A/N: Sorry for my absence, guys. My classes have been crazed (yes, this happens for teachers as well). This one's based off a quick little Tumblr prompt I got for Kristoff and Anna getting a pet. It went in a slightly different direction than perhaps intended, as I wanted to get some extra Elsa practice in, but hopefully it met with the prompter's approval regardless.
It is, Elsa thinks, as the candle in her study grows lower and a small bundle of fur drools happily on her foot, the first time she's almost regretted granting Kristoff permission to marry her sister.
Not that it's Kristoff's fault, exactly. No, she could lay this particular… problem squarely at Anna's dainty, goodhearted little feet.
It had all started two days earlier, as an early summer storm rose up and lashed around the castle, endless sheets of galeswept wind washing along the fieldstones.
Elsa had been quite contentedly lounging in her study, enjoying a rare afternoon with no royal audiences or meetings, just enjoying the staccato tap of rain against the windows, a steaming cup of tea at her elbow and a novel in hand, when Kristoff appeared in the doorway, one hand over his face.
"Kristoff?" she'd asked curiously, eyeing her brother-in-law. "What's wrong?"
Kristoff was silent, merely moving aside to reveal an extremely disheveled Anna, her sister's fire-red braids drenched through and twined with muddy twigs and leaves, skirts plastered to her skin… and a very wet and bedraggled shaggy-haired puppy held tight in the circle of her arms.
"…hi," Anna offered, smiling hopefully at her sister from the doorway.
Elsa stared at her, then at the dog, then at Kristoff.
"No," Kristoff said.
"No," Elsa echoed.
Anna frowned, pulling the squirming pup closer to her chest. "But he's alone," she said, hoisting the puppy up and presenting him to Kristoff. "Pleaaase?"
The puppy whined and licked at Kristoff's cheek, and Anna grinned triumphantly at the warm look that crossed her husband's face. "See? He loves you already."
"He needs a bath."
"So do you most of the time and I love you."
"Kristoff." She nuzzled the puppy against his cheek, eyes bright, before glancing over to her sister. "Elsa, help me out here!" She set the puppy down and gave its rump a gentle pat. "There you go, baby, go see Auntie Elsa."
Elsa frowned a little at the mess of a dog as it shook mightily and began to track muddy pawprints along the imported rug in the study. "Where exactly did you find this… thing?" she asked carefully, shrinking back into herself. They'd never had animals in the castle before.
"He was down by the kitchens," Anna said, wiping her hands rather futilely along her skirts. "Begging for scraps, in the rain, all alone, and I couldn't leave him, Elsa, I just couldn't."
"Do you know if he belongs to someone?"
"I asked around in the kitchens — no one knew whose he was." Anna smiled again, walking over to rub the puppy behind one ear. "Poor little guy," she cooed, "don't you worry, you're gonna be all nice and safe and warm from now on."
"Anna," Elsa said, standing and carefully eyeing the pup, "you are not keeping that thing in the castle."
Anna's face fell, her hand stilling along the pup's soggy fur. "Why not?"
Elsa raised a disbelieving eyebrow, gesturing helplessly at it. "You don't even know where it's been! It could have all kinds of diseases, it could be feral, it could bite someone…"
"Oh come on, it's just a baby!"
"I'm sorry, Anna. It's just not possible."
"But I'll take care of him!"
"That's what you said about Kristoff."
"Thanks, Elsa," the ice harvester said drily, reaching down to give the pup a firm pat and sighing. "Look," he said, glancing up at Elsa, "we can at least keep an eye on him for a few days, try to see if he really does belong to anyone on the castle staff or in town." He gave Anna a meaningful look. "Because I'm willing to bet my lovely wife here didn't exactly do a very thorough search."
Anna sniffed, crossing her arms over her chest. "I'll have you know I looked for, like, at least three minutes. Maybe even four."
"So when we find his owner," Kristoff continued, smirking a little at Anna's indignant huff, "we'll turn him over. Easy, done, and just a few days of wet dog running around the castle."
Elsa bit her lip, watching as the dog continued to snuffle along the floor, and opened her mouth, fully prepared to insist that of course not, they couldn't keep that filthy creature in the castle, let alone here in the royal quarters…
"Please, Elsa?" Anna said, voice tremulous and pleading, eyes wide, lip quivering.
Elsa sighed, shoulders slumping. "Three days," she said, pointing at the dog. "I'll expect you to behave yourself."
The puppy snuffled deeply against the rug, stared at Elsa, and lifted its hind leg.
She distantly heard Anna's squeak of distress and Kristoff's scarcely-concealed chuckle as she dropped her face into her hands.
The dog whines, shifting a little and nuzzling against Elsa's ankle.
"All right, all right," she murmurs, reaching a hand down to stroke through its soft, warm fur as she continues skimming through the stack of papers on her desk. "Insistent, aren't you?"
The dog barks, a sweet, high-pitched little thing, and rolls onto its side, its tongue lolling out.
