Spoilers here and there for Frozen
Ambassador Bell felt weary in Arendelle. The last time an important figure from Corona came here, two of them were trapped in eternal winter. The fact it was the lost princess and her….dubious friend made the King extra cautious about reopening relations here.
But it had been two months since the "Great Thaw" and Arendelle had been eternally winter free since then. It also needed a boost in trade since cutting off Weselton and the Southern Isles. As such, the King finally listened to the pleas of the lost princess, and was open to increasing business with the Snow Queen.
That is, if Ambassador Bell still deemed it wise after meeting with her.
The visit didn't bode well when his ship got in hours late. As such, there was virtually no time to meet with the Snow Queen that night. The ambassador would have to sleep in one of the castle's guest rooms tonight, and negotiate with her tomorrow morning.
He only had a few minutes time with the Queen before that deal was settled, so he still had no idea what to expect. All he had to go on was that she looked and acted prim, proper and regel, like a regular ruler without magic powers. However, she acted proper almost to a fault, like she was putting on an overly rehearsed show.
This was still the same Snow Queen that could have frozen the lost princess – and that rider fellow – after Corona just got her back. This was still the same Snow Queen who could set off a blizzard with one poorly chosen word or fragile emotion. And it was the same Snow Queen who presumably locked herself from her only sister for 13 years.
Ambassador Bell was in his mid 40's, and lived in a land where a lost princess was born with magical hair. Needless to say, magic wasn't a new concept to him. Yet the lost princess wasn't magical anymore when she came back - so tomorrow morning would be his first true brush with unnatural power.
Between that and the actual important business at hand, tomorrow could be a real disaster. Whether he walked away from it or not.
The ambassador took his time waking up that morning, yet he made his way to the throne room. A woman named Gerda assured him that the Queen would arrive at any minute. He stated that she could take her time – hopefully she didn't see he wasn't entirely kidding.
Nevertheless, Ambassador Bell was left alone in the throne room, waiting for the Snow Queen. Eventually, he figured going over documents might help get his mind on the meeting. He took some files out and tried that for a while – but he soon got distracted by noises.
Yet there wasn't anyone or anything in the room. Regardless, he could hear some kind of squealing. Then a second kind – both of them sounding female. Female human at that.
Ambassador Bell looked around and saw nothing, leaving him tempted to call Arendelle's royal guards. But then he heard the squealing again. Only this time, it almost sounded like laughter.
The direction it came from took the ambassador to the window of the throne room. He could see a courtyard outside – and then saw something much less ordinary.
It was the Queen. And that other girl with her resembled Princess Anna – or at least she matched the description the lost princess gave.
Not only that, it looked like they were….playing. Throwing snowballs at each other.
The Queen was conjuring up dozens of them, even as the Princess objected. The ambassador couldn't make out what they were saying, but the body language and the princess's…..expressive face gave it away.
In fact, she was so expressive, she didn't notice the Queen making a snowball with her own bare hands. Until she threw it and got a direct hit. And there was that squealing again.
Or rather, laughter. Laughter coming from the Snow Queen of Arendelle.
But there was nothing icy or cold in the way she enjoyed herself right now. She certainly didn't look like the properly put together monarch he met last night.
She looked more….youthful. Freer. Like….a 21-year-old girl having a snowball fight with her sister.
She certainly got annoyed like a 21-year-old girl, once the Princess struck back with her own snowball. However, she smirked like an evil genius when the snowballs flew up by themselves and flew towards her sister.
The Princess ran for her life, towards what looked to be two snowmen nearby. She ducked behind one and avoided the brunt of the flying snowballs, although the Queen herself was still coming. In fact, she was conjuring a giant snowball right above her head, clearly meant for her sister.
The ambassador gasped at this magical display. He heard rumors that the Queen could make an entire castle – to say nothing of a deadly stream of ice daggers. It all combined to make her look like an otherworldly, icy, formidable figure. One that people had to trend very lightly around, at their own peril.
But this wasn't a Queen making deadly magic to foil a foe, or intimidate someone. This was a girl eager to get the drop on her sister in a friendly game.
