Disclaimer: I do not own Frozen
A/N: Well this past week of classes was a doozy. I was overwhelmed and really didn't get to finishing this chapter until today. Because I will be embarking on a new semester of classes, this will be the last installment for the contract. I hope to write more stories in the future, but as of now I'm booked with reality.
So a huge thanks to those who stuck with me. You're all snowflakes!
Fulfillment of the Beat
In the splendor of the holidays, Arendelle's open gates became flooded by townspeople. Gift exchanges took place between friends and family as merriment wafted through the air. In the courtyard stood dozens of families, mainly those with children who passed time by skating on the ice crafted by the Queen herself, while their parents enjoyed the festivities of the evening. More respectful figures, donning fashionable gowns and dashing suits, made their way to the ballroom where garland and other ornaments hung from the walls.
The band played their festive tunes, driven by the command of the tuba. Crowds laughed while couples danced. Older crows exchanged stories of adventures at sea while wives swapped tales of their supposed lavish love lives. Glasses were filled with wine and other intoxicating drinks as servants carried trays of finely prepared foods. It was quite the party.
Anna stared simply in awe. Since the thawing of the eternal winter, months passed without any formal celebrations. Partly for the bad feelings it strung up and for the reason that there was nothing really to celebrate. The Christmas Eve ball was very much so the revival of parties in the castle, and Anna felt simply electric with the buzz that was in the air.
"You're staring again."
She looked up to the man standing beside her. Kristoff cleaned up nicely and looked handsome in his suit despite his objections to wear it. Anna nudged him playfully, noticing the teasing smile he gave her.
"How can you not stare though?" Anna questioned, gazing longingly back towards the crowd.
"Uh, I don't like people?" He offered.
Anna swatted his arm. "It's just so nice to finally do something like this after so many years. Christmas was always a lonely time, but now everything feels just right."
"Everyone deserves at least one good Christmas." Kristoff said.
"Especially Elsa," Anna chimed. The girl looked across the room flooded with people, seeking out her sister. The blonde stood, chatting with a few dignitaries and look simply radiant. Anna understood that her sister desired this type of atmosphere for their holidays all those years too, and both of them were finally seeing their wish coming true.
"She looks like she's enjoying herself." Kristoff noted. "Who are you looking for?"
"Oh, no one." Anna lied as her eyes searched the room. "Shall we dance?"
"You know I can't dance."
"You mean to say, you don't dance well. But you sir, can dance because this girl taught you."
Kristoff rolled his eyes, taking her hands. "You mean to say, you don't dance well because your instructor was a very poor teacher?"
Anna only laughed and leaned into his chest as they swayed on the dance floor. The band started off with upbeat tunes, but quickly moved to slower songs. Kristoff and Anna drifted through the throngs of people for a few songs before they decided to find a table to sit at. A servant brought over a tray of drinks and Anna sipped on her glass sparingly. With drink hand, Kristoff pointed to something in the distance.
"Is that what you were trying to find?" He asked.
With his head bowed and arm extended, Felix had approached Elsa and offered her a dance. Anna held her breath, eagerly awaiting for her sister to accept, but Elsa hesitated. It was the first dance she was offered all evening by a man who was not well beyond her own age. Elsa looked down uncertainly, but then her eyes drifted up. Her searching gaze did not land on the onlookers around her, but rather she zeroed-in on Anna despite the great distance between them.
Everything around Anna froze as her sister held her gaze.
Her delicate eyebrow rose, seeking approval from her sister. A small smile came to Elsa's lips as Anna nodded, and she took Felix's hand. The two then made their way to the dance floor, sweeping everyone's attention.
Anna laughed merrily at the sight.
"What?" Kristoff asked, watching as the girl squealed and clapped her hands.
"She's dancing with a guy." Anna answered.
"And that matters because?"
"Oh, never mind. You wouldn't understand."
"Clearly," he mumbled as he took another sip of his drink. The song ended just a swiftly as it started and Elsa parted ways with the boy, returning to her throne while Felix became lost in the sea of guests.
"Wait, what?" Anna asked suddenly.
"Looks like they're done." Kristoff said.
"But they can't be. Surely they'll spend more time together this evening?"
