July 29 1840 - a week since the ice rink and Hans departure
Snow glistened atop the North Mountain in the bright July sun. Far below, the people of Arendelle enjoyed the summer warmth. The cold weather of a week ago, becoming a distant memory.
Reindeer hooves thumped against the snow as sled rails swooshed along. Lulled by the sound Princess Anna of Arendelle struggled to stay awake. The excitement of the trip had begun to wear thin after the first hour.
Unable to hold her head up, she settled against Elsa's shoulder. The cool skin against her cheek was comforting. She snuggled in closer.
"Are you cold?" Elsa tucked the blanket covering them in tighter.
She couldn't help smiling at the concern in her sister's voice. How she had longed for it during the passing years.
"No. Just sleepy."
"Sleepy?" Elsa cupped a hand to the back of the girl's head as her other arm wrapped around her waist.
Anna shifted, wrapping her arms around her sister, as she snuggled in. "Someone, drug me out of my nice, soft bed at an ungodly hour this morning."
Elsa chuckled, the sound brought a wider smile to Anna's lips. "We would have left earlier if I hadn't had to fight tooth and nail to get you out of bed."
"Siccing Gerda on me is hardly fighting tooth and nail."
"We were an hour late getting started because of you." Elsa gently dug her fingers into the younger woman's ribs, causing her to jump.
"Stop that." She tried to swat that the offending hand, but Elsa held her tight.
"You would have slept half the day away. Besides, we need to get back before dark. I don't want to risk running into wolves."
"Like wolves would be a problem for the Snow Queen."
"I'd rather not test that theory." Elsa pressed a gentle kiss atop the head on her shoulder.
"Hummm." Anna buried her nose against the pale neck, settling into a comfortable position. She sniffed, then drew a deep breath.
"Are you sniffing me?"
"You smell like lavender."
"I like lavender." Elsa replied.
"That was mama's favorite."
"Yes, it was." Elsa stroked her hand over copper colored hair.
"Reminds me of her." Anna's words grew heavy with sleep.
"Yeah, me too." Came the soft reply.
She felt Anna relax against her as she drifted off to sleep. Since the Thaw they had spent many nights huddled together, talking till they drifted off. Each craving the closeness that had been denied them for so long.
The days following the Thaw had been surreal. There were moments when she feared it was all a dream. Any minute she would open her eyes and find herself back in her room with Anna curled up outside her door. Or worse, Anna gone, runaway with some prince to start her life anew, free from her sister's world.
She shook off the thought. Days of hiding from the world were behind her, and no lowly prince was going to come within a mile of her sister as long as she had a say in it. As Queen, eldest member of her house and big sister, she had a very large say in it.
She ran her hand over Anna's hair, marveling at the softness of it. The first night after their reunion she hadn't been able to stop touching it.
As children she had loved to play with Anna's hair. She loved how the color would shift from red to blond as the light hit it. Then the accident happened and those beautiful red locks were marred by that damn white streak. How it had mocked her. A constant reminder of the pain she'd caused. No matter how hard she tried to forget, the sight of that streak would draw all those memories crashing down upon her.
It had taken her several days to believe it was truly gone. She had run her hands through Anna's hair for hours looking for any trace of it. Even now she expected it to reappear. No, it's gone. She thought. Anna is healed.
She rubbed her cheek against the soft hair. It smelled like Anna, apples coupled with an earthly scent of pears, a hint of pine and…reindeer.
Her eyes cut to the large man seated beside them. There was a small goofy smile on Kristoff's face as he watched Anna sleep. He looked up to find her watching him. His attention turned to the trail. Elsa suspected the red blush creeping up his neck to cover his cheeks was not from the cold air.
It was hard to believe only a week had passed since Anna had introduced him and his reindeer as friends, while they waited for the guards to tow the ship ashore. Since that day they had shared a few words in passing and one somewhat awkward dinner. He seemed like a good man, quiet, strong, loyal, at least to Anna. Kristoff Bjorgman was a man of few words, but when he spoke it was clear and usually blunt. Though always polite he was not afraid to speak his mind, even to her. She liked that.
