Disclaimer: Neither Tangled nor Frozen belong to me in the slightest possible way.
A/N So, welcome to... this fic! My very good friend Rachel turns 20 today, and I promised I'd write her Anna/Rapunzel, and that somehow turned into this... monstrous epic you are about to see unfold before you. If you like Anna/Kristoff you will like this story, if you like Rapunzel/Eugene you will like this story, and if you like slightly less hetero combinations than those you will also like this fic. Just trust me and enjoy the ride.
Anna has been just the slightest bit obsessed with the Lost Princess of Corona ever since she was a little girl.
When she was small it had just been an idle curiosity, brought on mostly by how weird and overprotective her parents got every time it was mentioned (boy, did that turn out to be a theme or what?), but as she got older, and Elsa started giving her the—well, the cold shoulder—it was a nice little fantasy to have. Of going off to rescue another princess just like her, someone her age, who would want a friend just as badly as she did. Someone to build a snowman with.
A year and a half after she lost her parents, word reached Arendelle that Princess Rapunzel had returned to Corona, and the news had been bittersweet. Corona wasn't far—a two day's journey by sea, if the winds were favorable—but Anna wouldn't sail for all the gems in the Southern Isles. And Elsa was in no state to receive any ambassadors, if Anna could believe the castle staff.
Which is all to say that Anna had been very excited to learn that Rapunzel and her Prince Consort were among the royal guests who had elected to stay for the second coronation party. She'd meant to introduce herself at the first ball, but, y'know, she'd meant to do a lot of things that night. Before, well…
"What do you think she's like?" she asks Kristoff, pulling herself out of that train of thought as they make their way back into town. Anna'd been practically bouncing off the walls that morning, and Elsa had given him a please help me look over her shoulder, and all of a sudden he 'spontaneously' decided to take Anna out on his new sled. Which was a lot more of a hassle to use in the middle of summer now that it was actually acting like summer, believe him. "Kristoff. Kristoff!"
"If I'm going by experience? She's probably sweet and kind but a total spaz."
Anna gasps, affronted. "Kristoff, she's a princess."
"You're a princess," he points out, and—okay, fine, that's fair.
Elsa's impromptu skating rink yesterday had been for the townspeople, and the visiting dignitaries had, for the most part, been understanding about her priorities—without her subjects' loyalty, she'd be nothing, and they knew that. But tonight… tonight is for the elite.
Kristoff finds himself missing the easygoing attitude of yesterday's festivities, and he hasn't even made it to the ballroom yet.
After he'd dropped Anna off at the gates she was whisked away by… hell if he knows, ladies in waiting or whatever, and he hasn't seen her since. It only took him half an hour to wash off the day's sweat and change into a clean tunic, but he has no idea how long it takes to make a princess look presentable. So he's kind of in no hurry to get where he's going.
To his surprise and hurriedly-concealed amusement, Olaf has set up his own receiving line outside the ballroom doors. Though now that Kristoff's thinking about it, it's probably a pretty good measurement of who should be here. Like a big sign saying 'if you're not okay with magic, don't even bother.' Perhaps Elsa is more shrewd than he gives her credit for.
"Hi, I'm Olaf! Hi, I'm—Hi! I'm Olaf—"
Most of the guests just walk past the little guy without so much as a glance, and Kristoff frowns. First of all, he's not sure how that bodes for Elsa's screening process, but mostly: what kind of jerk is rude to an adorable talking snowman? (Other than him, he means. He was taken by surprise, it's not the same thing.)
One noblewoman on the line—probably a princess, if the crown is anything to go by—looks excited to get to him, at least. She keeps bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet, nudging the guy she's with in the ribs.
Kristoff hangs back to watch as they draw level with the door, because he doesn't want to miss this.
"Hi, I'm Olaf, and I like warm hugs!"
"Uhh… hi, how ya doin'?" the man says, bending down to give a stiff handshake.
"I'm good, I'm good," Olaf singsongs, smiling jovially. "What are your names?"
"I'm Rapunzel, and this is Eugene!" the princess says, getting down on her knees to address Olaf at his own level. "Oh, and this is Pascal."
Other guests are literally squeezing their way past them to try and get into the ballroom, aggressively ignoring the whole spectacle, but the Lost Princess of Corona has a lizard on her shoulder and is introducing him to a magic talking snowman as if it's no big deal, and suddenly Kristoff's thinking he was more on the mark than he realized when he was teasing Anna earlier about what Rapunzel might be like.
Elsa inhales as serenely as possible as she tries to keep a regal half-smile affixed to her face. The ballroom is filling with people, and the déjà vu is overwhelming.