"It doesn't look like it." Kristoff watched Felix leave the room.
"I don't understand." Anna admitted, giving Elsa a look. The Queen felt the steady gaze and looked over. Anna pointed to the door where the boy had left, shaking her head questionably. Elsa simply shrugged her shoulders before returning her attention to the party.
"Clearly," Kristoff repeated in a teasing tone.
"But I thought she liked the guy?"
"Maybe she only liked him because you tried to set them up."
"That doesn't even make sense."
Anna glared at Kristoff who only raised his hands in defense. "I've learned from the best, remember?"
"From the love experts?" She asked.
"Yes, the love experts." Kristoff smiled and nodded his head. "Sometimes people just go with what others think is best for them."
"But, I mean, I really thought she liked him."
"Maybe she did, but sometimes our feelings tell us that we like someone one minute and don't the next. I just think we like the idea of being noticed by someone." Kristoff explained.
Anna sat back in her chair then, mulling over his words. It reminded her of the desperation she felt the night she met Hans. She shivered, recalling how she about married a man she had no background knowledge of. It was an utterly foolish choice she found very hard to forget. She took a sip from her glass and focused on the fabric of the table.
"Did I say something wrong?" He asked.
Anna shook her head. "No, no. I just-,"
"Princess Anna," Kai stood behind her, offering several prestigious-looking sealed envelopes. "As head of royal affairs, here are the letters sent from neighboring kingdoms in time for the holidays."
Anna thanked the servant as he handed over the mail. She opened the first and smiled.
"This is from King Aldelmira." She said.
"Who?" Kristoff asked. "And what are these?"
"Holiday greetings, I assume. He's the king I told you about, remember? The one who acted like a child?"
"Oh, what does it say?"
"In honor of the holidays, he sent Arendelle a small shipment of goods." Anna gathered as she skimmed the letter. "How sweet of him."
"Or his wife." Kristoff countered.
The girl smiled up at him before she returned her attention back to the stack of envelopes. The next had a green seal which looked vaguely familiar to Anna as she tore it open. However, as she skimmed this letter, she found it was not the holiday greeting she expected.
Kristoff looked down at Anna who took a full swig of the drink in her hand, barely choking it down.
"Slowdown, feisty pants." Kristoff warned. "Hey, are you okay?"
"I'm fine," Anna lied while bringing her fingers to swipe back a lock of hair. Kristoff tried to look over her shoulder at the letter, but she stood abruptly. Taking in a shaky breath, she looked down at him. "If you'll just excuse me for a moment."
Anna didn't wait for Kristoff to reply, but instead weaved through the throngs of people, clearly desiring to exit the room. He eventually lost sight of her, but did not stop staring at the spot from where he last saw her. He stood then, wondering if he should go after her, but he knew better. He would not have the first clue on where to find Anna if he went looking for her, so he made his way over to Elsa.
The Queen was still sitting on the throne when Kristoff approached.
"Elsa," he said, skipping pleasantries. "You haven't seen Anna, have you?" He knew she had left only moments ago, but he still asked regardless.
"No, I haven't . But wasn't she just with you?" Elsa asked.
"Yes, but she excused herself and ran off. I think something upset her, but I'm not sure where she would be."
Elsa stood then. "Well if Anna's upset then she wouldn't want anyone to find her."
"Where do you think she would go?"
"I have an idea."
So Elsa had lied.
She didn't have the slightest idea where Anna hid in the castle when she was upset.
While searching for her sister, she couldn't find Anna in her bedroom or the library. Elsa didn't find her in the portrait room or in the courtyard filled with people. In fact, she was not found walking in the hallways, or sitting in council chamber, or sliding down the banister, or even standing out on the balcony. Elsa couldn't find her sister any of those places.
The Queen marched back down the hallway towards Anna's room to check there once again with a small trail of frost following her. Where could Anna be? It was so unlike her to be so evasive. Typically the girl was conspicuous as snow in the summer.
The sound of a faint sniffle froze Elsa on the spot. Listening intently for the sound again, she heard the quiet sobs and followed it. It became louder and louder and suddenly Elsa was standing in front of her bedroom door. Staring at the white, wooden panel in front of her caused her to question whether the cries were really coming from behind it.
