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I'm Arriving

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Some days, she can’t even remember the names or faces of her nieces and nephews, yet the sense of where Ahtohallan is never abandons her.

The familiar tears prick at her eyes as her frustration mounts yet again that day.

She knows this woman, she does, but she just cannot think of how!

The other woman sighs at the sight of her old Auntie’s mouth set in a hard line and brow creased in concentration. She brushes back a wisp of white-blond hair from her Aunt Elsa’s face. What must it be like, to be eighty?

“Everything’s okay,” she calmly tells her. “You’re in the sitting room. It’s just after noon. Eirik was going to come and take a walk with you by the river – now won’t that be nice?”

Eirik, Eirik….the name sounds familiar. This place looks familiar. But her thoughts swim, her gaze distracted, and suddenly she forgets that she was ever forgetting something at all.

Iduna fondly remembers how Aunt Elsa would attempt to settle her down in a similar manner when she was just a young, hyperactive child. “Just like your mother,” Aunt Elsa would say with a chuckle, gently guiding her to whatever she was supposed to be doing with appropriate behavior for a princess.

Visits from her Aunt Elsa were always…well, magical, Iduna supposes, though not just because of her actual magic.

She came every week like clockwork, riding in majestically on the Nokk, usually with a wide, flowing cape curving out from behind her. She would bring her nieces and nephews gifts each time – fruits you could only find in the forest, animals shaped out of ice, a stunning leaf that was the exact color of Iduna’s hair, a hairband made of leather, or brilliantly-colored feathers.

Sometimes she would come urgently, unexpectedly; wide blue eyes and shaking hands, and she and Iduna’s mother, the Queen, would huddle in the office for hours discussing important matters that Iduna and her siblings weren’t privy to.

But Aunt Elsa always made time for them, even when she came for matters of business. Her Aunt was the steady and firm rock in the forest, a gentle breeze when they needed comfort, a fiery spirit when they needed protection, and a cool, soothing touch full of warmth and love.

A wave of nostalgia hits her when she remembers the day Eirik, her firstborn, arrived into the world.

The boy had come severely early; a forecast of the unruly child that was to come. Iduna had started to bleed, and then to cramp, and before she knew it she was in agony. Her sister and mother were there, as was the midwife, but she knew her screams carried in the wind through the open window so loudly she wondered if her Aunt would hear her all the way in Northuldra.

Sweat had slicked her forehead, the pain unimaginable and the blood saturating the mattress, when suddenly a familiar gust of wind burst open the doors and her Aunt was there, as frantic and anxious as Iduna’s own mother.

Her Aunt hadn’t visited the week before as she was sick, but though she could hardly breathe or speak through her illness she remained by Iduna’s side to cool her off with soothing hands and to numb the pain in her belly.

And now Eirik will care for her for a bit, in turn.

Eirik carefully guides his great-aunt along the path by the river.

Sometimes, being outside with nature seems to help her memory, and he hopes today is one of those days.

Great-Aunt Elsa’s hand is cool held in his own, though her fingers are veiny and stiff with age. It’s hard for her to move them now, her dexterity gone, and with the steady loss of her hands the magic has been draining with it. Her steps are slow but steady by his side, and he remembers how she taught him to ride a horse. How they both sat on the Nokk, he between her legs, as her strong arms guided his from behind.

Today, she may not be physically strong, but the memories she’s given all of them and her love and guidance over their lifetimes has been the strongest factor in all of their lives.

His great-aunt stops at one point by the river, her hand clasping his arm like a claw. “What is it, Auntie?”

“Look!” She haltingly extends an arm out to point, a finger slowly uncurling towards a cluster of tall, yellow flowers off alongside the water.

“They’re beautiful,” he tells her. “Grandmother would have loved those.”

Something in his Aunt’s expression falls, a memory flashing behind her eyes. She gasps. “Anna,” she says, carefully. “Where is Anna? We have to show her the flowers.”

Eirik’s throat clenches around the words he truly wants to say and he sighs, not able to meet his great-aunt’s eyes. “We’ll show Anna later, Auntie.”

But his aunt is not upset, distracted now by a fish jumping out of the water. Her blue eyes, once piercing though now hazy, meet his as she cocks her head. “Who?”

Kristoff watches his grandson and Elsa meander by the river.

Her gait is not as steady as it was when she came to stay, and he worries, like he does every day now, about what the future holds.

Kristoff remembers the day, almost two years ago now, when a group of Northuldra brought Elsa back to Arendelle.

“She’s been forgetting things,” one of them explained.

“Like what?” Kristoff asked. “Forgetting where she put something? What day of the week it is?” He had noticed the mild change over time, but brushed it off. She was getting older – all of them were.