On her right, Anna is nearly vibrating with excitement.
"So many people stayed," Anna notes, and to be fair, that is worth smiling about. Elsa hasn't managed to single-handedly destroy every diplomatic relationship her father ever fostered quite yet, yay! Her internal monologue must be showing on her face, because Anna frowns. "Are you okay?"
"You're not… feeling cold?" Anna ventures, and the idea that she'd resort to some sort of cute euphemism to keep the ice secret has Elsa breaking into giggles. Already, the past decade seems like a nightmarish fallacy. How could she have gone so long without her sister?
"I'm okay, Anna."
Anna scrunches up her face and examines Elsa's expression closely before relaxing. "Okay. But I'm staying here tonight. No running off with the first guy I meet and… and leaving you to…" Anna trails off, tongue thickening in her mouth.
Elsa reaches out and squeezes Anna's hand, and the novelty of the skin-to-skin contact shocks them both. "I think it depends on the guy," she says, nodding towards the doors, and when Anna looks up, she sees Kristoff has entered the ballroom. She gives him a little wave, and he waves back, but she quickly loses him in the crowd.
The next fifteen minutes pass by both at a snail's pace and all at once. Kai introduces guest after guest until their faces blur together, and Anna's head reels at the idea of having to remember who everyone is. Putting the faces to names and keeping them straight would require weeks of acquaintance for her, but she's pretty sure Elsa's got them all down pat. It's mind-boggling.
"May I present—Her Royal Highness Princess Rapunzel of Corona, and her consort, Eugene Fitzherbert."
When Eugene bows, Anna spots a flash of green at his shoulder, but it disappears before she can get a better look. She curtsies, as she should, but then she starts bouncing. "Ohmygod, it's so nice to meet you! I've heard so much about you!"
"You have?" Rapunzel asks, smiling wide, but then she shakes her head, as if to remind herself of something. "Um. Corona happily welcomes her Royal Majesty Queen Elsa to the throne, and as a gesture of goodwill, we'd like—um—we'd like…" She sighs, and elbows her companion in the side. "Eugene!"
"Oh! Right," he says, before bowing again and offering a hand. "Your Majesty. May I have this dance?"
Elsa blinks. "I—I don't dance, but my s—"
"Oh no you don't," Anna says, practically shoving her sister down the platform. "I've learned my lesson. You dance your own dances now."
"I'll be gentle, I promise," Eugene says with a rakish grin, but his hands float respectfully on the periphery of Elsa's body—he won't touch without permission.
Elsa looks helplessly back and forth between Anna and Rapunzel, who gives an encouraging nod. "Eugene is a great dancer. He can even do it in shoes!"
"Wait, what?" Elsa asks, but the orchestra is starting to play, and suddenly the whole ballroom is looking at the Queen. Anxiety creeps down her spine as frost starts creeping out from around her feet, and Eugene's smile morphs into something softer, more encouraging.
"Hey. I'm not freaking out. Are you freaking out?" he asks, voice surprisingly gentle.
She takes a deep breath, and the ice recedes. "Glide and pivot, right?'
"Something like that," he says, and then his hand is at her waist, and they're dancing.
Anna stares in shock as Elsa slowly makes her way around the ballroom with the Prince Consort. "Wow," she murmurs, wincing at the way she can't quite keep the jealousy from her voice. "He's really good with her."
"Well, he's had a lot of practice," Rapunzel says, and Anna turns to look at her in puzzlement.
"With…" Rapunzel looks away, tracking her husband for a long moment before returning her attention to Anna. "With people who had to hide their magic."
Anna knows that princesses aren't supposed to let their mouths hang open, but Rapunzel looks embarrassed and she can't quite remember how to work her jaw. "You have…?"
"I used to. I lost it—when—" Rapunzel reaches up, hands waving around her shoulder as if trying to touch something, then sighs and touches her neck instead. "I'm not supposed to talk about it."
"Hey, that's okay. I get it. I mean, I don't get it, get it, but—I understand. Maybe you and Eugene can stay a few days longer and we can, y'know. Write a treaty or something."
"Actually, about that? We—"
"Princess Anna," Kai interjects, "There is a line."
Anna looks past Rapunzel to the not-exactly-small gathering of dignitaries looking enviously at the dance floor, waiting to be acknowledged so they can get on with their evening, and sighs. She forgot about the part where Elsa dancing meant she has to do the royalty stuff.
She reaches out and squeezes Rapunzel's arm. "We'll talk later, okay?"
Rapunzel stares at Anna's fingers for a long moment. "Okay."
Anna is going to be the death of him.
