. Everything happens on a large scale."

Kristoff took her hands. "There is evil in our world, too, and if the evil in our world had access to the same technology that exists in this world, they'd use it. You know they would. I don't think it's really that different. I think it's just your shock that's talking."

Anna smiled weakly. "Maybe."

"But of course, technology by itself has nothing to do with evil," Kristoff continued. "The people of this world have invented terrible weapons that we could never have imagined. But they also explore space; have advanced weather and tsunami warning systems; found a way for people who love each other to stay in close contact over long distances; and conqured polio and wiped out small pox, two diseases we still have in our world. So, there's a lot of good, as well."

"Is that what you got from drinking the potion?" Henry asked.

"Well," Kristoff shrugged. "I got knowledge."

"I mean, you all drank the same potion, but you all had different reactions," Henry said. "The first thing Anna noticed was the bad stuff. But what was the first thing you noticed? Besides the basketball."

"The stars, and the Northern Lights," Kristoff said softly, and he squeezed Anna's hand. "I can't count the number of times I looked up at the sky before going to sleep, at all the stars spread across the heavens, and at the Northern Lights, and wondered what they all were. The moment I drank that potion, I suddenly knew, because the people of this world have figured out those mysteries. Now I finally know." He smiled. "It's something I've always wanted."

Anna smiled at him and squeezed his hand in return. "Then I'm glad you found it." She looked up. "Thank you, Emma. Really. I mean it."

Emma smiled weakly, grateful for her kindness.

Anna placed her hand on Henry's magazine. "And now I also know what a Disney movie is." She sighed. "I hope they got a voice actress who sounds like me."

"Your ice cream is melting," Granny said with a smile.

Anna smiled back at her. "So it is!" She dug into it with gusto.

Mary Margaret and David walked in, and Emma was grateful. Anything to break that awkward tension.

"Did you guys get settled into your rooms?" David asked.

"Yes," Elsa said. "Thank you so much for the lodging and the new clothes. We'll repay you as soon as we are able."

"Hey, don't worry about it," Mary Margaret said. "It's not a problem. You came to Storybrook with only one outfit, so we had to help you out."

"Any news of a way home for them?" Emma asked.

"We went all over Gold's shop, but not even Regina could tell what most of his stuff does. The nuns don't know of anything. Belle's in the library trying to find something that will get them home."

"How's Belle doing?" Ruby asked.

Mary Margaret shrugged. "Terrible. But she's a trooper. She's doing what she can to help."

 

There's nothing so perfectly still, and so perfectly full of potential, as a room full of books. Perfect quiet. Perfect stillness. Just row upon row of dusty books, filled with wonder and knowledge, allowing readers to span the centuries, and allowing authors a kind of immortality. It was where Belle felt most at home.

And after abruptly ending her marriage the night before, it was the only place she wanted to be. No matter what tragedy her life endured, the beautiful stillness of a library would always be her calm.

She even loved the soft sliding sound a book made when it was reshelved. She loved the neatness of books all faced perfectly, about one inch from the edge of the shelf.

Right now, this neatness, these tiny joys, were all she had.

So she allowed herself to enjoy the sound of shelving another book, even though she was disappointed that it had not been able to help. She tilted her head sideways and carefully read the titles of the rest of the books on the shelf.

The Storybrook library was a strange animal. Belle had been the librarian for a while, but no matter how much she arranged the books (and she had been delighted to discover the Dewey Decimal System), they just kept popping all over the place. Plus, she could swear that some books appeared and disappeared from the building entirely, even though no one had checked them out. It happened often and apparently at random, yet never when anyone was looking. Regina said she hadn't designed it that way, but then, she hadn't exactly been thinking about the library when casting the curse.

It was not the way a library ought to work, yet Belle, to her astonishment, found she didn't mind. Normally, she would have been quite irritated at a library which behaved in such a rude manner, but the Storybrook library made up for it in one spectacular way: the information a person desperately needed was, somehow, always to be found.

On this particular day, however, the information Belle needed was remaining stubbornly hidden.

