Red Snow

A Frozen Fanfiction

Hans got to his feet slowly, carefully. The shards of his sword had rained down around him, but the hilt, at least, was still intact, and the broken edge was sharp. He took that with him, looking at the scene of what was likely heart-wrenching grief before him.

The queen was draped over her sister, who was frozen solid into a statue of ice, her hand still upraised to block the killing blow. Far off across the snow, the man with the reindeer had stopped in his tracks. The queen was sobbing, begging, pleading. Hans strode to her with purpose. If she could hear his footfalls, she paid them no attention.

The sword was no longer long enough to pierce through to her heart, so he slit her pale throat from behind. He grabbed her hair and yanked her head back, then drew the jagged edge of his blade from her ear to her collarbone. Blood, dazzlingly red, spurted across the snow and the ice sculpture that had, moments earlier, been Anna. He heard the reindeer man gasp and start running. He dropped the queen's body to the ground. His gloves were bloodied—droplets of it had even gotten on his cloak. He took his gloves off before the liquid soaked through and froze his hands.

He looked at the queen, lying on the ground in a puddle of her own steaming blood, a look of surprise frozen onto her face. He allowed himself a smirk. Endless winter? Maybe. But it was his endless winter, now.

The reindeer man leapt at him from behind, but he was clearly blinded by rage. Hans stabbed him in the belly on his way by. It was almost gallingly unfair—the man wasn't even armed. While he was busy with his wounds, the reindeer charged dumbly at Hans, who put his blade through its eye with expert precision. It dropped like a stone. The man cried out in wordless rage. Hans put him out of his misery.

Well now. All his clothes were bloodied. He had best get back to the castle and change—not only did it look terrifically gruesome, once the blood had cooled it would start to chill Prince—no, King Hans—to the bone. As he turned to walk away, he paused a moment to look at Anna.

She was still beautiful. Even he could not deny that—she was certainly beautiful. It was a pity her sister had killed her—Hans might even have learned to enjoy ruling a kingdom by her side. Certainly he would have been willing to—even he was not a proponent of unnecessary violence, and killing Anna was not necessary to get what he wanted. He'd had to kill the reindeer man and his pet—they would have murdered him. He'd seen it like fire in their dull, animal eyes.

But there was Anna, frozen solid, pale and blue and vaguely translucent, the warm blood that had fallen on her not melting even a thin layer of her icy skin. Hans walked over to her and gently cupped her face in his hand. It was smooth, frigid. He smiled to himself.

"Poor, poor Anna." he said. "Still, maybe you can be useful, even now."

Bracing himself, he stuck the sword into his own shoulder, carefully missing anything vital. Oh, it hurt, but they'd never believe him if he said he'd gotten out without a scratch. He soaked the wound in snow. No one would look too carefully. God, did it hurt. The things he'd do for a kingdom.

He took Anna's upraised hand and began the arduous task of dragging her back to the shore, his other hand pressed to his furiously bleeding wound. He hadn't overdone it, he knew, but it looked mortal, which was the important part. Fortunately, Anna's icy feet slid along the frozen sea without resistance, so she was easy to transport.

As he staggered homeward, he slowly acclimatized his tongue to the flavor of the phrase King Hans. He rather liked the taste.

He had them put her in the dungeon, the cell with the broken wall. It was cold enough there that she wouldn't melt—assuming she could melt. He'd shattered his sword on her hand (though he told everyone, of course, that it was Elsa's sorcery that had broken it), so he doubted she was made of ordinary ice, but it wouldn't do to take chances, not when he was still playing the part of grieving husband. It didn't trouble him overmuch—he liked the role, he liked the attention, and he was unlikely to get tired of it any time soon. He was used to playing roles—he did it all the time. Even his brothers didn't know who he was anymore. The role of youngest brother was easy to play, since he knew well everything that was expected of him. His family would be shocked to see everything he had done in the past weeks—but of course, they had no interest in anything he did, and hadn't for a long time, as was all a calculated facet of the part he played for them. He had accrued many masks over the years, and his face had grown accustomed to wearing each of them in its turn.

