Disclaimer: Frozen belongs to the mouse and his creator Walt or more appropriately, the Disney corporation.
Author's Note: This story came to me in a flash of inspiration that had absolutely nothing to do with The Bachelorette television show. Reality shows are of the devil. In all actuality the inspiration came to me from the title of a book I read many, many moons ago called The Courtship of Princess Leia. From the seeds this was born, enjoy. Just the clarify the only thing I borrowed from that book was part of the title. This story will contain no elements of it, unless the Frozen characters suddenly start carrying lightsabers.
Author's Note II: So here's the rub. In my spare time I write romance novels. My own original characters and everything and if you can figure out who I am you can actually buy my first book on amazon. So I don't believe I suck at this. Be that as it may, I'm not quite sure how far I wish to take this story and the reason being is the character of Elsa. I don't think that Disney has ever really created such a complex, emotionally viable character. I've stated before that she is my favorite and I have tried to keep her true to her character, while at the same time I've tried to draw her out. She is a character of nuance, and I hope I honored that.
The Courtship of Queen Elsa
Rogue Amazon Boo
Queen Elsa of Arendelle was pacing.
Gerda watched in concern as the agitated young woman made the circuit of her bed chamber, frost dripping from her fingertips. She hadn't seen her former charge so bothered since the days of the great freeze. She halted abruptly and turned sky blue eyes on her loyal servant and surrogate aunt.
"What could they possibly want, Gerda? My advisors have never called a meeting to which I have not been privy to the details beforehand."
Gerda was busying herself with tidying the room and gave a shrug. "I've no good answer for you my Queen. Perhaps it's best to just attend and find out. After all it's not like you have to agree to anything they might ask of you. You are the queen of Arendelle. They are your advisors only. Ultimately, any and all decisions concerning Arendelle rest with you and with of course the law of the land."
Elsa gave a sharp nod, folded her hands in front of her, and crossed to the window. She gazed out across the fjord. The matronly servant smiled at the picture she made. The queen had just turned twenty-three years old and looked to be carrying the weight of the world on her slim shoulders. Perhaps she was. All Gerda knew was she was proud of the young woman her introverted young charge had turned into. She possessed all the poise, grace, fairness, and diplomacy required of her office and on top of that she was interesting, dryly humorous, and kind. She was a complex woman, their queen.
She was also lonely.
Elsa thought no one knew, but Gerda had known both the young queen and her sister, Princess Anna, since they were still in diapers. She didn't miss the way she sometimes turned away and the far off look she got in her eyes when Anna was with her Ice Master husband and they were being affectionate.
She would often excuse herself of late and retreat from the room.
Gerda knew her queen did not begrudge her sister's happiness, but she also knew that it was sometimes hard to bear the burdens and responsibilities of the crown alone. The people also wished their queen to be wed, but more importantly they wanted her to be happy. Unfortunately a queen had to always think about what was best for her people, and that often meant she could not wed were she wanted, but were Arendelle needed.
Gerda let the silence stretched, respecting her girl's need to reflect in quiet. She knew Elsa would speak when she was ready. She didn't have to wait too long.
"Why didn't Josef tell me?" She whispered. This drew a small smile from Gerda. She didn't think even Elsa was aware how her voice sounded when she spoke of her young advisor.
"I don't know my queen."
A brief flash of anger lit her eyes and she started pacing again.
"It's why I appointed him in the first place! He was supposed be my ally against all those ancient and overbearing blowhards who are too rooted in tradition to see that often times change is needed so a kingdom can grow and flourish. He should not have let them blindside me with this mysterious meeting!"
Gerda shrugged. That tirade was more reminiscent of Princess Anna. It seems the queen's little sister was rubbing off on her.
"Perhaps he didn't know of it either milady." Elsa's anger deflated instantly.
"Perhaps." She paused. "I guess there is really only one way to find out what they want. I shall simply attend."
