Elsa felt the ground rise up beneath her, throwing her into the air. She landed in the sand, granuals flying everywhere. She got to her feet with some difficulty, brushing the tiny particles from her mouth as she faced her opponent. This was the woman whom had cursed Gerold for no other reason than to cause him harm. This was also the creature who'd tried to murder her in her sleep. She could show no mercy. The Troll Princess intended to kill her, and she'd have to act with the same intent.
Elsa struck out her arm in a sharp, sweeping motion. Shards of ice shot from her toward the Princess, who shattered the ice by throwing her hands forward and expelling a shower of rocks. With the danger passed, the Princess smiled at her with a wide toothy grin. Elsa could tell this was going to be a difficult match. What could ice and snow do against earth?
The cliff face suddenly jutted outward, pushing Elsa toward the ocean. She struggled to get away from it, but another facing of rock pushed out in front of her, blocking her path. She tried to go backward but found herself trapped as she tumbled into the waves. The Troll Princess was trying to surround her in the rocks, preventing any exit, forcing her to drown.
But once she was in the water, Elsa found she could use her power to propel herself forward, freezing the water behind her as she pushed away from the Princess' trap. She knew as she surfaced with a gasp of breath that the Princess wasn't pleased.
But that was the answer, Elsa realized. She could use the water to enhance her powers, just as the Troll Princess was using the earth around her. In the ocean, they'd be on an even battled field. Elsa kicked and pushed her hands behind her, using her power to propel away from the shore. She wanted the Princess to follow her.
She did, though not in the way Elsa had hoped. She came riding toward Elsa above the water, carried forward by the earth she summoned beneath her. Elsa turned around to face her opponent. She rose into the air as well, carried by a mountain of ice. The two opposing modes of transport met and crashed together. Elsa's mound cracking but molding around the mound of earth to hold on to it.
Elsa swayed from the force of impact, and she reached out to grab her foe. The Troll Princess tried to pull away from her, but Elsa secured her grasp by forming a cuff of ice around her hands. The Princess responded with a cuff of earth. Elsa nearly cried out from the pain as the earth surrounded her forearms in a crushing grip. But she'd gotten what she'd wanted, and she threw herself from her formation of ice, bringing the Troll Princess with her.
They let go of each other as they hit the water, freeing their adversary from the element that had contained them as they did so. Elsa spun around as she surfaced, reaching again for the Troll Princess. They locked arms as they had before, struggling in the water. Elsa forced ice down the Princess' arms while her opponent returned the same with earth.
But Elsa had the advantage. She could use the water around the Princess to freeze her while her opponent had to conjure earth from nearly nothing. She saw the realization on the Princess' face, and the woman closed her eyes in an effort to focus, trying to draw the earth from the sea floor up to them.
But it would be of little use. Elsa already had a head start, and she knew exactly where to target her focus. Their powers were no longer in a race against time; Elsa already knew she had won. She pushed the ice toward the Princess' chest and shoved it deep. The woman gasped, and Elsa could feel the grip on her arms weakening.
Elsa kept going, forcing her power forward. The Troll Princess struggled, but there was nothing she could do to break Elsa's hold. Eventually, the Princess became completely encased in ice. Elsa let go of her opponent and watched as her horrid figure bobbed along the surface of the waves. The battle was over.
Elsa left her former adversary where she was and swam toward the shore. She knew she'd succeeded in defeating the Troll Princess when the cliff face receded, revealing Gerold who had been trapped within. He fell to his knees, as though dazed.
"Wha… what happened?" he gasped. "You're soaking wet!" he added when she dropped to his side.
"She's gone," Elsa told him as he reached out to her in concern. "The Troll Princess… she won't hurt anyone anymore."
He stared at her, confused, and she pointed out at the sea where the twisted formation of ice that was the Princess bobbed up and down. He turned toward her in amazement. "I thought it was the prince who was supposed to save the princess."
She laughed and kissed him on the forehead. "I'm not a princess."
"Thank goodness," he said. "Because I haven't been in any condition to save anybody."
Elsa laughed again. It was amazing how freeing that laugh felt, like for the first time she was certain that nothing else could hurt them.
Elsa sat in her room in the castle with Gerold beside her. The time had finally come for her to return to Arendelle, and neither of them were particularly looking forward to it. They hardly spoke and simply took in each other's company, their hands clasped together and their forehands periodically touching.
"Do you remember what I said about fate?" Gerold asked, breaking the silence. "And coincidences?"
Elsa nodded. "Yes."
"I just can't help but think," he told her. "That… you were the only one who could have broken the curse."
She stared at him. "What do you mean?"
"Your power," he explained, turning her hands over in his. "It protected you when the Princess tried to kill you in your sleep. It helped you defeat her last night. It enabled you to stay the night with me. Anyone else… I don't think could have survived."