From what Anna had told her, somewhere between their meeting at the trading post and him returning to rescue her on the ice, they had developed feelings for each other. What exactly those feelings were Anna wasn't able to explain.
She remembered how flushed and excited her sister had been when she told of sharing a kiss. Her first kiss. Elsa hugged her closer, not sure she was ready for her baby sister to be experiencing such things. Her Anna was the little girl who bounced on her bed at night, begging to play, not a young woman sharing kisses in the town square. No, not a little girl, not anymore. Elsa corrected herself. Gone was the child that had followed in her shadow, in her placed was a beautiful young woman.
Thirteen years she had hid in the mistaken believe she was protecting her sister. A mistake which had nearly cost them their lives. Never again would she shun her responsibilities to her sister. She would be there to comfort and protect her.
She had already been hurt by that swine of a prince, who could see no value for her beyond her titles and his path to the throne.
No doubt he is but the first of the pack of jackals that will come sniffing around for her. She stroked her hand through Anna's hair. Let them come. I'll show them why a big sister should be feared, especially one with icy powers. No one will hurt you like that again, little sister. She sealed the silent promise with a kiss atop Anna's head.
Prince Hans Westerguard stood on the ship's deck looking to the sea. His hair stirred from the breeze coming in off the harbor. To his back lay his father's kingdom of the Southern Isles. But his mind was still in Arendelle.
Granted Arendelle was a bit of a backwoods kingdom. But he could have shaped it into something more. It was his to mold.
He'd been so close, a mere sword stroke away from his own throne. The witch lay broken before him, helpless, ready for the slaughter. His hand flexed, remembering the weight of the sword. It had felt so right. How he had longed to coat that god forsaken ice with her blood. She was his to destroy.
A glorious victory, and it had all been snatched away by an imbecile of a girl. Gloved hands clenched into fists at the thought of the pigtailed princess.
Princess, he snorted at the title. She had been nothing more than a child playing at royalty. His stomach soured at the memory of having to coddle and court her. The little fool had been so easy.
Upon first sight he reasoned she would make an attractive bed warmer. At least, in the beginning. After she had produced an heir or two he could have arranged an accident for her, just as he had planned for her sister.
By the time she had drug him before the witch, he wondered if he could endure her inane chatter long enough to secure an heir. What he would have given to pull that ever flapping tongue from her mouth.
The thought brought a smile to his lips. Yes, it would have been most satisfying to shut her up once and for all.
Next time, he would not be so careless. Next time he would make sure she was a corpse before leaving her to rot. How had she escaped the library?
Bile crept up Hans' throat at the sound of his name spoken in the heavy French accent. He did not bother to face the man. Saints be damned if he would show the little upstart any respect. "What?"
If the Frenchman took any offense at his tone it was not noticeable. "I am ready to escort you to the castle."
In a smooth motion he turned on the man, ready to remind him of his place. Any thoughts of throttling the man were squashed by the two large guards flanking the slender Frenchman.
Hans' eye twitched in anger at the smug smirk on Dupuis's narrow face. Dressed in fine silks and linens with a gold ascot adorning his neck, Alain Dupuis looked every bit the polished Ambassador, his post required.
"I do not need an escort." Hans fixed the man with a cold glare. "This is my home."
Unruffled by the prince's hostility, Dupuis folded his hands behind his back. "You are a prisoner of Arendelle, and I have given Queen Elsa my word, I would deliver you to your father for punishment."
Mention of Elsa's name sparked a new rage in Hans. Fists clenched at his sides, he took a step toward the man. "The Snow Witch has no authority here."
Dupuis did not flinch. "We will see what your father has to say about that." He started for the gang plank. "Shall we go ashore?"
