The cliff below her was hugging the orange valley which in the dark night looked like a sea of deep bronze leaves. It's been a few days since the Enchanted Forest was freed from the fog, but Elsa could never get over this blessed view. She felt so amazed by the forest each time she allowed herself a minute to admire it, but she's never really seen it melted together with the sky.
The pitch black shadow in the distance that used to be the dam, however, had never had such reflections of beauty, as if Nature had been trying to render it as a signal of danger and treason. It was no longer to be seen though, and perhaps it made the Moon cast a brighter smile on this sacred land. Instead, there was a huge dark blue path bringing floating diamonds in its wake: the moonlit river. Ahtohallan.
"There's a river, full of memory..."
"Come my darling homeward bound..."
"I am found." Hummed Elsa as she was sitting on the rough surface of a tree bark, propped on the elbows and gazing at this mesmerising scene.
"I am proud of you, Daughter."
A discreet grin stretched upon her face as she whispered back into the light breeze, letting Gale carry away her voice. "Thank you, Mother." In response, the air ran a gentle hand along her long blonde waves.
Her destiny has been fulfilled and she finally felt like herself.
Elsa was startled when the bushes behind her started trembling and the autumn leaves crackled under footsteps, so she couldn't help but snap around and send out a handful of ice into the darkness. She then heard a squeal and the next moment there was a dim frame of a woman emerging from the shadows. First she noticed a leather hat covered in shiny ice, followed by a boot stepping out cautiously, and a hand sticking out a spear to lift the rest of the body.
Her voice seemed shaky with surprise but cheeky enough to make Elsa calm a bit. "Quite jumpy, are we?"
"Honeymaren." She breathed out in an unusually high pitch, still grasping her heart. As she took another glance at the girl's frozen cap however, she immediately went colder than ever and could only stutter desperately as she hastily got up and stumbled towards the girl.
"Oh no! Please forgive me-"
Honeymaren quickly took her hands before Elsa could fall and huskily chuckled. "Hey, it's okay."
She shook her head. "No, you don't understand." She sighed and ran a frustrated hand through her hair. "The last time I hit someone in the head I ended up behind my chamber door for years."
The confused look on Honeymaren's face softened. "It was your sister, wasn't it." Saying it out loud made her frown with worry though.
Elsa nodded in silence before saying steadily, rather to herself than the girl in front of her. "It is over now. Anna is safe and this is what matters."
A few more minutes passed, and Honeymaren waited patiently for Elsa to say anything else. She didn't.
"Anyway." She began just to change the subject and try to well... break the ice. "How could you find the most hidden place this forest ever held?"
"Well-" Elsa chuckled, much less edgy than before. "I have always had an urge to go into the unknown."
"Same here. However, now that there are already two of us knowing about this spot, it's officially off from the secret list, is it?"
"Are you trying to say I've ruined your personal hideout and that I should elegantly call my goodbyes?" Elsa asked in one long breath, rising an eyebrow but also showing a hint of her smile. It made the other girl laugh and bow dramatically.
"Of course not, Your Majesty."
The last time she was called like that was barely a week ago, yet it already felt so distant it made Elsa cringe.
"Please, I'm not a queen anymore."
Honeymaren pursed her lips but quickly figured out something else. "What about..." She didn't finish it but made Elsa smile anyways. "That's dumb." She mumbled under her breath.
"Just call me Elsa."
"Oh. Okay. I'm just like, super thrilled over everything that happened in the past days. You made my wildest dream come true you know."
"Seeing the sky?"
Honeymaren nodded. "Yes. So... As for this place I'm just pointing out we should seek something new soon. Dive into the unknown as you said."
Suddenly, Elsa noticed they were still holding hands and her natural need for distance made her stand back.
"Um... You mean, together?"
The Northuldra shrugged. "Why not. I was thinking about showing you around or something. You made it easier to do so by finding my hidden place. Um, I- I didn't quite have the chance to approach you yet." As she moved however, the weight of the ice pulled her hat, making it slip and fall down. Honeymaren's reflexes were quicker though, so she caught it in time.
Elsa let out a nervous laugh-like grunt and wrote a graceful circle in the air, freeing the fabric from her magic.
"Sorry." She mumbled, turned back and sat back on the tree, clumsily patting it as an invitation. Honeymaren hung her cap on a nearby branch to let it dry before following her, and soon they were sitting there side by side. Elsa didn't dare to look at her even though she was curious to see the girl without her cap.
"Do you-" She didn't know how to put it for it still seemed like a foolish vision. She folded her arms around herself - a common posture of hers - but before she could open her mouth, Honeymaren spoke warmly to her surprise.
"Do I know how you can hear your mother through Nature?"
"How could you guess?"
