Authors note: Welcome to the revamp of Gylden. A couple of months back I started this fic, but reading it again I realized it could be a lot better than it was as somethings even though they happened for a reason, like Elsa being in a coma, kinda made no sense and it was not like her, so I went back and changed it, though the story will follow a similar plot it will be extremely different, like for example with Elsa I was slightly inspired by Queen elizabeth the virgin queen when writting about Elsas character section.
A long time has passed since Hans gained redemption and courted Elsa, so much so he took the next step and asked her to marry him. Sadly the engagement was broken because of Agnaar, Elsa's father, who was determined to go to any length's to tear the two apart. Fearing for Elsa and her happiness Hans decided to break the engagement to spare her any further pain and after a series of terrible events Hans finds himself with a new identity, new friends and traveling the world on one adventure after another, never knowing or imagining that fate will bring him and Elsa back together. For like the saying says "If you love somebody let them go, if they come back their love is yours to keep"
I will not reveal too much as I want to keep the rest a secret, a secret which I hope will delight all of you lovely readers. (Wink). Any way on with the new story, please tell me what you think and what improvements I can make on it as your opinions matter.
Fire, warm, comforting, yet destructive and devastating. We hate and fear it, yet at the same time depend and need it.
Sitting down on a chair in front of the fireplace Hans Westergaard rubbed his hands and blew on them to keep warm as he rested his tired self from the long journey.
Looking at the fire Hans memories danced along his head. It had been so long, years in fact, yet Elsa would never leave his head and as of recently she had been haunting his dreams.
Closing his eyes Hans wished things would have been different, he wished to go back to her, but always reminded himself why he broke off their engagement and left in the first place.
Their relationship was not healthy, not for her or him, when had it become that way Hans was not sure, but he knew him constantly worrying and having nightmares about her leaving him for someone better, worrying her father was going to murder him in the middle of the night, her father giving her an ultimatum, him turning into a horrible control freak or worse turning into his father. It was Hans worst nightmare, to turn into a monster like his father...
Because of that and many other reasons he ended their relationship, for both his sake and hers. Elsa deserved better than him, he was unworthy of her in every sense. This way she could find somebody who was better and more deserving of her, a prince whom her father would be proud to call son, a brother in law whom Anna would adore, a consort who the people of Arendelle would love.
Yes Hans admitted that maybe there could have been another way, but what was the point? She would always brush it off, excuse or blame it on him.
He feared that her father would give Elsa an ultimatum, choose between him or her family and kingdom. Agnaar was planning to, he was sure of it. Knowing that would crush Elsa Hans just could not let that happen. He had done so much wrong, he tried to make right, but this... he could not let it happen...
So yes, ending the engagement was for the best.
A win win for all. He hoped in time he would get over it, yes he did in a way moved on, he made a new life, new friends, traveled the world and gained a name for himself.
Looking at his bag Hans brought it over and opened it, taking out a book he flipped through the pages till he found a sketch. Gently he stroke the sketch, barely able to keep himself from crying.
The sketch was of a group, a young man and two girls, the young man was lanky, dark haired and pale skin, a wide smile, one of the girls was huge with muscle, yet possessed the gentlest soul Hans ever met, the girl next to her was dark skinned, a proud warrior.
He wished he had them with him, but it was time for them to go their separate ways, the young man Varian wanted to go home to Corona, the huge muscle girl Heidi went back to her home where a ranch was waiting for her and the remaining one went back to her village as she was named the leader.
They all had one last drink about three days ago before they went their their separate paths in life. Separated but together, as they promised to send letters every so often.
The first letter he got was from Varian who arrived to his home first. It basically said how he was happy to be back home, the large homecoming party he got, how he told everybody his adventures and about him and hopes he would visit soon. That letter had a small paper with a painting of Corona on it with a very flowery "See you soon" written on it.
Soon Hans heard a bell ring and a driver call "All aboard! Next stop Tampere, Finland!".
Getting up Hans quickly closed the book and put it away in his sea bag before making his way to the coach. There was a man there taking tickets.
When the driver took his he nodded and said "Have a pleasant trip Mister John Winters"
With a nod Hans got on the coach along with 5 other people who were squeezed in. Once they were all in their seats the coach door closed and the coach began to move, making its way to Tampere.
As it moved Hans pulled on his hood and scarf, making sure his face was well hidden before he looked out his window, as he did memories began to surface, memories of a past he desperately wanted to forget.
It had been three long years since the war erupted between Arendelle and Weselton, and the two countries were locked in a brutal stalemate. Neither side was willing to back down, and vicious battles were being waged over land and sea in a fierce struggle for supremacy, resulting in numerous casualties in both fronts.
By the third year, morale was at an all time low for the Arendellian forces. After one particularly disastrous sea battle, Weselton managed to capture a large number of ships and soldiers; and chief among those prisoners-of-war was none other than Kristoff Bjorgman, Princess Anna's husband, and Hans's potential brother-in-law.
With so many their men under Weselton's mercy, and their remaining forces sorely outnumbered, Arendelle was now given a difficult choice – surrender and live under the duchy's rule, or continue fighting at the risk of the captive soldiers' lives. This was a particularly hard call for the Arendelle Royal family, especially for Anna, since Kristoff's life was now in jeopardy.
Seeing that the sisters were caught between the proverbial Scylla and Charybdis, Hans took the initiative to embark on a rescue mission. It was a huge gamble where failure meant certain death, but it was his principle as a war leader to never leave a man behind.
With a few brave volunteers, Hans infiltrated the duchy, and by sheer gumption and bit of Lady Luck, not only were they were able to rescue all of the Arendellian hostages, and they also managed to turn the tide and take down Weselton from within. This was a devastating blow to the duchy, and soon after, the duke was found dead, having shot himself. With no heirs to succeed him, Weselton had no choice but to submit to the Arendellian crown.