Elsa's fingers sparkled and a moment later she was dressed in her shimmering gown of blue ice and heels. Her hair was in a single loose French braid with tendrils escaping to frame her face. Gerda had to stifle her chuckle. Those stuffy old men hated it when Elsa attended anything in what was now known as her Snow Queen get-up. She secretly suspected that the men disliked it so much because the gown made her look older, more sophisticated, and sexy. They were men first and foremost, and their queen was young and stunningly beautiful. It didn't take a genius to discern why it made them uncomfortable.
"Gerda, if you would please let Anna know I will be late for dinner. Tell her I apologize, I know she hates to eat alone, and when my brother-in-law is away on harvesting expeditions I usually try to be there."
The servant smiled. "She will understand milady I'm sure." Elsa gave a bark of laughter and smirked in amusement.
"My little sister most assuredly will not understand and I'm sure she will express her displeasure with me with hours of pouting, but sometimes it cannot be helped. She will understand, eventually. I shall probably have to resort to bribery."
Gerda nodded and returned her expression of amusement. Elsa crossed the room and exited. She was heading to the meeting room. Gerda shook her head. The old fools had no idea what they were getting into. One day perhaps they would learn that they couldn't control the queen, no matter how much they wished it.
Elsa slowed as she reached the conference room doors. She could hear the sounds of muffled debate as she opened them. The room instantly went silent as five pairs of eyes regarded her. She instinctively sought out the sixth pair only to find he was across the room and gazing out the window. He had not turned to greet her, didn't appear inclined to look at her, and she felt her stomach sink. With effort she gathered her best haughty glare and stared down her nose at the oldest and stuffiest man in the room; Baron Ludvig. She narrowed her ice blue eyes at him, but she addressed the room.
"Gentlemen, I pray this is important as I had no warning of this meeting and it is pulling me away from my duties."
The man behind Ludvig stepped forward, he was only slightly less ancient then the Baron, balding and skinny, and he had always reminded Elsa of a vulture.
"That is why we have called you here your Majesty, to press upon you the importance of doing your duty towards Arendelle!"
Cold eyes narrowed on him. "Are you accusing me of being derelict in my duty towards Arendelle Sir Oskar?"
He shrank back and another of her advisors, Viscount Stig, stepped forward, his jolly, dear face rosy. He always reminded her of Sinterklaas the benevolent gift giver during yuletide. He was also sometimes called Sint Nicolaas (Saint Nicholas). He was her second favorite advisor and a good man, if sometimes too unassertive for her tastes. He pulled at his collar and gave her a wan smile.
"My Queen, there is not a man here who would ever accuse you of not always doing what is best for Arendelle…but you see…it's like this…"
"Oh for the love of God Stig, somebody just tell her already." This outburst came from Sir Ruben, the second youngest man on her council. He was in his forties with a harsh face; barrel chest, a slight middle age paunch, and gloriously bushy mutton chops that were slightly graying that he felt made him look distinguished. He was the plainest speaking of her council so his outburst didn't surprise her.
"Your Majesty, it's time you got married and got about to the business of producing an heir."
This was not what Elsa has expected him to say and it must have shown on her face. Baron Teodor stepped forward, his kind features understanding.
"I understand this must be a shock to you, but the council has to take into account the recent happenings in the kingdom of Corona. Scandalous really, the Crown Princess marrying a commoner, and a former thief to boot. Perhaps you remember her and her fiancé at the time? They were at your coronation."
Elsa gave him a sad, rueful smile.
"I fear that time in my life is quite a blur Baron." He flushed in embarrassment and stepped back. She looked from one man to another and sighed, folded her hands in front of her, straightened her posture, and tilted her chin up regally.
"I have successfully ruled Arendelle for the past two and a half years...five and a half if you included the three years from the time my parents died until my coronation. During my reign, crime has decreased, trade has increased, and the people are more prosperous. I have commissioned schools and sponsored apprenticeships and built orphanages with enforced standards of care so that the children, who are unable to protect themselves, have protection under the law. So pray tell me gentlemen, why this sudden push for me to get married? My consort, when I choose him, will have equal power under Arendelle law. I would think that I need to choose my husband very carefully indeed."