Treasure Island? No.

Neanderthal vs. Cro-Magnon: The Give and Take of Our Ancestors? No.

The Trumpets of Camelot: JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis? No.

The First Ogre War? No.

The Pelican Brief? Maybe later.

Lady Chatterley's Lover? Ummm...maybe later.

Spells to Use Around the Kitchen? No.

Census Records of Thailand, 1800-1880? WTF?

Belle couldn't help it. Her hand drifted back to Lady Chatterley's Lover. She pulled it out and turned to a page at random.

"Oh, really?" she whispered.

The door opened. Guiltily, Belle snapped the book shut and shoved it back onto the shelf. She turned around and her breath was taken away.

"Hi," said Anna.

Belle swallowed hard. "Hi," she finally managed to say.

The two women looked at each other for a moment.

Swinging her arm a little, Anna slowly walked to the table. "So...I heard you were here. Just thought I'd come say hi."

"Hi," Belle said again.

"And..." Anna traced a finger along the table, clearly unsure of how to proceed. "...I wanted to tell you that I heard about what happened last night, and I'm so very, very sorry for what you're going through right now."

It took a moment for the words to register. "Oh," Belle said. "Yes. Yes, thank you, it was...bad."

"And...when we last met, Grand Pabbie had just given you your memories back," Anna said. "Then my aunt attacked, and I never even knew whether she had hurt you or not. For all I knew, she left you for dead."

"Oh, no!" Belle said, and gave a weak smile. "No, I'm...fine. She didn't hurt me. And I'm really, really glad that you're all right, too! And I heard about your aunt of course, and I'm so sorry."

Anna smiled weakly. "Thanks." She paused. "So...did it work? Did you get your memories back?"

"Um..." Belle faltered, thinking of everything that had happened that awful day, and the tears started flowing.

"Oh," Anna said. "I didn't mean to...I shouldn't have...I should go. I'm sorry."

"No!" Belle exclaimed. "No, it's not you. It's...it's just that I really needed to talk to you, anyway."

The two women stood there awkwardly.

"Sit down, please," Belle suddenly said, pulling a chair out. "I really, really need to tell you something."

Anna sat. Belle had the feeling the young princess already knew what she was going to say.

Belle sat across from her, still weeping.

"I have a confession to make, Anna. That day, when your aunt attacked us, your life was in danger, and...and you were calling out to me to help you." Belle paused. "And...I...didn't come help you. The stone containing my memories was about to fall off the cliff, and...I tried to get my stone back instead of coming to your aid."

Anna tilted her head sideways a bit, her face showing pain, sympathy, and – Belle imagined – contempt.

"I...am sorry," Belle whispered. "I know I can't make up for that. I am deeply, deeply ashamed. I never thought I was that kind of person. You were kind to me, and your life was in danger, yet I only thought of myself. The reason you fell off that cliff was because I was selfish in the most terrible way, and I am more sorry than I can possibly say. I didn't even know if you were alive. I would give anything to go back and have that moment again so I could make the right choice. I won't ask your forgiveness, because I don't deserve it. But I just wanted you to know that I failed you, and you deserved better, and I am sorry, and I am deeply, deeply ashamed."

"Belle...my aunt was a sorceress. She would have taken me no matter what either of us did."

"That's not the point."

Anna smiled softly. "No, I suppose it isn't. But my heart tells me that you're basically a good person, and everyone in Storybrook speaks very highly of you."

Belle let out a single laugh. "Do they?"

"They do."

Belle shook her head and looked down at her hands. "I don't know about that. They say a person's true character is revealed in moments of crisis, and when mine was revealed, I didn't like what I saw. Then I went and married the Dark One, thinking I could save him, thinking he would change." She sighed. "Some record I have," she whispered.

"I once got engaged to a man I'd just met. Turned out, he wanted to kill me and my sister and take the throne of Arendelle. You don't have a monopoly on bad decisions with men."

"I married the literal personification of universal evil. It will be a long time before I hear about anything which tops that."