However, her sister emerged to get the drop on her. Not by throwing new snowballs, but by picking up the head of the snowman. She even yelled loud enough, the ambassador thought he could make out the words, "Forgive me, Olaf!"
No matter what she said, she threw the head and missed by a good margin. Yet the Queen was so surprised, she lost control of the giant snowball over her head – and it didn't miss her head at all.
Princess Anna still couldn't stop laughing by the time the Queen emerged from the snow. She looked at her with a frown, which the ambassador noticed well before the Princess did. After the Queen said a brief statement, she pointed her hands at her sister – until a burst of wind knocked her on her backside.
The ambassador briefly jumped, fearing that this was the unpredictable, emotional and deadly Snow Queen he'd been warned of. After all, her powers reportedly almost killed the Princess twice. If she could do that to her own sister….
Yet instead of striking the Princess with ice and deadly blasts, the Queen kept shooting gusts of wind at her. Gusts of winds that seemed to be tickling Princess Anna.
The Queen's frown turned into laughter again – only it wasn't forced out of her by flying wind, like Princess Anna's. She was getting her revenge, but in a kind of….loving sisterly way. Only with magic wind swirling around her sister and making her ticklish.
Princess Anna was rolling around on the ground, laughing the whole way through. However, when a particularly strong gust hit her, she flinched and put a hand on her stomach.
At that point, the wind and the Queen's laughter stopped. Instead of the wind covering Princess Anna, the Queen was covering her now – touching her stomach with a look of pure terror on her face.
The Queen reached over to touch her sister's face, then seemed to pull back like she was a plague. She tried to cover her hands up, as the ambassador could see the nearby trees turning to ice. So did other solid things nearby – and this castle was a nearby solid thing.
Before the ambassador thought to duck and cover, he stayed to notice Princess Anna coming towards the Queen anyway. She seemed to be trying to talk her down, yet she still looked so….afraid. Fragile.
But not fragile to the point where she would hurt someone. Fragile because she looked so scared of doing any more damage. Especially to her sister.
The ambassador recalled the lost princess's account of the Great Freeze. How she said it began with the Queen running from the Princess, and that now disgraced Southern Isles prince. While others had a more ominous account of that moment - particularly that overbearing duke from Weselton – the lost princess told her father that the Queen looked more….scared than scary.
Actually, she made the Queen sound sadder than anything else. Especially when she described how she asked Princess Anna to leave.
The lost princess was a vivid and often extravagant storyteller. But this was one case where she actually might have done it justice.
While Princess Anna was the calm one, the Queen looked so broken up. Gone was the emotionless, proper queen from last night – as well as the fearsome monster from the other stories.
And yet when the Princess took her hands and spoke what looked to be reassuring words, the Queen eventually changed again too.
First the ambassador noticed that the ice was melting from the trees. Then he saw the Queen's face become less fearful, and more….loving. He saw her body slowly relax, while her hands were no longer looking paler than usual.
Now Ambassador Bell recalled one of the last things the lost princess said, about the "Great Thaw." She said she thought she heard the phrase, "Love will thaw" before the winter was lifted.
At the least, some form of love was making the Queen thaw now. It was enough to make her calm down and then hug her sister close, in one of the more…..protective and apologetic hugs the ambassador had ever seen.
Even when the two laid down on the ground, Queen Elsa still looked so sorry. So ashamed of herself. Yet there wasn't a bit of shame or fear on Princess Anna's face – and the more Queen Elsa saw it, the more she began to smile as well.
It was one of the more relieved smiles the ambassador had ever seen – almost on a par with the first time he saw his King and Queen with the lost princess. Then again, considering Queen Elsa's circumstances, and how they were looking in these new lights….she was kind of a lost queen herself. Especially to her sister.
Yet even after just two months together, following 13 years apart, their bond – and how much Queen Elsa valued it – was undeniable.
