For disclaimers, see chapter one.

Chapter warnings:
Icest (if that surprises you at this point, I really can't help you), smut, toys (see: ice dildo, because isn't that a rite of passage or something in this fandom?), mild possessiveness, feels.

Again, there is smut (but mostly non-smut) here – DO NOT READ IN PUBLIC.

Also: POV switch – we're hearing things from Elsa's side now.

Locked Away - epilogue
The Promise


"Elsa..."

God, that voice. She groans softly into the smooth, fire-lit skin under her lips; feels the sharp movement of an inhalation under the warmth beneath her hands, and swirls her hips over and over until there's an abrupt, hitching gasp that makes the very core of her body tremble.

She is so perfect. Like a Grecian sculpture or a painstakingly recovered piece of Renaissance art, she will be, she must be, in some way, the image preserved for all of humanity to admire, because no one can ever be more perfect than Anna. It's in everything from the flex of her legs to the way their bodies mold together even when back to front, from how her hair spills over Elsa's shoulder when her head drops back, to how the curve of her rear nestles so perfectly in Elsa's lap.

They fit together as if they were made for each other; like pieces of a machine. A particularly well-oiled machine at this point, the raunchier side of her mind points out, but Elsa bats that thought away before she can do anything more than simply smile against Anna's skin. Not that they haven't previously ended up laughing together in moments like these, but right now she just wants to see, hear, feel Anna in her arms.

"I love you," she whispers against the shell of a warm ear, and nudges a few locks of fiery hair out of the way with her nose before nipping at the skin beneath it in exchange for a half-choked moan. "You're so beautiful, Anna. So perfect."

She's well aware that Anna probably isn't really hearing what she's saying at this point, because she's just that wonderfully lost. Elsa can feel her feet flexing and curling next to her own, and Anna is leaning back against her heavily, with the only thing really holding her upright being Elsa's arm around her ribs. Her bangs are plastered to her forehead, her eyes closed and her breathing harsh and shallow, and the hand she's got lifted up and back is tightening and relaxing in Elsa's hair with every tiny, slow thrust. There's the most beautiful, alluring flush extending down her neck and chest that Elsa's constantly tracing with her fingers, and whenever her touch moves low enough for her to brush over a sensitive breast or a straining nipple, Anna arches into her hand and mewls breathlessly.

It's slow and steady and sweet, and they both know that the languid pace won't bring either of them to release, but release isn't the point right now. This is just closeness and intimacy and love, because she's learned that Anna needs that closeness after thirteen years of separation; needs to feel Elsa wrapped around her, to be immersed in her touch and her voice and her scent and everything else, and whatever Anna needs, Elsa will die to provide if she has to. So she whispers and holds and strokes and kisses. She gives everything she can and then some, because impossibly, every time they're together like this, she manages to dig a little deeper in herself; finds a way to love Anna even more.

Anna, who's so much more than she ever sees herself as; who's all but worshiped by the people and the soldiers and Elsa herself and never really understands why. Who is bright and sweet and has the most loving, most forgiving heart in the kingdom, if not the entire world. Whose natural curiosity makes her read and wonder and question by nature, and who is certainly the only person who could ever have convinced Elsa to even try crafting the appendage she's currently wielding – let alone get her at least somewhat comfortable with it - because this was initially way outside of her comfort zone, if only because she was (is) worried about hurting Anna in some manner.

It isn't a staple of theirs in the bedroom, but there's no denying that it can reach places inside Anna that Elsa's fingers simply can't; no two ways about how its use (after a few attempts and some partly awkward, partly funny learning for both of them) nearly always manages to send them into pleasurable oblivion almost at the same time. Much like now, with Anna somehow maneuvering herself around until they're facing each other and Elsa is actually lying on top of her, nestled safely between her legs. Elsa doesn't really notice how it happens, but she's always been very easily distracted whenever Anna is kissing her.

She groans at the sensation of knees settling over her own hips, and then again when she angles her lower body and Anna's back arches enough for her to slip an arm beneath her and hold her even tighter as their bodies slide against each other. There are warm hands cradling her face when they kiss again – just a light, repeating brush of lip over lip – and Anna's eyes are halfway open and look almost chocolate-brown in the firelight, but Elsa knows from experience that they're actually a brilliant, emerald green right now, because as much as they both need physical closeness first and foremost, Elsa also needs sight (because she rarely saw her) where Anna needs sound (because she rarely heard her).

"I love having you in my arms like this," she whispers against Anna's lips, and swallows the soft, answering moan with her own mouth while Anna's fingers tighten in her hair. "I still can't believe you're mine." She angles her hips down sharply, and while Anna's head snaps back and her eyes close in perfect concert with a breathless cry, they open again after mere seconds, and then her hands are pulling Elsa forward and down until their foreheads are touching and they're breathing into each other's mouths.

"I'm yours," Anna promises, and Elsa can see the love in her eyes even behind the haze of arousal. "Just like you're mine. It's only fair." Then they're smiling against each other's lips, and Anna's hands are slipping over her shoulderblades and onto her back, digging into the skin while her voice breaks as Elsa redoubles her pace and slips one hand between their bodies to circle her thumb at the apex of Anna's thighs.