When Hans made no move to follow, a meaty handed guard shoved him forward.
Hans shot a glare at the man, who appeared unfazed by the prince's anger. Determined to keep some of his dignity Hans tugged the bottom of his jacket down to straighten it. Without a word he followed after the Ambassador. The guards fell in behind him.
Anna startled awake as the sled glided to a stop.
"Thanks, buddy." Kristoff called to Sven, as he jumped from the sled, turning to offer Anna a hand.
She accepted the hand, leaping from the sled to land ankle deep in the snow. With a wide yawn, she stretched out, shaking off the daze of sleep. Sight of the glimmering ice palace, brought her back to full awareness.
"Your Majesty." Kristoff offered his hand to Elsa.
Out of reflex Elsa drew her hand to her chest. Embarrassed by her reaction she managed a weak smile. "Thank you, but I can manage."
The mountain man took no offense at the refusal.
Excitement bubbled up in Anna as she gazed up at the palace. It was still as awe inspiring as the first time she saw it.
Unable to wait any longer she started for the palace stairs, calling over her shoulder. "Come on, Elsa. I want a full tour." She didn't see the large pile of snow rise up to block her path. As a shadow fell over her she slid to a stop, inches from the snow giant.
Snow and cold air pelted her face as the snowglem stooped to roar at her. Before she could react a large, icy hand scooped her up. She yelped as she found herself several feet off the ground, eye-to-hollow eye with the creature.
"Put me down!" She beat a gloved fist against the unyielding ice encircling her waist.
"Brother!" Olaf ran up and hugged the creature's leg.
"Stop!" Elsa stood before them, a hand raised to strike. "Release her."
"My lady." The snowglem's voice rumbled from deep in his throat.
"Put her ." Elsa commanded.
He lowered Anna, releasing her several inches from the ground, causing her to stumble as she gained her balance.
Anna growled as she squared off with the creature. "You know, I'm getting real tired of you tossing me around like a rag doll."
"Anna." Strong fingers wrapped around her arm, pulling her back.
Elsa placed herself between her sister and the giant.
"I'm not afraid of you." Anna lunged forward.
Elsa held her back with an arm. "Stop it."
"He started it." Anna huffed, crossing her arms.
Marshmallow growled at her.
"Enough." Elsa pointed a warning at the giant. "You two need to get along." She addressed Marshmallow. "You are not to hurt her."
His face lowered in confusion. "You wanted her to go?"
"That was before. Now I want her to stay." A gloved hand touched Elsa's back, she fought the urge to look at her sister. "You will protect her as you would me. No harm is to come to her. Do you understand?"
"Protect her, yes, milady." Hollow eyes turned to Kristoff. "What of him?"
Elsa looked over her shoulder at the mountain man, standing at Anna's side. She noted the tenseness in his large frame. He was ready to string into action, no doubt to protect Anna, if needed. "He is a friend."
Their eyes met and a deep red blush crept up Kristoff's neck. He gave her a small nod.
She pulled her sister to her side, looking up at the snowglem. "Anna is family. We protect family."
Anna's hands wrapped around Elsa's arm, squeezing her tight.
"Family." The creature's head moved up and down in a slow nod.
"Anna, say hello." Elsa motioned toward the giant.
"Seriously?" The little redhead crossed her arms over her chest as she leveled a frown at her sister.
"Play nice." Ordered the Queen.
Anna glared at her sister for a moment longer. "Fine." Her arms dropped and she turned to the snowman. With perfect court manners she curtsied. "I am Princess Anna of Arendelle. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Marshmallow."
"Why are you calling him, Marshmallow?" Elsa asked, amused by her sister's antics.
Anna shrugged. "That's what Olaf calls him."
The creature scooped Olaf up, bringing him to eye level. "Hello, little brother." The giant rumbled.
Olaf giggled. "Actually, I'm your big brother."
The snowglem looked to Elsa.
She shrugged. "He was created first."
