When Diplomacy Fails
Gerda shifted the food tray to one hand and lightly rapped against the white painted wood. "Princess Elsa, I have your lunch."
Beyond the door she heard light footfalls approach. There was a click as the lock was unfastened and the door opened.
The girl's eyes lit up and her lips turned slightly upward at the sight of the handmaiden. "Good afternoon, Gerda."
"Good afternoon, Your Highness." Gerda smiled in return, pleased at the girl's lighthearted mood. The sight was so seldom.
Elsa stepped back holding the door open for her. She gestured with her free hand. "You can place the tray on the desk, please."
With a nod Gerda crossed the room and sat the tray down on a clear corner of the desk. Among several books on architecture and design lay an open sketch book.
The maid paused, unable to keep her eyes from the sketch of a castle with towering arches and a flowing staircase. Gerda marveled at the ten year olds creation. "You are showing quite a talent for art and design, Your Highness."
Pink blush tainted pale cheeks, as the child ducked her head to hide a small smile. "Thank you, Gerda."
"Tell me, Princess, are you still trying your hand at drawing people?"
"Yes, I'm trying." Elsa stepped to the desk and picked up the pad. She flipped to a page and held it out to the woman. "But I'm better at buildings."
Gerda took the sketch book to study it. Though the scale was a little off, it was a respectable sketch. Queen Idun sat in her favorite rocking chair with Anna nestled in her lap. The Queen held a storybook so they both could see the pages, but Anna's eyes were closed, her little mouth hung open.
"Oh, Princess Elsa, this is lovely."
"Thank you." The blond head bowed. "I saw Mama and Anna in her sitting room one night and I came back to my room and drew it."
"You drew it from memory? That is amazing, you have a lovely talent, Princess Elsa. Have you shown it to Her Majesty, yet?"
"No, I was thinking about giving it to her for her birthday." Blue eyes looked shyly up at the handmaiden. "Do you think she will like it?"
"Oh, Princess Elsa, she will love it." Focused on the drawing, Gerda absently reached out and stroked a hand over blond hair. In an instant she realized her mistake.
Elsa tensed taking a step back. Fear and a touch of anger darkened her blue eyes.
"Your Highness, please forgive me." Gerda bowed her head. "I should have asked first." It hurt to apologize for something she had once done without thought or concern.
The child took a deep breath, releasing it slowly. With it went some of the tension her little body held. "It's okay, Gerda. I just wasn't expecting it. I was afraid I might hurt you."
Gerda offered her young charge a soft smile. "I know you would never hurt me, Princess Elsa."
"Not on purpose." Came the quiet reply.
"Not even then, my lady." Their eyes locked. There was such sorrow in the child's eyes, it made Gerda's heart ache.
With all forgiven Gerda handed the sketch book back. "You should eat before your lunch gets cold." Elsa closed the sketch book, placing it on a corner of the desk.
She settled into her chair as Gerda removed the cover from the plate. "Is Papa still in his meeting with King Moritz?"
"Yes, and Her Majesty and Queen Franziska are still in town."
Elsa chuckled, there was a hint of sadness in it. "Anna must be so happy, being able to run the streets."
"Princess Anna did not go with Her Majesty."
Her meal forgotten Elsa's head snapped up. "Why not? She's been looking forward to visiting town for days. Is she sick?"
"No, Princess Elsa." She was relieved to see the child's fear fade. "She is not sick. Princess Celina is. Her Majesty, thought it best if Anna stayed and kept her company."
Blue eyes narrowed as Elsa stared up at her. "Celina is not really sick, is she?"
It never ceased to amaze her, how a child who spent most of her time behind locked doors, managed to see so many things. "That is not for me to say, Your Highness."
A frown crossed her little face at the tactful answer. "She's being a brat."
Gerda bit her lip to hide a laugh. "She does seem accustom to getting her way."
The child arched an eyebrow at her. Now, there is a look that will serve a Queen well one day, Gerda thought.
The shriek brought Elsa to her feet, sending the chair crashing to the floor, ice forming at her feet. She and Gerda rushed to the door. A step from the threshold the child stopped as Gerda entered the hallway. Elsa pushed the door closed, leaving just a crack so she could listen.
In the hallway Gerda knelt, catching the little seven year old,in her arms, before she crashed blindly into the woman. "Anna, dear, what's wrong? Are you hurt?"
"Celina took my Elsa doll." Her little arms wrapped tightly around Gerda's neck. Unshed tears glistened in her eyes. "I told her to give it back. But she said, she doesn't have to listen to me, cause I'm just the spare. When I tried to take it back she pushed me."
"Did she hurt you?"
"No." She sat up. "I need Elsa to help me get it back. She's the heir, Celina has to listen to her."
Gerda cupped a freckled cheek. "Your sister is eating her lunch. Would you like for me to help you rescue the fair princess from the mean troll?"
A smile tugged at the child's lips at the jest. It lasted only a moment before Anna's lower lip pouted out. She picked at a spot on Gerda's jacket. "I want Elsa to help me."
"You know your sister can't do that."
"Must we have this disagreement again?"
"No." Anna laid her head on Gerda's shoulder.
The woman placed a kiss to the child's head. "Shall we see about your doll?"
Anna didn't lift her head as she gave a little nod.
"Come along then, we have a princess to rescue." Gerda carried the child down the hall.
Neither noticed a lone figure slip into the hallway, closing the snowflake covered door behind her.
Author's Note - I know My Lady is not a proper title for a Royal Crown Princess, though My Lady Princess is. But, I don't like the sound of that. In my head cannon Gerda's My Lady is a term of endearment for Elsa.