God only knows how many times she dreamt of moments like this one, but none of them could ever compare to reality. Watching Anna come undone the way she does now, with her back arching and her heels digging into the mattress and her abs tightening under Elsa's hand while her nails bite at Elsa's skin... that is a more beautiful sight than she could ever imagine. There's a burst of almost-light in her eyes right in the moment when the orgasm washes over her, and the pleasure is intense enough that she doesn't even cry out as she usually does. Instead, the only audible sign is a sharp, hitched breath and long, low, hoarse whine that – when combined with the pressure against Elsa's own body – is more than enough to send her crashing over the edge as well. But she lands, as ever, safely in those deceptively slender arms, and feels the heart below her ribcage match her own beat for thundering beat, even as she disperses the phallus with a twitching, exhausted motion of her hand and finds her lips captured for a long, slow, breathless kiss.

Long moments of tender indulgence later, the erratic rhythm of Anna's breathing is settling bit by bit, and Elsa watches her wet her lips and stare almost thoughtfully up at the canopy above for several seconds. Then those still-dark eyes are locked on hers, and Anna's lips purse.

"I can't feel my legs," she says, very seriously, and all Elsa can do is let her forehead drop to a sweaty shoulder and snort out a laugh against the warm skin, even if it earns her a light, reproving swat. "Yeah, yuk it up, tiger."

"Mew." Elsa kisses the soft skin under her lips, and hums when she feels Anna's fingers slip through her hair. She remembers the exact moment when that nickname was born, the first time they woke up together in her bed those short months (and that entire lifetime) ago. She never really anticipated it sticking around, but it has, and while Elsa's never thought herself to be particularly catlike, she likes it. Right now, however, she runs a light touch along the back of Anna's thigh, and chuckles at the indignant squawk and the jump of the slender limb that earns her.

"You clearly felt that, so I think your legs are fine," she decides, and lifts herself onto her hands and knees with a smirk. "And you did come quite hard."

Anna gives her a definite look, and then Elsa has to rapidly lock her arms when fingers jab at the insides of her elbows and she almost collapses bodily on top of her sister. There are knees hooking over her hips again, and when she blinks, Anna is suddenly millimeters away; holding herself up on one arm only while a familiar hand slides down Elsa's front and two fingers enter her easily.

"You're very smug about that," Anna murmurs next to her ear, and all Elsa can do is moan brokenly, because she's still extremely sensitive and Anna knows every spot to hit by now and she's going directly for them. "And that's fine – you have every right to be." Her lips are tracing that one patch of skin that never fails to send liquid fire hurtling through her veins, and Elsa is using all of her focus on just holding herself up, but she can feel her arms trembling already. "But in return, I get to see how fast I can make you fall apart around my fingers."

At this point, that turns out to be around half a minute.

"You're insatiable," Elsa breathes, once she's collapsed onto the bed and regained enough presence of mind to speak.

Anna – who's stretched out next to her now and holding her head up in one hand - gives her a long, head-to-toe-and-all-the-way-back-up glance, and grins. "Duh."

xXxXx

Elsa can just barely see the barracks courtyard from the window in her study. She's high enough above the ground that she has trouble making out anything but Anna's distinctive hair and the equally distinctive, bright red hood on her white cloak, but she's long since learned how to shape a curved lens out of ice, and now uses just that as a miniature, slightly blue-tinted telescope as she peers outside and smiles reflexively when she sees her sister do the same. Her smile only widens when Anna somehow seems to sense the eyes on her, and one hand slips behind her back as she turns away. She wears no gloves in spite of the wintry chill in the air, and the contrast of tanned skin against the back of the thick, white cloth makes it all the easier for Elsa to see the way her middle- and ring fingers curl towards her palm, while the remaining three fingers extend.

It's a sign that Elsa recognizes instantly; one Anna taught her after having learned it herself from one of the soldiers. And she's reasonably certain that at one point, she's just going to melt into a puddle of happily burbling goo.

Oh, well. Blub, blub, blub.

"Your Majesty?" She turns to see Kai poking his head around the edge of the door, and the lens vanishes into a flutter of evaporating ice crystals at the faintest twitch of her finger. "Merely a reminder, but the council will be here shortly."

"Of course, Kai." Elsa gives him a smile. "Thank you. Tell the kitchen to prepare a light repast of some kind – seasonal, if possible – and have it brought up in an hour or so. I'll wager that everyone will be hungry at that point."

"Should coincide nicely with lunchtime, yes," the portly man agrees with a bow. "As you wish."

"Now if only it was that easy to get Anna to agree to something; such as getting up in the morning," Elsa murmurs once the door's closed again, and then shakes her head with a smile. Anna can be very... persuasive when she puts her mind to it (not that Elsa needs a lot of persuading to begin with), and so the day started a good deal later than intended and she's had to all but tear through her work just to keep her schedule on track. She's about caught up at this point, though, and as long as her upcoming session with the council doesn't run late, she might even have more than five minutes to herself before the next task crops up in the line.

Last official day of work before Christmas or not, she wouldn't care about starting it late even if her entire day snowballed from there. Waking up to Anna astride her and those lips leaving scorching trails over her bare skin had been... a very nice 'good morning'. One she still shivers pleasantly at the thought of, and one she wagers that she'll probably continue to shiver at for a while yet.

Of course, it's while she's lost herself in such thoughts that the dozen of councilmen enter, and she's so pleasantly distracted that she doesn't even notice their presence until one of them clears his throat.

