AN: Okay so things happened and I was not able to update as fast as I thought. Sorry for that. I'm not a fast writer, and I had trouble to find the words for this chapter. I made some minor modifications in the first chapter but nothing too important.
Sorry for the mistakes you can find in that chapter. I'm still looking for a beta XP
Thanks to everyone who fav, followed or comment, it helps A LOT! :'))
There is an illustration for that chapter, go on AO3 or link my profile page
Disclaimer: Frozen belong to Disney, all the OCs belong to me.
Chapter 02: PRIDE (by HIGH and MIGHTY Color)
Three years later.
Vlad Thorstein opened his eyes. He could see nothing except for the faint glow of the moon through the window of his bedroom. It was still dark outside.
Vlad got up. Still sleepy, he put some clothes on him and left his bedroom. Slowly he walked toward the forge, where the sound was coming from, and entered. The fire had been lit. Someone was working. With no surprise, it was his daughter Anna, who was hammering white hot metal on the anvil. She had a thick leather protective apron above her shirt and pants. Her hair was tied in a single braid, and she was wearing a bandana to prevent strands of hair from falling over her eyes.
Vlad observed his daughter working, standing in a corner of the room. He suddenly felt a pang in his chest when he realized how much she had changed. The little girl he had raised for eighteen years had become an accomplished young woman. For the last three years, Anna had kept helping her father in the smithy despite her training with the royal knights. At the end, she became a very capable blacksmith, and even started taking orders to relieve some pressure from her parent's shoulders. After years of using hammers and swords, Anna had developed a well-toned body and muscles. She still had kept a slender figure, but she didn't look as feminine as the others women of her age. It worried Vlad a little. Since his wife passed out, he had never married again and had raised Anna alone. He raised her like he had been raised, like a blacksmith.
"Father?" Anna had stopped hammering, feeling a presence in the room.
"Good morning firefly." Vlad smiled.
"I'm sorry. I woke you up, didn't I?" She hesitated.
"I wasn't sleepy anymore."
"Liar." She chuckled. "I'm sorry dad."
"Why are you up so early anyway?"
"I wanted to finish a sword before sending it to the Royal Knight for the ceremony of this afternoon." Anna resumed her work, the sound of hammer echoing in the room.
"I thought you finished the sword days ago."
"I did, but you remember that pommel that I imagined but couldn't put it on the greatsword?"
"Yes I remember."
"I felt bad for not using it, so I thought why not creating a sword for it. Since I have no idea for whom the sword is destined, I have thought of creating a broadsword in addition to the greatsword as well.
"And you decided to do it at four in the morning?"
"I needed to start early to finish it before sending the swords to the royal palace… and I got the idea at the last minute…" The redhead said, scratching her head.
"Won't you be too tired for this afternoon?"
"It's only a delivery dad. I'm sure I can manage it." Anna laughed.
Vlad stayed silent, staring at his daughter. 'If only she knew…' He promised Olga to say nothing about the ceremony. But at this rate Anna wouldn't even be able to lift a sword this afternoon.
"Do you want some help firefly? Or do you think your father too old for that?" He grinned.
"Of course you can help me dad!" Anna beamed.
Vlad didn't waste time. He put his work clothes and walked toward his daughter.
They finished forging the blade several hours later. It was noon and Anna had to leave in two hours. So she quickly added the finishing touches by adjusting the pommel on the blade. Her father watched her from afar.
Assembling the sword was the key part in the making process of a sword. The blacksmith would give the weapon a part of their soul, a purpose. That part made each sword unique and bound to its maker. Anna, and only her, had been asked to create the sword. Vlad's job was done for now. But that didn't stop him from talking.
"Yes dad?" Anna replied, without looking away from the sword.
"Are you happy?"
Anna stared at her father, surprised by the question.
"I mean." He continued. "Do you regret being a blacksmith and a knight, when you could have another life more suited for you?"
Anna stayed silent for a moment, trying to form the perfect answer in her head. She felt her father's eyes on her, dreading the truth.
"It's true I dreamt of a knight in shining armor coming to save me when I was young, because of all those stories mum told me…"
Vlad paled at the confession.
"… But now I am the knight in shining armor… in a way of course, but still I'm the one who saves the pretty ladies now, and that is much better." The redhead smirked.
This time, Vlad stared at his daughter and could do nothing but laugh to his heart's content. Yes, he forgot that little detail about his daughter.