A sound akin to laughter rumbled in the giant. "Hello, older brother."
Olaf laughed, jumping up and down in the large palm. "We can have so much fun. Oh, oh, we can explore the mountain and play in the snow, running and jumping."
"No running." Marshmallow hobbled forward a step.
"What happened to you?" Concern etched Elsa's features as she rushed forward to place a hand on his damaged leg.
"Men came, wished to hurt you. One cut through my leg. I fell into the deep." He motioned to the stairs."
For the first time they noticed the damaged railing.
"When I returned, you were gone."
Elsa patted his leg. "Thank you for trying to stop them."
"I bet it was, Hans." Anna growled the name.
The name stirred a twitch of anger in Elsa. She shook it off. "Let's get you fixed up." With a wave of her hand the limb reshaped into perfect form. "How's that?"
Marshmallow stood to his full height and took a step. The leg held firm. Laughter boomed as he swept Elsa up in his arms, holding her close.
Anna and Kristoff shared a collective gasp as Elsa was drawn up by the creature.
Both relaxed as he held her close. "Thank you, milady."
"You're welcome, big guy." She managed to free a hand and pat his arm. "Now, put me down."
He lowered her to the ground. With a hand smooth out her gown. "Thank you. Why don't you and Olaf play while we look around the palace?"
Olaf squealed, placing a hand on Marshmallow's leg. "Come on." Not waiting for a reply he waddled off with the giant following after him.
Anna turned to her sister who was watching the snow creatures with a half smile on her lips. "So are there anymore snow babies I should know about?"
"What?" Elsa turned to her. "What babies?"
"Well, you did create them, so technically, you're their mother."
Pale cheeks flushed a deep pink. "No, I am not. Well, not exactly. I mean, I did create them, but I'm not their…mother. Am I?"
Elsa stared at the snowmen chasing each other and Sven around the clearing. Tears glistened in the corners of her eyes.
"Elsa?" Anna placed a hand on her sister's shoulder. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I think so. I…" She looked at her hands. "I just need to be more careful."
Before Anna could ask why. Kristoff's heartbroken cry brought her up short.
"It's ruined." He stood at the bottom of the stairs, hands on his hips.
Anna moved to his side eying the broken railing. "It was beautiful."
"It was perfect." The ice man waved his hands at the gaping hole where ice should have been. "Perfect ice, and now it's gone."
She placed a hand on his arm. "It's okay, Kristoff. I'm sure Elsa can fix it." She turned to her sister. "You can fix it, right?"
Elsa moved to her side, eying the damage. "I don't see why not." She stepped onto the bottom step and placed her hand upon the railing. Snow and ice began to swirl along the railing, filling the hole. In an instant a snowy version of the railing appeared.
She stepped to the new section and ran her hand along it. Snow turned to ice as her hand passed over it.
"Wow." Anna and Kristoff gasped.
"See, good as new." Elsa smiled at them over her shoulder before heading up the stairs.
Anna followed after her, grinning from ear-to-ear.
Kristoff stepped up to the repaired section, running a gloved hand over it. "Flawless."
"You coming?" Anna called back to him.
"Wouldn't miss it." The mountain man bounded up the stairs after them.
He found the sister's standing in the center of the room.
Anna did a slow turn. "Elsa, it really is beautiful."
"Thank you. Come on, let's see the rest."
Hans and his escorts made their way off the docks into the streets. While there were people about, the streets were not as crowded as one would expect for a port city. For more than a century the Southern Isles had been a dominating force on the seas, wielding a navy and merchant fleet second to none. But years of war and poor alliances had weakened their status. The King had watched the power and profits his ancestors had build begin to crumble. Much had been riding on a new trade agreement with Arendelle. Though small the country would have given the Southern Isles the economic boost it needed.
No doubt his father would be displeased he had not secured an agreement, as he had been instructed. He had seen a better opportunity and taken it. His father would be angry at the witch's threats to cut all ties with them, but after kicking out Weselton, she would need them.