"Are you well, My Queen?" Aaberg questions, and furrows his grizzled brows in concern. He's a stout, elderly man with a severely receded hairline and warm, dark eyes, who's been part of the royal council since her grandfather's time. "You seem a little flushed."

Not for the first time since her romantic involvement with Anna, Elsa curses both her increasingly wandering mind and her pale complexion, and tries to will the sudden infusion of blood from her cheeks.

"I'm fine, Alfons," she assures, and uses his first name from long habit; something that could conceivably be seen as playing favorites, but not something she's particularly concerned about. Tradition, after all, went out the window the moment she turned summer to winter and then back again, and what little remained was kicked soundly in the rear when she took her sister into her bed; even if the last part is anything but common knowledge. "Perhaps part of breakfast didn't sit right with me. Either way, I'm sure it's nothing serious."

"Glad to hear it, Your Majesty." His brown eyes are twinkling warmly. "Wouldn't do for you to fall sick just in time for your birthday, after all."

That draws a round of chuckles from the remaining councilmen, and Elsa rolls her eyes as she takes a seat behind her desk.

"Let's not go there, gentlemen," she suggests wryly as they, too, find seats. "I already conceded to having a ball as long as it was part of the Christmas celebrations, and then made the questionable choice of turning the handling of that over to my sister." More chuckles, and Elsa sighs. "All the servants are hiding smiles when I pass them in the hall, and whenever I ask Anna for details, she simply starts laughing. So please – let's not go there."

There are smiles all around now, and Elsa idly reflects that council meetings have gotten a good deal more enjoyable over the past month; more specifically since the sour, thoroughly traditionalistic Major Grunnvig finally took his voluntary leave after yet another reprimand from Elsa herself. He's since been replaced by the tall, fair and newly promoted Captain Alvers, who just so happens to have been a fervent fan of Anna's ever since a two-day, fairly non-stop ride from Midheim that left a dozen men in awe of their princess, and started the base for Anna's current standing amongst the Arendelle soldiers.

"On that note, Captain." Elsa fixes Alvers with a direct, though not unkind stare, and cants her head at him. "The next time my sister attains some sort of injury while in the barracks, please inform me, no matter how minor it is. It was quite startling to have her show up for dinner with a black eye a fortnight ago."

"Yes, My Queen." Alvers ducks his clean-shaven face faintly, and he – like Elsa – is of pale enough coloring that his blush shows vividly, even if his skin still carries more than a hint of a tan. "My apologies, but the princess said that-"

"- she outranks you and that she was to tell me herself," Elsa finishes for him, and waves an easy hand. "I can easily imagine that, yes, and while I ask that from now on you let my orders trump hers, I'm not faulting you or your men for listening at the time. My sister, as I'm sure you know well by now, is rather stubborn."

"A family trait, Majesty?" Councilman Engfors quips, and sets off another round of smiles, though these are hastily smothered, albeit with varying degrees of success.

Elsa let her lips twitch into a smirk, and folds her hands on the desk. "Being in a political assembly at the moment, counselor, I can neither confirm nor deny that," she replies, which results in a series of low, but genuine laughs.

The bimonthly council meetings have definitely gotten a lot more enjoyable, not to mention a lot less stilted. They're actually crossing the line into being downright pleasant, and by the time half an hour has passed, they're also proving yet again to have become much more efficient because of it, because that's as long as it takes them to go over the items that two hours have been set aside for.

Remarkable, Elsa muses in the privacy of her own mind, how much of a difference the absence of one man can make.

"Well, that seems to complete today's agenda," she says aloud. "Has anything else cropped up in the days since it was set? Our next meeting should prove to be a full one given the new year, so if there's anything we can discuss now, speak up."

Apart from the rustling of clothing and the odd, furtive glance, the room is silent, and Elsa suppresses a sigh and turns another roll of her eyes into a wry smile instead.

"I should hope that you know by now that I don't bite, good sirs," she tells them, and rests her chin on her interlocked fingers. "Out with it, please, since there's clearly something you wish to bring up."

"Yes, Majesty." Aaberg, unsurprisingly, is the one to speak up, since he's the oldest in both his tenure on the council and in age overall. "Forgive us, but the matter is a very personal one where you're concerned."

Elsa merely quirks an eyebrow, and Aaberg cocks his head.

"The overwhelming wish of the people, My Queen, is to see you settle down. You're certainly of an appropriate age, and since the more... tumultuous events of the recent past have settled somewhat by now-"

"- you wish for me to marry," Elsa cuts him off, somehow, since there's so much ice settling in her gut that she's surprised she can even breathe; let alone speak. As it is, she barely recognizes the sound of her own voice, and as she watches Aaberg nod, she spends a few, fervent seconds both wishing for the calm that Anna always teases her about and thanking the stars that her sister is well away from this meeting, since Anna would certainly have something to say about the subject, and she doubts that any of it would be complimentary.

Not that she's having any complimentary thoughts herself. Right at this moment, her mind is mostly chasing itself in panicked circles and screeching, and it's taking all of her considerable self-control to keep from reacting with anger. Instead, she wets her lips and settles her palms on the desk as she slowly rises to a stand.

"Gentlemen," she says as she pins the collected group with her eyes, and finds her own voice to be impressively even. "Before we go any further down this road, let me make a few things perfectly clear. While I realize that my position as the queen regent is a highly political one, I have no intention of playing games of any kind when it comes to marriage. I will take no vows for the sake of anyone's happiness but my own, and I invite no one into my life or my chambers for either economic or political reasons. I have, if anyone, witnessed with my own eyes what the power of love can truly do, and I outright refuse to even consider marriage for anything less than that. Is that perfectly clear?"