Their leader shook his head. “Not just that.”

“She forgets to eat,” the woman next to him spoke up softly. “She forgets the danger of fire.”

“She is asking for Anna,” another whispers, her hands clenching at her sides.

Kristoff’s heart drops to his stomach, understanding that this is much more serious than he thought. But the woman continues, and it gets even worse.

“She forgets where she came from. Arendelle – and all of you.”

It had been a mutual agreement to bring Elsa back home for good, for her own safety.

They were just trying to protect her.

It was safer, here, with a full staff to supervise her, to bring food and water and with her family to talk to.

It was so hard at first – Elsa would remember at times, and realize where she was and what was missing, and attempt to go back.

It was dangerous.

Her magic wasn’t what it used to be, arbitrarily casting out and freezing things. Once they found her waist-deep in the fjord, knowing that was how she reached Northuldra but not remembering the Nokk that took her there.

But it got easier, over time. Easier as the magic dwindled and memories faded.

Easier both for Elsa, and for him.

He used to get mad at her, in the beginning.

“Anna!” She would yell. “Get Anna! Find Anna!”

There were only so many times Kristoff’s old heart could take the reminders, only so many times he could blink back the tears or feel the ghost of a soft kiss and warm embrace.

And he would yell back at her, screaming the cold, hard truth that they both had to face – day after day after day.

He wasn’t sure what was worse – knowing that Anna was gone, or thinking she was still there only to newly find out she would never be there again?

Sometimes, Kristoff wishes he could forget it all, too.

She doesn’t know what day it is. She doesn’t know where is. She doesn’t recognize any of the faces around her. She feels safe, though, and she isn’t scared.

But the pull is stronger today.

It’s stronger than it’s ever been, actually.

She can feel it, deep down in her heart and bones and her soul.

Today is the day, she thinks.

She doesn’t know what that means, what today is the day for, but she knows that whatever it is, it is coming today.

Her palms and fingers itch, and she looks down at her hands fondly. She hasn’t felt that for a while. Her nails scratch her skin there and she doesn’t feel relief. She looks out the window, and feels a call towards home.

She doesn’t know where home is, doesn’t even know where home is not, but it is time for her to go.

Her legs feel steadier, somehow, like they know today is not the time to shake or stumble. She starts outside of the building (and what a large, fancy building it is!), towards the pull that she feels.

And – oh! – she’s at an ocean. A sea, something inside of her says. She doesn’t think she can swim. Or even if she knew how, couldn’t, despite the strength she feels inside.

But something makes her hold out an arm over the water, and something releases from inside her, calling.

She feels free and strong. A gust of wind whips her hair into her eyes but she doesn’t brush it back.

Something bubbles in the water, and before she knows it there’s a majestic water horse in front of her, its marine body rippling and undulating like the waves of the sea itself.


She reaches out a hand to touch the horse, and it presses its nose gently into her gnarled hand.

Energy flows through her, pulled from her, and suddenly the horse is solid, crystalline ice – pure and clear, and it sings to her, reminds her.

The horse lowers itself, nudging her towards its back with its nose.

Elsa doesn’t know what today is the day for, but she can almost hear the horse say it is time.

She takes careful steps and painfully brings one leg over the horse’s body where it has lowered itself on the ground for her. Her left hip shoots a complaint down her leg but she hisses and ignores it.

They take off, careening over the suddenly solid form of the ocean. Elsa has never felt so free.

She can feel herself being pulled directly to the siren call.

She wonders if the horse can hear it, too.

At the giant cave of ice, the horse lowers itself once more so that Elsa can slide smoothly off its back.

She nearly falls, her ankle giving way from underneath her, but the horse catches her with its muzzle and gives her support to stand once more.

The call is louder, the pull so great that she feels like someone is pulling on her literal heartstrings towards this cave.

It looks foreboding and cold, but Elsa doesn’t feel scared. It is time.

Inside, her hand glides along the smooth walls of ice. The tunnel seems to go on forever, but the bright lights guide her and the feeling grows stronger, like she’s the needle in a compass and cannot go off course.

At the center, the pull stops suddenly, and she feels the shock of the release as a dome is summoned into existence around her.

Images borne from snow and ice fill her vision.

Tears form in her eyes, but she doesn’t brush them away. She recognizes these images. She remembers.


Her memories are beautiful. She sees her parents, her sister and brother, and all of the lovely children they created and raised together. She sees both of her homes, all of the people she has loved so, so much and touched in so many ways. She remembers what she thought she could never have, and she remembers all the ways that life has surprised her and gifted her.

She knows that today is the day, and she is not sad.

I am home.