"Stop laughing at me dad!" Anna retorted, despite the smile on her face. "I was serious!"
He laughed harder, which made Anna laugh as well. Then she became serious again.
"I will never regret my choices dad. I won't trade anything for what I have now, because you were the one to teach me. You are the best dad ever."
At this moment, Vlad Thorstein felt a wave of pride overcoming him. Sometimes he wondered how lucky he had been to have such a perfect daughter.
"After all, I know you did everything to make me happy. So why would I regret my decisions?"
The blacksmith's smile faltered. Fortunately Anna went back to her work, and didn't see the change of emotion on his father's face. Sudden realization struck Vlad. No. He was not the best father ever. He was the worst. 'If I was the best father, Anna, right now you would have been with Elsa and not here.'
Anna took a deep breath. She raised her arm, the broadsword in her hand and started to move. First she made circular movements with her wrist to see if the hilt wasn't hindering her hand and if the sword was well-balanced. After several minutes, she started to make basic moves: side steps, parry, side steps, feint and attacks. Anna usually fought with a two-handed sword. The best defense was the attack. However she was no fool, and knew that a two-handed sword may not be the best strategy in particular situations. So she had asked Sophia to teach her fencing, just in case. After several minutes of practice, Anna, satisfied by the performance, stopped. She took a look at the weapon in her hand and smiled. The pommel of the sword, she created days ago, was pretty simple and was constituted of a handle and a hilt, much like the pommel of a rapier. The white hilt covered most of her hand for protection, without stopping her moves. The blade was a long one-edge razorblade. Though the complexity of the weapon, it was light and easy to handle. It was as perfect as the greatsword she made days ago. Anna felt a pang in her chest at the thought she would have to give them to someone else.
"What are those longing eyes, firefly?" Vlad smirked. "Are you falling for that sword?"
"Yes, I am dad." The redhead admitted. "It is what happens each time you forge a sword for a royal knight?"
"For each sword you forge, you put a part of yourself in it. Anna you know that."
"Yes, but it is the first time that I feel like those sword are made for me. Is it because I forged them, because of my training as a knight? What will happen for the other swords I'll forge?" Anna started to worry, unsure of her future as a blacksmith.
"Don't worry about it firefly. It happens only because you don't know the future royal knight. It changes everything if you know for whom you are forging, because you'll fill the person's needs at this moment."
"Believe me. After all I have years of experience behind me." He smiled. "Now off to the castle, or you'll be late for the ceremony."
"Aye!" Anna exclaimed. She quickly sheathed the broadsword and ran into the smithy to pick up the greatsword, which she strapped on her back before leaving the forges.
"See ya dad!" She shouted.
"Bye firefly." Vlad shouted as well. "… And fight well." He whispered.
"Jake!" Anna grinned as she entered the barracks and ran toward the soldier to greet him.
Jake was one of the Royal Knight Lieutenants and three years her senior. When a part of the army had been sent to war, he was among those who stayed to protect the princess and the kingdom. They have won the war, but not without heavy causalities. Thus a big wave of recruitments had been undertaken to train new royal knights for the army. Jake and few other royal knights were now the last people Anna had known personally since the beginning of her training. He was a nice man, not the strongest one, but his experience made him a good strategist and teacher.
"The Knight Captain is waiting for you. Go!" He said, pointing to the middle of the training grounds.
Anna didn't waste time and ran toward the Knight Captain. The later noticed her arrival and smiled. She readjusted her vest, feeling the garment falling from her right side. Damn missing arm. Olga Renmeyer groaned. She had been lucky to survive the war, but she was still not used to her new way of life.
"Knight Captain Olga." Anna said. She bowed.
"Glad you could make it Anna." Olga replied, bowing as well. "I can conclude you have the sword with you."
"Yeah I even have two. A broadsword and a greatsword."
The captain stared at the redhead, surprised. "You made two swords?" She smirked. "Interesting. We can proceed with the ceremony then." She made sign to other knights, who nodded and left.
"May I ask for who is the ceremony?" Anna asked curious as she gave the swords to the knights who came to pick them up.
"You my dear." Olga only said, smiling widely.
