Rowing is a sport for Dreamers. As long as you put in the work, you can own the dream. When the work stops, the dream disappears. - Unknown
The redhead stood against the fence, overlooking the expansive fjord. The rising sun sent pinks and oranges dancing across the sky, reflecting against crystal waves. The channel went on for miles and miles, the water stretching as far as the eye could see. She absolutely could not wait to explore this new water with the college team; to ride on it, to listen to the lap of each splash against the sides of her boat. As teal eyes fluttered shut, she imagined the soothing tune of oars rotating in their locks, as blades dug into the water, propelling the boat with unseen force. The fjord's air was crisp, misty spray reaching her nose as her sparkling eyes opened once more.
She felt herself smile as a light breeze tickled her bangs. Even at sunrise, this day was marvelous. Today she was finally was starting at university. And she could not have asked for better, late August weather.
"Anna!" She turned her head at the call of her name. "How did I know I'd find you looking at the water?"
She smiled seeing the familiar approaching figure. As the beaming blonde appeared at her side, leaning one hand against the fence post, Anna laughed. "Touched up your roots for the first day, eh Punzie?"
The slightly taller girl shook her long, long, long (currently bleach blonde) ponytail and stuck out her tongue. "Har har, Pippy long-stockings." She lightly poked Anna's characteristic braids. "I just wanted to look my best when strutting around our new home."
Anna felt her eyes roll. "'Strutting around'. Yeah, okay." She picked up her backpack and slung it over her shoulder. "And my braids are awesome. Don't be jealous." She stuck her tongue out at her best friend.
Rapunzel grabbed Anna's bicep and tugged her away from the fjord overlook. Anna let out a reluctant laugh and quickly caught up to the rower's swift pace. Her view was now focused on the sidewalk leading toward some ivy covered, brick buildings.
Although the university's boathouse was about a 2 mile trek away, they were so fortunate to have the residential campus overlooking the water. Having already unpacked her belongings the night before, Anna knew she had a perfect view of the river to wake up to everyday.
"Too bad we weren't able to get the same floor," Rapunzel said as they passed by their building: Western Hall. Some students were coming in and out of the dorms, still moving in and saying good-bye to their parents and families.
Anna nodded in agreement but then pouted. "I'm jealous you don't have to climb up 4 flights of stairs every day." Rapunzel smirked triumphantly, as if it were an honor to live on the first floor. Whatever.
As the two continued to walk across the residential green, they took in the sights of the rising sun against the tall trees speckling the center of the residential quad. Rays of light shimmered down onto lush green grass, enhancing the colors. Colorful red and yellow tulips still lined the pathways here and there. It was definitely a well kept place.
Anna smiled and took a deep breath of the fresh air. Every time Anna took a tour to the University, which had been numerous times starting way back in 9th grade, she fell in love more and more with its beautiful land, beautiful river and rustic cityscape. She was going to attend school here no matter what, she had decided. Academics aside, it was hands down the location that truly won her over.
Wait. About that academic part. A thought struck her. She turned to the tall, green eyed girl.
"Did you get the class schedule email last night?" She was already digging through her draw-string backpack to pull out her printed sheet. "The one our advisors sent?"
The golden blonde laughed, pulling out her phone. "Yup. And I will check it on my 21st century phone because I do not have a relic dating back to the Stone Age." Anna rolled her eyes at the facetious tone. Yes, her phone was indeed a relic by modern day standards. Basically, it just meant it was not a touch screen with internet access. As if she needed a Smartphone. (Not like she could afford one anyways, but that was beside the point.)
"Whatever," she grumbled pulling out her crumpled printout. She leaned over the other girl's shoulder to peek at her phone. "So Monday…"
"I have that bullshit Freshman Year Experience class in the morning."
"Ditto. Do you have the Intro to Professional Writing right after that too?"
Rapunzel nodded. "Looks like we will be suffering through the generic freshmen classes together." Both smiled ruefully as Rapunzel continued. "Ew. They're Monday, Wednesday, and Friday!"
"Okay okay. Let's stop dwelling." Anna moved on to the next day. "Tuesday's and Thursday's I have General Nutrition from 11am-12:30pm and Abnormal Psych til 2.."