A memory flashed through Anna's mind, and she spoke the words aloud. "We're not saying you can change him, because people don't really change. We're only saying that love's a force that's powerful and strange."

"Where did you hear that?"

Anna smiled. "My future mother-in-law."

Belle gave a small smile as she remembered the rock trolls. She was surprised when Anna suddenly took her hand.

"So you're not perfect. Belle, I know what it's like to let someone down. We all do it at some point in our lives. The only thing that matters is that we care enough to feel remorse and to make ourselves better, and I know perfectly well that that's the type of person you are. If my life were in danger again, I'd trust you all over again."

"Are you sure about that?"

"I heard what you did last night. You saved Captain Hook, and you saved all those poor people trapped in that hat, even though it meant throwing away your marriage. That's not the act of a selfish person."

Belle tried to find an answer which would explain again just how terrible a person she was, but found she didn't have one. Anna was right. She had been a hero last night...after weeks of naive ignorance.

"I know you're trying to be kind," Belle said. "But it wouldn't have gotten that far if I hadn't been so blind. He kept his true nature hidden from me for so long, and showed me to be the biggest fool who ever lived."

Anna squeezed her hand. "Your heart is full of love, and you tried to do the right thing by believing in him. Don't let that part of you die, Belle."

Belle looked at her for a long moment, then finally nodded.

The silence was broken by the sound of Belle's stomach rumbling. The two women burst into laughter.

"How long has it been since you've had something to eat?" Anna asked.

Belle gave a weak shrug. "I don't know. I haven't felt like eating. The past eighteen hours have been nasty."

"Granny's Diner, now."

Belle shook her head. "I want to find a way home for you. I let you down once, Anna, I swear I'm not going to do it again."

"I'm not asking you to stop searching, I'm just asking you to take a break. In fact, I'm ordering you to."

"You can't order me to."

"I'm a princess."

"So am I."

"How many princesses are in this town, anyway?"

"Dozens," Belle said, smiling. "We're everywhere. And we have at least three queens with Elsa here, and I think a few kings."

"Well, even princesses need food," Anna said. "And you can tell me all about the memories Grand Pabbie restored."

Belle gave a frustrated laugh. "I lost them, anyway! That stone fell off the cliff and shattered on the rocks!"

"Ohhhh," Anna said in sympathy. "I'm so sorry."

Belle shrugged. "I think the memories are still in my head, and if they're repressed, then it's for a reason." She sighed. "I'll let them return some day, when they're ready. Until then, I'll just remember my mother the way she was. Beautiful."

"I'm sure she was, to have raised a daughter like you."

Belle blushed.

"Now come on, bookworm." Anna stood but didn't let go of Belle's hand. "A meal break won't hurt anything, but skipping meals will. So let's go."

Belle stood also, walked around the table, and gave Anna a powerful hug. They stood there for a long moment, holding each other, in the perfect stillness and quiet of a library.

"Thank you, Anna," Belle said through her tears.

"In a short amount of time, your marriage collapsed, you suffered betrayal, and then you faced your own shame," Anna said softly. "You've had a rough day. But you're stronger than you think you are, Belle. And you have more friends than you think you do."

They pulled away and Belle nodded. "It seems I do."

Smiling, they walked out the door. The library was again perfectly quiet and still.

After a few seconds, a number of books – each with a soft, golden glow – disappeared and reappeared all over the shelves.

 

Elsa sat alone in a booth amid softly swirling snowflakes, staring at the table, as Granny's Diner filled with the lunchtime crowd.

"Elsa, meet a friend of mine," Anna said, sliding into the seat across from her. "This is Belle."

Belle sat next to Anna and held out her hand. "How do you do?"

"I'm as wonderful as I can be at the moment," Elsa said, shaking her hand. The snowflakes vanished. "Always a pleasure to meet a new friend."

"You actually didn't look terribly happy, just now," Anna said.

"No, I'm fine," Elsa said.

"You had a light snowfall, with twenty percent chance of sleet," Anna said.