"What?" The strawberry blonde haired girl shouted. "No! No! You know I can't." Her father didn't want her to be a royal knight and she had decided to become a blacksmith. She had made her choice. Right? Then why did she feel excited by the news? Was it because she had expected that answer? She was not so easily tricked. When the knight captain had ordered her a sword for a ceremony without giving a name, she got suspicious. But she didn't entertain the thought as everyone knew she chose to become a blacksmith. She had been wrong at the end.
"I know dear." Olga continued. "However you have been with us for four years. You have more than completed your training. You deserve to have a ceremony like everyone else, even if you won't officially become a knight at the end. You won't have to recite the knights' oath.
"I…Thank you for that honor!" Anna bowed, excited.
"Go prepare yourself. We will begin in several minutes."
The redhead nodded and left.
When Anna came back, wearing her training outfit, the training grounds had been set up for the ceremony. The new recruits had cleaned the place by putting the gummy targets in a corner with the weapons and others objects. The training grounds were now a fighting zone, free from any kind of obstacles. Soldiers were patiently waiting, siting on benches near the wall. Olga was in the middle of the place, waiting for Anna.
"Ready to begin?" The captain grinned.
Smiling, the older woman turned toward the small audience and started to talk to start the ceremony.
Meanwhile, Anna straightened her back and walked toward the center of the fighting grounds. Her walk was stiff. She was starting to feel the pressure of the whole event on her shoulder and her lack of sleep was not helping.
"Are you ready Anna Thorstein?"
"Then I will choose your opponent. Tian. Come here."
Everyone in the barracks gasped. Anna paled, frozen on her spot. 'How will I win against her?'
The ceremony was pretty simple. She had to fight against a royal knight to display her skills and technics. At the end the knight captain decided if she passed the test or not. So it was not about winning the fight or not. But winning was a little plus for the Knight Captain to decide if the soldier was worth the title of Royal Knight. But how could she win against Tian. Right. Her opponent had to be a two-handed sword wielder as she was. But there were others knights who used fight with greatswords. Why Tian? She was destined to take Olga's place when she retired after Princess Elsa's coronation. It meant that Tian was strong with years of training behind her.
Anna took a deep breath. Tian was slowly walking toward the center of the grounds, still in her bodyguard uniform and her sword secured on her back; the same sword she delivered to her, four years ago. She was smiling. It didn't reassure the redhead. 'She is smiling. That's not good. Tian never smiled during Royal Knight Ceremonies. Why is she smiling?'
"Tian. Anna. You may begin."
Both soldiers bowed.
With a trembling hand, Anna unsheathed her sword and put herself in a fighting stance unlike Tian who was immobile, observing her and smiling.
'I don't know what is she doing but she hasn't drawn her sword. Great. I just need to move fast and attack her.' Anna thought.
Even if Anna and Tian both mastered the same technics, they used it differently. Because of her lithe body in comparison to Tian, Anna took advantage of her speed and agility, whereas the royal bodyguard played on her strength and dexterity. The redhead knew she couldn't win if she let Tian drawing her sword. So she didn't hesitate and rushed toward her.
'An opening one her left side! Perfect! I only need...'
Anna stayed focus on her target, in a hurry to end that fight as fast as possible. She was so focused she didn't see Tian lifting her right fist. It was too late for Anna to notice it. She took the full blow in the face. Because of her speed, the impact was violent, forcing Anna to step backward. She wobbled, destabilized. She blinked several times, her vision blurred because of the pain. She still could hear people shouting around her, but no sound of steps. Tian still hadn't move. Anna didn't linger and quickly tried to come back to her senses. Suddenly, she felt a hot liquid under her nose. Blood. She wiped it out with her arm but regretted it immensely when she felt a huge pain. Broken nose? She winced and clenched her teeth. She was used to pain, but it was no less unpleasant. On the bright side, she was finally fully awake.
"Always so eager to attack little fox." Tian smirked. "You could at least let me draw my sword."
Anna froze as she heard a sword being unsheathed. Her eyes widened when she stared at Tian who was now rushing toward her, ready to attack. The redhead had just enough time to raise her sword to defend herself. She held her breath.
The blades met.
Anna stepped back because of the impact. However Tian didn't stop and prepared herself for a second blow. Her movements were slowed. Anna could easily dodge them, get closer and attack.
Tian was strong. If Anna hadn't held her sword with all her force, she would have been slayed. Such a move had its toll. The younger girl tried to steady her grip on the pommel of her sword. But her hands were trembling due to the impact of the earlier attack. When Anna was ready to fight again, Tian was already on her. She blocked the attack in extremist again.