It looks utterly ridiculous.
They'd made it rather successfully through the first two days. Anna had dutifully bathed the pup, and it cut a rather handsome figure once it was clean and fluffy, longhaired and sandy-colored, with a set of large paws it seemed to stumble adorably over.
"He'll be pretty big when he grows up," Kristoff observed as the pup trotted happily beside him and Anna.
Anna had grinned and looped her arm through his. "Just like his daddy," she said meaningfully, leaning her head against his shoulder.
"'Daddy'?" Kristoff raised an eyebrow at her. "This isn't one of those 'practice for having a baby' things, is it?"
"We don't have a baby."
"Yeah, that's my point." He coughed, rolling his shoulders a little awkwardly. "You, uh, want one? Or something?"
Anna laughed. "Someday. I figure we can try to get a handle on this little guy first. Ah, no, baby, don't do that!" She yelped and pulled away from Kristoff just in time to pull the pup away from a decorative plant he'd taken a very obvious liking to. "Ugh, if only he'd been a girl," she sighed. "Boys pee on everything."
"You mean males, I think."
Anna quirked an eyebrow at him. "No, I'm preeeeetty sure I meant boys, Mr. Tinkles-in-the-Woods."
"Hey, I've gotten better. Been at least a few days."
Anna laughed. "You're so gross."
Anna rolled her eyes affectionately and gently steered the pup past the door to Elsa's study. "Hey, Auntie Elsa!" she said, lowering her voice and raising the pup's paw in a greeting. "I love you!"
Elsa glanced up from her desk, raising an eyebrow. "One more day, Anna," she said meaningfully, turning back to her work.
Anna stuck her tongue out at her sister, turning back to Kristoff, eyes suddenly soft. "Soooo," she drawled, hoisting the pup in her arms and touching its paw to Kristoff's cheek. "Practice, huh?"
Kristoff blushed but couldn't quite keep the smile off his lips as he reached out to gently tug at one of her braids. "Maybe," he said, stroking a hand over the pup's head. "Maybe."
They stared at each other for a long moment, something soft, gentle, and unspoken between them.
Which was somewhat dampened by Anna's indignant squeal as the puppy began to relieve himself against her dress.
Inside her study, Elsa sighed and lowered her head to her desk.
One more day.
Elsa jumps as a pair of large paws appear against the arm of her chair, the pup's happily-panting visage appearing above them, eyeing her expectantly.
"No," she says firmly, pointing at it. "Now I know I've been indulgent with you tonight because of the… circumstances, but here I draw the line."
The pup whines, nudging its face against her hand.
Elsa stares at the pup for a long, long moment before sighing, turning in her chair, and allowing it to climb into her lap.
The pup immediately curls into a warm, tight ball and sighs, resting its head on its paws.
It's so very, very warm.
Elsa can't help but draw it just a little closer.
A fearful, high-pitched whine and a scrabbling of nails against her door had broken her out of her reverie as Elsa sat at her desk, still poring over a stack of trade documents as the evening turned and the night grew deeper.
She was no stranger to lonely, desperate little things on the other side of a closed door, and she'd felt a sharp pang within her chest as she made her way across the room, tugging it open to reveal Anna's pup seated against the door, staring up at her expectantly.
Elsa had sighed, crossing her arms over her chest and eyeing the pup. "You," she said firmly, "are supposed to be in Anna's room."
The pup whined, sitting back on its haunches, its little paws folded over, and Elsa quickly suppressed a smile.
Leave it to Anna to find a puppy that was as adorable as it was insufferable.
"Come on then," she instructed it, stepping out of her study and starting down the hall. "Let's take you back to your quarters."
Elsa glanced back as the dog remained by her study, watching her quizzically. "Pup," she said, voice firm and commanding, "come."
Her eyes widened slightly in surprise as the dog obeyed, trotting happily over to her side.
Elsa carefully attempted to keep some measure of distance between herself and the dog as it walked beside her, frowning as it continued to move closer, staring up at her with liquid, adoring eyes.
Elsa sighed as they walked on. "You must understand," she said quietly, glancing around the halls for anyone who might be passing and see their queen in conversation with a scraggly pup, "it's not a personal thing. We've never had dogs in the castle. It's not… it's not proper for young ladies of station, you see."
She frowned a little as she continued on. "Well… all right, certainly young ladies may have dogs. But small things of pedigree, you understand, not…" She stopped, glancing down apologetically at the pup, its shaggy, sandy coat, its wide, expressive eyes. "Not that you're not quite charming," she offered in her best diplomatic tone. "I'm sure you have your positives. Anna does seem quite taken with you after all." She gave the pup a diffident smile. "Not the hardest woman to win over, though."
The pup whined, looking up at her, and Elsa waved her hands apologetically. "Oh, no, but I'm sure she does care for you. Anna cares for everything." She was still unsure as to how Anna had let the pup out of her sight in the first place when she'd spent the past few days so attached to it, but she'd settle that in a moment. "But… you'll do better with someone who can take care of you properly, you understand. Even if we can't find your true owner."