It was a great victory for Arendelle. Not only had the enemy been defeated, they had also managed to expand their territory. When the triumphant soldiers returned, they were given a heroes' welcome complete with festivities, a military parade, and a medal ceremony.
Hans was particularly excited about heading back. For the last few years he had worked hard for his penitence and had not only earned a pardon from the queen, but her heart as well. Since then, he dedicated his service to the crown, even joining the navy, in hopes that he would be able to restore his shattered reputation among the Arendellians. And after Agnarr and Iduna had been rescued and reunited with their daughters, he did what he could to earn forgiveness and approval from Elsa's other family members.
And now all his of efforts culminated with him, standing on a raised platform along with the small contingent of soldiers who had volunteered to accompany him in the rescue mission. Before them was a large, jubilant crowd, cheering wildly for these brave heroes.
A trumpet blared and the royal family soon made their way up to the platform. Flanked by Iduna and Elsa on his left, and Anna and Kristoff on his right, King Agnarr delivered a grand speech in honor of the valiant soldiers. After that, he then began walking down the line, awarding each of the men the Golden Crocus – Arendelle's most prestigious military medal and personally congratulating each man.
As Agnarr neared Hans, the young admiral straightened his form. wanting to see the king eye to eye. Perhaps if he showed more confidence, he would be able to endear himself to his future father-in-law.
But alas, it was not to be. Agnarr merely walked past Hans and beckoned Kristoff to come over, not even sparing the redhead a single glance. Though he was puzzled, the blond obeyed nonetheless. The moment he got there, the king then pinned the medal onto his uniform. "Congratulations," he said softly, yet loud enough so that Hans was within earshot, "You have done a great service to both crown and country, and I'm proud to have one such as you as my future son-in-law. Welcome to the family, Mr. Bjorgman." By the time he was done, every soldier on the platform had a medal, except Hans.
Hans himself was flabbergasted. He was aware that Agnarr did not like him, but he did not expect the king to publicly humiliate him in such a manner. Already low whispers and hushed asides could heard from the other officers standing with him, and it hurt, but he swallowed down his bruised pride. He was not going to let Agnarr have that satisfaction of watching him break.
Despite being surrounded by people, Hans had never felt more alone in his life. Though he was the man of the hour, no one bothered to approach him. He passed by good number of guests talking, laughing, singing, and dancing amongst themselves as they celebrated Arendelle's victory over Weselton.
He meandered around, hoping to find someone he could talk to, to confide in, but it was fruitless. Everyone around him was too drunk in their revelry to even notice his misery.
His eyes scanned around the room, hoping to find Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, Iduna or even Agnaar. But they were nowhere in sight.
He was all alone.
If this was yet again Agnarr's doing, it was clear what message he was trying to convey: Happiness was like a bountiful harvest, and victory was sweeter when shared.
'But I have no one…' Hans thought glumly as realization dawned upon him – No matter how hard he worked, how hard he fought, nothing he did for Arendelle was ever good enough… Perhaps, it would never be.
He thought of drowning his pain with alcohol, drinking until he forgot himself; but he could not even bring himself to take a sip. The champagne flute he picked up earlier that evening remained untouched. He sighed inwardly. Making sure that no one was watching, he tipped his drink into a potted plant.
He had not eaten nor drank anything for the whole day, yet he felt neither hungry nor thirsty. Just a strange hollowness that neither food nor drink could satiate.
Setting down the now-empty champagne flute, Hans decided to leave early and call it a night.
And even then, not a soul noticed that he had left.
They say that love conquers all, that as long as there is love, nothing else is needed.
Hans personally found himself doubting that and for many reasons.
Watching from the balconies Hans was silent as he saw Elsa busy entertaining her guest. They were all princes from distant lands.
She seemed so happy with them as they converse about one thing or another.
He should feel happy that she was now more social, but he did not when he saw this.
It's been years and he worked as her admiral, she claimed she loved him and they started a relationship, were set to marry one day but as of late it felt as though they were not going to marry or even be a couple.
For the past couple of weeks she has been ignoring him, the only time she spoke to him was to criticize him, to point out his flaws and compare him to others.
It got worse when these princes came, Elsa would point out different characteristics of the princes and say "Why can't you look like him?" Or "Why can't you dress like him?" Or "He speaks correctly and knows when to say nothing, you have to learn from that". Whatever he lacked it was pointed out in the cruelest way.
Hans tried to ignore it, he desperately wanted to believe that his and Elsa's love was strong, that they would be together forever like they promised one another, that what was going on was maybe due to stress or something. But he could not help but think about what she said and that hurt..it hurt even more to acknowledge that she was are right.
Those princes were perfect, any one of them would make a perfect match for Elsa. Any one of them were most deserving of her hand and surely they would immediately be approved and welcomed to the Arendellian family with open arms by Agnaar.
Hans sighted and looked down, maybe it was best if Elsa chose another. They were perfect while he was not. With that he turned around and closed the balcony doors behind him. It hurt too much to continue to watch that scene.
Weeks passed and Hans though it would get better, but it got worse and when it did he feared for the future...
The fear began with a test...
Yet another test...
Hans stared between Elsa and Agnaar who stood before him. Elsa looked so happy that he had passed the test while Agnaar had the face that one would get when sucking a lemon or drinking spoiled milk.
Elsa actions towards him got worse. She began to act even colder towards him for no apparent reason. Ignoring him, pushing him away. Being overly friendly to other princes, showing them around or if they got her a gift she would show it off and say why could he not get her gifts like that or why can't he take her out to dinner or such like they do.