For several minutes Tian continuously attacked Anna, letting her no room to counterattack. The shorter girl was doing her best to block every attack without exhausting herself. She was saving her force for the right time to strike. She eventually found it. An opening in Tian's right side. Anna waited. She held her sword firmly. It was her only chance of winning. In her actual state, exhausted because of lack of sleep and Tian's attacks, she wouldn't be able to keep fighting really soon. She needed to end the fight right now.
Eventually Anna saw the opening again and rushed toward Tian.
In a swift and quick motion, Anna swung her sword. It was a clear and precise move. A perfect one.
'Victory is mine.' The redhead thought, secretly smiling. There was no way Tian could block this attack. It was impossible. But when the younger girl expected the sound of metal against leather, she heard a sharp metallic sound. She froze, eyes widened. Blade didn't meet leather, but another blade. Tian had blocked her attack.
"Impossible." Anna whispered in disbelief.
But before the younger girl could react, Tian quickly moved toward and hit her with her knee in her guts. The royal knight hit hard.
Anna gasped in pain. She soon felt light-headed and was starting to lose consciousness. 'No… Not now.' She winced. She couldn't lose. Or she could? After all, it was not a real ceremony. She was not going to become a royal knight at the end. She could lose. But did she want to? Slowly she put a hand on Tian's knee, which was still connected to her stomach, to move it. But the bodyguard didn't move and even tightened her grip. She brought her face closer to Anna's and whispered in her ear.
"How many times did I tell you Anna? Never rush in the fight unless you are sure your opponent is not dragging you in a trap."
Anna's eyes widened. Tian tricked her. She created an opening in her stance on purpose.
"You're disappointing me Anna. I don't feel your will to fight. You are not putting all your force in this fight. Is it because you consider this ceremony as a joke? Do you think fighting to protect the one you love is a joke as well? Are you ready to put the one you love in danger because of it?"
Anna froze. Tian's words were resonating in her head. 'Is it true? Do I consider the whole thing as a joke? Why did I decide to learn the sword arts?' The answer should be simple. She made that decision because she accepted Alex Renmeyer's proposition to train with the royal knights. But something had changed. It was not the only reason. There was something else, something she forgot because of her accident. Protect. Yes. She wanted to protect someone. Close. She wanted to be close to someone?
"Anna! No no no!"
'What?' Anna blinked. She suddenly thought of Princess Elsa. The princess was looking at her, worried, scared, but most of all injured. Anna could see it clearly. The princess' left arm was bleeding, clearly marked by wolves' bites. The redhead didn't know if the whole picture was a figment of her imagination or a memory. She was at the verge of unconsciousness. But she was sure of one thing.
'Elsa. Blood. Elsa covered in blood. No! I will never let that happen!'
Filled with a new found energy, the young knight reacted fast. Before Tian could move, Anna hit the bottom of her chin with the palm of her hand. Tian winced, teeth clashing hard. Immediately she stepped back, removing her knee from Anna. The latter didn't waste any time and punched the royal bodyguard in the solar plexus. Tian stumbled back, shaken and disoriented. However she quickly recovered and took a glance at her opponent. She grinned when she saw Anna in a fighting stance. Finally Tian could see determination and fire burning in the blacksmith's eyes.
"Finally little fox. You got me scared for a second."
However Tian was cut short when she saw the young warrior rushing toward her. She immediately went in her fighting stance. Amber eyes intensely stared at Anna, reading her movements. The strawberry blonde girl was going for a frontal attack. It was a bold move. But it was not surprising coming from Anna. The redhead was known for her boldness. Tian smiled. Finally the Anna she knew so well was back.
Anna was coming closer. Fast. Tian swung her sword to halt her by forcing her to block the attack. However the bodyguard didn't expect the redhead to duck, take a tumble to be behind her. Tian didn't stop her attack though. On the contrary, she balanced her weight to make a full turn with her sword to attack the redhead.
Anna was ready this time. When Tian raised her sword to attack, she knew she had to keep moving and to not stop under any circumstances. She was exhausted. It was taking all her strength to hold the sword in her trembling hands. It was her last move. She had to succeed. When she saw the blade coming for her, she moved and found herself behind her opponent. Quickly she got up and swung her sword to strike.
The spectators held their breath. Several soldiers gasped at the result, others stayed silent. Olga only smiled.