"Hold up. How did you get out of Intro Psych?" Rapunzel frowned, noticing her Intro Psych course was Tuesday and Thursday mornings.
Anna smirked. "Advanced Placement credits. I passed out of the intro level. Told you ya should have taken the AP exam!"
Two emerald eyes rolled. "Whatever… Aw man. I have my Intro to Drawing Thursday night 6pm-9:30pm… Yuck!"
Anna gave a crooked smile to her friend. "You knew when applying as a Studio Art major that art courses are long and usually at night." Anna was one of only 3 Seniors in her graduating class who had applied to college as an Undecided major. She was actually happier not having to feel the stress of specific courses just yet, regardless of what her Guidance Counselor had recommended. She gave another thought looking at her paper. "Don't worry, I have a night class too. Thursday 6pm-9pm. Polish 101"
Rapunzel raised an eyebrow at the Language course choice. "Well that was certainly a random pick."
"I would have taken Finnish if they offered it since my grandfather spoke it. But Polish shouldn't be too much different." She shrugged. "You sticking with French for your language mode?"
The blonde cocked a brow. "Um duh. I did not spend 4 years of high school in that language for it to go to waste." She paused. "French 225. Wednesday afternoons." There was a pause. She looked thoughtful, bringing her eyes to Anna's. "When's your meeting with the crew coach?"
With a jolt Anna looked at her watch. Her racing heart slowed upon reading the hour. Arm slumping to her side, she glared at the grinning teen beside her. "Don't scare me like that. You know how hard it is for me to be on time! I still have 5 hours."
With a grin, Rapunzel stuck her phone in her back pocket and grabbed Anna's hand. "In that case, let's go scope out the campus!" Anna was well aware that Rapunzel's definition of 'scoping the campus' was not to see the sight but to see the students. Typically students of the male variety. "I think there are some Junior boys chilling just waiting to meet us." Bingo. Anna did not have to see the rower's face to know she winked.
Well socializing was a good start. Unlike the bubbly blonde, Anna had always struggled making friends in high school. Regardless of her equally bubbly personality, she was just not as socially competent as her blonde best friend. Being a part of the Oslo High School crew team didn't help much either. She mostly only hung out with her teammates. But this was college level. Things were going to be different.
Anna blinked, coming back to the present and realizing the group of boys was growing nearer to her. She bit her lip. This could be good. Plus, she had plenty of time before her meeting for once. This was shaping up to be a great college experience already.
Crap crap crap crap! I'm late!
Somewhere between meeting some really cool upperclassmen, exploring the library and art studios, walking to a few shops in town, and checking out the Dining Hall's "all you can eat" dessert table Anna had just lost track of time.
The large doors to the college Athletics Center squeaked as the redhead pushed them open with great force. They were surprisingly heavy, causing her to let out a grunt when she recoiled slightly. The two students managing the entrance desk tossed her strange looks as she sheepishly stumbled in.
She ran up and straight through the front sensors just beyond the desk, setting off a beeping alarm. She turned around with a confused look and saw the scowls coming from the front desk workers.
"You need to tap your ID when you enter," one said with a roll of his eyes. Anna blushed and walked back through the sensor, setting it off again.
"Oops!" she squeaked, scrunching her shoulders up, digging around in her bag for her newly acquired ID. She yanked it out, sending it flying over the sensors. She rushed to get it, setting the ringing off again. "Sorry! Sorry!"
"Ugh, oh just go," the annoyed student workers said in unison, shooing her off.
She blushed and hurried off down the vaguely familiar hallway. She followed the purple walls, decorated with gold trim. The last time she was here was to meet with the coaches the past spring as a possible recruit. Now she was here again to talk with the burly coach as an official Arendelle University student. Hopefully she could still make a good impression! Not like he had a choice. He was going to have to love all that Anna had to offer.
She huffed slightly as she approached the dark brown door at the farthest end of the hall. The gold plated name was still screwed in at the center of the wood: Coach Oaken.
The door was slightly ajar, and it sounded like there were voices coming from inside. Anna looked down at her watch. 2:44pm. She was almost 15 minutes late for her meeting as it was. She stepped up to the door to try to hear where the conversation was at. She wasn't really one to enjoy waiting. And she had spied some soft couches in the front lobby that she'd much rather wait on.