As they reached an intersection Dupuis kept to the main street.
"Monsieur, that is not the right way." Called the guard who had manhandled Hans.
The Ambassador half turned to him. "Are you sure? The castle appears to be just over the ridge."
"Yes, Ambassador, but the main bridge was washed out by a recent storm. It's still under repair, we must cross further down." The man pointed down a side street.
Dupuis looked to Hans for confirmation. The prince brushed imagined dust from his shoulder. "Very well." They followed the street.
After several blocks the Ambassador stopped. "This cannot be right. We are moving away from the castle. We will go back." He turned on his heels to find Hans blocking his path. Before he could speak a gloved fist struck him. Pain shot through his face as he staggered back.
The guard who had remained silent during the trip reached for his sword. It never cleared the scabbard as the large guard drove his dagger into the man's back, sinking it to the hilt.
With one hand over the man's mouth, the guard used the dagger to drag him into an alley.
Hans grabbed the gold ascot, twisting till it cut into Dupuis' throat. He used it to drag the man into the alley. A sharp kick to the back of his legs, dropped the Frenchman to his knees.
Several punches to the face eased his struggling. With the ascot still wrapped around the man's neck, Hans moved behind him. He wrapped the cloth in both hands and drew it tight.
Dupuis clawed at the fabric digging into his throat. As his windpipe collapsed under the pressure, all he could manage were grunting, gasping sounds. A knee pressed against his spine, arching him back.
Hans smiled down at him. "You little toad, where is your witch now?" He leaned back as hands grabbed at him. They tugged at his sleeves, unable to break his grip. His smirk widened into a smile as the Ambassador's struggles weakened.
He leaned in to whisper in the dying man's ear. "When the witch joins you in hell, give her my regards."
Dupuis's face was blood red, his mouth gasping open and closed as he tried in vain to breathe. His attempts to reach Hans' hands lessened, till his arms dropped limp at his sides. Hans lowered the limp man to the ground. He placed a boot against the man's back and pulled harder on the cloth. Once he was certain Dupuis was dead, he used the ascot to drag him across the alley. He dumped him face down beside the dead guard. Satisfied he brushed off his hands and kicked the dead man's arm aside.
The large guard dropped to one knee and rifled through the Ambassador's pockets, stealing anything of possible value. He slipped a watch and several pieces of paper money into his coat pocket before standing to face Hans.
"Your Highness, we should leave the area before someone sees us."
"Agreed, but there are a couple of things I need to do first." He knelt by the dead men and pulled a dagger from the guard's belt. "What's the name of my ship?"
"The Bolton, it was at the dock when we arrived. Her captain should be waiting for you."
Hans stood, slipping off his jacket. "Give me your coat."
"Why?" The man drew back a step.
"I can't walk around in this, someone will recognize me."
"You can take Jean-Luc's jacket."
"No, there's blood on it. Your jacket, now." Hans held out a hand.
The man took his stolen treasures from the coat and slipped them into his pants pocket. He shook off the coat, handing it to Hans.
Hans dropped his jacket on the ground. "Thank you." He reached for the offered coat. As the man released it, the coat slipped through Hans's fingers, dropping to the ground. The guard bent to retrieve it.
In one swift motion Hans grabbed a hand full of black hair, jerking the man's head down as he drove his knee up into man's face. With his fingers wrapped in the dazed man's hair, Hans yanked his head up and back, keeping the man off balance. He sank the knife deep into the man's gut, using his shoulder to force him back. The knife sank deeper as they slammed into the wall. A scream began to bubbled up from the wounded man, only to be cut short as a gloved hand clamped over his mouth, forcing it shut.
With the man pinned against the wall, Hans looked into his eyes as he twisted the blade. Mumbled cries remained trapped beneath his hand.
"It's nothing personal. I just can't risk anyone learning of my plans, and well, you've proven you can be bought."