Kristoff's thought it before—recently—but he's more sure of it now than he ever was on the North Mountain. He thought the whole ball thing would be awkward, that she'd make him dance all night, but he hasn't even had that to suffer through. She's been stuck on her dais saying hi to people for an hour, and he doesn't know anyone else here.
Well, anyone but Olaf, and Olaf had to be taken out of the ballroom because his personal flurry was making the ladies' gowns wet.
A man can only lean casually against a pillar for so long.
Sighing, he looks out at the dance floor, watching the couples pass in endlessly repeating patterns that he could no more commit to memory than Sven could. He casts his eyes down, finding it easier to focus on feet instead of faces, but a tiny flash of green—no, yellow—no, green—catches his eye.
It's Princess Rapunzel's lizard.
"Oh, no," he mumbles as he watches the tiny thing skitter to and fro, trying to stay out of the way of the dancers. It's clearly lost, changing colors in an effort not to get stepped on—which, weird, but as of a few days ago he's seen weirder—and before he can stop himself he's wading onto the dance floor, dodging and weaving between couples. "Sorry, 'scuse me, sorry, just trying to—uh oh!"
He ducks underneath a duchess as her dance partner twirls her in midair and scoops up the lizard just before it can get squashed forever under some lord's boot.
"Whoa! Look out, little buddy!" he laughs, grateful for being fast enough, and quickly retreats back towards his safe, quiet pillar.
The lizard looks like it's breathing hard, and rapidly shifts between mint and hunter green as it huffs.
"Thanks for saving me, reindeer man," Kristoff mimics in a high-pitched squeak, and he swears he sees the lizard side-eye him. He presses on.
"No problem, tiny lizard. What was your name… Pascal?"
The thing nods.
"How about we get you back to Princess Rapunzel, huh? Have you seen her?"
Pascal points with his tail back towards the throne, and Kristoff looks up. To his surprise, Elsa has replaced Anna on the platform, which means that somewhere, Anna is dancing. Which means that, for better or worse, his hour of boredom is up.
A wet tongue in his ear reminds him that he's supposed to be looking for someone else.
"Gyah!" He cries instinctively, wincing away and trying to make himself smaller as several dignitaries look over at him in confusion. He glares at Pascal. "Rude much? I'm trying to find Rapunzel."
Pascal looks skeptical. "Looks like you were looking for your girlfriend," Kristoff can't stop himself from narrating, and he wishes he could be normal for like five seconds at a time, because people are staring at him. And—girlfriend? Wait, what?
He scans the ballroom for the periwinkle color Rapunzel was wearing, and has to bite down on a laugh when he spots her. The band's playing one of those fast dances where people change partners a lot, and Anna is currently twirling around Rapunzel, who's for some reason barefoot. They look like they're having the time of their lives.
"Doesn't look safe out there. You'd get stepped on," Kristoff concludes, wondering if he's talking to Pascal or to himself.
Of course, Anna does find him eventually. She nearly barrels into him because she was sliding on her stockings, but hey, she finds him.
"Easy there," Kristoff chuckles as he takes her by both arms and rights her before she can fall. "Trying to knock me over?"
"Trying to track you down. And look, I did it!" She's breathless and giddy and the most beautiful thing he's ever seen.
He clears his throat. "You're gonna wear yourself out with all that dancing."
"Not even possible," she assures him with a wave of her hand in what he's sure she thinks is her 'smooth' voice.
"Oh yeah? Then why's your hair falling out?"
Her eyes go wide as dinner plates. "It's what?" she squeaks, hands flying up to investigate her scalp for bald patches.
"…from your bun," Kristoff clarifies, laughing at her.
She pouts at him. "That was mean. You're so mean." She won't stop fiddling with her hair now, and he reaches up gently to still her hands.
"No, don't worry about it. It looks good."
"Yeah?" she asks, eyes searching his face for any tells that he's being sarcastic.
He clears his throat. "Yeah. I, uh—I really like it like this."
Her smile is shaky, but she still manages to say "It's auburn," with a respectable amount of sass.
For a second he just stares at her, because he meant it, she's gorgeous like this, but then the second has turned into more-than-a-second and neither of them have said anything and oh god, one of them has to say something—
"Do you want anything to drink?" "Do you want to dance?" they ask at the same time, then laugh.
"I don't dance," Kristoff says, keeping his voice firm and final.
"Oh, come on—"
"No, I—I don't know the moves. I'd kick someone in the face."
"What about a slow one? Would you dance for a slow one? There are no moves then, all you have to do is turn in place and hold me," she says, and if she's blushing a little harder than she was when she walked over, flushed from dancing, he won't be the one to tell her.