Almost as one, the entire council blinks.

"Of course, Your Majesty," Aaberg agrees.

"Very well." Elsa studies the worn, wooden grain in the top of her desk, and takes a slow breath. "Then, since I doubt you would have brought this up without having some candidates in mind, to whom is it suggested that I be wed?"

"To Princess Anna, Majesty," says Engfors, with a faint furrow in his brow as if that should have been obvious. "My merchants tell me that all the talk in the streets lately is about how her act of true love for you saved Arendelle."

"Aye," Captain Alvers chimes in with a nod. "Same in the barracks, and while the idea is unusual, none of my men will go against the happiness of the Red Hood. We're hers until the end. And yours too, of course, My Queen," he adds, almost as an afterthought.

Elsa just stares at the group as they talk calmly almost amongst themselves, with her eyes open far wider than normal and a distinct sensation of breathlessness so strong it's as if someone just punched her in the stomach. She's been willing to accept – halfway anticipated, really – that hers and Anna's relationship is little more than an open secret at least among the castle staff, because while they are being as discreet as they can, someone has to have figured it out unless both the castle walls and the people working within them are significantly denser than anticipated. But to have it known publicly? Can they really have been that obvious?

"Where-" she starts, and then has to clear her throat. "Where did this idea come from?"

Aaberg shrugs his broad shoulders with a remarkable lack of concern. "According to our sources, the notion has been building in the populace for several weeks. It's gained momentum steadily, and now has the support of the majority of the people by far. If it hadn't, we wouldn't have brought it up, Majesty. As the good captain said, the idea is... somewhat unorthodox, but if neither you nor the princess is opposed to it, the opinion of this council is that it would go a long way to cementing the people's faith in the stability of the throne."

So the fact that there is a relationship between them isn't common knowledge, Elsa infers with the small section of her mind that isn't reeling. "And the fact that we wouldn't be able to produce a blood heir?" she questions with the same section.

Once again, Aaberg shrugs – this time in near-perfect synchronization with the rest of the council – and a part of Elsa is seriously wondering if maybe someone, somewhere, spilled something in the water supply.

"Adopted children can be made equally valid heirs to the throne with some legal finagling," he notes. "Doable, since we'd have well over a decade to complete any such work, yes?"

"Quite," comes the agreement from the white-haired Alvor Halving, who serves as the chief, legal counsel. "It's an unprecedented situation, but that merely means that we get to decide where to raise the bar to. If, of course, you're willing to entertain the notion, Your Majesty."

"And if I may, My Queen," Aaberg chimes back in, and scratches his bearded chin. "Perhaps the existence of Olaf the snowman is a suggestion that your magic is able to, um... create life, if you will."

There's a twitch developing at the corner of Elsa's eye that she's desperately fighting to suppress, and she can't quite decide if she should bang her forehead against the nearest flat surface or start laughing hysterically. Perhaps a little of both would manage to wake her up, because this can't possibly be anything but a particularly absurd dream. And yet, when she sits (falls) back into her chair, she discreetly pinches the back of her own hand beneath the desk and definitely feels it. So apparently this isn't a dream, but she hasn't ruled out the possibility of there being something in the water.

"Are you willing to consider the idea, Majesty?" Engfors questions, and Elsa somehow manages to calmly fold her hands instead of blurting out YES! with as much force as she can muster, because of course she's willing to consider it – and far beyond that, quite frankly – but at the same time, seeming as eager as she actually is probably isn't the best decision. And besides...

"I'd rather not give an answer to that without discussing it with my sister," she explains, which is true enough. Marriage isn't something she and Anna ever talked about even in jest, simply because at least Elsa never expected it to be an actual possibility. So in all honesty, she doesn't know for certain how Anna would react to the idea. All she's sure of is the fact that she herself is physically dizzy at the thought of actually being Anna's wife – at taking Anna as her wife – and that it's bad enough that she runs entirely on automatic as the meeting winds down and the counselors leave, and only snaps somewhat out of her daze when Kai is suddenly standing next to her and squeezing her shoulder with a concerned look on his face.

"Is everything alright, Your Majesty?" he wonders, and Elsa fights the smile wanting to bloom on her face for all of one second before giving into it.

"Everything is perfect," she says, and pats him on the arm as she gets to her feet. "Push my schedule back, would you? I need to make a trip into the city."

Kai blinks, but rallies quickly. "Of course," he agrees, and pulls her chair back before following her out of the room. "When do you expect to return? What about the lunch you requested? How many guards do you want escorting you?"

"Within two hours, give it to whomever wants it – the staff, the guards, the city orphanage – and none," Elsa replies, quick-fire, still smiling wide enough that her cheeks hurt as she strides down the hall.

"None, My Queen?"

"None." She stops by the door to her chambers, and faces the bemused butler. "I wish to do this incognito, Kai. Understood?"

"As you say, Majesty," he replies, clearly bewildered. "And if Princess Anna asks of your whereabouts?"

