Credit for this idea goes to Converse r life - thank you so much! This was a spectacular idea, and it's been amazing to write; I've found I like befuddled Elsa. I hope it's what you expected/wanted from the ideas you sent me; I love them all, so I'll definitely be working on the others in the near future. And honestly, I love all the ideas you wonderful readers have sent me - keep them coming, I've got a list going! It may take me awhile to get to them all, but I'll be working hard on it. These are so much fun to write (I hope they're as much fun to read!), and give me a great way to relax when I have a few hours free.
And as always, know that I very much appreciate not only your ideas, but also your reviews, favorites, follows, etc. Cheers!
Let Your Hair Down
Elsa was always on time. Always. She was always up when she was supposed to be up, ready to go when she was supposed to be ready to go, well-dressed and buttoned up and as proper as proper could be. She always had been. She believed she always would be.
But the Anna factor was not something she had necessarily calculated into her schedule. Anna liked to stay up late. Anna liked to talk Elsa into staying up late. And sometimes, Elsa allowed it.
She had always still managed to drag herself out of bed in time the next morning, her internal clock so attuned to the necessities of her schedule that it went off regardless of her bleary mind and blearier eyes. And she knew Anna had to be awakened with what was essentially cannon blasts at her door, but Elsa had never had that problem. She never expected to. She never asked for anyone's assistance.
And so, the inevitable day came when she slept in. Curled up and content, perfectly happy in her bed, until straws were drawn about who was going to have to try to find her. Because she had already missed a meeting with her advisors that had been scheduled over breakfast, there were several addendums to a recent proxy case she had presided over that needed to be signed off on, and from mid-morning on, she had meetings with several diplomats who might not be quite as understanding as her own staff.
It was reaching mid-morning.
The lady's maid who had drawn the short straw crept down the hallway, so tense she jumped well into the air when Anna went sailing by, despite everyone being quite used to Anna bouncing around at all hours of the day and night. Today, as it happened, Anna too had just woken up, but all she was worried about was a visit from Kristoff. She never even looked back.
The maid crept on. She reached Elsa's door. Took a deep breath. Tapped tentatively.
There was sound from inside – Elsa rather more sensitive than her sister. Small noises, then something rather like a squeak. A startled squeak that probably meant Elsa had looked at her clock.
The maid assumed she could leave it there. She was not going in. She had not been employed in the castle at the time of... the incident... but she had heard. She was not avid to be an ice sculpture. The queen could manage the rest herself.
In her room, Elsa suddenly had a very real idea of how Anna felt every morning.
Not that Anna usually had anywhere to be, she was just expected up at some point. Elsa, on the other hand, was looking at her clock, looking out the window, and strongly considering faking a case of the flu. Could she get the flu? Well, nobody else needed to know if she could or could not.
But she knew she wouldn't. She rubbed her face with her hands, forced herself up, cursed her sister for wanting to talk about... what had they talked about for half the night? Something bizarre. She couldn't remember. Had it had something to do with carrots?
...Nevermind, nevermind, get up. Up. Baron whatever-his-name-was was probably already in the study or the throne room or wherever she was supposed to meet with him, drumming his fingers and canceling every treaty and trade agreement and betrothal of third cousins Arendelle had ever agreed to, the snooty, hyped-up little...
Thoughts of this nature carried her through dressing – making sure she was decent, for once not worried quite so much about whether this shade perfectly complemented that one, and really, why was wearing a nice layer of ice so indecent anyway, silly convention, and just what had Anna done to her last night, because she was thinking like her sister now – and digging out shoes and deciding she wouldn't mind, for a change, if she didn't put on makeup to mask it and someone felt the need to point out how very much her nose resembled her father's. No time, no time, no time.
And her hair. She grimaced at it in the mirror. Should have slept with it braided. No time to do that now, much less get it all bundled and bunned and artfully arranged so that every strand was perfectly regal. Comb it, and – well, why not? - let it go.
The maid who had knocked at her door was coming back down the hall with an armful of clean linen when Elsa barreled past her.