Elsa gave an embarrassed smile. "Seriously, I don't notice when I do that. I'm going to have to learn some kind of control or I'll never be able to negotiate a trade agreement again."

"Or play poker," Belle said.

"Luckily, I don't do that."

"The usual, Belle?" Ruby called.

"Please. Are you two getting anything?"

"We've already eaten. So what's up?" Anna asked Elsa.

"Have you met Leroy?" Elsa asked.

"He's one of the dwarfs, right?" Anna asked. "Grumpy? Yeah. He's actually kind of sweet."

"In his own way," Belle agreed. "He's a grumpy sweetie."

"Leroy wants to screen our movie, and he wants everyone to come see it," Elsa said. "In digital 3D. He and Henry are just all a-giggle."

"So what's wrong with that?" Anna asked.

Elsa sighed. "I'm not sure I want to see a movie about us. I lived it already." She paused, then said softly, "I don't want to watch our parents die."

Anna had nothing to say to this.

"I have a movie, too," Belle said. "I watched it one day, alone. I was curious."

"What did you think?" Elsa asked.

Belle thought about it. "Strange. It was an odd version of my life, a re-telling of some things. Not everything in the movie actually happened."

"Did you sing?" Elsa asked.

"Oh, yeah!" Belle laughed, and quietly broke into song.

 

Look, there she goes! That girl is so peculiar!
I wonder if she's feeling well.
With a dreamy, far-off look,
and her nose stuck in a book,
what a puzzle to the rest of us is Belle.

 

They all shared a long, wonderful laugh. Anna clapped her hands together.

"You know, I'll say one thing about those Disney movies," Belle said. "They treat death with dignity, and they don't dwell on it or show it directly."

"Have you seen our movie?" Elsa asked.

"No, but I've heard about it," Belle said. "It's so popular! Your faces are on cereal boxes, and bedsheets, and even toy shovels. You have your own action figures. Little girls dressed up as you for Halloween."

"Who was more popular: me or Elsa?" Anna asked.

Belle rolled her eyes. "I have no idea!"

Ruby arrived with the food. "No one dresses up as me for Halloween," she said, with a mock-sad face.

"We love you anyway, Ruby," Belle said.

Ruby gave Anna a glass of water and refilled Elsa's water.

"Do you mind...?" Belle asked the sisters hesitantly, indicating her plate.

"Oh, we're fine," Anna said. "Like I said, we've already eaten. You chow down."

Belle nodded and dug in. She truly was hungry.

"I hear you're the librarian," Elsa said.

Belle nodded enthusiastically. "That's me."

"She's been cooped up in the library all this time trying to find a way for us to get home," Anna said.

"But so far, nothing," Belle said. "The library is magical, but it's not cooperating like it sometimes does."

"Maybe if we talk to it sweetly?" Anna asked.

Belle smiled. "I've never thought of that. I'm willing to try."

Henry entered the diner and ran to their booth. "We're on! Seven PM. The McSwain Theater. I'll save the three best seats for you and Kristoff."

Elsa smiled. She didn't have the heart to argue with the boy. "Very well. We shall be there, Master Henry."

"Just call me Henry," he said.

"If Storybrook is invisible to the rest of the world, how do you get movies?" Anna asked.

"All common material goods produced in this world magically appear in Storybrook." Henry sounded like he was reciting something he'd repeated many times.

"Impressive," Anna said, and turned to Belle. "Well, would you like to see our movie, too?"

"Sure!" Belle said.

"Then Henry, if you would, please save us four seats," Anna said.

"Consider it done!"

 

In the end, Henry saved twelve seats, including his own, for he wanted both of his moms, Captain Hook, Mary Margaret, David, Ruby and Granny to sit together in the middle. The seven dwarfs sat near the back, throwing popcorn at each other. Archie, Marco and August were there, as was Ella and Aurora and their husbands. The fairies were there, including Tinkerbell. Mulan, Will Scarlet and some of the other Merry Men attended, although out of respect, none of them approached Regina, as Robin Hood's recent departure was still so raw with all of them.