He brought her flowers at first, and carefully left them at her feet, for those out on the frozen sea could see into the dungeon and observed what he did there. But they could not hear him speak, and it was only then, when he was alone with the lifeless statue of his almost-wife, that he dared to remove his masks and speak the truth.

"Oh, Anna," he said to her, laying the winter-burned flowers at her feet. "Such a tragedy that it came to this. I was truly looking forward to ruling by your side. Perhaps you could have even produced an heir for us. As it is, I will have to let this play out for many years before I can even consider taking another wife. Not that it will be difficult," he admitted, touching her stone-hard cheek, "since they are all already in love with poor grieving King Hans of Arendelle. But it will take calculated time and effort, time and effort that, unfortunately, must be re-spent, since your sister killed you."

He leaned in, his lips nearly brushing her translucent ear, in what to any observer would have seemed a chaste kiss on the cheek.

"And she did kill you, Anna. She and no one else. And then I killed her. Isn't that just poetic? Isn't it romantic? Vengeance always is."

He stood away, and smiled at her, and bowed elegantly. Then he adjusted the crown on his head—it was not so heavy as he had anticipated—and stepped carefully from the room.

Ruling was not easy, but he loved it. He adored it. The winter was eternal and the people were afraid and they needed him. He drank in their helplessness like fine wine and was soon drunk off of it. Trade agreements were made—even a country where nothing grew had things to offer, he found. Ice, for one, and they had no shortage of that. Arendelle turned out to be rich in mineral wealth, and soon mines had sprung up amidst the towering mountains. Coal for the fires was never short after that, which was fortunate, since the trees had all died and were crumbling where they stood, unable to rot since they were frozen solid to their cores. Gold and gems flowed out of Arendelle's ports and fruit, vegetables, and salted meats flowed back in. The country prospered. When his advisors warned him that the mines would one day run dry, Hans joked that he would simply sell snow.

Elsa and Kristoff both were condemned as traitors—his wounds had seen to that. He was proud of that. They were buried in unmarked graves under the frozen earth. It was likely even the worms would not touch them. The reindeer was given to the skinners and the meat-sellers, since the animals were growing more scarce since the grass had stopped growing. They thought him very brave for slaying the wicked sorceress, and the mad farm-boy who had kidnapped the princess, and his huge beast. Hans took their adoration in stride, but he glowed within.

He visited her, less often now, but still with regularity.

"You're the only one who knows, aren't you," he would mutter to her, placing metal crafted flowers at her feet among the dusty ruins of the living things he'd given her before. "You're the only one who knows the truth. And you would hate me, wouldn't you? They all love me—they adore me—and you would just as soon see me dead on the snow, wouldn't you." He kissed her cheek, frigid under his chapped lips. "I like to keep you around, just for that. Just because you're the only one who knows, and there is nothing you can do about it."

Years passed. The snow turned black with coal dust. The air was thick with smoke, but the people's pockets were heavy and trade was still good. Darkened by the coal, some of the snow melted into a black-gray slush, infinitely trampled by the feet of passerby. No one visited Arendelle, but they adored its material riches.

Problems were happening in the mines—deaths, collapses, one explosion. Beautiful King Hans was always understanding, always kind and compassionate. Safety regulations, compensations, care for the widows and orphans were all provided for. Every disaster only made them love him more. Still the advisors warned that he could not keep this up forever, that the kingdom of Arendelle would slowly suffocate as its mines dried up. One called him a fool in front of the whole court.

That one later slipped on the slush and, unfortunately, broke his neck. Hans managed to keep his gloves clean this time.

It had been three years, and he slowly began to accept the beautiful women who wished to walk with him in the castle gardens, now crafted into a palace of ice sculpture half-melted under the grime of coal dust.

And the more he charmed and smiled and kept his kingdom fed and warm, the more and more often he journeyed, now in secret, to the open cell of the dungeon where he kept Anna locked.

He took her upraised hand and put an arm around her waist, spinning her in a slow dance, his eyes bright as though with fever.

"Oh, Anna," he murmured to her. "They adore me, don't they. Just as you adored me. I wonder, Anna, will they find out like you did? I never meant for you to find out. But you see, I knew you loved me. The failure of true love could only have been on my part. It was better to tell you than to let you find out. Still, though, I have often wondered if I might have spoken too soon. You are very beautiful, you know."