It was not for the lack of trying as Hans did try, whenever he would get her gifts and she would smash them in front of him saying how much she hated the gifts, whenever he took her out to eat Elsa would say how she hated it. There really seemed no way to please her and it really hurt but Hans let it go as he though that Elsa must be going through some stress and did not know how to handle it and in a way he felt that it was some kind of karma for what he did in the past.
Then one day while he was out on a walk a strange woman approached him. She was beautiful, pleasant and to be honest Hans was flattered by the way she praised him and flirted with him.
After a while she asked if he wanted to go with her for a meal. Which Hans declined politely and explained how he was engaged and happy.
She looked disappointed and pressed but Hans refused.
For about a week the woman would appear and try to convince him but after seeing it was fruitless she gave up and left him alone.
Hans though that was that... but boy was he wrong...
The next day he had been called in by Elsa, for a moment he wondered why as she has not spoke or anything to him in a long time, but as soon as he walked through the throne room doors he flinched as she greeted him with a hug and kiss... the first hug and kiss he had gotten from her in months. It was so surprising that he froze, not knowing how to react to the sudden act of kindness and love Elsa was showing him.
Pulling away she explained how everything had all been a test and how he passed.
Her father had asked her to put him to the test, to prove that Hans loved her she had to treat him horribly then send a woman... a temptation... to him... if Hans refused the temptation and such then his love for Elsa was real. If his love was real then Agnaar would accept Hans into the family as his son and allow him and Elsa to marry. Hans has passed the test.
Hearing this made Hans angry, not glad as he just stared at Elsa, unable and even afraid to speak as he knew that if he did he would have some not so nice things to say.
"Are you not happy? We can marry now! And father!" She said as she turned to face Agnaar "He has agreed to give you his blessing and call you his son".
No... it was a lie... all a lie... this would never stop.. Agnaar would only make more and more tests to get his way... He will do anything even... no.. no Hans could not let that happen..
Turning to Elsa Hans stared, bit by bit her smile vanished before she asked "Whats wrong?",
Clenching his fist Hans whispered "Its never going to stop is it?",
"Pardon?" asked Elsa confused,
"These test..." continued Hans somehow keeping his composure when all he wanted to do was yell in anger "No matter what I do I am just not good enough; Am I?",
"What? Don't be ridicules" said Elsa somehow not stammering as she got nervous. It was clear to Hans that this was not the reaction she was expecting from him before she turned to Agnaar and said "Tell him father"
Agnaar said nothing, just crossed his arms. Of course he was not going to keep his end. Hans knew that and judging by the way Elsas eyes widen it was clear that she realized it as well.
Turning to face Hans Elsa opened her mouth, to apologize and explain obviously, but Hans had had enough of this nonsense, he had made up his mind and knew what he was going to do.
Looking at Elsa with an emotionless stare Hans held out his hand and said "I would like that ring back please", Elsas eyes grew wide, her body began to tremble. For a moment Hans began to worry, he did not want to see her in pain and crying, but knew this had to be done. Even if it hurt her. He steeped himself for the tears and screams to come, but there was non as Elsa just took a deep breath and said "Are you sure this is what you want?",
Hans nodded gravely and said "I am for this... this is not right... not for you or me... what we have" he paused and shook his head "Its not healthy"
As he spoke each word Elsa's eyes teary, yet she did not shed a single tear. She seemed to be telling herself over and over that he was not serious, that he was bluffing at best. Taking the ring off Elsa did it slowly as if she was sure he would take back what he said at any moment now.
Placing the ring in his outstretched hand Hans closed it and said "Good bye Queen Elsa" with that he turned around and left the room leaving Elsa and Agnaar staring in shock.
Elsa stared in silence or maybe she said something and Hans did not hear, what Hans did heard was Agnaar yells about how dare he hurt his daughter, how he is a bastard, a horrible person and who knows what else.
Hans continued his walk, ignoring the threats and such. Yes he knew he hurt Elsa, but it was not as worse as he knew how Elsa would hurt if Agnaar gave her an ultimatum.
What he did hurt her... but if Agnaar gave her an ultimatum it will destroy her.
The next day:
Was this what was like to be apathetic? Hans wondered as he walked by. People spoke, Nobles did, the council, everybody yet it was as if he was not hearing anything.
Walking he entered the office which was for meetings only to discuss him renouncing his role as admiral and how he will soon be leaving with the soldiers only to freeze when he looked inside the office and saw the prince's, Iduna, Anna, Kristoff and Elsa were there.
A part of Hans felt embarrassed as he was sure he had entered the wrong room and said "I apologize, seems the room I entered was wrong" as he turned to leave,
"No stay" said Elsa making Hans stop all movement for a brief moment, she walked over and tried to take his hand, he moved it so she would not grab it.
She look sad at the rejection before saying "I asked that you would be dismissed from all meetings",
"Why your majesty?" asked Hans, his tone sounding emotionless,
"After this meeting you and I are going somewhere and we will talk" said Elsa with hope in her voice as she looked at his face, wishing to see it bright up, maybe show a change of emotion, but Hans face remained the same, much like stone, not showing any emotions as he said "I apologize but I cannot be dismissed as I have an important announcement to make",
"Take it easy freckles, I am sure that can wait" said Eugene laughing but deep inside alarm bells were going, something happened between the two lovers, what he was not sure, but knew it was anything but good.
It seems he was not alone as Kristoff and Anna also stared, they seemed to be uncomfortable while Iduna just looked confused as she did not know what happened.
Reaching again Elsa took and dragged Hans over to the table, she made a move for him to sit, but instead of sitting next to her as she wanted he walked away and sat at the opposite end of the table next to Eugene.
Swallowing a bit Elsa started the meeting.