"You are not looking for a husband at all my Queen," Ludvig interjected. "That is the problem. This council would never presume to pressure you into a marriage, but Arendelle needs an heir."
Elsa narrowed her eyes.
"My sister is my heir."
Sir Ruben made an impatient sound. "Princess Anna is a child. She would no more know how to run a kingdom than that lumbering Ox of a Sami lad she is married to."
The temperature in the room dropped more than a few degrees suddenly and nobody noticed the smile on Josef's face at the occurrence.
Elsa didn't bother pointing out that she was only three years older than her sister. She simply stood taller, put on her most disdainful royal expression, and declared. "That is quite enough. My sister Anna is at this moment the Crown Princess of Arendelle. I will not tolerate anyone, not even my wise council, to malign her. She is young, yes, but she is also smart and intuitive and Master Kristoff is as solid and true as the blocks of ice he harvests. I have no reservations of leaving Arendelle in their hands if, God forbid, something were to happen to me. Do I make myself clear, gentlemen?"
There were some grumbling agreements all around. Annoyed, Elsa turned to the one man in the room who'd yet to speak. It was young Master Josef, the only man in the room close to her own age and the only one without a noble title. A prosperous wool merchant's son, she had personally appointed him as one of her advisors last year when Baron Sigfrid had suddenly died of complications that arose from his weak heart.
She had dealings with Josef before that, as his father was the largest supplier of exported wool. She had come to admire his sharp mind and quiet, contemplative manner. He was not a man that rushed decisions, but one who analyzed all avenues before drawing a conclusion. He was careful and precise, and through their trade talks she had come to realize that he shared her vision of what Arendelle could become. So much to the others displeasure, she had made him part of her council.
"Have you nothing to say about all of this Master Josef?" Outwardly, she didn't let on how much his answer meant to her, but inside she was trembling. He turned slowly, his dark hair falling across his forehead and his intelligent light gray eyes falling on her. His expression did nothing to betray his thoughts.
"I think…the rest of the council does make some valid points, but they do not have the right to force your hand in marriage. Since none seem to have the courage to tell you this then I shall, they have a plan in place Majesty. They have invited twelve princes to the castle, all eligible second and third sons. They merely wish for you to give them each a day, an interview if you will, and if one of them pleases you they want you to allow him to court you. If at the end of the twelve days you have found no one who will suit, then the council will let the matter lay until the law of the land forces them to intercede."
Elsa looked into Josef's eyes and felt betrayed. She thought for sure he would vehemently disagree with this ridiculous farce. It was also becoming apparent that he'd known about this for some time, and still allowed the rest of the council to ambush her. Her eyes darted away, but not before she could conceal her hurt. Josef noticed, but he forced his expression to remain stoic and turned back to the window. Inwardly, he begged her forgiveness.
"You speak of the succession law," she said softly. Elsa looked beyond her council, collecting herself.
The law of succession in Arendelle was ironclad and she knew that one day she would have to marry because of it; she had just hoped she had more time. She'd been foolish to think so. The law was a convoluted mess of misogynistic intent laid down by her many times great grandfather to make his second born child, a son, instead of his first born child, his daughter, heir to the Arendelle throne. The law stated that any dynasty that produced only daughters could name their eldest heir, but their daughter must marry by the time she was twenty-five years of age and produce an heir not long after or else the right to sit on the throne could be challenged.
Anna was her legitimate heir, and the law wouldn't be a problem if her second cousin Archibald wasn't waiting in the wings for a chance at the throne. Archie was the only son of her grandfather's brother, her great uncle Nikolas, who would have been heir apparent if grandpapa and grandmamma had not had her father Stephan. Great uncle Nikolas never cared much for the throne, but Archie had always been resentful. He was even more resentful when Elsa took the reigns as acting sovereign of the realm after her parents' death.
She had known all this of course…it didn't make her resent it any less. Gathering her emotions sharply under her control, she concealed them as she'd been taught to do and asked with no inflection.
"Who are these princes?"
Viscount Stig reluctantly stepped forward and handed her a document. She took it from him and congratulated herself on the steadiness of her hand. She silently perused the parchment and pursed her lips.