She looked back. Just making sure. Yes, it was definitely the queen. She looked remarkably like the princess just then. And here the maid had been told, when she was hired, that the two could not be more different. And look at all that hair the queen had – lovely. Any girl would kill for it.
The maid had always been told that it wasn't proper for young women to wear their hair loose. But she supposed that if you were queen, propriety was whatever you chose to do. She made a mental note to begin copying the style, before everyone else was doing it.
Elsa was panting, so out of breath she could hardly stand, when she found Kai. "The... the baron," she managed to gasp. "He's... where...?"
Kai gaped at her for a moment, and she wondered if he had misunderstood her. Alright, admittedly, it hadn't been the most elegantly phrased question, but he knew her schedule better than she did, so he must be able to figure it out. Anyway, she wasn't sure she could squeeze any more words out; she felt like her lungs were crawling up her throat.
"Er... your majesty," he said, rather gently. "I don't believe that... that you... erm..."
"What?" It came out more as a weird, strangled kind of noise than a word.
"Well... the baron..."
"Yes." Finally getting something close to control. At least she didn't feel like she was about to have to grab him for support anymore. "Where is he?"
For a moment, she thought Kai was going to say something that would not answer her question; his face certainly looked rather conflicted. "In your study, your majesty," he finally said.
"Thank you." She tucked her hair behind her ears, and noticed him watching. Odd.
The Baron of Selvgod she had dealt with in the past – he was very old, very fat, very inclined to believe in his own importance in all matters, and very disinclined to female rulers generally, and female rulers without husbands who also happened to have magic powers in particular. Or at least, Elsa was fairly certain of the latter, though she had never specifically asked for confirmation. She feared he might then propose to her, because his dislike of female rulers without husbands who also happened to have magic powers might be mediated by the chance to be the husband of a female ruler who also happened to have magic powers. She was not opposed to marriage, but did not wish to have to freeze a boorish bridegroom on her wedding night. That might start rumors.
She couldn't have that, now could she?
She resisted the urge to roll her eyes at her own thoughts, because Selvgod was standing to greet her, lumbering towards her as he always did, while she carefully tucked her hands behind her back because no one was ever going to kiss one of them, however much they might hope to win her hand by slobbering on it.
But before Selvgod could reach her, he stopped and stared, his eyes suddenly bulging comically, his mouth dropping open to reveal surprisingly tiny teeth.
Elsa wasn't sure, at that moment, if she wished Anna was here or not. Anna would love to see that expression. But giggling at dignitaries was usually frowned upon.
"Baron Selvgod," Elsa said, hoping he wasn't about to drop dead of a heart attack. His heir might be even worse. It so often happened that way, "It's a pleasure to see you again. Please, be seated."
"Uh... your majesty," he said, and he was still standing, which annoyed her just a bit, because she had expressly told him otherwise, and what good was being queen if you couldn't occasionally expect things to go your way? "Your, uh... you... you look lovely."
Now it was her turn to look surprised, though she rather hoped her eyes didn't bug out quite that much. They took up enough of her face as it was. "I... thank you. Now... would you like to sit? Please."
He backed up, almost fell into his chair. He was still staring at her. Elsa blinked, tucked her hair back again – she didn't realize how much of it there was until it was constantly falling into her face – and took her own seat at her desk.
"Shall we begin?"
"Um..." He was still staring. She hadn't eaten anything, so she was fairly certain she couldn't have anything on her face, because surely she would have noticed when she was getting ready? She had washed her face the night before, as she always did. And she probably didn't have ice hanging from her ears (again; hopefully that little incident had been a one-off). Maybe her clothes really didn't match. She tried to surreptitiously look down at them, but it felt awkward, staring at herself while he did the same. Except he was looking fixedly at her face. Not her clothes, then. Very, very peculiar.
"I believe you wanted to discuss the agreements we've made to offer legislative assistance to..."
And so it went. She steered the conversation as best she could – not something she was used to; she was more adept at foiling their own attempts to do the same – and he hemmed and hawed and stared at her so much she could feel her face beginning to redden. What in the world was so interesting?