With Kristoff on one side of her and her sister on the other, Anna was in good spirits. She knew Elsa was tense, and kept trying to help her relax.

"I'm just concentrating on not sleeting the theater," Elsa said.

"If you did, it would be the coolest and most genuine special effect ever," Henry said.

Elsa whispered to Anna, "Actually, I think I'll be fine. I asked the blue fairy to calm my nerves, and she cast a spell."

"You call this calm?"

"Compared to how I'd normally be feeling, yes."

At 6: 59, Henry stood on his seat and shouted to the whole theater, "Everyone's cell phones off now!" This was followed by the rustle of hundreds of people pulling out their phones and switching them to silent. Emma had to show Hook how to do it. (Emma had told Hook about the nuns' potion which would give him knowledge of this world, but he had declined.)

The lights dimmed. Everyone put on their 3D glasses. Anna bounced up and down in her seat. Elsa took a deep breath. Anna grabbed her hand, and didn't let go throughout the whole movie.

With the opening notes of the chorus singing a capella, and the beautiful images of snowflakes drifting across the screen in 3D, Elsa's fears melted instantly. She'd never seen anything so lovely. Anna, Elsa and Kristoff were blown away. And it was just one minute into the film.

The opening scene of the saw breaking through the ice, coming straight at them, made them jump.

When she realized the little boy was Kristoff, Anna said, "Aww!"

When the scene shifted to their castle, Elsa and Anna gasped, then gasped again at the sight of their own bedroom. Elsa's mind reeled. It's actually our bedroom when we were children! she thought. On a movie screen!

A little girl's eyes popped over the bed. "Elsa!" The real Anna laughed.

Elsa was grateful for the blue fairy's help, for otherwise, she would never have been able to sit through the scene in which little Elsa struck Anna on the head. The appearance of her parents made her jump. Their voices were different than in real life, but it was rough seeing them alive again, even as animated characters.

"Do you want to build a snowman?" The real Anna giggled at the cute song.

Tears streamed down their faces as they watched the sea claim their parents' ship.

They grinned throughout "For the First Time in Forever."

Anna was puzzled at the scene in which she met Hans. He hadn't hit her with his horse and knocked her into a boat, they had simply met normally and exchanged pleasantries. But she had to admit the scene in the movie was funnier.

They laughed at the Duke of Weselton's hairpiece coming off.

Kristoff scowled at "Love Is an Open Door." Anna squeezed his hand to let him know it was all right, even though she was scowling, too. Watching herself cavort with Hans was not pleasant.

Elsa grit her teeth during the argument at her coronation ball, resulting in her display of power. Her heart beat fast and her face burned with shame as she watched the Elsa on screen run in terror from her own people, fleeing across the fjord and into the forest.

Anna scowled as the Anna on screen placed Hans in charge of the kingdom. She wanted to yell at the screen, Don't do it, stupid!

But then came that moment. A snowcovered mountain range at night, Elsa trudging alone up a mountainside, and the soft notes of a piano. Everyone in the audience sat enraptured.

 

The snow glows white on the mountain tonight, not a footprint to be seen.
A kingdom of isolation, and it looks like I'm the queen.

 

As the Elsa on the screen sang "Let It Go," her counterpart in the audience sat enthralled, her face twisted in grief, silently holding back sobs, tears running down her face. She hadn't actually sung a song, but if she had, it would have been this one. It captured perfectly everything she had felt on that first terrible, lonely night of freedom.

The whole audience laughed at Anna finding Oaken's Trading Post and meeting Kristoff, then laughed long and hard at Anna and Kristoff's conversation in the sled. "Excuse me, sir! He is a prince!"

Elsa breathed hard and gripped Anna's hand when she saw her sister get chased by wolves and then jump a ravine.

They smiled at Olaf, and adored his song about summer. Anna laughed when Kristoff said, "Somebody's gotta tell him!"

"That was like a crazy trust exercise." For some reason, Elsa found this line hilarious.