The meeting felt like it was taking forever for Hans as he stared silent, each second that passed was pure torture and humiliation to him. He would have rather been punched by Anna in front of everybody than having to sit by this meeting, watch Elsa speak so comfortably to all the princes and soak up their praises which were flirts while wearing that dress.
The dress she wore was his favorite, he always admired how she looked in purple and she wore it on every anniversary of their courtships.
But now...it just made him sick with grief just to look at it as it was a constant reminder of what will never be.
"Hans...you have been awfully quiet" he heard Elsa say,
"Hu? " said Hans as he had not been paying attention to the meeting so he did not know what had been talked about.
"Do you want to say anything?" said Elsa sweetly "Your opinion matters", he felt his skin burn as all the attention was on him. He swallowed thickly and licked his dry lips, he did not wanted to speak as he was afraid that if he did then he would say the wrong thing.
And wrong thing he will say due to everything that happened. It was all just too much for him.
Luckily he did not need to answer as Agnaar and the council walked into the office. Hans was quick to note that they all seemed in a happy mood.
"Congratulations queen Elsa" announced one of the council, Hans did not remember his name, as he took her hand and kissed it.
"You finally got rid of the garbage, it pleases us so much to hear that you have finally seen what we see in that worthless bastard" said another while Agnaar looked as proud as punch as the council members went around, taking turns in congratulating Elsa.
"What?!" Yelled Idunna as she looked between Hans and Elsa not believing what she heard and she was not alone as all of the princes reacted while Anna and Kristoff looked like they wanted to be anywhere but there at the moment.
"No no! I did not, me and Hans-" began Elsa in a panic, hoping to set things straight but was not given the chance as Hans spoke and interrupted.
"Your right" said Hans in a calm voice making the room go dead silent.
He smiled, it was not forced or fake, but surprisingly genuine as he spoke "Queen Elsa deserves so much better" with a flourish of a hand he gestured to the princes as he faced all of them "Any one of you princes would make a perfect match for her"
The silence persisted, what he was saying was registering in their heads yet they still could not believe the words that came out of his mouth.
No one spoke, not a word was uttered. Everyone just sat there, stunned into silence. Seeing this, Hans continued to speak. "Take Prince Rainer for example," he said, gesturing to the representative from Baden-Wüttemberg, a tall, dark-haired man with striking hazel eyes. He had strong build and chiseled features, but even this gallant specimen shrank into his chair when Hans addressed him. "You two would make a wonderful couple," he went on. "I can see it now… The power couple of the century – stately, imposing, and regal, as will be the children born between you two." He cast a meaningful glance at Agnarr. "Wouldn't you agree, Your Majesty?"
Like everyone else, Agnaar remained silent. He had been so certain that Hans would press on with his courtship, and to see that he was serious about cancelling his betrothal was an unexpected surprise.
"But I don't have any feelings for Prince Rainer," Elsa rebutted in a shaky voice.
"Hmm… You're right, you always preferred to be in control," Hans admitted. "Lucky for you, Prince Eric has a high regard for strong women such as yourself He's a bit young, but still a good match." The raven-haired teenager could only gape at Hans in his bewilderment, his mouth wordlessly opening and closing like a gasping fish.
"With your union, the two of you could govern together as joint rulers of two seafaring merchant kingdoms, and expand the horizons in trade and exploration," the redhead continued. "He's sure to provide you with the perfect heirs, beautiful like their mother and brave like their father; can't you picture it? I sure can."
"I-I-I–" Elsa was dumbstruck. Why was Hans saying these things? Sure Rainer and Eric were fine young men, but there was only one perfect prince in her eyes, and that was the 13th son of House Westergaard. What bothered her even more was that her erstwhile fiancé was saying all these without an iota of malice or sarcasm. She could see that he meant every single word.
But Hans was not yet done. He focused on yet another prince, this one a dashing, young emir from the Ottoman Empire. "Then again, you could deserve to be pampered…" he said, glancing at the handsome Turkish dignitary, whose opulently embroidered robes complemented his olive skin and dark eyes. "And who better to that than Prince Kayron* here? His kingdom is overflowing with all sorts of treasures and dainties. Should you marry him, you and your children would never know want."
Hans paused for a brief moment as he studied all of the princes one by one. He felt isolated from them. Alone, in a way that he had felt only once before.
A churning sensation in the stomach coupled with an emotional yearning to be accepted as one of them without having to try so hard all the time.
All the time. But knew that would never happen.
That though made his despair and sorrow grow, he was inferior to them in every way and no matter what he did... it would never change...
"Your all the perfect princes" Hans murmured, knowing that no matter how much he accomplished, his past sins would forever be a blemish, and he could never be counted among their number. If he was not good enough for Elsa, he'd make sure that he would help her find a man who was. He turned to the Arendellian royals, smiling despite the intense pain in his heart. "Wouldn't you agree?"
Still, no one would, could, respond. Not even Agnaar, who hated him like poison. They only stared at him, mouth agape. Elsa, in particular, was at a loss for words.
In an attempt to ease the tension and reconcile the two lovers, Eugene decided to intervene with his characteristic levity. "Don't be ridiculous! No one is perfect. I mean look at me – I'm an ex-thief who married a princess, that's just about as imperfect as one can get." He laughed sheepishly at his own self-depreciation, but even that could not lift the somber mood.
The moment Eugene turned to face Hans, his laughter ceased. Those green eyes held nothing but anguish, and the very sight of it tore at Eugene's heart. Hans Westergaard, who would brave hell to defy the odds, who would fight tooth and nail for his dreams, who knew not of the word "surrender" was actually giving up!
"He does have point," said Hans, pinning his gaze on the Coronan Prince Consort, analyzing him carefully. "Of all the princes in the room, he's the only one you've never spent much time with or shown any interest in... I don't even see you with him. Then again, it's probably because he's a lot like me… I wonder what that says about us?"