Teal eyes were staring at amber ones. Anna didn't move, feeling the bodyguard's blade on her right side. If Tian had moved her sword a little further, she would have been severely hit. However, Tian was in the same predicament with Anna's blade barely touching her neck. Both knights didn't move, keeping their gaze on each other.
Only the sound of clapping hands in the public broke their stare.
"I think the fight is over girls. You can lower your weapons." Olga laughed.
They obeyed. Immediately Tian relaxed, feeling the aftermath of the fight already on her body. But it was nothing in comparison to Anna who was panting hard. She was utterly exhausted. Her nose was hurting like hell and she couldn't feel her hands any longer. But the worst was...
'I failed.' Anna thought. Her performance was pitiable and she didn't win. She stared at the ground the whole time the knight captain spoke to close the ceremony.
"…Now it is time for the verdict…"
"… I will let Tian decide of the result."
Pairs of eyes turned toward the bodyguard, who was surprised as well and stared at her superior.
"Let's call it a test, future knight captain." Olga smirked.
Tian stayed silent. She eventually turned toward Anna and smiled. It didn't reassure the latter.
"I announce that Anna officially passed the trial."
The public burst in cheers, happy for their fellow friend's success. However, Anna was only staring at Tian in disbelief.
"What? How? You saw my performance. It was horrible."
"The beginning of the fight was horrible. True. You acted like an inexperienced warrior."
"Then why? I didn't even win."
"Anna. This ceremony is destined to prove you are worthy of the title of knight. Being a knight is not winning a fight or being the strongest. It is using your strength to protect people, to protect the royal family. And I saw it in your eyes little fox. I saw that will, that will to protect. I saw determination and strength."
Tian walked toward Anna, and put her hand on her shoulder. The younger girl still didn't believe her and looked into her eyes to find something to prove her point. She was expecting cold and emotionless eyes like every time Tian had assisted to a ceremony. Tian was a very private person and didn't show her emotion so easily, believing it was a sign of weakness. But no. Anna saw something else. She saw something that Tian only showed to people she trusted the most. Honesty and compassion. The redhead felt a warm feeling in her chest. Tian trusted her. Why? She still didn't know the reason. When she had started her training, Anna remembered the princess' bodyguard as a cold and ruthless knight. But as times passed, coldness disappeared to be replaced by warmth. Tian became her friends even after the accident. Anna didn't remember, but deep inside her, she knew that Tian should have hated her for what happened that day. But no. Tian didn't. She even felt sorry for her. Anna didn't understand. She didn't understand why Tian and Sophia, even the princess was so friendly with her. She was only the blacksmith's daughter. A commoner. There was something, a missing piece that Anna couldn't get the hold of it. There was something that could explain it all. Something unfortunately Anna forgot.
"You may not become a royal knight after this ceremony Anna. But you have what it takes to be one as long you remember that feeling here."
Tian put her right hand on Anna's chest, just above her heart.
"You are a knight Anna. You don't need a title to prove that, because it is not a title that will save you in combat, it is your strength, your skill and your will to protect. Show it with pride."
Anna stayed silent and listened intently. A smile appeared on her face. She was happy. She never thought Tian's words would have such effect on her, but they did. She straightened up, her exhaustion miraculously fading.
Suddenly, both warrior felt a presence beside them. They turned and saw Knight Captain Olga and Jake, the latter holding Anna's swords in his hands. Tian nodded to her superior and stepped aside. Anna, conscious of what was happening, faced the captain and took the greatsword in her hands and bowed. Olga bowed as well and talked.
"Anna Thorstein. You have passed the ceremony. Those swords have been forged for you, symbols of your success. They are your strength, your pride. They are part of you. Use them with care and wisdom to protect the ones you love."
"I will." Anna solemnly answered. She strapped the greatsword on her back next to her father's sword. Suddenly it dawned on her that she wouldn't use his sword anymore. She froze.
"Don't worry Anna." Olga said, perceiving Anna's inner struggle. "Vlad won't feel bad if you don't use his sword anymore. We asked his permission about this ceremony. He agreed to it."
"He did?" Anna stared in shock.
"Yes he agreed as long as you are not a royal knight at the end."
Anna only smiled, glad that her father approved of her choice even if not completely.
Shortly after the end of the ceremony, people resumed their activities. The recruits put back the equipment in the center of the battleground, and the soldiers continued their training. Their break was over, but not for everyone.