She offered the pup a half-hearted smile as she approached the wide double doors to the room Anna shared with Kristoff, reaching for the knob. "Now, let's get you back where you…"
Elsa froze as a deep, contented sigh rose up from behind the door, followed by a light, breathy moan.
"Kristoff," she heard Anna's voice, the syllables wrapped tight around a pleasured groan, and Elsa dropped her forehead into her palm.
"Okay," she mumbled, cheeks burning as the sound of creaking bedsprings and breathy gasps and sighs met her ears. She turned on her heel, clicking her fingers, and the pup followed obediently. "Now," she began, carefully keeping her eyes on her shoes as she started back towards her study, "I was going to reprimand Anna for letting you get out, but I wouldn't exactly blame you for escaping right now."
The pup barked happily, and Elsa quickly shushed him. "I know. It's a small miracle I don't have a brood of nieces and nephews by now. Not that I'd mind, of course, but…" She stopped, crossing her arms over her chest. "I wouldn't mind at all, I suppose." Carefully looking around the hall, she glanced down at the pup for a long moment before sighing and crouching down, reaching out a tentative hand to pet it.
"You seem friendly enough, at least," Elsa murmured, stroking her hand over the pup's soft fur. She hesitated, and the pup, impatient for attention, pushed his head against her hand. "A little pushy, though. Just like Anna."
She ran her fingers lightly over the pup's floppy ears. "But I suppose that's not all that bad."
The pup rolled onto his side, exposing his belly and tilting his head to look at Elsa expectantly, and she froze.
"I…" she started, before very, very slowly reaching out to press her palm against the pup's furry belly, rubbing slowly. It was immensely soft, and she could feel the warmth of his heartbeat beneath her palm, love and trust and gentleness wrapped in puppy skin and fur.
"Did Anna give you a name, I wonder?" Elsa murmured, still rubbing the pup's belly. "Not that you're staying, of course. But I do think you should at least have a name in the interim. Does anything appeal to you particularly?"
The pup pawed gently at her wrist as she stopped petting, and Elsa smiled in earnest.
"Well, I suppose petting does, but that's not very good as far as names go." She straightened, dusting off the front of her dress, and glanced down at the pup. "But I suppose we do have a little more time to think of one for you."
It was strangely companionable, having the pup walking alongside her as she made her way back to the study, strangely comfortable to have it enter the room with her, to curl up at her feet as she once more settled at her desk.
"Just for tonight, you understand," Elsa said pointedly, lifting her pen and turning back to the stack of documents on her desk.
The pup nuzzled in against her foot, staring up at her with adoring eyes, and Elsa glanced at the mountain of paperwork still piled in waiting.
"Well," she said after a moment, reaching down to give the pup a firm pat, allowing the smile that tugged at her lips to spread across her features fully, "it'll be a long night, at least."
She hears Anna's incredulous voice in the doorway to her study and opens her eyes to see her sister in her sleepclothes, hair ridiculously disheveled, Kristoff standing behind her.
"Hush," Elsa says, voice bearing a hint of her own sleepiness. "You'll wake Aloysius."
Elsa raises a regal eyebrow and gestures with her free hand to the pup held warmly in her lap. "Just a temporary name," she says, running her fingers along the pup's fur. "I got tired of calling him 'you' last night. Thought he deserved a proper name for the time being. I'm sure we'll come up with a better one soon." She smiles faintly as she pup snuffles in its sleep and curls closer to her. "Did you need something?"
Anna's eyes are bright, and she offers her sister a teary smile as she shakes her head. "No," she says, staring happily at Elsa and the pup held tight in her lap. "No, I, uh… I think everything's pretty much perfect."
Elsa's gaze is gentle as she nods at her sister, and her own smile widens at the moment of understanding that passes between them. "Well, then," she says, "goodnight."
"'Night." Anna grins as she moves to the doorway, and she doesn't quite get the door closed before Elsa sees her throw her arms ecstatically around her husband.
"Are you sure you're okay?" she hears Kristoff murmur from the other side of the door.
"I'm better than okay," Anna responds.
"Not sorry you didn't get more than a few days' practice in?" Kristoff asks, and Elsa can hear the smile in his voice.
"Well," Anna says, "about that." Anna's voice lowers. "I figured we could get some real practice in. You know. If you wanted to."
Kristoff coughs, sputters, and Anna laughs. "I…" Kristoff starts, and Elsa can hear the recovering warmth in his tone. "Yes," he says finally. "Yes, I want to."
Their voices fade, and Elsa rolls her eyes fondly as there's a sudden rustling on the other side of the door, followed by somewhat rushed footsteps. In her lap, the pup stretches, rolls over, and leans over to lick her cheek.
"I do hope you'll be good with babies," she murmurs to the pup, smile growing wider.