Eugene slammed his fist on the table, no longer caring if he was going to make a scene. "Damn it, Freckles! That's not what I meant at all, and you know it!"
"And what were you trying to imply, Eugene? That a criminal could actually make it to a place of honor?" He laughed harshly. "Then again, your crimes were far lighter than mine. Someone like me doesn't such leniency. If anything, I should have been swinging on the hangman's noose a long time ago."
The brunet practically stalked over and grabbed Hans by the collar. "You shut your mouth," he growled, his eyes brimming with tears. "You shut your mouth, you sonuvabitch. You're a good man, and you know it!"
"That may be so," Hans replied, calmly prying himself free from Eugene's grip. "But apparently, not good enough" With that, he turned to leave.
The young queen looked like she was about to cry. "Hans… Hans, wait!" She left her seat to follow him, but before she could get too far, Agnarr stopped her.
"Leave him be," her father spat, "This is all just an act, another one of his dirty mind tricks."
Hans halted mid-step and glared at the king. "Oh really? How is this an act or one of my so-called tricks?"
"You think I don't know your kind?" Agnaar snarled. "You Westergaards are all the same – opportunistic scoundrels, the whole lot of you."
Hans's glare grew even more intense. "If this is an act like you say it is, then what can I possibly gain from it?"
"You can't fool me!" Agnaar shouted. "You just want to tug at our heartstrings and make us pity you so you can manipulate us. I know you want to marry Elsa and secure the throne, but since I haven't given my approval, you're now playing the sympathy card to get it."
"How can that be when I have no desire or wish to marry Elsa..." Hans replied earnestly, his heart cracking with each word. "I already broke off the engagement."
This announcement came as a great shock to everyone present, especially to those who personally knew Elsa and Hans. The relationship between them had been very intimate and, at the same time, very chaste. It was clear that they brought out the best in each other, and to hear that such an uplifting couple was breaking up was very distressing news.
"I can't believe you're really going through with this…" Eugene muttered hoarsely, "Please tell me you're kidding!"
But Hans's grim expression remain unchanging. "This is no laughing matter, Eugene. I meant every word. Elsa deserves better, so much better. She deserves the perfect man, the perfect prince, the perfect husband to be by her side."
He then turned to Iduna and Agnaar. "Please find him for her… All I ask is that you make sure he will give her all his love, support, kindness, and attention; promise me that he will be by her side through thick and thin, that he can laugh and cry with her, and care for her just as much as I have. Now that I have said my piece, I'll be taking my leave now... I won't darken your door any longer." With one final bow, he turned and left the room.
With that he turned and left as he did his composure began to falter. He closed his eyes and continued, he would not break till he arrived to his room. He will save himself his dignity.
He heard Elsa call out to him, but he paid her no heed as he quickened his pace. Upon reaching his room, he immediately shut the door and locked it, and once he was sure he was alone, it was only then that he collapsed to the ground, weeping bitterly.
A jolt snapped Hans out of the memory as the coach hit a bump on the road, the jerk motion causing his hood to fall off of his head exposing a fine head of blond hair as golden as a handful of gold coins and his scarf to be undone, exposing his beautiful face and silver eyes.
In a panic Hans quickly grabbed his hood and pulled it over his head, hiding his golden locks which once used to be red. Then taking the scarf and wrapping it around him again, making sure his face was well hidden.
People stared and all Hans could do was sink back to his seat and try to make himself invisible, which of course knew it was not going to happen.
Through the entire trip they all stared at him. Closing his eyes Hans pretended to be asleep in an attempt to ignore their gaze, not that it helped.
This face... the hair... even his eyes were not his own ... it had been given to him to replace what he had lost...
In the past:
Elsa tried, she really did. Hans would have been open to all her gestures of affection, would have gladly accepted all of her invites to dinner, parties and so forth, taken the gifts she offered and wore them with pride.
But Hans could not. He just did not feel anything, when she tried to hold his hand, when she tried to kiss him, tell him words of love. Gestures that would have made his heart race... he felt nothing at best, at worst he was reminded all the hurtful words and actions she did.
When she said "You are the most beautiful man in the world" all he heard was what she said before "That prince is so handsome, why can't you look like that?!", "Your hair is wonderful, I could run my hands through it all day" she said, while he was reminded the day she said "Ugh your hair is so garish and ugly, can't you change it?" And how can he forget when she said "Clever, brave, with honor, I am so lucky, I got the complete package" when days before she would point out his flaws, his mistakes, compare all his achievements to other princes and say why could he not be like them.
Hans pushes her away, reminded her many times that it was over, that they would be miserable with one another, that they were miserable and if they married they would just grow to resent one another and how she deserved somebody better. But she ignored that and persisted, hoping to change his mind.
There was no changing Hans mind about it, he even wanted to leave the castle and Arendelle as soon as possible but no matter what he did he was not allowed to leave. First his resignation of his military position kept being pushed back or was lost, then it seemed that all ways out of Arendelle were always in some kind of trouble.
"The boats are being repaired", "The roads are close", "Sorry it's not safe to travel" we're the excuses Hans heard whenever he tried to get a travel ticket for a boat or a coach to leave either by land or sea. He was not even allowed to move out of the palace, if he tried to even rent a room elsewhere he was denied and sent back to the castle.
The arendellian family even went as far as taking away his travel tickets, important documents and such. Anything that he could use to leave was taken away. Sure he did not see them take it away, but Hans knew it was them as only they had the key to his room other than himself.
Sitting in the room Hans spent his days trying to plan a way to leave and trying to keep himself from loosing himself completely.