Elsa chuckles, and slips behind the door. "Tell her I went Christmas shopping."

xXxXx

The city at Christmastime is a new experience for Elsa, and while she allows that her current mood (excited, a little nervous, giddy) could very well be coloring her perception, it's definitely a pleasant one. The cobblestone streets are dusted with the faintest layer of snow, and while piles of whiteness near the edges of the roads give evidence of previous clearings, the snow keeps falling slowly. The weather is an entirely natural occurrence this time, and she smiles when she holds out a hand and manages to catch a few flakes in her palm.

Incognito isn't as hard as one might think even for a queen, and Elsa learned that long ago. Clothes and bearing, more than anything, signal a person's standing in society, so all she really needs in order to blend in is a commoner's clothes, a hooded cloak to hide her admittedly distinctive hair and by now well-known face, and to remind herself to move less gracefully than she normally does. It's a little crazy, probably, to just up and leave the castle like this, but she won't be gone for long and she really, really needs to find out if her hunch is correct. Thankfully, Anna told her days back that Kristoff had returned home, and so she knows where to find him.

And it's odd to stand in front of him; it always has been, to a certain point, because the only things they have in common are ice and Anna. It's odder still to look into his eyes and see him shape a faintly sheepish, but satisfied smile, and it's definitely odd to hug him, and not just for her, because it takes several stunned heartbeats before he chuckles and pats her back more than a little awkwardly.

"If we could get married, I'd request that you stand for her at our wedding," Elsa had told him quietly during a moment of peace at the fall equinox.

"If you could get married, I'd be honored to," he'd replied, and there'd been a glint of an idea in his eyes that she hadn't understood at the time.

"May I come in?" Elsa asks, and Kristoff jumps a little before stepping back and waving her inside the house.

"Sure, sure." He closes the door behind her, and then Sven is suddenly right there and clearly a lot less nervous about greeting her because he's licking her face with enough force to knock back the hood of her cloak and Kristoff looks horrified.

"Sven!" he cries, and then he's trying to pull back the massive reindeer, apologize to Elsa and wipe off her face all at once. "Oh, jeez, I'm- back, Sven!- so sor- back!- have a cloth here somewh- SVEN!"

'Surprised' would be putting it mildly, but Elsa merely accepts the piece of cloth when it's practically shoved into her face by the panicking Ice Master, and starts chuckling as she cleans herself up. "Now I see what Anna means about always getting a warm – but rather wet – welcome," she comments.

"Oh, God, I'm so sorry!" Kristoff frets; wide-eyed and certainly a good deal less calm than she's used to seeing him. "I'm really, really sorry Your Maj- My Qu- Your Ro-"

"Kristoff." She isn't injecting a lot of command into her voice, but it's enough to stop him from stumbling any further over the vast array of titles available for her. "Please, just call me Elsa – at least when we're in private. We've been over this."

"Right, right." He coughs into one hand, and then rubs at the back of his head while Elsa scratches a happily groaning Sven under the chin. "Elsa. Sorry. For, uh... both."

"It's fine," she promises, and finds a smile which seems to put him at ease. More so, at least, since they've never really been fully comfortable around each other, but manage, if mostly for Anna's sake.

"It was you, wasn't it?" she questions some time later, when Kristoff has closed the curtains to keep prying eyes outside and they're seated on opposite sides of a wide table with a mug each. Beer – again – isn't something she's ever grown fond of, but she's at least learned to drink it. "Who started this?"

"Hard to say for sure, but yeah." Kristoff is nodding, and has both hands folded around his own tankard. "I think so."

"How?"

"Kinda like a rockslide, I guess," he smiles crookedly. "Starts with one stone that hits a handful of others. They each hit a handful of other stones, and suddenly there's a path where there wasn't one before. All I had to do was bring up the possibility a few times when I was traveling, and before long, I started hearing it myself."

Elsa nods, and watches the foam near the top of her own mug slowly disperse. "You realize that I can never repay you for this," she notes quietly.

"Sure you can." Kristoff takes a long swallow, and then settles his chin in one hand as he regards her. "Ask her. Marry her. Make her happy." His lips shape a grin. "Would make one hell of a Christmas present. Or birthday present for you."

"It isn't quite that simple," Elsa informs him dryly. "These things take planning. Time."

Kristoff just looks at her. "Time for what? Don't tell me you haven't already designed a ring in your mind a hundred times, Elsa. It's not like you need to commission one from a silversmith."

Elsa glares at him. Then they're both chuckling a little because he's absolutely right, and she's curling her left hand into a fist and concentrating for no more than a few seconds before there's a delicate ring of intricately decorated, silvery ice resting in her open palm. Crafting it is as easy as breathing, because even if marriage was never an option until now, that didn't stop her from dreaming.

She's made this ring more times than she can count.

"Nice," Kristoff murmurs, and then smirks. "Anna's gonna insist on you wearing one too, you know."

"As if that's a problem," Elsa mutters. "I'd wear one through my nose if it was fashionable; I'm hers, and I want the whole world to know. If I design a ring for Anna, however, she should get to design one for me if she wants to. Besides, she might prefer to have a jeweler make one."

"Maybe," is the amiable reply. "You gonna ask her today?"

"These things take-"

"-time," he finishes, deadpan. "And I ask again: for what? For you to get up your nerve, or for you to give yourself nerves? It's not like she's gonna say no."

"No." Or at least she hopes not, but the thought alone is still enough to make her nauseous. "It's just... overwhelming, honestly. I never thought this would happen, so right now it's almost as if I can't find my footing, and it's strange because I've done this a thousand times in my head and now that the option is actually real, I... I don't even know how to ask her."

