This is the final scene of my rather messed-up Frosty the Snowman tale. My thanks to everyone who’s read along and enjoyed it. And to those who hated it, no worries — I’ll be back to my more traditional blogging after the holiday … including some new thoughts on writing fanfiction.
Karen was laid to rest in the mausoleum beside her grandmother. There were a total of thirty-six new markers for the elves and reindeer who had died in Karen’s quest for answers and revenge.
Mrs. Claus limped alone through the woods after the ceremony, leaning heavily on a candy cane-striped walking staff. How much of this could have been avoided had Karen known the truth? How much of her hatred had come from that sense of betrayal, and how much had grown from that cursed artifact Frosty had unwittingly delivered into her hands?
Rudolph and Clarice touched down in the snow in front of her. “There’s no sign of any more unexploded magical ordinance,” said Clarice.
Rudolph wore a tight-fitting leather-and-metal muzzle, a miniaturized version of the hood Emma had built in the isolation room. They had turned Rudolph’s magical nose into a kind of spectrographic radar. Emma sat upon Rudolph’s back, while Hermie rode Clarice. Mrs. Claus didn’t understand the technical details, but they had managed to find two more old, forgotten shards of the Snow Queen’s magic.
“Good,” she said quietly, looking out over the hills. “What about Frosty?”
“No sign of the snowman, ma’am,” said Hermie.
A swath of crushed trees showed where Frosty had fled, shedding excess snow as he went. His cry of anguish when he realized what he had done would stay with Mrs. Claus for the rest of her days.
The snowman would never be the same, and God only knew what he might do in his grief. She had already ordered additional guards for the foreseeable future, as well as nightly aerial sweeps of the region.
“No Bumble, either,” added Clarice.
With his injuries, there was a chance Bumble had simply crawled off to die, but she doubted it. Bumble had a stronger heart than most people realized. She was more worried about what he would do to Frosty. Bumble wouldn’t forget what the snowman had done.
“Why would Karen turn against us?” asked Hermie.
Mrs. Claus closed her eyes and rested her weight on her staff. They had already begun to forget. They had little choice, really. The North Pole was a place of joy. Hate and vengeance, grief and pain, they had no place here. As before, she alone would carry the burden of memory. But without that burden, the Pole might have fallen.
She touched the scar on her side. Without the Snow Queen’s magic numbing her blood, would she too have forgotten?
“What’s wrong?” Rudolph’s nose flashed, red light flickering over her body before she could protest. The reindeer’s eyes thinned. The halo of cold blue light illuminated the ice in her soul.
Her shoulders sagged. She no longer belonged at the Pole. It was time to leave, to let Santa find a new wife, one untouched by war. One whose joy was pure, as hers had been once.
Rudolph stepped closer and ducked his head beneath her arm, so her hand rested on the coarse fur of his neck. “I know that look. You don’t think you belong here anymore. You feel like a misfit. But you’re wrong. You belong with us. With him.”
She blinked back cold tears. “Thank you.”
“You know,” said Hermie. “With Rudolph and his nose so bright to guide my scalpel, I might be able to remove that sliver.”
Hermie’s hands were as steady as any elf’s, and the thought of ridding herself of the scar she had carried for so long — of cutting away the death in her heart — it was a gift as wonderful as any Santa had ever delivered. And yet…
“I can’t,” she said softly, thinking of the Pole. Of everyone they had lost. Of Karen. “Someone has to remember.”