Pressing his hands on his face Hans sighted, he was tired, felt ill, in truth he felt so many things yet nothing at all.
"Hans?" He heard, Hans did not look, he knew who it was.
"Hans" Elsa said as she walked over, took his hand, Hans pulled or tried to pull it away but she held firm. She reached for him, Hans flinched back.
"Hans please talk to me" she said softly, Hans said nothing, why should he? He had tried and she didn't listen... so why try again now?
"Hans... I know these tests were hard on you... I am sorry that we asked too much... that I pushed you too far" Elsa began as she stroke his hand gently "But the tests are over now! We can finally move on the good part in life".
"It was a lie... something more to string me along like a puppet on a string" Hans though bitterly when felt her tug at his hand.
"Come, I have to show you something" said Elsa as she pulled him up to his feet and dragged him out of his seat and room, down the hall.
She spoke but Hans did not hear, it was as if the world around him went mute.
"Well, what do you think?" He finally heard, looking up to Elsa, she was smiling as she gestured. It was at that moment Hans realized that he was in the throne room.
He took a once over look before looking at Elsa confused, why did she take him there?
"Look" she insisted as she pointed, Hans looked again, this time he did noticed the throne, there was not one, but two.
"What is the meaning of this?" Though Hans, he did not speak it, but the look on his face said it as Elsa explained "Its for when we marry, what do you think?".
Bile began to rise from Hans stomach to his mouth, he swallowed and looked as the whole situation made him extremely uncomfortable.
"Don't you have anything to say?" asked Elsa, sounding sad "It's done Hans, you passed all the tests and now you can reap your rewards and finally live happily ever after with me" she reached, what she was going to do Hans did not know or care as he backed away, not letting her touch him. To this Elsa seemed to get angry, clenching her fist she snapped "Stop being childish Hans, I love you! You love me! Is there anything else that is needed?!" then added in anger "Was that test so bad that you want to throw away all we fought for?!"
"No... not what we fought for... what I fought for" though Hans but did not say.
"Answer me!" Snapped Elsa, tears began to stream down her eyes, Hans looked away, not able to look at her like this as he began to feel the guilt creeping up inside of him.
"Do you believe I do not love you? I do! What do I have to do to get it through to you?! Do you want me to take a test?! Will that make it better?! Will that prove to you that you are my choice?!" Elsa said, her voice getting louder, angrier, so much so it caused Hans to flinch back.
Yes he was a man, taller and stronger physically, but he knew very well that Elsa was stronger than him. If she decided she could very well get rid of him easily with a simple wave of her hand.
"I love you! I only want you! What do I have to do to prove it to you?! Tell me what to I have to do!" she continued as he would not give her an answer. Then looking at the thrones Elsa growled "Do you want a throne?! Is that what it is?! Then fine! You can have it! You can be king and I can just be the consort, will that make everything better!?".
As soon as those words left Elsa's mouth Hans immediately felt sick.
A throne?... Is that what she though would make things better?
That though ran through Hans mind over and over like a toy train as he came to a horrible conclusion. The reason why Elsa had treated him the way she did, why she never took his side, why she never defended him and why she agreed to those tests...
"She thinks I did not change" though Hans as the realization dawned on him...
The very though of that brought new despair in Hans. How could she not believe he was different?! Did she not notice he changed? That he was not the same person he had been once before?
Apparently not and it seems that she will never realize or accept that.
As that realization hit Hans broke out in cold sweat, his body began to shake violently, he felt sick to his stomach. He could not hide it, he could not keep it in anymore...
His body and mind screamed at him to run, to get away from this place, to get away from Elsa... so Hans did.
Turning around Hans ran out of the throne room, as he ran he heard Elsa scream his name. He covered his head, he did not want to hear anymore, he did not want to see, he just wanted out of there.
With his feet carrying him to who knows where Hans ran out of the castle, pausing only to puke on the side of the tree before he continued to run. Where he was going Hans did not care, as long as he got as much distance from him and Arendelle as possible.
Panting and puffing Hans ran through the forest. Every now and then he looked back in fear as he was pursued by the arendelle guards.
What did they wanted?! He already left Arendelle and was not planning on returning! Had Agnaar not been satisfied with that and instead decided to kill him to make sure he never went back to his daughters life.
"Hans!" He heard, at first Hans ignored it at first, kept running, but then he heard "Hans stop!"
"Agnaar?" Thought Hans confused as he stopped dead in his tracks. Turning around he was surprised to see the king of Arendelle running over.
"You run fast" said Agnaar as he arrived, stopped for a breather.
"And you are here" commented Hans, finding it odd that Agnaar was looking for him.
"Yes... I am here" acknowledged Agnaar,
"Why?" asked Hans unsure, Agnaar hated him, that was no secret. If anything he would not be here looking for him. He would be...
It was too late, when that though registered in Hans mind Agnaar had acted. In a flash Agnaar took out a bottle full of something and quicker than the wind he threw the contents inside of it all over Hans, specifically focusing on his face.
As soon as that liquid made contact with him Hans screamed as the burn started. Placing his hands on his face Hans fell to the ground in complete agony while Agnaar stared at him.
Hans begged and pleaded for help, but there was non as Agnaar turned and left. Leaving Hans to his fate.
He writhed on the hard earth floor Hans sure he was done for, but it seems that fate had other plans for him...
"Hum, seems like your in a bind here" heard Hans, he wanted to look, but his vision had been blurred by the pain and something else leaving him unable to see who it was.
"Sir, please, help me" said Hans as he continued to try and free himself,
"Oh I would, but I doubt there is anything in for me" said the man rather lazily,
"I have nothing" Hans whimpered and it was true, he had nothing but the clothes on his back.
