Three Weeks After The Great Thaw…
"You're an idiot! A disgrace! A screw up!" With every word his father's hand flew across his face. "And certainly not a prince." On the word prince, his father's hand hit him so hard it knocked his head back against the cell wall. He cringed in pain, and tears sprung to his eyes. No, he thought. Crying is only going to make things worse. He tried to keep standing, to try to keep his composure, but the pain was over whelming. He slumped onto the hard floor, blood leaking from his busted lip into his mouth. "You are not my son." And with those words, his father slammed the cell door. Hans could hear his heavy footsteps across the cinderblock floor, and he breathed for the first time in an hour. He leaned his head against the wall, and let the tears fall freely now. How could I have been so stupid? He thought. How could I have been so blind? He wiped the tears from his eyes, barely reacting now to the chains and cuffs that bound his wrists to the wall. His white suit coat was stained with blood and dirt, and his mouth tasted like ashes. He looked towards the window near the ceiling, and relished in the faint rays of sunlight. Goodness knows he wouldn't get much of it from now on. Standing, Hans played the events of the last few weeks over in his head:
Hans trotted along the road, taking in the beautiful scenery. Everything had a certain charm to it; something The Southern Isles didn't have. Lost in his surroundings, he never even noticed the girl racing down the road opposite of him until she ran straight into Sitron. Hans looked up, startled. He watched in surprise and shock as the girl tripped backwards, landed in a small boat, and started falling in. He kicked Sitron's side, motioning for him to put down his foot. Just in time. The boat stopped falling. "Hey!" The girl cried from inside the boat. Hans looked down at her for the first time, and was suddenly overcome with her beauty. She was stunning, in a casual, quirky sort of way. He liked that.
"I'm so sorry, are you hurt?" He asked, immediately getting down and helping her up.
"No, no, I'm okay." She replied. Hans could hardly believe such an amazing girl was bothering to talk to him. He helped her to her feet, and watched her watch him.
"Oh, thank goodness." He couldn't take her eyes off of her. "Oh, um, Prince Hans of the Southern Isles."
"Princess Anna of Arendelle." Hans gasped. The princess of Arendelle was speaking to him! And she actually looked like she wanted to!
"Princess?! My lady." As soon as he bowed, things got a bit messy from there. The boat tipped one way, and while trying to steady it, they both fell on top of each other. And then it happened again. Once both were safely on land and not precariously tipping off the edge of the dock, Hans could finally get a good look at her. She was cute, quirky, and had adorable little freckles. She was perfect in every way.
"The bells. The coronation. I-uh- I have to go. Uh, bye." Anna waved quickly to him as she raced off. He waved back, lost in the moment. He didn't realize it, but Sitron had lifted his hoof to wave back. Nor did he realize that he was in fact still standing in the boat. He crashed into the water. The boat landed on top of him, but he pushed it aside just to stare at the spot where she had stood before. "Wow." He thought. "She's amazing."
Hans strutted across the dance floor, enjoying the party and sipping delicately from a champagne flute. Suddenly, there was Anna, about to come crashing into the ground. He grabbed her hand, and just in time. "Glad I caught you." He said casually as he set his drink down on a passing tray. Inside he was screaming with joy. Luck had turned on his side and gifted him with another chance to see her! He led Anna off into a romantic slow dance, and they talked the night away. Everything was perfect.
He watched as Elsa's secret was revealed. He and Anna chased after her, but she was too fast. Hans protectively stood next to Anna. No harm would come to her while he was around.
The longer Anna was gone, the colder it got. Hans was getting impatient and scared. Had something happened to her? "Princess Anna is in trouble. I need volunteers to go search for her." As men volunteered, Hans glanced towards the mountain. "Elsa, mark my words, if you've hurt her, you'll be sorry." He muttered under his breath.
Hans hung over the shattered ice staircase. His feet dangled over the side, but just before he fell some of the guards helped him up. He watched as the two thugs from Weselton charged into the palace, crossbows at the ready. "No!" Hans screamed. He grabbed his sword and followed them in.
Upon entering the chamber where the guards and Elsa were, Hans noticed two things: The thugs were trapped, and the chandelier above the room was extremely large. "Queen Elsa! Don't be the monster they fear you are!" He screamed. He couldn't let people die on his account. He watched as Elsa's magic stopped, and her face turned from anger to fear. Suddenly, the thug to the left of Hans raised his cocked crossbow. It was pointed straight for Elsa. "Not yet." Hans thought. Looking up at the chandelier once more, he slammed into the thug. The arrow pierced the carefully crafted ice rope, and the chandelier came crashing down. Elsa only had a moment to react, and she took off running towards Hans. The chandelier came smashing down, and for a moment everything went black.
Hans carefully picked up an unconscious Elsa in his arms. Carrying her out of the castle, he gently held onto her as they rode back to Arendelle.
Once back, he laid her on the cell bed. He picked up the shackles off the floor and bound them around her powerful hands. He opened the door, about to leave. Suddenly, he turned around, and looking at Elsa with pity covered her with a thin blanket.
Hans opened the cell door carefully. Elsa looked back at him in fear. "Why did you bring me here?" she asked.
"I couldn't just let them kill you." Hans shivered in the cold cell.
"But I'm a danger to Arendelle! Get Anna!"
"…Anna has not returned." Hans was surprised to see the anguish, surprise and fear on Elsa's face. He would have expected nothing but a cold and blank stare. "If you would just stop the winter… bring back summer."