"I knew you could do it, Anna!" Jake exclaimed and gave the redhead a tap on the back.
"Thanks Jake." Anna answered her cheeks red. Shortly after Olga ended the ceremony, Jake and other royal knights rushed toward her to praise and congratulate her.
"No really. You fought against Tian! Our future knight captain!"
"Yes but I didn't win. It was a draw."
"You fought well little fox. If it was a real match, I would have lost my head." Tian grinned. A new shade of red appeared on Anna's cheek. She didn't expect Tian to praise her for her performance as well.
"I… I… Thanks." The strawberry blonde girl eventually said.
Tian laughed. "Okay I need to go back to my post. See you all later guys."
"See you later!" Anna and the other royal knights shouted.
Tian left. Anna was going to leave as well, when suddenly she heard two recruits talking nearby.
"Pff Go back to her post? I'm sure she means pleasuring her whore of lover and the princess." One said.
"Well that explains why she is the next one to become knight captain. Jumping on the knight captain's niece and the princess, you only need to be good in bed and all the doors are opened to you." Another one laughed.
'What?!' Anna's eyes widened.
"You know they are looking for another bodyguard to help Sophia Renmeyer and protect the princess. Do you realize? Staying close to two sexy women all the time? I'm sure they have a nice pair of ass. Gods! I'm sure I'll be the next royal bodyguard, I can't wait to f…"
That time, Anna saw red. She didn't need to be a genius to figure out his next words. She was mad. In no time, her hand was on her greatsword, ready to unsheathe it. But a hand stopped her. She turned to see Jake. His smile had disappeared too and he was glaring at the two recruits.
"Don't." He warned her.
"What?! Jake!" Anna shouted.
All of sudden, she heard cries of pain and someone falling. She turned and saw one of the recruits on the ground, a hand on his bleeding nose. In front of him was a royal knight. Felix Tarild. Anna smiled. A friend.
"What the hell?" The recruit screamed. "Do you know who I am, peasant?"
"A brat who needs to know his place." Felix only said.
"I'm the Baron of Sture's son!"
"And my father is the Count of Talrid. If I remember well he knows your father well. I can't wait for him to know that his son was insulting the soon-to-be Queen of Arendelle and her bodyguards in public. Everyone knows he is not well seen by our majesty, her advisors and ministers. You attitude is the icing on the cake to remove his title." Felix spat.
The young man didn't answer, but he was no less furious and scared at the same time.
"Now recruits! For your insolence, I want you and your friend to run around the barracks! Now!"
Groaning, the noble got up. "How many laps?"
"Until you throw up your guts. Now run and don't your dare to stop, I'm behind you."
The recruits whined in protest but did as they were told and ran. Felix ran behind them, shouting at them to run faster. The other royal knights next to Anna laughed and followed their comrade. The other recruits and soldiers were observing the scene and were also laughing as well. Anna sighed in relief, happy to see those idiots receiving the punishment they deserved. Jake followed the group too, but not without saying goodbye to Anna.
"Jake, wait!" She stopped him.
"Thank you… For stopping me."
He smiled. "No problem Anna. Now time to see those brats throwing up their guts!" He exclaimed.
Anna giggled. But her smile faltered shortly after. After all those years by their side, she had forgotten that her friends were from a different world. They belonged to the nobility: duke, count, baron… Being a knight was not an end, it was a start for them. It was the title they needed to succeed their parents. If she had drawn her sword to give the recruit a lesson, the consequences would have been disastrous, as she was only a commoner and them nobles. She owned Jake and Felix a great deal.
"I'm sorry for the scene you just saw Anna."
"If Jake hasn't stopped me, I would have killed them."
"As Knight Captain of Arendelle, I would have been forced to arrest you for killing nobles…"
"But as Sophia's aunt and Princess Elsa's first bodyguard, I would have insisted that I give the final blow."
Anna genuinely laughed, still amazed by Olga's honesty.
"Still, I am sorry Anna. With the war, we needed to recruit new people and unfortunately nobles took advantage of it to throw their first born in our arms. If it was me I would have rejected half of them. But it is not so simple." The captain sighed.
"The ministers insisted that we take everyone in our rank to ensure the 'protection of Arendelle'" Olga groaned.
"The nobles bribed them, didn't they?"
The captain nodded silently.
"Why Princess Elsa did nothing about it?" Anna wondered.