Without consideration, her hand rose to knock, but she swiftly shook her head when she realized it was her room. Elsa twisted the knob and threw the door open.
"Anna?" She called out.
The princess sat on Elsa's bed, her knees drawn to her chest as tears dampened her cheeks.
"Elsa?" Anna sniffled, blinking rapidly. "What are you doing here?"
"Well, Anna, this is my room. I think the better question is, what are you doing here?"
"I just wanted to be alone for a bit and thought this was the best place to hide." Anna's eyes widened then. "Oh, Elsa! I didn't mean it like that– I don't think your room is the place to hide or to be alone. I just thought no one would find me here."
Elsa shook her head, not because she was angry or hurt. "No, Anna. Actually, if you wanted to be alone, this is undoubtedly the best place in the castle."
A gust of wind closed the door behind Elsa as she made her way over to the bed. Ice flooded the floor underneath Elsa's feet as frost slithered along the walls. Snowflakes formed from nothing and stayed suspended in the air.
"And you're right. No one would think to look for you here except for the Queen of Isolation herself." Elsa sat beside Anna on the bed. "Sometimes you need to hide from the things that upset you in order to make yourself feel better."
Anna's eyebrows drew together, confused by her sister's actions. When did Elsa condone this type of behavior? The silence lasted a little less than a minute before Anna spoke up.
"Elsa, I don't feel any better."
The blonde clapped her hands together and all traces of ice disappeared from the room. "I was hoping you would say that. Shutting yourself away from the world, away from people who care about you, doesn't help a thing. I should know," Elsa added quietly. "Kristoff was really worried about you after you ran off and I tore through every inch of this castle looking for you."
"Sorry,"Anna whispered the apology, looking down at the covers.
"If something is ever upsetting you, you can tell me. Even if I'm the one who is upsetting you."
Anna nodded her head and looked away. "It's just... I received this letter from Hans. I should have recognized the seal of the Southern Isles, but I didn't think anything of it. He's not declaring war against Arendelle or that he was coming to steal your crown again. He just wrote...," Anna paused as tears threatened to spill over. There was a searching look in her eyes as if she saw what she wanted to say, but her mouth simply hung open in betrayal as no words escaped it.
"He wrote what, Anna?" Elsa urged on softly.
Taking a deep breath, Anna closed her eyes tightly, causing tears to fall down her cheeks.
"Hans wrote me a letter conveying his love for me, saying his actions were misguided and that he regrets it. He wrote about how foolish he was and that he was deeply sorry for everything. He goes on to say that he understands I'm upset, but then he..." Anna opened her eyes, revealing the tormented look that filled them. "He says how much he loves me and misses me and how his heart aches because we are not together."
"And Elsa, I know that none of this is true," Anna says while lifting the crumpled letter in her hands. "But I thought Hans was my first true love, and I hate myself every day for being so foolish. I hate myself for being so desperate to marry him. I hate myself for being so oblivious because all I cared about at your coronation was myself. He told me that he loved me and I believed him. He convinced me to spend the rest of my life with him and I was ready. I was ready to throw away everything for a man I had just met." Anna pressed the heel of her hand to her eye, choking out another sob.
"I tried forgetting him and it nearly worked until he sent me this letter. Hans is aware he lost, but knows he can still hold one thing over me. He knows I believed in his lie. He blindsided me; he pulled the rug from under my feet. Hans knows that the battle is lost with my mind, but in my heart I had loved him and feelings don't just go away. They change. I'm not still in love with him, but I once was. Well, I mean, let me rephrase. It wasn't love! I don't know what it was, but some feelings are still there. And I just..." Anna rested her chin on her knees as a somber look came over, her voice now a whisper. "I just wish that it was different. That I hadn't wanted to marry him. That I hadn't liked him. That I hadn't almost gotten you killed. That I wasn't a fool." Anna finished, letting a tear travel down her cheek while fixating her gaze on the covers.
"Oh, Anna," Elsa raised her hand to wipe the tear, but Anna shifted her head away.
"Elsa, don't." The younger girl closed her eyes and pressed her forehead to her knees, blocking herself from Elsa's pity.