Negotiations that should have taken an hour wound up taking the better part of two. But in the end, when she asked if they had come to an agreement themselves, he nodded vigorously, offered no additional demands or requirements, and said he would be happy to sign anything her clerk sent along later.
Well, then. Perhaps this wasn't so terrible after all. Except she still didn't have any clue what "this" was.
A lord, an ambassador, another lord – the first kept blinking very slowly at her, as if trying to clear his vision. The second was more inclined to sneak glances, trying to appear as if he was very interested in shuffling and re-shuffling the papers before him, but each time she looked up from her own materials, he was peeking at her out of the corner of his eye. The third stared almost as openly as Selvgod had, except that he kept coughing, finally sending himself into a fit that reached such hysterical levels she almost called for someone to fetch a physician. He insisted he was fine, then proceeded to do it again.
Her morning done – a bit late, between her tardy start and the extended time that some negotiations had taken thanks to whatever was apparently in the Arendelle water today – she went to find Anna for lunch. Knowing Kristoff was coming, she had rather pointedly insisted that Anna – and Kristoff, were he so inclined – would join her. Because otherwise, they might have a bit too much free time to hide away in wherever they had decided today was a place where no servant or staff member would see them. Thus far, they had been caught every time. Then again, that was perhaps because Elsa sent someone to follow them every time.
She loved her sister, but did not trust her as far as that went. And Kristoff... Well, she wasn't sure about Kristoff yet. There were several things about him that struck Elsa as more than passing strange. Anna could get dragged into all sorts of unusual activities she might enjoy far more than a princess really should. Like ice harvesting.
Except it really wasn't fair if she placed that kind of blame on Kristoff – there would be no dragging. Anna would probably jump in head-first.
So – lunch.
She walked through the halls to the small family dining room, and it seemed that every person she saw did a double take. Maybe she did have ice hanging from her ears. She checked when she was fairly certain that, for a moment, she was alone.
Nothing. Just her hair hanging over them. She hadn't ever noticed how heavy her hair was. She pushed it off her shoulders again, shaking her head back to get it out of her face, and a servant coming around a corner with a stack of envelopes dropped them everywhere and stood gawping rather than picking them up.
She raised an eyebrow at him, intending it as a gentle rebuke, and he turned so red that for the second time that day she feared for someone's health. Then he scurried off, half bent over as if he had a cramp in his stomach. She watched him go, looked back at the envelopes still scattered on the carpet before her, and decided to reconsider not requiring her personal approval of the hiring of new staff.
First criteria: wouldn't stare.
It came as no great surprise that she did not find either Anna or Kristoff in the dining room, though she was there a good quarter hour after their agreed-upon time. Clearly, yet again, she was going to have to search for them, find out what illicit activity they were up to this time.
"In the stables," Kai said.
At least in front of him, Elsa did not have to hide her inclination to roll her eyes. Though even he was still staring, when normally he was the picture of decorum. She almost asked, because he would probably be willing to provide an explanation, but her annoyance at her sister overcame her curiosity. One thing Anna had been asked to do today, and cavorting in the stables was apparently much more pressing.
She was maybe walking rather quickly, and maybe looked a bit intimidating – she had been told that certain of her expressions, aside from the whole threat of freezing whoever was the subject of her displeasure, had that effect – but that still didn't mean that every groom, groundsman, and messenger who was in the courtyard between the castle and the stables had to stop whatever they were doing in favor of the now-familiar gaping, bug-eyed, idiot expression.
Her braid had always bounced against her shoulders when she walked quickly, but loose, her hair kind of... flowed. It was an odd feeling. Different. Maybe good different, though, as Anna might say. She wasn't sure yet.
In the stables, she found Anna hanging upside down by her knees from a beam, braids dangling. She swung up, pushed up on her arms, flipped back down, tried to do it again, lost her grip, and went crashing into the straw.
"You can't do it twice," she said. "It's not possible."
"It is," Kristoff said.
"Then do it!"