"I see," she muttered softly and looked up. She met each man's eyes before locking eyes with Josef. To his credit he didn't flinch away.
"And when does the first prince arrive?" She was looking at Josef, but it was Teodor who spoke.
"He arrives two days hence." She sucked in a fortifying breath and nodded.
"Very well, I will agree to this circus, but in return I will expect no interference from any of you. Is that understood?"
Reluctant nods came from all except Josef. Her eyes landed on him once more and she couldn't help the feelings of betrayal and anger she allowed him to see. He stood tall, accepting her censure. Elsa was the first to look away. She abruptly turned on her heels and headed for the door.
"I bid you good evening, gentlemen." With that the Queen of Arendelle left and the room was suddenly much warmer. Stig blinked twice and rather stupidly stated.
"Well that didn't go so bad, did it?"
Josef glared at all of them, snorted in disgust, and stalked out of the room. Stig looked bewildered.
"Was it something I said?"
Josef bent his elbow, raised the pint to his lips, and took a long draft of his favorite ale. It did little to calm the turmoil inside of him. He lowered it and gazed into the amber liquid. He couldn't rid himself of the image of Elsa's stricken face and the betrayal in her beautiful eyes.
He cursed himself ten times a fool and believed he deserved every vile expletive. Misery cloaked him and he hunched his shoulders.
He should have told her what the council had planned the moment he learned of it. The only thing that had given him pause was so sentimental and foolish he didn't know if he could still call himself a man.
He sighed and looked around the warm and comforting environ of The Fox and Hound, a tavern a little distance away from the palace. It was a working man's tavern, nothing like those stuffy gentleman's clubs that only allowed a man in if he had a pedigree. Gunner also made the best ale to be had in Arendelle so the place was popular.
He took another sip and hung his head low, not inviting company. Gunner and Elise, his wife, eyed him with sympathy. They knew of course, knew how pathetic his situation really was and he couldn't take the pity in their eyes.
Josef was a man doing penance. He glanced down at the tattoo he usually kept covered that graced his inner forearm. The dagger on his right and the rose on his left, each with a meaning. His eyes traced the name woven around the stem. It was his fault she was dead, or so his father made sure to remind him. He drank more ale and let the self-loathing wrap around him. His father was probably right, it probably didn't matter what he did. There was no forgiveness for him.
He still wasn't sure what made his father hate him more. The fact that he'd rejected the future the old man had groomed him for in the first place, or the fact that he'd disgraced himself beyond redemption.
Josef let his mind drift back, his thoughts already so miserably that the dark place he tried never to revisit was pushing its way forward.
He was seventeen years old again and stifling under the weight of his father's expectations. It wasn't enough for Konstantin to be a prosperous merchant. He'd longed for a title and when he wasn't able to achieve his goal through his own machinations, he'd put all his hopes on his children.
Josef had spent his formative years learning not only his father's trade, but the skills of a gentleman of rank. He'd learned how to fence, how to dance, the varied nuances of how to properly address those with old and lofty titles, and how to box like a gentleman under the Marquis of Queensberry rules. In short, he was groomed for life at court.
He'd hated every minute of it and fought the mold the old man had tried to force him into every step of the way.
The life Josef loved was the sea. He may have learned how to behave like a gentlemen from his tutors, but it was the sailors and the dockhands that taught him about life. The old salts, the privateers, and sometimes even pirates had taught him how to drink, how to wench, and how to fight dirty. They also taught him about loyalty and a code of honor that only rough men would understand. He'd been torn between two worlds and to his father's disgust he'd chosen the one his old man would never condone or understand.
He took another pull of his ale.
The day he'd turned eighteen he'd run from his responsibilities vowing never to return.
The ship he'd conscripted on had all the markings of a merchant vessel. It wasn't until later he found out that it was all for show and the real occupation the Captain indulged in was piracy.
It was a disaster. When he'd tried to leave they'd beaten him bloody and that night as he lay in agony on the deck, something far worse happened.
His little sister had gotten wind of his plans and stowed away.