Elsa gripped Anna's hand again when the sisters on screen met in the ice palace and Elsa's power struck Anna, even as she admired the beauty of the duet which the sisters sang. Elsa grit her teeth as she watched her snow guardian chase Anna and Kristoff down the mountainside.

They enjoyed the rock trolls singing. Kristoff was embarrassed, but Anna grinned and bounced throughout the entire song.

Then it was Anna's turn to be afraid. She gripped Elsa's hand and sat shivering as she watched the men of Weselton try to kill her sister. The Elsa on screen used her power to fight them off.

They watched the rest of the drama play out: Anna's illness, Hans's betrayal, Olaf's rescue, Kristoff's return. The entire theater sat spellbound, hardly breathing, as Anna yelled "No!" and turned to ice. The Elsa in the audience was weeping silently, but then, so was almost everyone else.

As Anna thawed, everyone clapped and cheered.

It was a happy ending. Hans was in prison, the Duke of Weselton was banished, Anna was cured, Elsa was back, summer was back, and Arendelle went ice skating.

As the closing credits rolled, everyone just sat there, absorbing what they'd just seen.

Anna turned to Elsa and hugged her.

"I was wrong," Elsa said. "That was wonderful."

"It was even mostly accurate," Anna said.

The lights came on and everyone stood to chat. "So, was that how it happened?" Mary Margaret asked.

"Pretty much," Anna said. "We didn't sing songs, and I didn't say some of the things I did in the movie, but that was basically how it played out."

"So you really have a magical snowman?" Henry asked.

"Yes we do," Elsa smiled.

"I would just like to point out to everyone that I have never shared a carrot with Sven," Kristoff said. "That's just...no."

"But do you sing duets with him?" Belle asked.

"Well...maybe."

They all went to Granny's, and talked and laughed late into the night, long past the time Granny would usually have closed up. Regina, with her recently broken heart, was especially grateful for the company.

A wonderful evening was had by all.

 

Elsa woke to an insistent knocking on her door. She opened it to find Emma, who was obviously wound up about something.

"Good morning," Elsa said. "Did something happen?"

Emma beamed at her. "The sorcerer's apprentice woke up early this morning, and he has some news you'll want to hear. Pack everything you want to take with you and meet me downstairs."

Elsa's face broke into a huge grin and she flew into a whirl of activity.

Thirty minutes later, Emma's yellow VW arrived at the hospital. Elsa, Anna and Kristoff got out and followed Emma into the building. Emma led them to a room on the second floor, in which an elderly man was gently protesting and a young nurse was getting more exasperated by the second.

"I'm perfectly all right," the man was saying as they entered. "I don't need these infernal needles stuck in me. And would you kindly stop waving X-ray images in front of my face? I'm not interested."

"Oh, you should listen to the doctors," Emma said.

"I'm the sorcerer's apprentice. They should listen to me."

The nurse sighed and left.

"Hi!" Emma said. "We haven't actually met, yet, but-"

"You are Emma Swan, the Savior, the daughter of True Love."

Emma nodded. "And these are-"

"The royal family of Arendelle, and a fiance who will soon join them." He nodded to Anna. "A pleasure to meet you again."

"And you!" Anna smiled. "Thank you for saving me from Rumplestiltskin."

"Oh, always a pleasure to foil the plans of the Dark One. It's one of my favorite pastimes."

"Well, you know who we are," Emma said. "Do you have a name?"

"Probably."

They all waited a few moments, but no more information was forthcoming.

"That's a strange name," Anna said.

"So, if you're the sorcerer's apprentice...where's the sorcerer?" Kristoff asked.

"Not here, because he has the sense to stay away from hospitals," the apprentice said.

"So...anway," Emma said, trying to get the conversation back on track. "Apparently, you can help these three return to their world?"

"Oh, yes! Come to my house, and I will open a portal which will take you home."

"Just like that?" Elsa asked.

"Yes. Just like that."

Emma's jaw was hanging open. "You mean all those months the people of Storybrook searched for a way back to the Enchanted Forest, you could have helped them all along?"