"I told you. Not enough clearance here. Next time we're out in the woods, I'll show you."
"I don't believe you."
Elsa cleared her throat.
Anna, still sitting on the ground, hunched, closed her eyes, said, "Whoops."
"Uh... is it already noon?"
"Closer to half past."
"So you said."
"But we were just-" But she chose that moment to look up. And something very familiar happened.
"Oh, not you, too!" Elsa said.
"But Elsa... you look... you're... wow."
"Yeah, you're-" Anna's eyes widened. "The orchard!" She jumped up and ran.
"Trees," Kristoff said, as if that explained everything. "Not that they'll be big enough." He looked at Elsa for the first time – he usually wouldn't look at her at all, so this was progress – and she was not exactly surprised to see his eyes go wide, his face go red, et cetera ad nauseam.
"Okay," she finally said. "Enough is enough. What in the world is everyone staring at?"
Kristoff's face was closer to purple now. He was very pointedly not looking at her; she did not believe his feet were actually that interesting.
No response, but he was edging away.
"Kristoff." The voice that she used – often with Anna – that meant don't you dare do anything else until I tell you you have my permission.
He stopped. (Anna never did.) But that patch of dirt he was toeing must be fascinating. "I, uh... I really should go and... uh... make sure she's okay. You know. Anna. In the orchard. Some of those trees are... tall."
"You take one more step towards that door, and you will find yourself deeper in snow than even you have ever been in your life."
He didn't take one more step towards that door.
"Thank you. Now – what is everyone staring at?"
"Well, it's, uh... it's... well... your majest-... Elsa... Queen Elsa... It's..."
This might be the final result of letting Anna talk your ear off once too often. You lost all ability to form coherent speech.
"Kristoff." How many times was she going to have to say it? It was sounding less and less like a word. More like a coughing kind of noise. "No snow. Just tell me."
"It's... it's just..."
"Your hair!" he shouted, then turned his face up to examine the same beams Anna had been swinging from like a deranged, pigtailed monkey.
"My... hair?" Not what she had expected. Not at all what she had expected.
"It's just... there's... a lot of it."
"A lot of it."
"Well... yeah. And it's... I guess... kind of... um... kind of..."
She waited this time. She wasn't going to coax every word from him.
"It's... well.. it's pretty."
"Can I say that to a queen?" Panic now, though he was still looking up. She could see his brow drop.
"Yes, you can say that to a queen. This one, anyway."
"...Thanks. I think. Uh, anyway. I think maybe... it's just... most girls... I mean, not girls, most, um... most ladies... is that okay?... Most ladies don't... they don't... wear it... you know... down. Like that."
"...Oh." Well, that explained that. She didn't flaunt convention, but clearly there were still many aspects of it she didn't understand. Though truly, if it meant negotiations went as swimmingly well as they had done this morning, perhaps it was time to go back to the ice dress. With that, she might soon rule the world. (Not that she particularly wanted to, but knowing she could seemed like quite the confidence booster.)
Anna came tearing back in. She still had straw in her hair, and was now carrying apples. "Look, I brought lunch!"
Kristoff looked so relieved to see her Elsa feared he might burst into tears. "Apples!" he said, rather unconvincingly excited at the prospect.
"Uh-uh," Elsa said. "We're going inside. Both of you. No more flipping, no more climbing trees – or whatever you've been doing, and no, I don't want to know what it was – until after we have a civilized lunch inside the castle."
Anna tossed an apple to Kristoff, who had the reflexes to catch it despite his continued hangdog expression and red complexion. Then she grinned at Elsa. "You should probably do something about that hair first. Everyone I passed was whispering about it."
Elsa looked at her for a moment, then raised an eyebrow. "I'm not the one with straw in my braids."
Anna put the hand not holding apples to her head and looked so comically shocked that even Elsa found herself laughing.
They had lunch just as they were. And though it was a close call, Elsa did manage to control her laughter when a servant fell face-first into the soup when he caught sight of her.
Flaunting convention, indeed. She sat up straighter, tossed her hair back, and waited for the next course.