Tears slipped down the man's cheeks as Hans gave the knife a hard twist. A muffled scream escaped from beneath his hand. Hans held the dying man's gaze. There was a rush of power as he watched the life slip away and knowing he had taken it. He liked the feeling. As he lowered the man to the ground, he wondered how it would feel to watch the Snow Witch's life slip from those pretty blue eyes. The thought of it aroused him.
Yes, he thought. If I have the chance, I want to feel her blood on my hands. I wonder if it runs cold? He stripped off his blood soaked gloves, dropping them on the dead man. He knelt to wipe his hands clean on the man's shirt, then as an afterthought pulled the stolen money and watch from his pocket. Slipping them into his own pocket, he retrieved the guard's coat. The over-sized garment hung loose on his shoulders as he pulled it on. He picked up his own jacket and brushed it off before folding and tucking it under his arm, inside the heavy coat.
Before stepping from the alley he raised the collar of the coat to shield his face. He strolled away without a backward glance at the dead men.
Anna moved to Elsa's side as they reached the upper chamber. "I had no idea you created so many rooms. It's amazing." She was bouncing on the balls of her feet with excitement.
Elsa slipped an arm through her sister's as they entered the upper chamber. "I'm glad you like it." She noticed the young woman's joy had vanished, something akin to horror had taken its place. "Anna, what's wrong?"
"What happened?" The battle ravaged room looked nothing like she remembered it.
Columns of ice rose throughout the room. The double doors to the balcony lay damaged among the shattered railing. Chunks of broken ice covered the floor.
"I told you. There was a fight."
Anna pulled away, slowly making her way through the debris. She kicked aside pieces of ice, sending them sliding across the floor. The shattered remnants of the chandelier lay before her.
One of its long blades remained intact, pointing skyward. Her eyes traveled up to where the broken connection still hung. She ran a hand over the icy blade. Even through her glove she could tell how sharp it was. The thought of it impaling her sister sent a shuttered down her spine.
"Anna?" A gentle hand rested on her shoulder.
"He almost killed you twice."
An arm wrapped around her. "But he didn't. We're safe now. He can't hurt us anymore."
"Yeah, I know." The smile she offered didn't quite reach her eyes.
They looked to Kristoff, who was standing by a wall of ice with an arrow embedded in it.
Olaf strolled over to stare up at the arrow. "That looks so cool, Elsa. How did you get it through the ice?"
Elsa took Anna's arm as they moved to the ice wall. "I didn't. One of the Duke's men fired it at me and my magic blocked it."
Kristoff touched the steel tip, pulling away as its razor edge nicked his skin. "So how close did it get?"
"Too close." She shuttered at the memory.
Gloved hands wrapped around her arm in a vice grip. She patted the hands, giving Anna a reassuring smile.
Hands planted firmly on his hips Kristoff surveyed the room. "Looks like they did some serious damage."
"Actually, I did most of it fighting them off." Elsa eyed the room. "Time to clean up." With a pat to Anna's hand she stepped away. "Okay, everyone stay behind me."
Anna and Kristoff moved to a spot near a wall, Olaf at their side. Anna leaned into Kristoff. He wrapped an arm around her shoulders, a gesture that was not lost on Elsa.
Elsa drew a deep breath, raised her hands and began moving them as if conducting an orchestra. The walls of ice vanished. Upon the balcony the railing repaired itself as the double doors were righted and secured back into place.
With a stamp of her foot blue magic swept across the floor and up the castle wall to the ceiling. From the ceiling a new ice chandelier appeared, as grand and beautiful as before.
"Amazing." Kristoff stared up at the icy creation. Without taking his eyes from it, he moved to stand under it. "I…it's…flawless."
Elsa blushed as she hid a smile. "Thank you."
"No, really, I've never seen anything like it before." He couldn't look away.
"You're not going to cry are you?" Anna teased.
"You said, you wouldn't judge me."