"Not really. I can't return all the people and leave an abandoned magical town just sitting here, cluttering up the landscape. If the people of Storybrook wish to return, they need to reverse the curse, and they can only do that themselves." He stood up. "Now, I would like to return home, and I gather you would, as well."

Anna gripped Elsa's arm. "It wouldn't be right to leave without saying good-bye to everyone."

"But we also need to hurry," Elsa said. "Every moment is precious."

 

Mary Margaret, David, Belle, Henry, Captain Hook and Emma watched as the sorcerer's apprentice created a doorway in the middle of his living room. The door opened, revealing a tunnel of swirling colors.

"Just step through there, and you will find yourselves back in Arendelle," he said.

Elsa wept. "Thank you!" She turned to the others. "Thank you all! Thank you for everything!"

"It was our pleasure," Emma said. "Just get home and hit Hans with the biggest snowball ever."

"If we can ever repay you, if you are ever in trouble or need our help, send word to us," Anna said. "We will aid you in whatever way we can."

They said their good-byes, shaking hands and hugging. Anna and Belle, especially, shared a long, warm hug. Then the three people from Arendelle stepped through the portal.

They arrived in an empty corridor on the second floor of their castle. The magical door behind them disappeared.

"Yes!" Anna exclaimed in a loud whisper as she jumped in joy.

"Oh, Your Majesty!" Gerda cried softly, running to them, tears streaming down her face. "You're back! Oh, goodness!"

"Yes, we're back," Elsa said with determination. "But that must remain a secret for a while longer. Where is Hans?"

 

Hans and three of his brothers returned to the throne room, laughing, having had their fill of Arendelle's finest beer in the royal dining hall. But when they pushed open the throne room doors, they sobered quickly.

Queen Elsa sat on the throne.

"Come in," she said. "I would say, 'Come in, gentlemen,' but a lady doesn't lie."

One of the brothers turned to run, but found that a wall of ice had appeared behind them while they were gawping.

Hans slowly entered the room, his eyes locked on Elsa. His brothers fanned out behind him.

Elsa noted that they were armed with swords, though they had yet to draw them. Gerda had informed Elsa that the invaders were so afraid of uprising and assassination that they kept their swords with them even within the castle.

"I have heard disturbing reports of my sister and her fiance," Elsa said. "Perhaps you could clarify their whereabouts."

"Princess Anna and her pet peasant ran like cowards," Hans said. "I know not where they are."

"Really?" Elsa asked. "Because I heard you shoved them into a trunk and condemned them to a slow and painful death at the bottom of the sea."

Hans shrugged. "One mustn't believe everything one hears."

"No," Anna said, as she and Kristoff stepped out from behind the throne. "One mustn't." Anna held a sheathed sword.

Hans gaped.

"Surprise," Kristoff said, but there was no mirth in his eyes.

Hans slowly backed up. "It's...not possible."

"I assure you it is," Elsa said. "And I can also assure you that for the act of attempting to murder my family and friends, you will pay."

Hans and his brothers tried to draw their swords, but only Hans was successful. Each of the brothers was instantly encircled by a wall of ice spikes slanting from the floor to his neck. The sharp points pressed against the skin of each man; even the tiniest movement in any direction was impossible.

Hans looked at them, then back at Elsa. "Why not me?"

Slowly, Anna drew her sword, handed the sheath to Kristoff, and walked forward. Elsa and Kristoff watched, their faces impassive.

Hans smiled and assumed a fighting stance.

They faced each other for several moments, then Anna feinted left and attacked right. Hans didn't fall for it. He parried easily and danced out of the way, but Anna had anticipated this and attacked again immediately. Hans parried again and counterattacked.

The throne room echoed with the ringing of swords as Anna and Hans dueled, steel meeting steel again and again. Swing, thrust, parry – the combat whirled across the floor. Hans ducked behind one of his brothers, and he and Anna clashed swords around him, while the trapped man could only stare in terror at the blades slicing past his head.