The man was silent as if he was thinking then said "Tell you what, you serve me and my brothers for three seasons and I let you go",
"Okay okay" said Hans, later on he would regret not asking just in case what was the terms but at that moment he was desperate.
Happy to hear that the person acted. He spilled something on Hans that made the burning and agony stop. Resting his hands down Hans breathed in relief as the person forced him up to his feet and with a wave of his cloak teleported them to a realm unknown.
As the seasons passed Hans realized it was not so bad. Whatever Agnaar had thrown on him had melted his face, his eyesight was not good, but he was alive, alive and was treated well by his new bosses.
They were dwarfs, odd looking, not short as Hans though, but they were dwarfs. Once he was healed he was put to work by them, his list of chores was to sweep, mop, keep the place and tools clean, keep the fire going through the day, was their clothes and bedding.
He did all of it, never had he done anything like that, but he did not complain and soon found himself stronger because of it.
Then there was the odder chore... which was to watch a wolf pup and a little goal.
Now the wolf pup had beautiful fur as black as night, was very strong and mischievous too. Always wanted to play.
Hans took turns between cleaning and looking after the wolf pup who would get into mischief if he felt that he did not get enough attention from Hans.
The foal was more relaxed and mellow, but needed to be taken out for walks, fed good oats and given fresh water along with being brushed. But overall was easy to take care of.
Why he was given that chore Hans never asked as he never needed to. It also helped that his employers fed him 3 meals per day, the food and drink was the finest Hans ever tasted and every so often he would get clothes such as boots or cloaks of fur or coats and the occasional pants and shirt. Which Hans took care to leave in a bag and not use it unless necessary.
Over all Hans was glad to work for them, so much so that by the end of the last season Hans had though of asking if he could stay in service longer since he had nowhere else to go.
Standing to the side Hans waited as the dwarfs inspected his work, the oldest one named Frode grunted before smiling and saying "You did a good job, much better than we though".
"Thank you" said Hans and before he could ask Frode said "You exceeded our expectation, we had hoped you would try to flee or give up, but you did not and did a fantastic job, that deserves something extra".
Turning Frode stared at Hans, humming as he though then asked "How would you like us to give you a new face?",
"Beg your pardon?" asked Hans baffled at what he heard, was such a thing possible? He knew his face had been ruined by the liquid Agnaar had spilled on his, it was something he accepted as it could never be fixed, so hearing otherwise was baffling.
"A new face, sadly we cannot fix your old one, so a new one will have to do" said Frode,
"How?!" asked Hans still baffled,
"That is dwarf secret, you know we are capable of the impossible" said Frode sounding a bit insulted that he dare question their abilities "So do you want it or not?"
Hans did not answer at first as he though, a new face? He was sad that he could not be healed, but... this could be his chance to start over again, a new clean slate, how could he say no to that?
"Yes please" said Hans after a bit of thinking,
"Polite, alright just wait here" said Frode as he and his fellow dwarfs set up to work in their forge while Hans stood to the side, waiting.
Through blurry eyes Hans saw them work, what they were doing he was not fully sure, but he had every confidence in them and their work.
About an hour or so passed before Frode called "It's done", Hans having dozed off a bit picked up his head as Frode walked over and handed him something.
"Put it in like you would put on a mask, it will bind itself to you and become one, replacing your old with the new" Frode instructed.
Hans nodded his thank you before holding up what he was feeling, what it was Hans was not sure but it was not like a typical mask, it felt more like a sack to put over his head. So he did.
Putting it on Hans felt a strange energy as what it was quickly attached itself to him, then a shiver as if cold water was thrown over him as whatever it was became one with him, becoming his own.
As he blinked his eyes Hans found he could see clearly again, Frode gave a toothy grin as he reached for a silver plate and held it over Hans.
"I say this new look suits you, truly one of my finest work" said Frode as Hans looked on in awe.
It was amazing! Was that him?! Those were the thoughts that ran through Hans head as he looked at his new face. He had pale, flawless skin, no sign of damage or the freckles he had before, his eyes had turned from a green to a silver gray color, he had hair again, though it was long as it reached mid back and as shiny gold as a hand full of gold coins.
Though he was sad to loose how he used to look like, this was better than what he though he would get.
"Thank you, this is more than I could ever ask for" said Hans with gratitude.
"No problem, in all honesty you are the first to thank us for our work" said Frode.
Hans stayed another day before he had to go. He said his good bye before he left. Where he will go he did not know, but Hans knew what he had to go, he would go off into the world and do as much good as possible. Maybe if he worked hard he would finally gain the redemption he sought for.
That was many years ago. At thirty-five, the heartbreak, trials, and triumphs of Hans's youth were all but memories now. Elsa most likely would have already been married off, his friends had already set off to forge their own paths, and even during their last few days together, they had discussed their plans of settling down. Perhaps it was time that he did the same. Despite this, Hans would never forget his past nor would he want to change it. Though he had suffered greatly, he had made peace with himself, and most importantly, come to terms with his guilt. Yes, he had done wrong, and had suffered a greater wrong, but through that, he became a better person and it shaped him into the man he was today.
He exhaled audibly, trying to clear his mind. 'No use mulling on the past,' advised his logical side. Shutting his eyes, he leaned back to rest. It was still a long way off to Tampere.
When the train finally arrived at its destination, Hans boarded off and made his way into town. The sun had barely begun to rise, so a lot of establishments were still closed and hardly a soul was up. In fact, the only place currently open was the local inn, so Hans headed there first to book a room.
The room he got was small, but cozy and relatively cheap, but it was to be expected of a rural inn. After putting away his belongings, he turned in for a quick nap.
About an hour later, the church bells began to ring, rousing the populace from their slumber. After a quick breakfast from the friendly innkeeper, Hans made his way to the town square to begin his job hunt. 'I wonder what job openings they have around here,' he said to himself as he strolled down the Tampere's main thoroughfare.