This made the ambassador lower his guard as he watched them start to relax. Before long, he caught them sharing a few words, although he couldn't make them out. However, Princess Anna eventually pointed up to the sky, which made Queen Elsa look back and forth between that and her hands.
She ultimately raised her hands towards the sky, shooting a harmless bit of wind up in the air. After some prodding from the Princess, Queen Elsa shot a stronger burst up, even adding flurries to rain down on them. Princess Anna laughed, and her sister soon smiled again as well.
After seeing so much fear on her face moments ago, the ambassador felt almost….relieved to see Queen Elsa smile like that again. They both smiled even wider once she shot up a whole cloud of wind and had it fly around, until she harmlessly broke it up.
The princess seemed to be giving Queen Elsa more requests after that. Finally, she shot up another wintery cloud – which transformed into what looked like the face of the Queen. Once that dissolved, she shot up another cloud that took on the shape of Princess Anna's face.
The sisters both giggled as Queen Elsa made shapes out of more clouds. Princess Anna seemed to guess each shape, which ranged from a snowman, a reindeer, some kind of burly mountain man the princess all but squealed over, and that disgraced prince – whose shape Queen Elsa mangled, to the princess's great joy.
As the two girls smiled more and more, the ambassador caught himself smiling as well. If he didn't know better, he'd think he was back at home, watching his own little girls play in the yard years ago.
But when they were that age, the Queen and Princess were separated from each other - and the Queen stayed away from everyone. Which could be seen very differently now….
Yet seeing became the problem, once Elsa looked over and saw the window – and the ambassador watching them from it.
From that moment, an entirely different Elsa emerged.
First she jumped up in fear, now that she realized she was late for their very important meeting – something even Ambassador Bell started to forget. Nevertheless, she didn't know that. And she seemed to be getting more upset regardless.
In fact, when Anna tried calming her down this time, she seemed to be getting lashed out for her troubles. The ambassador could literally see Elsa transforming into her official, proper Queen mode – in between scolding the princess.
He could see Princess Anna looking smaller and smaller while Queen Elsa got the rest of her anger out. She then officially put on her mask of regality and diplomacy, turning away to get to the meeting.
Yet as Anna got up and tried to brush aside the shame, she didn't notice Elsa looking back with some shame herself – for about a split second before she turned back and looked indifferent again. But the ambassador noticed.
He noticed a lot of things he didn't expect to see, even before the meeting. Now that it was here….maybe it was time to change his planned tactics.
Maybe it was time to see who the real Queen Elsa was.
Elsa put on her best royal walk, embodied her best royal demeanor – and willed herself to ignore the less than royal behavior she showed at the courtyard. Both during and after the games she never should have let Anna talk her into.
She should have known that playing around so much before the meeting would backfire. Arendelle would be supremely lucky if the ambassador didn't leave right now, to say nothing of her. But if he saw her act so….un Queen like for too long, none of it might matter anyway.
It would take the absolute perfect, diplomatic touch to save this deal. The entire kingdom and its fragile trust in its Queen depended on it. This was why Arendelle needed a Queen right now, not someone playing games.
Regardless of how those games made Elsa feel at the time. Before she forgot who she really was. But now she was back and ready to straighten things out with Ambassador Bell, who was still in the throne room after all.
"Ambassador Bell. My profound apologies for keeping you," Elsa said with perfect punctuation. "I know you've waited long enough for this meeting."
"Indeed I have," the ambassador said, a bit frosty but civil. "Shall I expect the princess to join us?"
"No, I wouldn't count on it," Elsa said, after being briefly thrown off. "The princess has her own duties to attend to."
"She seemed too care free to be concerned about that," the ambassador strangely commented. "As a princess, I thought her schedule would be too crowded to interfere with yours."
"I tend to do most of the royal duties. Which I am more than pleased to do right now," Elsa tried to get things back on track.
"As long as she doesn't come in throwing snowballs at us, we should be fine," the ambassador still wouldn't let it go. "I mean, there is a time and a place for playing around. Especially when you're an 18-year-old heir to the throne of a kingdom."
"Well, she is no ordinary heir," Elsa tried to appease him and her own uncomfortable feelings.