"The princess was not old enough to rule at that time. Until she reaches her majority in two days, the ministers are the official rulers of Arendelle. So for the moment, we need to endure those little spoiled brats. When Princess Elsa is queen, I will talk about this problem with her. Fortunately we never promised all soldiers will become a Royal knight! We just agreed on recruiting them." The older woman smirked.
"So who will you choose to be the princess' bodyguard with Sophia?" The redhead inquired, curious.
"It's a secret. But obviously, the person won't be one of those spoiled nobles you just saw."
Anna nodded. Her thoughts came back to the earlier events. She was trying to understand.
"How does Tian endure all of this?"
"What do you mean?" Olga inquired.
"People talk. I hear them. They don't approve of her role as future knight captain. They don't even approve the fact she is a royal knight, because she is not from Arendelle.
"They are just idiots. They don't know what Elsa, Sophia and Tian went through in the past."
Olga stared at her surprised, before it dawned on her. "Right. You forgot because of your accident. Well… It is not my place to tell you. You need to talk with Tian or Sophia for that."
"Don't think about it for the moment. Go home and have some rest. You need it." Olga suggested, trying to change the topic.
Anna nodded and left, even if the Knight Captain had awoken her curiosity about the princess and her bodyguards.
Anna didn't go home when she left the barracks. She felt relentless, Olga's words lingering in her head. So she decided to go to her favorite spot outside of the city to rest. However, she didn't expect hearing voices when she approached the place.
"Sophia! Stop! Touch me gently please!" Tian whined.
"Come on Tian! Don't tell me that little punch hurt you so bad." Sophia laughed.
"You didn't receive Anna's punch! That's why you say that."
"I think it is a fair punishment Tian for what you have done to her. Don't you think Sophia?"
Anna gaped as she recognized that sultry voice. Princess Elsa was seating in the middle of the clearing, admiring the view. She was wearing the same outfit she wore three years ago, with this time a long blue scarf around her neck. Her hair was tied the same loose braid on her left shoulder. She felt at peace. She was laughing with Sophia, who was tending Tian's injury near a tree not so far away from her. They were all smiling, enjoying the late afternoon.
Anna felt a pang of jealousy in her chest. Even if she had met the princess, spoke with her before and knew Tian and Sophia, they never smiled like that with her. The three of them were nice with her. They welcomed her in their group with wide arms. But Anna knew something was missing. She could see the sadness in their eyes when they looked at her. Anna felt accepted but at the same time not. It hurt. Anna was jealous of their connection. How she wanted to ask Tian or Sophia about their story with the Princess. She wanted to know. To understand. But no. It was not her place. She was an outsider; she had no right to ask them personal questions that concerned only them.
'Better I leave them alone.' Anna thought.
"Anna?" Icy blue eyes lightened up.
Anno froze. Too late, the princess saw her.
"Princess! Hi!" Anna stuttered.
"Elsa. Please. Call me Elsa." A smile.
"Yes, P… Elsa. I… I should leave you alone with Tian and Sophia. I didn't want to disturb you…"
"Stay please! I'm sorry. I wanted to take a breath of fresh air and come here. I should have asked you first if I could come. It is your special spot after all." Elsa scratched her neck.
"No. I told you it was yours too. You can come any time you want." Anna quickly answered.
"Then come here." The princess smiled and patted the spot next to her. Anna felt warmth in her cheek. She hesitated a moment but eventually moved and sat next to the older woman.
"I would like to say congratulations for this afternoon, Anna." Elsa smiled.
"You were there?" Anna asked. A new shade of red appeared on her face.
"Yes, I was at the windows just above the barracks. You fought well." Elsa smiled. She wouldn't have missed that for anything in the world. When Tian left, Elsa didn't hesitate and left her bedroom to rush toward the window that showed the barracks. She smiled when she saw Anna in the middle of the training grounds. She gasped when she got hit by Tian (she swore to punish Tian later). She screamed when Tian gave her verdict. Sophia was by her side the whole time smiling. She was happy to see the princess full of joy once again.
"Ah… Thanks Elsa." Anna stammered. 'She is praising me. The princess is praising me. Calm yourself Anna and think of something else.'. The redhead turned around. "I'm sorry for your injury Tian."
"Don't worry about Tian." Elsa smirked. "She got what she deserved for hurting you."