Being very small town, hardly more than a hamlet, there weren't much options. But still, Hans had to consider them carefully. Just as he was exciting the greengrocer, he was met with a scene that shocked him to his very core.
In a dark corner of a secluded alleyway, obscured by shadows, a group of children had ganged up against an old beggar man, taunting him mercilessly. Some were even cruel enough to pelt him with rocks and all manner of garbage.
"Please stop," pleaded the old beggar, but the children's hearts were hard, and they only increased the fury of their attack. He curled into a tight ball and pressed himself against the rough stone wall in a futile attempt to shield himself, but to no effect.
"Pest! Filth!" they jeered. "Just die already!"
Hans's blood boiled in anger at the sight of such injustice. "Stop! Leave him alone!" he bellowed as he stormed over to them. when they heard the kids turned to look at him. As soon as they saw Hans approaching with a thunderous expression, their bravado failed and they screamed and fled, leaving the poor man alone.
"Rotten kids…" he muttered angrily. He hurried over to the old man's side to check on him.
The poor fellow was bleeding and battered and absolutely terrified. "Please don't hurt me," he wheedled.
"No need to worry, Sir," Hans soothed, "Those hooligans won't bother you anymore. Not while I'm here."
But for whatever reason, the old beggar only trembled even harder. "Please Sir, have mercy on this wretched soul."
"I'm not going to hurt you," Hans promised, "I'm here to help." He reached for the old man, only to have him flinch and shrink away, but Hans was adamant. With a firm but gentle hand, he managed to help the beggar up to his feet, only to almost reel back at how bad his condition was.
The poor fellow was blind. His eyes were wrapped in filthy, yellowing bandages, and the rest of him fared no better. His clothes, which barely clung onto his emaciated body, were ragged, torn and dirty. His bare feet were all blistered and bloody. But what horrified Hans the most was the fact that the beggar had no hands, only stumps that had been crudely cauterized.
Hans had only seen something like that once before, a thief whose hands were amputated as punishment for stealing. Could this man have lost his hands for the exact same reason?
'Then again, it's not my place to pry.' Keeping his hands steady, he helped the old man walk back to the inn. The sight of the two men was enough to make the locals stare and whisper amongst themselves, but Hans ignored them. His only priority was to get the old man treated for his wounds.
"Where are we going?" asked the old beggar, still afraid.
"To my room, at the local inn," Hans replied. "I figured I could get you cleaned and fed there."
His response seemed to have really caught the old beggar unawares. "Why would you go through all that trouble for a dead dog like me?"
"I was once in your position, so I know what's it like," Hans told him. "Besides, I'm not one to turn away eye someone in need."
As soon as the two men arrived at the inn, Hans quickly ushered the beggar up to his room. He sat the older man down and examined his injuries. The poor fellow was caked with dirt and dried blood, the stench of which was absolutely revolting. To make things worse, aside from the bruising and gashes he had from being pelted with rocks, he also bore several older wounds, many of which were infected.
Wasting no time, Hans made his way downstairs to fetch two buckets of hot water and a roll of fresh bandages. He then called for the innkeeper to have them some food up to his room. As soon as he was back with the old man, he immediately set to work on cleaning and treating his wounds.
Once the old fellow was clean and re-bandaged, Hans then helped him into some of his own clothes. They were baggy and hung loosely on the beggar's near-skeletal frame, but it was far better that the filthy rags he was wearing before. Not long after, there was a knock on the door. Hans answered it, and returned with a tray containing two bowls of soup and a loaf of bread.
He set the tray down and proceeded to crumble some of the bread into the soup. "I know it's not much, but let's eat!" he coaxed, holding up a spoonful of the still-steaming liquid to the old man's lips.
However the old man shook his head and turned away. "I've done nothing to deserve it, and yet you have shown me more kindness than anyone in my life ever has."
"Everyone deserves even but a shred of kindness," Hans replied, still holding up the spoon. "Please eat."
Finally the old man relented and took up his offer. "Can I ask your name?" he asked between mouthfuls of soup.
"It's Ha– I mean John, John Winters." That was a close one. He nearly revealed himself. Being relatively close to Arendelle, it would not bode well for him if word got out that Hans Westergaard still lived.
The old man scrunched his face, as if he was ruminating on something. "Funny… You don't sound like a John Winters. In fact, there's a hint of Scandinavian in your accent. Sudorian, I presume?"
"My mother was Sudorian, my father was British." While it was a half-truth in regards to his parentage, Hans had spent many years abroad to have developed a new accent and make it sound convincing.
"Anyway, not many come by these parts. What brings you here?"
"It's a long story, but ultimately, I hope to find my fortune," Hans replied.
"Well I'm sure you'll find it this time around."
Hans raised a brow. "What makes you say that?"
For the first time, the old man cracked a warm smile. "Let's just say that it's a windfall from heaven. After all, one good deed deserves another."
There was a pause then the blind man asked "Where did you come from?", Hans was going to refuse but decided there was no harm in that and said "Its a long story"
"I have time" said the blind beggar "I can tell you have been through a lot",
"Not sure if I could tell you" Hans hesitated,
"Go ahead, I do not judge" promised the man.
"Alright... I guess..."
Fun fact: The people who are of origin of the Southern isles are called/known as Surodians.
Authors note: Its a pretty long first chapter, hope you all don't mind, as for what Hans will say, we shall see in the next chapter and who is that man? Was it merely coincidence that Hans happened to run into him?
Any way hope you all enjoy the last chapter of this story! It was long and hard work! Please review to let me know what you all think, but for now I bid you adue and will post the sequel of this story as soon as possible. Take care.