Kristoff smiles. "But you will."

"I will," Elsa agrees, and takes a deep, slow breath. "I will."

She just hopes that she doesn't end up throwing up her own kneecaps in the process.

xXxXx

Elsa's schedule officially goes down the proverbial creek sans paddle after her little, impromptu excursion, and the hands on the small clock on her desk are approaching midnight by the time she finishes the last bit of paperwork. At least, she muses as she leans back in her seat and stretches her arms above her head with a groan, there's a bit of a backhanded blessing to be found in the fact that Anna is every bit as busy as she is today, so neither of them is waiting for the other to finish up. Yet, anyway.

Of course, as far as she knows, Anna could be waiting for her in bed right now, and that notion is enough to wake her up a little. So she stands and spends a few moments ordering the work she's (finally) finished, and is about to extinguish the small lamp she's been working by when the door to her study opens. And she has to be tired, because the first thought to cross her mind is whether or not it's actually, physically possible for someone to literally light up a room with their presence.

"Sit," Anna tells her with a smile, and keeps one hand firmly behind her back and out of sight as she crosses over to stand in front of the desk. "And close your eyes."

Elsa studies her for a moment, but acquiesces. Closing her eyes takes a little while, though, since she hasn't seen Anna up close all day, and has – quite frankly – missed the view. Once she does, she picks up on the soft clink of porcelain being set down, but there's a familiar hand covering her eyes before she can open them. Then she's snapping for breath because there are warm lips tracing first the shell of her ear and then the line of her jaw, and her hands are clenching around the chair's armrests when a single finger trails over the front of her throat.

It takes her a few seconds to get her head together when Anna suddenly pulls away, and she both smiles and sighs at the sound of a low, amused giggle at her expense.

"Ca- May I open my eyes now?" she questions wryly, over the faint dinging of the clock as it strikes midnight.

"Go right ahead," is the cheerful reply.

So she does, and what she sees is a small, porcelain dish holding a single slice of cake – chocolate, clearly - decorated with cream and colorful berries. A hand touches her knee, then, and her focus shifts to warm - if tired - turquoise eyes and a small, satisfied smirk.

"Happy birthday," Anna sing-songs. Then there are soft, smiling lips pressing tenderly against her own, and all Elsa can do is wrap her arms around her sister and pull until Anna is sitting in her lap. Until there are warm hands sliding up the sides of her neck and fingers slipping into her hair, and Anna – as always – tastes sweeter than even the finest of chocolates.

Though she does also taste of chocolate, Elsa notes, and smiles when they slowly break the kiss.

"You snuck a piece for yourself, didn't you?" she accuses warmly, and watches the freckled skin on the bridge of her sister's nose crinkle.

"A little one," Anna admits with an easy grin. "But it was either that or steal bites of your slice, and that's just rude."

"Anna, you're always stealing bites off of my plate."

"Not on your birthday." The weight in her lap shifts, and then Anna's leaning back against the armrest and has both plate and fork held securely in her hands; one in her lap, and the other raised to Elsa's mouth. "Open wide."

Elsa studies the fork and its bite-sized load, and then shifts her focus to a set of warmly twinkling eyes. "I'm perfectly capable of feeding myself, you know."

"I know." Anna nods, and the tines of the fork prod gently at her lips. "What's your point?"

"Sadly blunted, apparently." She accepts the bite, and decides to ignore her sister's small, triumphant smile as she chews. It's delicious, certainly; sweet and moist with the faintest hint of tartness, a mixture of dark chocolate and berries that expands across her tastebuds and makes her lick a stray crumb from the corner of her mouth before Anna's finger can secure it.

"Good?" Anna questions, though something about the amusement in her expression tells Elsa that she already knows the answer.

"Mm." She nods, and then waggles her head from side to side. "I think it tastes better on you, though," she then observes, and swallows a grin when Anna seems to almost choke on her own saliva.

"What am I going to do with you?" Anna groans as she rests her temple against Elsa's shoulder, and Elsa is replying before she can think the better of it.

"You could marry me," she says very softly, and crosses her ankles and toes and the fingers of the one hand she has behind Anna's back.

"Don't joke about stuff like that," her sister grumbles as she sets aside both plate and fork, and then yawns as she pretty much curls up in Elsa's lap. And Elsa doesn't really know what to say to that because she wasn't joking, so she just strokes Anna's back gently and chews on her own, lower lip, and tries to figure out what to do now while her stomach sinks and her heart thumps almost painfully against her ribs.

Then Anna stiffens in her arms, and she feels her press an ear against her chest and suck in a soft, startled breath before she's suddenly under the full weight of that brilliant, wide-eyed gaze.

"You're serious," Anna breathes as she presses gentle fingers over the heartbeat that she undoubtedly heard loud and clear, and Elsa swallows harshly and nods and wills the ring to form for (hopefully) the last time before offering it up between trembling fingers.

"Completely," she promises, and tries not to lose the contents of her stomach as she watches Anna stare at the ring with the most dumbfounded expression she thinks she's ever seen on a human being. Or a snowman, for that matter.

"Ah... bu-" is the first response, with the pale eyes blinking several times in rapid succession. "Wh- that's an option?!"