He traced the letters over and over again. His baby sister Sonja…she was always too headstrong and adventurous; and always too willing to follow him to hell and back. He should have suspected she would follow him onto the ship.
He knew he would have to do something to protect her. So he did the only thing he could think of at the time. He'd dressed her like a cabin boy; taught her to fight, and prayed every day the no one would discover their ruse. For even though it turned out that most of the pirates were not as bad as they pretended, it happened that their ship's captain was a complete blackguard.
Much of the crew hated the man and only sailed with him because of the promise of gold from a Spanish Galleon that the captain claimed he knew the location of. They had spent weeks at sea with no sight of the treasure ship and the crew was growing restless. The captain was becoming increasingly unstable and was prone to outbursts. It was during one of these outbursts he that he struck Sonja and she cried out. It must have been something the vile man had heard in her voice because he ripped her shirt off of her and discovered her bindings.
Josef had tried to reach them, but the first mate was a monster of a man that was entirely devoted to the captain. He'd held him back and the others were too afraid to interfere.
The captain dragged Sonja into his cabin and took her innocence. Josef could still remember her screams. The man had then taken her life…so in return Josef took his manhood and slit his throat. The rest of the crew had taken care of the first mate during the mutiny he'd incited.
Then the dark days started. He took over the ship and his life of piracy and self-destruction began. For five years they looted and pillaged and became rich. He spent gold on whores and rum and pursued every vice in the book, and some that weren't. His luck ran out one day when his crew took on a seemingly defenseless merchant vessel that turned out to be a war ship called the Persephone. She was the jewel of the Southern Isles fleet.
His crew was decimated and he was thrown into a dank and dilapidated shit hole of a prison to await his hanging.
It was only his father's deep pockets and one very corrupt official that was susceptible to bribery that kept him from the hangman's noose. His father's money also went a long way in keeping the rumors of those years from reaching the good people of Arendelle.
That was two years ago and his father still told him nightly that he should have left him to hang. He would have too, if Josef wasn't needed to continue the family name. It was the only reason he tolerated his son working for him. Josef had accepted his father's hatred because his father couldn't hate him more than he hated himself.
Since the day he'd returned, he tried to keep his nose clean, tried to work the family business and live an unassuming life. That is...until that day.
It was the day he'd met the young queen of Arendelle for the first time and the bottom had dropped out of his world. She'd come with a small retinue of personal guards to speak with his father. His father had been away on business and so she'd spoken with him instead. Josef replayed the moment in his head.
The knock startled him and he almost sent his coffee flying across the room. Josef muttered a curse.
"I swear by all that is Holy Jasper if you are bothering me again with something you can most assuredly handle on your own I'm going to put my boot up your arse."
He swung open the door and was met with the business end of a spear. The chainmail clad guard was glaring at him.
"Private Anders stand down, I'm sure he means me no harm as my name is most assuredly not Jasper."
The feminine tone was laced with dry amusement. Josef felt like he'd taken a sucker punch to the gut as the voice's owner stepped forward and lowered the hood of her traveling cloak. He could only stare stupidly at the vision before him.
White blond hair and eyes so blue they would make the sky jealous. He felt like he was drowning and being reborn as he gazed into those unabashedly amused orbs. By God, she was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen, a goddess come to earth. She was nothing so cliché as Venus, with her weakness and vanity, but Skadi the goddess of winter with the spirit of a warrior. She was also their queen, and if he didn't stop ogling her like a horny school boy then the guard that was still glaring at him would run him through.
Josef shook himself out of his stupor and made a correct, if hasty, bow.
"Forgive me your Majesty; I thought you were our dock master. Please, won't you come in?"
She smiled at him and crossed the threshold with all of the grace and poise one would expect from a queen and that breathless feeling was back. He sucked in a lung full of air and slowly released it. He really needed to get control of himself.
"I thank-you Master…?" She let it hang and he started.
"Forgive me once again, I am Josef. My father Konstantin and I are wool merchants."
Those hypnotic blue eyes sparkled knowingly.
"I am well aware of that Master Josef. I actually came to speak with your father? Is he perchance available?"