"That seems very true. You obviously grew up very well, considering your circumstances. The King and Queen being gone for three years and all," the ambassador brought up for some reason. "You picked yourself up and learned to be a proper heir. It's odd she chose to
do things differently."
Elsa paused, ignoring the growing unease in her stomach – and other more annoyed feelings. "To be fair, nothing that ever happened to her was her choice," she reminded the ambassador. "Now, if we may choose to discuss the business at hand, we can accomplish something."
"That seems like a good use of our time. Better than foolishly pretending to still be children again," the ambassador commented.
That made it one comment too many.
"Enough!" Elsa declared, acting out of character for the second time today. Or maybe acting in it. Either way, she was too mad, too guilty, and too much in need to be a big sister to turn back now.
"My sister lost most of her childhood. Mostly because of me," Elsa reminded him. "She had her best friend and the entire outside world taken from her, without her consent or knowledge. She has every right to get some of that back! If getting back a childhood she never had makes her a child, then I guess I am too!"
The prim, proper Queen Elsa was gone. She didn't even release any magic, as she took on a form she rarely let herself take before – that of a big sister who would fight for her little sister.
Not the big sister who would scold her for making Elsa a little late, just for trying to help her have fun before a stressful day. Have the kind of fun they still barely had time for, even after the thaw. If this stranger couldn't understand how rare and wonderful that was, title or not….
"I need your country's trade routes. But I need Anna more. Child or no," Elsa laid down her priorities. "If you're going to do nothing but attack her, then you're attacking me. I could have invited the ambassador of Weselton for that. And I banned him and his associates from coming back here."
Before she could stop herself, Elsa decreed, "So if I hear one more remark disrespecting my little sister….I will personally escort you to your ship myself. Has the Queen made herself clear, Ambassador?"
Just as Elsa was ready to snap out of it, and realize how badly she messed up – the ambassador suddenly began to smile. A real, genuine smile. "Very much so, your Majesty," he said as well.
At the least, this sudden change made Elsa too confused to curse herself. "It is? You're sure?" was all she had to say.
"My profound apologies, your highness. For my comments, and for how full of lies they were," Ambassador Bell took Elsa by surprise again. "I wanted to see how you would defend your sister. And the fun you clearly had together. Even after you seemed to scold her for it. Because it wasn't proper royal behavior, am I right? I couldn't read your lips very well."
Elsa was tempted to yell at him again, this time for lying and playing tricks on a Queen. However, the more she thought about it, the more it seemed he wasn't interested in her acting like a Queen. Was that the test here?
She almost hoped it was. Then he might brush aside how she acted when she put on the Queen mask again. Remembering it made her admit, "I actually said she needed to grow up. That life wasn't all fun and games, and she should know that better than anyone." She sighed and further admitted, "I'm surprised she just let me go after that."
"All because she made you have too much fun to remember our meeting," Ambassador Bell guessed.
"All because I forgot about it for the first time in weeks," Elsa shared. "Anna knew how important it was. She knew it every time I prepared for it instead of spending time with her. So she actually woke up early, just to squeeze it in this morning. If you knew her, you'd know how remarkable that is!"
Elsa was starting to smile and laugh, much like she had outside. She got even fonder when she said, "She even said it might give me good luck before I saw you. She wasn't just doing it for her own fun. She was trying to think of me too."
Her face turned guiltier as she reflected, "Even when she has no good reason to….she still thinks of me. She still puts me first. In much better ways than I ever did."
"I understand how hard….those ways were for you," Ambassador Bell conveyed. "To give up your sister, your family, your very childhood, and still have so much love in your heart….I suppose I didn't understand that until now."
"I understand it too well for the both of us," Elsa reflected. "But thank you."
Neither one of them expected their meeting to go like this when they woke up, let alone five minutes ago. Yet as the ambassador took in the many facets of Queen Elsa, and as she found herself in the rare position of confiding in someone other than Anna – confiding in someone who might have been her father's age by now – there was something oddly comforting in it all.