With a rush of air, the door swung open and Anna didn't even have a chance to dodge a shoulder colliding heavily with her own. Her teal eyes blinked in surprise at the force, knocking her sideways. She stepped awkwardly, righting herself at the last second. She took a brief moment to spin around.
There, Anna caught a glimpse of platinum blonde hair, whipping past her in a heavy braid. Said braid was attached to the angrily retreating form of a woman. Geeze. Someone's letting a storm rage on. Anna thought in annoyance, lifting her hand to rub where her shoulder was hit. She bit back a comment as she heard the booming voice of her coach. She turned back toward the door and craned her neck to stare up to the massive man.
"Yoo hoo! Anna!" His heavy Norwegian accent was ever present, just as she remembered. "Come in and sit, ya?"
The redhead smiled, happy to push that annoying interaction to the back of her mind, and took a seat in the chair beside the man's desk. She opened her drawstring bag and shuffled around for a packet of papers that were due, as well as the number one reason for their meeting. Grabbing the slightly crumpled documents, she handed them to the crew coach.
He grinned. "Great. All the physical documentation and signatures set. You are all set to be a part of the Arendelle University crew team!" He smiled. "How's it feel?"
Anna laughed. "Awesome! I'm just so excited about it all, especially rowing on this river. It goes on for miles!" Her arms flung out wide to emphasize her point, somehow conveying a measure of distance within her palms.
He then handed her a silver whistle. "Last whistle going to my last coxswain."
"Thanks, coach." Anna beamed at the official welcome, taking the trinket in her hand. She inspected the metal. Engraved was the Arendelle crest: a blossoming crocus flower. She quickly hung the purple and gold lanyard over her head and let it dangle at her neck. She almost couldn't wait to use the whistle. It was only for dry-land work outs with the team, not for use in the boat of course. But still, she felt so official.
"Now I've already discussed with you last spring that you will be part of our varsity team. Remember we meet every morning on the river. Not like Coach Weselton's Novice team who rows in the afternoon." Anna nodded at the discussion they had had the previous spring. The novice team was for all the new rowers and coxswains who did not have any prior experience with the sport. Anna had spent her entire high school career in a boat, so she was well experienced and prepared to go right to the varsity. However, this concept of anything remotely involving 'mornings' did not exactly make her jump for joy.
The large man stroked his spongy beard. "Now Anna. I still want you to come to the mandatory morning practice for all freshmen after Orientation Day. It's a general crew orientation to welcome you all. Introduce the indoor rowing equipment, talk about mechanics of the sport. Sound good, ya?"
With a nod, Anna agreed. "Sounds good coach." She twiddled the whistle between her fingers and she pulled her bag back over her shoulders.
Her coach laughed. "Don't go abusing that whistle's power now." He sent a wink to which Anna gave a salute.
"Cross my heart, sir!"
"Ow Anna, quit it!" yelled Rapunzel and Kristoff as they covered their ears from the piercing whistle shriek.
The trio was sitting in Anna's dorm room that evening. They were all catching up on life, Kristoff explaining the dynamics of the college team compared to Oslo High's own team, and the two girls explaining all the drama that went down their Senior year without him. But In the middle of the conversation, Anna couldn't contain her eagerness to try out the shiny new toy any longer.
"Sorry, not sorry." She stuck out her tongue and fell back into the wall when Kristoff tried to swipe the annoying object away. Anna stuffed the whistle down her bra. Kristoff rolled his brown eyes.
"Please, I won't hesitate to go after it."
Rapunzel and Anna just laughed. Green eyes bounced between her friends. "I'm so glad we are all back together again. Dream team!"
Kristoff was a Sophomore at the university this year. But back in high school, the three were inseparable. Anna and Rupunzel met in 2nd grade, and Kristoff joined their friendship in Jr. High School during an awkward 7th vs. 8th grade game of Ultimate Frisbee. From that day on, Anna had vowed never to play again, or else risk getting tackled by massive, clumsy blonde boys when diving for Frisbees. After a walk to the nurse and a concussion check, she and Kristoff hit it off. And come high school, they were all rowing on the Oslo High varsity team.