He felt disappointment course through him. Of course this enchanting woman was not here to speak with him. How foolish could he be? He hid his disillusionment well.
"Father is away on business. Is there something I can do for you Majesty?"
Those eyes sobered and seemed to bore into him, like she was weighing him. He attempted to look like a man she could trust, even if his father would disagree with that sentiment. He caught himself looking around for Sigmund, his appointed watch dog while father was away. Thankful, the man was nowhere to be seen. While he'd been lost in his own mind Elsa had continued to study him.
She must have found something she liked because she replied.
"Yes Master Josef. I do believe you can be of great assistance to me."
Josef wrenched himself back to the present. He'd come to know the young queen of Arendelle well since that moment. More importantly he'd come to know Elsa, the woman behind the queen. There was so much he admired about her. Her beauty was unquestionable, but it was the other things that made up the complex woman that had snared him completely. She was a contradiction at times, strong and vulnerable, poised and yet amusing, decisive and unsure—she made him want to support her and care for her and be—all things to her that she needed.
He was a fool.
She was the queen and he was a wool merchant's son. Add his past to the equation and he might as well try to catch starlight with his bare hands. He had a better chance of accomplishing that then being a fit man for the queen. His stupid heart needed to stop wishing for things that could never, ever be. He was about to take another draw of his ale to drown his misery when a beefy had slapped him on the back. The ale splashed and he cursed.
"You should really be more careful there Josef, that's Gunner's best ale. You don't want to waste it." He glared at the large blond man that took the stool next to him. He grabbed a nearby rag and started mopping up the spill.
"I was fine until some smelly oaf jostled me. Don't you have a princess waiting at the palace for you to corrupt?"
The smile that crossed Kristoff's face would have made Elsa impale him with a stake of ice.
"That's my wife you're implying impure things about." Josef snorted.
"Implying…no…outright saying, most assuredly yes. You both forget the queen shares that wing of the castle with you both."
Kristoff turned bright red and Josef gave his friend a wicked smile.
"So tell me what does, 'Kristoff please, you've never stuck it there,' imply?"
The man punched him none too lightly on the arm, his face about to catch fire. If Josef were a lesser mortal he may have lost all feeling in his arm at the contact.
"Shut it," Kristoff grumbled and motioned for the barmaid to bring him a pint. The cute brunette prepared it and gave him a saucy wink before placing it in front of him.
"She's a lucky girl, our princess." She eyed his large hands. "I wouldn't mind you sticking things anywhere especially if you're as big all over."
The mountain man's face grew even brighter; if this kept up he would be glowing soon. He was unable to meet the girl's eyes as he paid her. She winked at Josef and sauntered away. He cleared his throat and eyed his friend.
"Speaking of Anna, she is royally unhappy with you right now."
Josef sighed. "I can hazard a guess as to why." Kristoff scowled at his idiot friend.
"Suitors? Really? If you hated the queen that much why didn't you just ship her off to the Southern Isles and force her to marry Hans?"
The other man forced the anger his friend's words caused to rise up in him down before answering.
"I didn't tell her because I knew she would have found a way to stop the council from contacting those men. And before you say anything, no I didn't do it for the same reasons they did."
The mountain man grew quiet.
"Then why did you?" Josef stared blindly at the wall in front of him. He'd let those men be contacted because he'd seen the look in her beautiful eyes while she watched Anna and her brother-in-law together, or every time she saw a happy couple in the market, or when she gazed at a chubby baby with a toothless smile and innocent acceptance. She'd looked…wistful and longing.
"She's lonely Kristoff, she would never admit it, but I can see it in her eyes every time she sees you and Anna together. She wants someone to share her life with and if one of the men can make her happy…"
Kristoff grew silent once more and then finally uttered the thing Josef knew he was going to say.
"So it doesn't matter that you're in love with her?"
Josef let out a derisive chuckle and then stared hard at the rose on his arm.
"No. It doesn't matter in the slightest."
Kristoff called him a damn fool and Josef raised his glass in a toast.
He couldn't have agreed more.