"I heard you singing and calling out for her, and apparently I know the answer." When she saw Elsa's rigid posture loosening up, she continued on. "You are the Fifth Spirit. You are definitely a very part of this world if not this entire universe, right? Truth is we all are, and even though we have a much less deep connection to Nature than you, we can still benefit from its ancient magic."
"Yes. My father told the Northuldra used to be friends with the Spirits. They used to help your ancestors."
Honeymaren beamed. "And thanks to you, we all can get back to that." She slid down to the ground and from then on she was leaning against the trunk, her arms under her head and her legs stretched out. Her feet were already hanging near the edge of the cliff.
Elsa just watched her in an awe she couldn't quite point her finger on. Even though they were still some kind of strangers, Honeymaren's presence always managed to make her somewhat eased. The confidence and pure joy that radiated off her was so sweet it kept putting a spell on Elsa, and suddenly but less to her surprise she remembered the night when the two of them were settled by the campfire, talking about the Spirits sewed onto Iduna's scarf. Which felt more shocking however, was the way her hands began to tingle, longing for some warmth for the very first time in her life. Even the feeling itself seemed so impossible and unfamiliar that she could only guess by the way she recalled the moment when Honeymaren took her hands in hers. Yet again her nerves grew over her, so she couldn't help but scoot a few inches away.
"Can you hear her too?" She asked and her gaze never left the girl though. Luckily for her Honeymaren wasn't looking, but at the same time it started to feel more and more creepy to just stare at her.
"No." She chuckled and then finally turned her head to glance over at Elsa. "But I'd really like to. I mean I won't be able to hear her anyways but I'm curious. Can you send her a message?"
Elsa pursed her lips. "It's usually Mother to speak first. How can I call her?"
"I'm not sure how I did it, but when I used to cope with problems I just came here and attempted to focus on Nature."
Elsa's eyes widened at that. "Right here?" She asked.
Honeymaren grinned and gestured all around her. "Right here. Maybe this place has a unique energy and it actually urged you to find itself." Meanwhile she stood up and walked behind Elsa. "Like I said, you just gotta focus."
When Elsa's posture tensed once again, she grabbed her shoulders and softly shook her up, unaware of the small heart attack she unintentionally caused.
"Focus, but not like this." She murmured, her motions turning into circulating massage. "Even a blind one can see how reserved and anxious you are. Concentration doesn't involve anxiety, Elsa."
"I know your eyes are snapped tight, dear." The Northuldran sang.
Elsa couldn't help but protest in a similar tune.
"You don't even see-"
"I sense it here."
Elsa sighed as she was too tired of hiding it any longer. "It's complicated."
Honeymaren's hands halted at that, but just for the time she didn't speak in tunes. "We'll never be late to solve it. I'm sure you'll heal in time."
"I need someone who's mine."
Soon enough their voices were molded in a sweet, symmetric melody guided by the Forest's swirling energy.
"I know I'm cold but change's not fast."
"You ain't freezing just lost in past."
"Your fate is safe, you're almost free."
"My fate is safe, I'm almost free."
She bent down to whisper the last line into Elsa's ear. "All you have to do..."
For a few moments there were nothing else to be heard than the rustling of Ahtohallan beyond, and the sound of Gale who was probably trying to hush naughty children into slumber. And of course, the deep breaths of the Fifth Spirit.
"How's that we keep ending up singing together?" Honeymaren giggled as she straightened up and let Elsa's shoulders. Elsa herself wasn't sure whether she finally felt at complete ease but nevertheless she had this shy smile on her face while she was watching her own hands. The tingles from earlier were nowhere to be found.
"At least it wasn't a warning lullaby." She said, but when she glanced back at Honeymaren, the girl didn't look as joyful as before.
"I'm sorry." She began while kneeling in front of Elsa. "I don't really know what happened to you in the past because I had rather felt creepy watching that living snowman of yours jumping all around and telling your story in a nutshell."
Elsa laughed at this unusually frank confession. "His name is Olaf. And don't you worry, he's not a lunatic."
"I know. Point is I still can't believe that we're here and on the other hand I so badly want to be a part of it. A part of my savior." She paused then and Elsa just knew. The blush on her pale face was too obvious even in this dim moonlight. However, it made the Northuldra smile. "Don't be shy about it. You are our savior and now I want to be yours. Here's the plan: we'll roam the Enchanted Forest, I'll teach you everything I know. You will be able to let go all of your restrained power and emotions. You'll have a deeper connection to Nature when you learn her. And most importantly... If you're willing to open up, I'm right here."
Elsa needed some time to think it through. She turned back to her hands. What on Earth was this weird feeling? Was it not a coincidence that they met at this secret spot? Elsa needed answers. And Honeymaren was right: most importantly she needed company.