Anna's sword became embedded in one of the ice spikes, causing her to fall. She let go of the sword and rolled out of the way as Hans swung down viciously and hit the floor where she'd been. Lying on her back, she swung her leg up and kicked his forehead. Hans staggered back. Anna grabbed her sword, wrenched it free, and rolled to her feet. She was grateful that Elsa had not thawed that particular patch of ice in order to help release her sword; the honor of a royal duel demanded that she carry this fight herself.

She and Hans slowly circled each other. Hans was no longer smiling. Anna sensed his fear. He had underestimated her badly, and they both knew it.

Perhaps it was this rising panic which led Hans to make his mistake. He lunged in desperation. Anna swatted his thrust aside, continued whirling in a full circle with the momentum, and hit Hans squarely in the chest with the flat of her blade. Hans staggered, then swung his sword wildly. Anna easily dodged and, using the hand holding the sword, punched Hans in the nose with all of her might. He went flying and landed on his back. By the time he shook his head clear and opened his eyes, Anna's sword was at his neck.

He glared at her for a long moment, but finally let go of his own sword as a sign of surrender. It clattered on the floor.

Without a word, Anna turned away to walk back to her sister.

Behind her, Hans grabbed his sword again, jumped up, and lunged one last time.

A rough projection of ice about four feet in diameter erupted from the wall and smashed into Hans, throwing him across the room. Anna didn't turn to look. She didn't even flinch.

She calmly took the sheath from Kristoff and resheathed the sword.

Hans slowly stood, clearly aching badly. He, too, resheathed his sword.

"Let your brothers bear witness to all that Princess Anna of Arendelle defeated you," Elsa said. "I give you a new name, Prince Hans. From this day forward, you shall be called Prince Eunuch of the Southern Isles. Everywhere you go, children shall point at you and laugh. Everywhere you go, people will mock you, and say, 'There goes Prince Eunuch, the man who lost a sword duel to a woman.'"

Hans glared with pure hatred but said nothing.

"I could punish you further, of course," Elsa said. "I could freeze your arm, then order it shattered. Or your leg, or...or any other appendage I choose." She gave the hint of a smile. "Think of that. I could make your new name literal."

Hans still said nothing.

All the ice in the room, and in the corridor beyond, disappeared. Waiting in the corridor was a platoon of the royal guard.

"You will lay down your arms where you stand," Elsa said. "You will surrender them entirely; they will not be returned. Your army has already been subdued, and is even now boarding your ships. My magic was more than enough to force them into instant submission. You will march straight to the pier and join them. My men will escort you. Every one of you are banished forever. You will never return to this kingdom, under pain of death."

Hans and his brothers unbuckled their swords and laid them on the floor. Without another word, they filed out the door. Olaf and the servants rushed in, celebrating the return of their beloved queen and princess.

Elsa, Anna and Kristoff let out enormous sighs of relief. Anna hugged Elsa, then Kristoff.

"I'm so happy I'm going to marry a woman who can use a sword," he said.

"I'll give you personal lessons," she said, smiling.

"Your Majesty!" Kai said. "Criers have already been dispersed to tell the kingdom the good news!"

"A public announcement," Anna said. "We could really use televisions here."

Kai gave her a quizzical look.

"We have our kingdom back," Elsa said. "Our lives have been restored, thanks to the kindness of others. And the first thing we must do is have proper funerals for Ingrid and Helga, and restore the people's memories. We must honor our family. They must be remembered."

Anna nodded.

"I also issue the following royal edict," Elsa said. "Any fisherman of Arendelle who captures a mermaid must release it immediately, and also must provide any assistance that mermaid should require."

Back in Storybrook, Regina, Mary Margaret, David, Henry, Emma, Belle, Captain Hook, Leroy, Granny and Ruby all watched the mirror in Regina's living room. The mirror showed the throne room of Arendelle as Olaf and Kristoff chatted happily, the servants picked up the swords left behind by the invaders, and Anna and Elsa walked away, arm in arm.

"I'm so glad things turned out well for them," Mary Margaret said, as Regina waved her hand and the image disappeared.

"Yep!" David said, putting his arm around her. "A happy ending for two sisters who deserved every bit of it."

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