Kristoff leaving Oslo, traveling the 6 hour drive to Arendelle, had been hard on Anna. Of course she had Rapunzel, but her bond with Kristoff was somewhat different. He wasn't as popular as the blonde girl, and he was ten times geekier. He almost understood Anna at a different level, though she'd never admit it to Rapunzel. But they made it work, Skype dates frequently, lots of texting, though even those died down when midterms and finals came around. But that didn't matter anymore. Now they were back. All on one team again and ready to rock the boat, well, so to speak.
There was a buzz from the bed near Rapunzel's bent knee. Rapunzel tapped her phone and rolled her eyes, flipping the phone over to ignore whatever message she received. She let out an exasperated groan and scowled. Anna gave her a sympathetic look while Kristoff stared confused, awaiting a clarification. "It's Patrick," Rapunzel finally groaned.
He gave a scowl, similar to Rapunzel's own. "What's up with Pat-dick?" Anna snickered while the blonde girl huffed at him. "Please say you've finally ended that shit."
Rapunzel and Patrick had dated for two years, and were on the rocks for at least 22 out of those 24 months. Needless to say, Anna and Kristoff hated the guy. For countless reasons. Hell. He was the reason Rapunzel grew out her hair and started bleaching it blonde. Something along the lines of 'not being into brunettes'. Sure they'd tell her quite often how they felt about the relationship. Yet they could only make comments and pray it didn't fall on deaf ears. It was up to Rapunzel to handle her own life.
The blonde girl nodded. "Yeah, I ended it about a week ago." Kristoff grinned and let out a praise of Hallelujah.
"But now the tool won't stop bothering her about starting over and all that jazz," Anna filled in as well. The blonde man crossed his arms and raised a brow.
"Total tool. Glad you finally saw it, though." Kristoff never hesitated to put in his two cents about his lady-friends' boyfriends. He couldn't help it though. He was like a protective older brother to both of them. And he had a natural, strikingly accurate judge of character, which was weird since he spent such little time around people. He was a self-proclaimed 'love expert', which was debatable. However, Anna also experienced his judgment firsthand. He was ecstatic when she told him she'd ended it with her high school sweetheart. He had been right. Derek was an ass.
"Well I'm off to bigger and better things." Anna looked at the determined blonde girl and felt her cheeks warm. She was so happy to see Rapunzel finally displaying that old self-confidence again. Patrick had brought her down, but no more of that. Dream team was back, and in fact, they were all set for bigger and better things.
"So movie choices, ladies?" Kristoff asked as a change of topic, already pulling up Netflix on his laptop. They all eagerly skimmed the comedy genre and, after a round of votes and some bickering, they decided on their first official college movie together.
Anna pulled a pillow back underneath her head against her headboard as Kristoff set up his adapter, hooking the laptop up to Anna's dinky sized TV. She let her eyes dance between the two talking blondes who she was lucky enough to call her best friends. The two rowers dropped into place on the bed as the opening credits of 'She's the Man' came on. It was painfully obvious who was outvoted on the movie choice, especially as Kristoff began his typical movie commentary and Rapunzel berated his comments. Anna felt her lips pull into a grin.
Sure. She may not have mastered being on time quite yet, but so far everything was shaping up to be an exciting year.
As her friends bickered some more, Anna turned her gaze out her window.
The setting sun sent a brilliant orange glow across the fjord, the giant mountains leaving parts of the river covered in deep, purple shadows. But the water sparkled in magnificent wonder, sunlight reflecting like embers in the dark wakes. Anna's eyes squinted, seeing a shadow moving atop the waves. A singular rower, a woman, and her Single glided effortlessly through the glass-like water in the distance. The light hit her perfectly, creating a halo of gold around her head as she performed a graceful dance between the dusky sky and glistening water. It made a quote flitter through Anna's mind.
"The Single sculler, alone on the river, or spotlighted in her lane during a race, is the most romantic, the most quixotic figure in all rowing."
Anna's eyes grew heavy as she watched the serene scene. She could not fight the whimsical smile that grew across her lips.
- End Chapter 1-
A.N. Intro chapters are so hard, so thanks for bearing with it!
This is my first Elsanna. I went with a sport that I don't usually see in fanfics.. Next chapter covers some of the mechanics/terms used in rowing too, since some of the lingo may be different than what readers are used to.
It's almost summer, so hopefully updates will speed up come May. Thanks for reading :)