"What? You mean my nose? Don't worry it's nothing, I don't even feel pain anymore." Anna smiled and touched her nose to prove it. But instead of feeling nothing, she felt a sharp pain and was not able to shout in pain. She winced. "Well maybe I was wrong about the pain part."
"Anna." Elsa said concerned. She glared at Tian, who looked away. The princess sighed. After all these years, she should be used to see Anna injured. Being a knight or warrior was a dangerous job. But after that accident four years ago, it was not so simple anymore. Seeing her ex-lover in pain, Elsa removed her gloves. She then genuinely put her fingers on Anna's nose to mass it gingerly. She discretely used her ice power to smooth the pain.
At first, Anna felt the heat rising in her cheeks. Elsa's face was close. Really close. Then when she felt fingers touching her bruised nose, Anna froze. She stared at Elsa, eyes wide opened. However she gladly accepted the cool sensation that come with the touches.
"Cold." Anna whispered.
"My little secret to ease your pain." Elsa only answered.
Both women stayed like this for a moment. Tian and Sophia was behind them, observing them in silence. They didn't expect Elsa to use her power. But time passed, they started to relax. Elsa had everything under control.
Eventually Elsa removed her hands and put her gloves back.
"Thank you, Elsa." Anna said.
"You're welcome, Anna."
"Can I ask you a question?"
The older woman nodded.
"Why are you here?"
"Everything was hectic in the castle." Elsa answered. "I wanted to have a moment of peace and decided to come here."
"Oh yes for the coronation."
"In two days yes."
"Are you excited?"
"Honestly. No I'm not." Elsa looked away.
"Because of new responsibilities, new duties and such?"
'Because it means I will be forced to give you up to let you live your own life… without me.' "Yes."The princess lied.
"I told you, we are here to help you. You'll be a wonderful Queen. I'm sure of it." Anna smiled, trying to cheer Elsa up.
Both women went silent again, enjoying the calm and the view. It was a wonderful days. Winter was finally over. Spring was here to give some joyful colors to the fjords. Anna smiled, amazed by the view like always. She was starting to forget everything, the ceremony, the nobles, Tian and Sophia. Being next to Elsa was all that mattered right now. She didn't know why, but her presence relaxed her. Anna was so relaxed that she was progressively falling asleep. She was still exhausted because of her lack of sleep and fight with Tian.
Elsa didn't expect to feel a weight on her left shoulder, and was more than surprise to see it was Anna's head. When she realized that the redhead had fallen asleep, she smiled, endeared by the view. Carefully she laid the young knight on the grass and looked at her. Anna had changed, she noticed. Gone was the childish features, Anna was now a strong and gorgeous woman. However, Elsa was still able to see clearly the freckles on Anna's cheeks, on her neck and down on her bre…
Okay maybe she should stop right now.
Elsa looked away, blushing. No. It was not the time to think of things like that. 'Ho god, Elsa control yourself.' Suddenly she heard a light snore. Elsa automatically looked back at Anna. She chuckled. The redhead was drooling. Yes some things didn't change. For a moment, she stayed still, looking at the young knight while her hand was lightly brushing her hair. She was memorizing all the details of her face one last time. How Elsa wanted to kiss her ex-lover one last time too, to feel her lips on her own. But no she couldn't. The white strand in Anna's hair was here to remind her of that. Anna was not hers anymore.
"I love you so much Anna." The blonde whispered. "Each day I thought of you. But time has come for me to let you go, to let you live your own life. In two days, I will be queen. In two days I will have to fulfill my responsibilities as a queen…my love."
It took all Elsa's will to not cry, not wake Anna up to tell her everything, to tell her the truth. No she couldn't. Eventually Elsa got up.
"I think it is time to go back to the castle." Elsa suggested. "Tian, stay here to look after Anna. Sophia is coming with me."
Both bodyguards nodded.
"Am I waiting for her to wake up?" Tian asked for confirmation.
"Yes, be sure she doesn't catch a cold."
"And if she wake up only tomorrow?"
"Then I'll see you tomorrow. Let's call it the punishment you deserve for hurting her." Elsa grinned.
Tian sighed, a smile on her face. "Alright then."
When Elsa and Sophia were gone, Tian sat next to Anna, silent. The redhead was still sleeping deeply.
"You don't know how much Elsa needs you Anna." Tian whispered.
"She needs you as you need her. Be patient. Soon you'll be with her, I swear."