Elsa looked down at her hands. She hadn't thought of it that way. Her power had certainly enabled her to do much a normal person wouldn't have been able to. But… if Gerold was suggesting they were "fated" to be together... "You're forgetting the trolls," she told him. "They gave you the elixir that made you well at the exact time your brother wanted to send an ambassador to see me."
Gerold nodded thoughtfully. "It is said they have the ability to see the future."
Elsa gave him a questioning look. "Are you saying our relationship was previously ordained?"
Gerold shrugged. "Maybe we were fated to be together. Maybe the trolls organized it all in order to break my curse and weaken the Northern tribe." He paused. "All I know, is all the right pieces seem to have come together."
Elsa smiled at him. "Isn't that all that matters in the end?"
"Of course," he said, smiling as well.
He placed a hand on the back of her neck and kissed her. And all Elsa knew was that, whatever the reasons may be that they found one another, she was certainly glad it had happened. She felt no need to question anything else.
Elsa said her goodbyes in the throne room. Einar's emotion surprised her the most, though it probably shouldn't have. She had saved his brother, and for that she knew he would always feel indebted to her, whether she approved or not. She gave hugs to Frans, Henrik, Staffan, and Alvar. Gerold, she saved for last. They hadn't talked about her leaving; the prospect of parting from each other again had seemed too difficult. And even now she found herself frozen to the floor, unable to tell him goodbye.
Gerold seemed to be having the same difficultly, and at last he turned to his brother and declared, "I'm going with her." Elsa gave a gasp, intending to protest, but Gerold turned to her. "I know where I'm supposed to be. Don't you?"
Elsa swallowed the words that had come to her. Of course, she wanted him with her. And though she never would have suggested it, it felt right.
Gerold turned back to Einar, who looked like he had much to say. But he too closed his mouth and nodded with some reluctance.
"I'll write constantly," he told his brothers as the mood in the room became suddenly sad. "And we'll visit," he added, turning to look at Elsa, who nodded. "I'm not intending for this family to lose another brother, but maybe, in time, gain a sister." He looked at Elsa, who smiled. And after the brothers said their goodbyes to Gerold, they went back to Elsa and hugged her as though Gerold had truly made her an official member of the family.
Gerold's things were packed quickly, and Elsa stood at the dock while she waited for him. She was not looking forward to the journey home. She could only imagine what Gerold's reaction would be to her desperate clinging to the floor of the ship once they reached open sea. But, the look on Anna's face when she finally arrived home with Gerold in tow would be more than worth it. Elsa gave a sigh. She missed her sister, however lofty her ideas of love might be.
"I could have made it home without you," Elsa said a Gerold finally joined her. "We could have succeeded in a long distance courtship."
"I know," he told her, taking her into his arms. "But I certainly didn't want to. Did you?"
She shook her head. "No."
He leaned forward and kissed her, and Elsa eventually pulled herself away. "The scandal we are going to be when we get to Arendelle," she said, pulling him up the gangplank. "You leaving your kingdom without an official engagement." She tisked. "It's unheard of."
"I'll propose right now, if you'd like," he told her, half seriously.
She smiled at him. She was certain of their future, but she was in no hurry to be married. She was looking forward to real courtship, one that didn't involve curses or trolls or strange illnesses or long, terrible trips across the ocean. The future might be predetermined, but that didn't mean she was in any rush to meet it.
"I'll wait," she told him.
"I didn't expect any other answer," he said.
He took her hand lovingly in his, and then they headed toward the cabin together.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The idea for this story came from several places. First, I felt that after Hans' trip home, one of his older brothers would feel obligated to travel to Arendelle to make peace. And with Elsa seeming so steadfast against love, I liked the idea of her falling quickly and unexpectedly for someone. Second, I just loved the line in the movie when the troll asks if Elsa's powers come from her being cursed or born. It just sets up this idea that these things happen from time to time.
"Frozen," if you didn't know, is loosely based off of the fairy tale, "The Snow Queen." And my favorite part of the movie version is the polar bear who, unlike the other occupants of the Snow Queen's palace, isn't forced to be there. He's there because he wants to be. In fact, he's in love with the Snow Queen. And she often gets him to tell her he loves her because she thinks it's funny to hear him say it. And then, at the end of the movie, when the Snow Queen is defeated and she's weak and helpless, the polar bear scoops her up into his arms and tells her, "It's all right. I'm here." And then you get a glimpse of him as the prince he truly is. I freaking love that.
So that inspired Gerold's curse. I knew I wanted him to become a polar bear. I also borrowed elements from "East of the Sun, West of the Moon," which is a fairy tale of the same region as the "The Snow Queen." It has to do with a man who is cursed to be a human-conscious polar bear 24/7 and has a year to find a woman who will spend seven nights with him or he has to marry the troll princess.
So mix all that up with an exploration of who Hans' brothers are and the struggles of their family, and a little troll mythology, and there you go. Thank you so much for reading and reviewing. I hope you enjoyed.