"You're only 21 years old," Ambassador Bell said with renewed awe. "There have been queens younger than you, but not….with this sort of weight on them. Not after losing so much. How do you do it?"
This wasn't some condescending or fearful question about her powers, or her status as Queen. At least it didn't sound that way. Elsa wasn't used to any of that from someone other than her family – or extended family, or perhaps future official family, or snowmen. Maybe that made her willing to delve in and share, as unfamiliar as that still was for her.
"I could have avoided all this long ago. If I knew I had enough love in my heart to do it," Elsa echoed the ambassador's earlier words. "I brought Anna and Arendelle so much pain and loneliness because I didn't see it then. If I'm going to make sure that never happens again….I can't be anything less than perfect. But…."
She paused, remembering how she took her lack of perfection out on Anna. "Being perfect isn't the same as loving them the right way. I know that. I just wish I could remember it more."
"That is a tricky balance," the ambassador conceded. "But any normal woman your age might have given up by
now. Or become something far worse."
"I know more about that than you can imagine," Elsa sighed. "If I can't be the perfect Queen….then I shut out Anna and almost ruined my kingdom for nothing," Elsa resigned herself. "But if it keeps me from being a big sister again….then none of it is worth anything," she further chided herself.
"So why keep it up? Why keep fighting, when you might never be anything but the Snow Queen to them?" the ambassador questioned. "When you might never be the full big sister Anna needs? Why endure so much of a burden? For 60 or 70 more years at that, if you're lucky?"
"If I have those years with Anna, and with my people's blessing, I will be lucky," Elsa didn't hesitate. "After my first 21 years, 60 like that is more than I deserve. But I still want it. I lost my childhood, but I can get this part right. I need to. And I will, the right way….with or without your country." Once she got back to business, she added, "But it would be easier with it."
Now the ambassador paused long enough for Elsa to feel embarrassed. Two months of being slightly freer couldn't erase the shame of defying 13 years of proper teaching. It couldn't erase a lifetime of being taught she could only act a certain way to be Queen – much less a normal human being. Much less a human being at all.
Even if that certain way cost her the most important person in her life. And was still causing distance between them now. And now it might not even get results for Arendelle, whether it was worth it or not.
"I believe it would be easier too," the ambassador broke up Elsa's latest shame spiral, before it could actually spiral. "I don't think it would take too long to come to acceptable terms."
"You mean it?" Elsa exclaimed, in a more Anna-like burst of excitement. Yet she instinctively scolded herself and put her proper face back on. "It would be a….wait," she stumbled, remembering she didn't have to be that way now. But dropping the mask for someone other than Anna would be hard to get used to.
Still, she got herself to find a happy medium. The faster she did and the faster this agreement got done, the faster she could apologize to Anna and thank her.
"I'm very happy to hear it, Mr. Ambassador," Elsa settled on, her face blending regel formality and a real, honest smile. "I'm sure it won't take long now too."
But just when they were ready to finally negotiate, one more distraction burst in.
Or rather, made her best attempt to stroll in like her sister.
Before Elsa knew it, she was confronted with the sight of Anna, in perhaps the most conventional, least colorful dress she had in her closet. The same one she only bought under protest and threat of losing fourths on dessert before the coronation, if Gerda told the story correctly. What's more, her hair was done up and her face looked blank, which was incredibly weird on her.
"Your Majesty. Your Eminence," Anna said, in a voice just shy of her mocking Queen Elsa impression.
"Anna, what is…." Elsa could only gesture at her ensemble.
"It is all right, my Queen. I can handle the situation from this point," Anna struck fear into Elsa with those words, before turning to the ambassador.
"Your Excellency, my sister is the most royal, proper person I know. Leaving aside how few of them I know. But I digress," Anna recovered. "She was forced to put those values above all else. But if she didn't have them back then, or now….she wouldn't have stayed the amazing woman she is today. Unfortunately, I don't appreciate it like I should. But you don't have to make my mistakes."
She had to sound out her more formal, wordy sentences and still sounded too rehearsed. Yet the sentiment behind them was all Anna.