He looks anywhere but her. "…They aren't playing slow ones."
"Gee, too bad you don't know the princess or anything, and have no control over the music. Hold on, I'll go talk to the conductor—"
She's already gone.
When Rapunzel finds Eugene, he's regaling a young and impressionable-looking baronet with a Flynn Rider story.
"Then I climbed up the ivy—your castle doesn't have ivy, does it? It's like a built-in rope for thieves that says Hi, rob me!—and I—oh. Hey, Goldie." He coughs his I'm-a-gentleman cough and gives a slight bow. "Excuse me, gotta talk to the wife."
The baronet wanders away, and Rapunzel giggles. "Is that all I am now? The wife?"
"Hey, it's a good title. Better than consort. I hate that, y'know? I sound like a kept man."
"Aren't you one?"
"Yeah, but I don't like everyone knowing it." They grin at each other, and Rapunzel watches as the tension between his shoulders dissipates. He's gotten so much better at the diplomacy thing, but balls will never be a favorite for either of them. Especially when they have to split up and tag-team them like this.
There's a clap of the hands and then the music changes, the violins playing something soothing and quiet in a slow three-four. Without a word, Eugene's hands are at her hips, and they move together.
If she's being honest? Anna's really enjoying this whole slow dancing thing. It's just—nice, to be here. Safe and warm in Kristoff's embrace, surrounded by people, with the heat and energy of the crowd and the music filling them, and fresh summer air outside the castle walls.
It's hard to believe that it was only a few days ago that she thought she'd never be warm again.
"This isn't so bad, is it?" she asks his heartbeat, because that's as high as her mouth naturally reaches when they're pressed this close together. (It's going a little faster than it probably should, and she'd be lying if she said she didn't like it.)
"I'm surviving," he reluctantly allows, but when she peeks up at him, he's smiling.
"Well good, because I could stay like this all night."
"Pretty sure you're the only one."
She pouts. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing! Just—I'm starting to think they only know this one song," he says, jutting his chin towards the orchestra. When she glances over, the conductor catches her eye and gives her a pleading look.
"Oh. Oops. How many times have we…?"
"Uh oh." She looks over towards the throne, and Elsa is watching. And laughing at her, though clearly trying to hide it.
Anna sticks out her tongue.
"Do you, uh, want to go outside?" Kristoff asks, looking everywhere but at her. "We could… get some air. Or something."
"I'd like that," she says, stepping back and taking his hand.
As they exit the ballroom, the conductor launches into a reel, looking relieved. But once they're out in the hallway, Anna finds herself at a loss.
She can't bring Kristoff to the gardens, she took Hans there. She took Hans to the balcony, and the stables, and the lighthouse, and—why did she do that? Why did she open the doors to all of her secret places as if they didn't matter? Where is she supposed to—
"Anna?" Kristoff says her name like it's a question, and she shivers. "Hey, are you—"
"Would you kiss me again? Please?" she asks, and she hates it, hates how scared and desperate she suddenly feels, like the walls are going to fall in on her, but Kristoff is here and solid and—
"Yeah," he mumbles, and Kristoff is kissing her.
She all but melts into him, hands clutching at his collar as he holds her close. He doesn't dip her, doesn't raise her in the air. He just keeps his hands at her back, steady and strong, and when he pulls away to give her space, breathing hard, she almost feels like crying.
She opens her mouth to say something, something brilliant and romantic, something memorable, because thank you just won't cover it.
What comes out is, "Your lips are softer than I thought they'd be."
He blinks at her. "Huh?"
"Um. Your lips. I thought it the other day too, in the market, but we got distracted so I just—anyway. I imagined they'd be…" she gesticulates vaguely into the air, apparently trying to illustrate the word chapped with a wave of her hands before recovering with, "but they're very soft." The tips of her ears are bright red.
"You imagined…?" he repeats quietly, before shaking himself and frowning. "Hey, wait a minute! I'll have you know that my lips are—rugged. And manly!"
She cracks up, despite herself. "No, you're so right. They're really… macho," she forces out, before giving in to laughter.
"And now she's laughing at me," he complains to the air, because Sven isn't here to back him up.
"I'm sorry, it's just—you're funny." Thank you, she thinks, over and over.
He harrumphs. "Yeah, well. Are we gonna stand here all night, or can I kiss you again?"
"You don't have to ask permission every time," she says instead, because that's important. That's something he ought to know. "I mean, if—if you don't want."
He bends down, and he doesn't ask.
A/N You'll see the next installment in a week's time; I'm trying to keep a chapter ahead or so, so Once Every Friday sounds about right.