"Apparently," Elsa croaks; and that's after clearing her throat four times. "I know this is sudden and unromantic and really not thought through at all, and I'm sorry about that, but I j-" That's as far as she gets before Anna's hands are firmly gripping her face and she's groaning into that warm mouth, and it's all she can do to hold on to both the slim, sturdy body in her arms and the tiny object in her hand as she sinks willingly into the familiar taste of Anna's lips. As ever, she is swept away so very effortlessly by a wave of pure sensation; so effortlessly, in fact, that when the kiss ends, it takes her brain long enough to catch up that she's aware that Anna said something, but not what that something was.

"Uh..." She licks her lips and blinks, and when her eyes focus, there's warm, wet turquoise filling her vision. "Sorry, what was that?"

Anna's breath washes over her skin when she laughs; low, soft, and a little breathless. "I said yes," she whispers, and Elsa can hear the smile in her voice in spite of how it trembles.

"Yes?" Her hold on Anna's waist tightens, and she can feel her heart skipping at least every other beat while the most ridiculous, utterly disbelieving little grin forms on her face, and she just doesn't have the will or the presence of mind to stop it from blooming.

Anna's fingers comb tenderly through her bangs, and while her chuckle is unsteady and watery, her eyes are as brilliantly luminous as Elsa's ever seen them; practically glowing from within as soft lips kiss her forehead, then her nose, her cheeks and finally press firmly against her own for a long, hard peck. "Yes," she repeats, stronger now, and still smiling. "God, Elsa - a thousand times yes."

Elsa doesn't have the faintest idea as to how the ring actually makes it onto the finger of Anna's right hand. She also doesn't have half a clue how Anna ends up sitting on the edge of her desk with her ankles hooking behind Elsa's knees, but if she thought that those warm hands could make her shiver before, it's nothing compared to what's like to feel them slip over her skin with the added weight of that ring and what it signifies.

"You're shaking," Anna murmurs against her lips, and Elsa can feel her smile when she laughs breathlessly herself.

"I'm really only staying on my feet out of sheer habit right now," she admits as their foreheads touch, and Anna's answering giggle is so sweet that she has to kiss her again. Has to feel silky fabric and warm skin under her hands – has to touch and taste and hold and love - because it feels as if she's going to float away and the only thing keeping her grounded is Anna.

Anna, who moans softly into her mouth when her fingers trace erratically moving ribs, whose head drops back when Elsa's lips find her pulse, and who kisses her lightly when Elsa finally manages to get a hold of herself and tucks her disobedient hands under her own arms.

"Perhaps we should retire for the night," Elsa notes wryly, and clears her throat when she hears the distinctively husky note in her own voice. "Just so I don't end up, um..."

"Taking me right here?" Anna all but purrs, with an almost predatory grin forming on her face when the sound of her voice alone is enough to make Elsa's breath hitch sharply, though the light trace of fingertips up the center of her torso certainly isn't helping. "On your desk, probably with my legs wrapped around your waist... my fingers digging into your back."

"Anna..." God, but what this woman can do to her. "You're teasing me again."

"No." Anna shakes her head, and her voice grows both more serious and less intentionally seductive. "I'm telling you that you can, if you want to." A gentle touch rounds her ear, and there are smiling lips pressing against Elsa's cheek when she feels a fierce blush overtake her face. "But maybe we're better off saving that for later," Anna murmurs against her skin, and then she's pulling back and biting her lower lip in a vain effort to restrain her smile. "Y'know... for when we've been married long enough to be boring."

"Somehow, I can't see life ever growing boring with you around," Elsa breathes when they exit the study and their fingers twine.

Anna snorts, and uses her free hand to swat her lightly on the arm. "Somebody's gotta keep you on your toes."

Elsa grabs the hand before it can fully retreat, and pulls her in for another kiss right there in the middle of the hallway. It's light and warm and slow and sweet, with her lips nipping at Anna's and arms slipping around her shoulders as Anna presses closer with a soft, contented sigh.

And she can't even remember what it was like to have to hide this.

xXxXx

As it turns out, Anna doesn't want a jeweler to create a ring for Elsa, although she most certainly does want her to wear one. Instead, they rest together in the center of Elsa's (their) bed in the middle of the night; halfway under the softness of the covers, completely naked and both looking more than just a little pleasurably disheveled, because they were lucky to have the door shut before they became so lost in each other that the castle could have collapsed around them without either of them noticing. Now, Elsa's reclining back against a thick layer of pillows, with Anna supporting herself on one elbow next to her and one freckled arm slung over her waist.

"Like this?" Elsa questions as she holds up the second ring, because apparently she isn't the only one to have designed it in her own head a hundred times; something that's kept her smiling giddily for the better part of the time since she realized it.

"Almost," is the thoughtful answer, and Anna's hair sparkles in the firelight when she leans over a little and studies the ring critically before touching a careful fingertip to it. "A little wider here and... can you make something like a stone out of your blue ice, or should we jus-" A pause as the ring changes, followed by a grin. "Oo - cool."

"Literally," Elsa deadpans, and squirms when warm fingers pinch her side. "Careful where you put those hands, Princess. I'd hate to have to start over when we're so close to the design you want."

"Then don't be such a smartass," Anna grouses against her forehead, but still gives her waist a little pat in apology before carefully taking the ring from Elsa's fingers and turning it slowly in the flickering firelight.