As was, "I can assure you, the Queen is the most dedicated, serious, devoted ruler you will ever know. She would be just and fair with your kingdom's trade if you give her a chance. And if you do….I promise that there'll be no more scatterbrained distractions in her way. Starting right now."
Anna even tried to curtsy properly after her promise, and very nearly got it right. Elsa's heart felt both warmth and shame over this grand gesture – a gesture that wasn't even necessary now.
That should have made Elsa feel even guiltier. Instead, the irony made her let out a very un Queen like chortle.
"What? What's so funny? I mean, um….what brings you amusement, your Grace?" Anna tried to stay in character.
"It's all right, Princess," Ambassador Bell covered up. "I think you made a difference here. I was going to call everything off, but now I think I can stay."
As Anna barely kept in a cheer and a crazy smile, Elsa admired the ambassador for trying to give her a win. Then again, even lies with the very best of intentions didn't help anyone. Especially if this gave Anna the impression she'd need to do this again.
"It's all right, Ambassador. You don't need to lie for me," Elsa assured. She turned to Anna before she could rethink taking this away from her. "Anna, me and the ambassador already settled our differences. Before you came in here. You didn't need to act for me, or anyone. I would never want you to."
Elsa hoped this sentiment meant more to Anna than other revelations. It seemed to for a second, given how she smiled like the real Anna again. Until she realized, "So I stuffed myself in this and read that fancy word book for nothing? Awww!"
However, Anna noticed the ambassador again before she pouted too much more. "Not that fancy word books don't have their place! Your Honor!"
"Yes. Everything has their rightful place in the end. Proper or not," he agreed. If Elsa read between the lines correctly, she felt ready to agree.
"Right….so all I did was wreck the meeting again. I'll stop doing that now," Anna prepared to backtrack. "I'll get out of your hair. I'll be too busy fixing mine anyway."
"Wait," Elsa reached out in time. "You can fix it and stay anyway." She went over and got Anna's hair back into pigtails before she could object. "There, much better."
Anna indulged herself in warm sisterly feelings for a moment, before making herself know better. "Elsa, I wasn't lying about leaving you alone. This is your thing. You don't need me getting in the way."
"You're wrong," Elsa promised. "More than you know. At least so far."
Taking another tactic, she drove it home with, "I know this is about boring trade stuff. But the ambassador's country has that lost princess you almost talked to at the coronation. I'm sure once the boring stuff ends, he can share stories about her. And her fairy tale romance with an ex-thief."
"I knew he looked like that pointy nose guy from those wanted posters!" Anna exclaimed. "Wait, did I know that, Your Ambassadorness?" Elsa gave another chuckle as Anna recovered to say, "No, trade first. I'll think up better questions so I don't get bored and go to sleep. Does that work for everyone?"
"I think we have an agreement," Ambassador Bell agreed, as Anna breathed a sigh of relief and Elsa shared a thankful smile with her future trade partner.
Anna indeed stayed awake while Elsa and the ambassador hashed out terms to present to Corona's King. She even only threatened to doze off once. But when business was done and the ambassador kept Elsa's promise by talking about the lost princess, Anna was fully engaged.
Even Elsa looked impressed to hear about an awkward, inexperienced girl thrust into royalty - but who still rose to the occasion while still being herself. Who could still be a regular, fun loving, but still bright girl, while also being the royal figure her kingdom had starved for. Without giving up duty or love.
The fact she'd been locked in a tower – although she could actually talk to a person; albeit an evil witch – was worth thinking about too.
Yet right now, as she sat between her duty and her love, while watching them blend perfectly together as they talked about the lost princess, Elsa felt the weight of the world and family come off her back. If only for this brief moment.
But for that brief moment, she didn't feel lost between two worlds anymore. She didn't feel like a lost queen. Maybe eventually, that wouldn't feel so rare.
Until that day came, she would fully savor feeling like both a Queen and a young, loving big sister. It helped that someone else other than Anna could see her that way. Maybe Elsa would fully see it someday too.