"Don't you see… I can't!" Elsa's face was a mixture of torment and fear. She always looked so scared. "You have to tell them to let me go!" Hans looked out the window at the growing storm, and back at the desperate Elsa.
"I will do what I can."
"Oh Anna… if only there was someone out there who loved you." Hans let the cruel words slide off his tongue. They stung like the sharpest barbs, and he immediately regretted them. But he needed her to hate him; it was the only way she could truly believe that he wasn't her true love. Had he ever loved Anna? Maybe at first, but as time went on the more he realized that his heart was incapable of true love. Maybe it had become that way from his own abuse as a child. Maybe it had become that way gradually. Maybe he had forced it so. Either way, he loved Anna. But he could not bring himself to admit this or accept it in the way she had. He wanted her to be safe, and she couldn't be with him. So as Hans closed the door to his love, he knew that he was not only shutting the door to his heart, but also his soul.
Hans stared into his lap in torment. The two halves of him were now at war. Did he go back and proclaim his love for Anna and save her from certain death? Or did he accept his emptiness and turn a blind eye to the evil doings of his own hand? As he sat in the chair, the more he came to understand what it truly meant to be in love. Would he sacrifice his sanity to save her? Or would he relish in his freedom from the burdens of his home? Finally, he made up his mind. He looked back up at the nobles, the decision like stone in his chest. "With a heavy heart, I charge Queen Elsa of Arendelle with treason and sentence her to death."
Hans watched Elsa fall to the ground, emotionally broken. She lay there, softly crying, completely unaware of Hans' lingering presence. "Maybe you're not a monster…" He whispered, the words drifting like frost across his lips. "After all, they trusted me. And look at what a mistake that was. Maybe they were wrong about you too." He drew his sword, catching his reflection in the glint. He looked… possessed. "Only one way to find out." He raised it above his head, prepared to end her. Suddenly, there was Anna. She stood right in front of him, her arm extended to protect her sister. Hans watched as she froze to solid ice before his eyes, and his sword shattered on contact with her perma-frosted form. He was knocked backwards, and the last thing he saw before he blacked out was the light leaving her eyes.
The flashbacks finally seceded. Hans lifted his head up gently, his neck cracking from the prolonged position. As the last of the sunlight faded from his cell, he was vaguely aware of a torch coming down the hallway. He looked up, right into the eyes of his brother, Edward. Edward was the sixth brother, and never once had been kind to Hans. However, as he stared at Hans, so beaten down and broken, his hard expression softened and he cracked a small smile. "Never thought I'd see you in here." Edward's gruff voice echoed throughout the jail.
"Yeah, neither did I." Hans spoke softly. As much as he appreciated his brothers' support, nothing he could say or do would change the inevitable. "Did they say when my trial is?"
"Tomorrow, around midday."
"Ah…" Hans looked at the shackles binding him to the wall. He looked at the blood and dirt that coated his clothes. He looked his reflection in the small puddle of water forming on the floor near the window. He looked at all these things, and only now, after it was far too late, did he see what he had become. "Edward?"
"Why does Father let me live?" Hans's voice sounded so small. Edward was taken aback by the question. Their father may be gruff and cold and stubborn at times, but he did love his sons.
"Because he loves you Hans. Why would you ask such a question?" Hans laughed bitterly.
"Father loves me? Father… LOVES me?! Why you must be joking!" His words were full of contempt and disbelief.
"Hans… whatever you think about Father…" Hans stood up so fast Edward nearly did a double take.
"Whatever I think?! No Edward, I KNOW. I KNOW that Father is one who beat me like this. I KNOW Father is the one who purposely ignored me as a child for the sake of having one less son to worry about. I KNOW that after Mother died he was the one who told me, and I quote, 'She didn't love you anyway Hans, so suck it up. Grow up and be a man.'" Hans sat back down, his posture slumped in defeat. "So don't even try to tell me what I think about Father. Because I know who he really is." Edward was shocked. Never before had he heard anyone say such things about his father; unfortunately, he assumed they were probably true. An awkward silence suddenly descended on the two, hanging in the air like a heavy cloth.
"Hans…" Edward cleared his throat, unsure what to say next. "Just, don't say anything stupid tomorrow at the trial. Okay?"
"Ha, okay. Whatever. I'm sure you and the rest of the gang would love to see me hanging from those gallows, wouldn't you?" Hans laughed suddenly. "Or maybe, I don't know, resting on the executioner's blade plank?" His laughter continued, into a strange and terrifying maniacal banter. "Or, or the best one, frozen solid like a statue?" His laughter soon turned to a strange crying. "That would just be ironic, wouldn't it? And then, after I'm frozen, you'd all get a chance to slice my head off! Fair justice, wouldn't you agree?" Hans was now sobbing uncontrollably into his arms. Edward was suddenly very scared. His brother had gone crazy.
"Hans! You-you've changed. You are not in your right mind." He carefully squatted down and reached through the bars, resting a hand on Hans' shoulder. "What happened in Arendelle… it-it's in your head, isn't it?" Hans looked up at Edward, the tears running down his face leaving clean streaks in the blood and grime.
"Yes. Edward please help me. It's like… it's like I'm at war with myself." Hans wiped his eyes, briefly taking a moment to breathe deeply and compose himself. "I can't stop thinking about what I did. I had intended to kill two human beings." He looked at Edward, who could see the torment in his brother's eyes. "I was so focused on greed that it made me insane." He looked down at his reflection again in the puddle underneath the window. "And I think I'm still insane." Edward took his hand from his brother's shoulder and stood up quietly.
"I'm going to help you, don't worry."