As he danced with her, he thought he could see her eyes moving, ever so slightly, searching his face. She was not covered in coal dust, and he assured himself that it was just the changing light of the moon outside passing through her icy head as he spun her.

He did not leave her any flowers. No one was watching anymore. No one expected him to.

He was married on what would have been the first day of spring. There was no question of love—she was certain he loved her and he was certain he didn't, but he had had much practice convincing others they were loved, and this was no great trial for him. The mask was well-worn and fit comfortably, and if she was stupid and complacent, well, so much the better. She was beautiful, and she would raise his children for him, and she would stand out of the way and let him rule the kingdom. The red-gold braids of her hair were incidental, a coincidence. The sunshine in her smile was not important. Her voice reminded him of no one and nothing, of no time before the present moment, and he did not miss things that were, for he had everything he wanted.

And he visited Anna when his wife had fallen asleep, likely already beginning to grow heavy with child.

"She adores me," he told Anna, again spinning her along the icy floor. The coal dust had finally begun to blow into the little room. "Do you remember when you adored me? You were so easy to fool, so easy to manipulate."

He set her down and paced away, and when he looked back at her he could swear that her eyes had followed him across the room.

"And now look at us, Anna. You, trapped here as my trophy, just as it was always meant to be. Elsa dead, just as I planned. I am king, now. You could have been my queen, Anna. If only you could have let your sister die. You could have run off to your reindeer man and maybe I would have let him live. You would be my wife, certainly, but a king cannot always attend to his wife. I would have been kind."

Suddenly he had her by her stone-smooth throat, slamming her against the icy wall. She did not crack, but he could feel her eyes staring into his. "But you had to ruin everything, didn't you. You should have loved me. You should have loved me best and first." His face broke into a smile. "Oh, we would have been wonderful together, Anna. It's such a shame you had to get yourself killed." His hand tightened on her throat, the frozen flesh biting his skin with cold. "Stop looking at me," he hissed. "You were always looking at me. Trying to peer through the cracks. And then you fell in love with that reindeer man, Anna. You betrayed me. You betrayed our love. You were engaged, Anna, and you fell in love with another man."

He smiled again, though he could still feel her gaze boring into him, thick and hot with disapproval.

"But you're mine now," he whispered to her, his hand caressing her neck, her collarbone, her chest, settling around her waist. He pulled himself to her and kissed her frigid lips and imagined he could taste her, though he had no way of knowing what she would taste like. He pulled away and smiled at her.

"And you always will be mine," he told her, and kissed her again.

The winter dragged on and on. His first son had turned five and his daughter was two when the mines finally dried up.

The citizens of the world made it clear that they had no desire to buy his ash-dusted snow.

His people left in droves. When the gold had dried up, the food had stopped coming in, and the nights were bitterly cold without coal for the fires. He did not try to keep them. He no longer cared much for them. They were faceless creatures, needy and boorish, and so unutterably boring. His advisors told him, one by one, that he should evacuate the kingdom and leave it to freeze for the rest of time. He told them, one by one, that he was no longer in need of their services, and drowned them, one by one, in the frigid waters beyond the frozen fjord.

When his wife tried to escape in the night with his children, he locked them in their rooms. He made sure they had plenty to eat, and even allowed them to burn the furniture for warmth, but they were no longer allowed to leave the castle. He closed the gates to the pleas of the populace. Half of Arendelle had burned itself down for warmth before the last hold outs took a ship to warmer shores.

Hans, like a good king, remained at the head of his kingdom, governing nothing, ruling no one. His son clambered out through his bedroom window one night and so Hans cut his feet off. His wife hung herself from the rafters in the great hall. His baby daughter froze to death in her locked room after managing to open the window but being unable to climb out.

He visited Anna every night. They would dance, and talk, and sing, and laugh, and her eyes would follow him around the room. He would kiss her good night and smile, and eventually he stopped going back upstairs, and his visits became a permanent residency.

It was some years later, when the pirates of the north came to seek the dregs of the riches of abandoned Arendelle, that they found his emaciated body lying frostbitten and hollow-eyed in the arms of the icy statue of the woman, her eyes hollowed out into gaping black holes by careful and prolonged application of probing warm fingers.