Elsa just watches her face; studies the quiet, intense joy in her eyes and the peaceful smile that curves her lips into a gentle bow, and does everything in her power to commit every single detail to memory. For as long as she can, anyway, before Anna is ducking her head and they're kissing softly, with one hand capturing Elsa's and the faint, welcome constriction of meticulously shaped ice settling around her right ring finger.

"There we go," Anna murmurs as they break apart, and keeps their gazes locked when she brings Elsa's hand to her lips and kisses both the ring and the skin around it. "The perfect ring for the perfect woman."

"I'm hardly perfect," Elsa argues, but chuckles when she brushes the pad of her thumb over Anna's mouth and feels her smile.

"Suck it up," is the matter of fact reply, with Anna tugging both of their hands out of the way and the fiery head ducking enough for their lips to brush again. "Because you are to me."

"Oh," Elsa murmurs, and realizes that she's blushing.

"Yeah," Anna giggles, and gives her another light kiss. "Oh."

The weight of Anna's head when it settles on her shoulder is warmly familiar, and the slow rush of her breathing is pleasantly relaxing as they curl up together skin to skin. Elsa tugs the covers higher over them after spending a few seconds grasping blindly, and her eyes slip shut at the soothing trace of fingers over her abdomen while her own arm wraps around Anna's back.

"So when are we announcing the engagement?" comes the lazy question after several moments of peaceful silence, and Elsa hears her sister draw in a slow breath that almost becomes a yawn.

"Hmm." She draws idle lines over Anna's spine with her fingertips, and smiles when she feels her nestle closer in response. "The council suggested at the Christmas ball, since it's enough of an occasion to have plenty of people there already. Is that alright by you?"

"Aww, shucks." Anna chuckles, and Elsa's having to release a giggle herself at the feeling of soft lips nipping playfully at her jawline. "You mean I have to spend an entire evening showing off this lovely ring you gave me, watching any hopeful suitors of ours turn green with envy and I get to kiss you in public? Twist my arm, why don'tcha," she drawls, and then pauses. "Why? Do you think that's a bad time?"

"I think any time more than two seconds into the future is a bad time," Elsa responds dryly. "I'd rather just scale the highest tower here right now and either write it across the sky or scream it at the top of my lungs. Possibly both." She smiles at Anna's snort of laughter. "But I suppose I can wait a few more hours to tell the entire world that you're mine."

"Ah; your infamous self-restraint," Anna notes, clearly amused, and Elsa swears she has eyes in the top of her head, because when she rolls her own, Anna pinches her side even though there's no way she could have seen it. "That reminds me of something."

"Hm?" She presses her nose into the copper hair, and inhales Anna's unique scent through a long, slow breath. "What?"

"Well, you remember my gown from your coronation, right?" Anna questions, and places a brief kiss to the skin above her chest.

God, how could she forget? While still perfectly modest, the cut of that bodice showed a good deal more skin than was considered appropriate only five years previous, and had put freckled shoulders and slender arms on much more of a display than Elsa had been prepared to deal with. She'd spent the better part of the day thinking about the most unalluring things she could imagine for that reason alone.

Anna's ear is pressing against the skin over her sternum, and she's giggling; presumably at the noticeably elevated rhythm of beats she can hear. Apparently, her checking Elsa's thoughts by way of her heart rate is becoming a thing.

"I'll take that as a yes," she decides, and while Elsa can't see her grin, she can certainly hear it. "So now's probably a good time to tell you that I had it remade, since the original literally went up in smoke."

"Oh," Elsa mumbles. It's hardly her most eloquent reply to date, but she's kind of distracted by the fact that the hand on her front is slipping lower and lower with the tiniest sting of nails along the way, and she's parting her legs instinctively because there's no such thing as being too tired or too sated for Anna's touch. "That's good."

"Mmhm." There are soft lips nipping at the curve of her jaw, and moist breath washing over her ear. "One difference, though," comes the calm, almost frustratingly even tone. "I had it remade in blues, instead of greens." And then Anna smirks against her skin – the minx – because those words are timed perfectly with the dip of her fingers into the heat between Elsa's thighs, and the combination of that image and that touch draws a sound from her that she's never even heard before. "I think I'll wear it to the ball, so everyone-" Meaning Elsa herself, clearly. "- can get a good, long, uninterrupted look at it."

She's trying to kill her. That has to be it, because the mere thought of Anna in that gown is enough, but add the fact that she is allowed to do what she wanted to all those months ago and is still going to have to behave herself for several hours, then multiply by those warm, knowing fingers dipping and sliding and swirling over slick, sensitive flesh without ever going far enough, and it's a wonder that Elsa can even remember how to breathe.

"God!" she gasps at a particularly firm brush, and only barely hears the low, satisfied chuckle next to her ear.

"Hardly," Anna murmurs against the side of her throat, and then coherent thought just ceases to be an option.

xXxXx

Notes:
Yay, bonus chapter! *confetti?*

Sign language
The sign Anna makes behind her back in scene two is 'I love you' in ASL.

Rings
Normally, wedding rings are worn on the right hand in certain European countries (Norway, Denmark and Germany to name a few), and engagement rings on the left hand. Anna and Elsa, however, wear their engagement rings on their right hands since stills from Frozen show Agdar and Idunn to wear their wedding rings on their left hands, US-style.

Aaaaaand rest. Now we're done (and maybe I can get to work on other fics. Lawdy be~!).