Anna laughed, gazing up at the ceiling. "It really is beautiful, Elsa."
She stepped to Anna's side to gaze up at the icy wonder. "I'm rather proud of it."
"You should be." Anna slipped an arm around her sister's waist. "I wish I could create like that."
"You have your own talents, Anna."
"Yeah, right. The talent for falling down stairs and breaking things."
A cool hand cupped her cheek, turning her to face Elsa. "Don't belittle yourself, sister."
Anna ducked her head under Elsa's sincere gaze. "Okay."
"Olaf, be careful with that." Kristoff said.
The sisters turned to find the little snowman playing with the arrow.
"What could go wrong?" He swung his arm downward driving the tip into his midsection. His eyes settled on the shaft protruding from his side. "Oh look, I've been impaled." He giggled.
Elsa shook her head. "Come here, little guy. Let's get rid of that before someone gets hurt." She pulled the arrow from the snowman, patching the hole in his side with a wave of her hand.
They followed her out to the balcony.
Anna eyed the arrow. "What are you going to do with it?"
"Get rid of it."
"Maybe you should keep it. You know as a war trophy, from your first battle." Anna said.
"No,that's morbid. Besides, it wasn't a war and I didn't exactly win."
Elsa stepped to the railing. She took the arrow in both hands and with a thought it turned to solid ice. Holding it out over the edge she shattered it allowing the pieces to fall away into the chasm below.
"Nice trick." Anna leaned over the railing to watch the pieces disappear into the darkness below.
Kristoff tugged on her cloak, pulling her back before she toppled over the edge.
Elsa caught the gesture, but said nothing, giving Kristoff a little nod.
He smiled in return. His attention turned to the sky. "If we're going to visit my family and make it back to the castle by dark, we need to get moving."
"Let's go." Anna bounded toward the double doors.
"Wait," Elsa entered and crossed the room. Light reflected off something laying in a far corner."There is one more thing I need to do." From the floor she retrieved a gold crown with a blue stone in the center. She turned to Anna. "Do you have the bag I gave you?"
"Sure." Anna began digging through the satchel slung over her shoulder. She pulled out a purple and green velvet bag.
Elsa opened it and slipped her crown inside, drawing the strings atop the bag closed. She handed the bag back to Anna. "Don't lose it."
"Says the woman who threw it across an ice palace." Anna stuffed it into the satchel.
"You promised not to tell anyone that."
Anna chuckled following her out of the room. "I can't wait to see the trolls again." In her excitement she didn't notice the smile leave Elsa's face.
"Yes, the trolls." She tried to ignore the icy dread creeping up her spine.
Hans found the ship docked near the end of a line of military ships. He slipped off the guard's coat, tossing it into the water, before pulling on his jacket.
As he reached the top of the gangplank a man in the uniform bearing the rank of Captain stepped to him.
"Welcome aboard, Your Highness. I am Captain Swart of the Bolton. Your brother sends his regards."
"Thank you, Captain. Did he send anything else?"
"Yes sir." He removed a sealed envelope from his jacket pocket, handing it to Hans. "This is for your eyes only, Your Highness."
"Was my brother able to complete my requirements?" Hans asked as he accepted the letter.
"The arrangements you discussed are being made as we speak."
"Excellent." He opened the letter, reading over it a wolfish smile formed on his lips. "Captain, make ready to set sail, immediately."
"Yes, Your Highness. We should be in Lienz in three days time, if the weather holds."
"We're not going to Lienz." Hans closed the letter and tucked it away inside his jacket.
"If I may inquire, Your Highness, where are we going?"
"We need to make a little detour, to pick up some insurance."
"Insurance against what, sir."
"Against the cold. Set sail."
"Yes, sir." With a crisp salute the Captain turned to his crew and began shouting orders.
Hans took a place at the railing as the crew came to life around him. Soon, Elsa, soon I'll have your crown and that pretty little head it rests upon.