With her hand still outstretched, the Queen felt her heart crumble. Elsa tentatively placed her palm on Anna's shoulder and released a small breath, revealed that Anna didn't push it off.
"Anna," Elsa paused, not having a clue what to say. "What happened between you and Hans is in the past. Don't indulge in his game of self-loathing. He can only hurt you if you let him."
"Elsa, please." Anna raised her head, glaring through tear-stained eyes. "You have no idea. I can't simply 'let it go' like it never happened because it did. Hans lied to me-,"
"You think you're the only one who believed in his lies?" Elsa suddenly interrupted. Her hand slid from Anna's shoulder and into her lap. "You may have missed this in your noble act of heroism, but I believed in one of his lies too, Anna. Hans said I killed you by freezing your heart." Elsa's voice cracked. "So don't say I don't understand. Maybe I don't know what it's like to be truly infatuated with another man, but I do know what it's like to feel beyond foolish for believing in Hans.
"I didn't even see you running across the fjord. Just imagine my surprise when I turn around to see my beloved sister frozen solid. I'd given up hope on everything before you actually had given up your own life, for me. Your not the only royal fool, Anna." Elsa admitted.
It was a slightly haunting truth, but Elsa wouldn't have the slightest clue what to do without her sister. Even after a childhood of shutting her out, Elsa was sure she couldn't live without her. Anna was the force that kept the raging storm at bay. Anna was the sun that fought through the dense clouds. Anna was her hope. Elsa had given up on that hope because Hans told her it was gone and she believed him.
Elsa's heart felt heavy as she cleared her throat.
"And I...," Elsa said as her eyelids slid shut. "I heard Hans unsheathe his sword. I heard him approach me from behind and I could see his reflection in the ice. I just happened to close my eyes before you stepped in front of him."
Elsa let out a shaky breath and slowly opened her eyes to see Anna's outstretched hand; her sister had hesitated before touching the girl, whether that be from not wanting to startle her or the guilt from shutting out Elsa's previous consoling affections. However, Elsa surprised Anna by tilting her cheek into the warm embrace of her palm. Her own pale hand rose then to cover Anna's.
"You thought you deserved to die?"
Elsa nodded slowly. It was the only gesture she could manage. Anna felt her heart split, severed in two like an axe cleaving a block of ice.
"No. Elsa… No, no, no. Don't- Why would you even," Anna hand slid from her sister's cheek and snaked around her neck, bringing Elsa in for a very tight embrace. "Don't you ever do that again. Your life is worth so much. Please, don't ever give it up. Just, don't," Anna couldn't formulate sentences. She could barely force words through her lips, so she just stopped speaking.
"I thought I lost you." Elsa admitted against Anna's shoulder. "And then I actually did lose you."
To imagine the grief that her sister went through was too heart constricting for Anna to bear.
"I'm sorry," Anna cried softly. She wasn't sure for exactly what, but she felt it needed to be said.
"I'm sorry too. For everything." Elsa replied through her sobs. Anna could feel her sister shaking in her arms; she could feel the tears on her shoulder. Anna felt the sting in her eyes, but tears never sprouted. She figured that she had done enough crying for the evening, so she just held her sister. It took Anna a few moments, but she exhaled she realized she could see her breath. She looked beyond her sister's braid to see the suspended snowflakes appear once again, this time not for show.
"I love you, Elsa."
Anna watched as some of the flakes dissipated. The room didn't have to return to its natural state, but Anna just wanted to let her sister know she was there for her.
"I love you," Anna repeated softly. "I won't let you feel that way ever again. I'm here for you, and I will always be here for you."
"I love you too." Elsa pulled away with a conflicted look swimming in her eyes. "In a very painful and drawn out fashion, Hans actually brought us together. And I hate to admit it, but without him, we'd probably both be dead."
Anna hated to admit it as well, but Hans left traces in all aspects of their lives. He saved Elsa from the piercing arrow of the Weselton goon. He even fought to keep the Queen alive while descending the mountain, even with that grace soon expiring once he found out Elsa could not thaw the winter. It didn't help that Anna came running to him on her death bed, further confirming his hopes that the kingdom would be his after the deaths of the royal sisters.
Yes, Hans was many things.
He was a lover, a savior, a traitor, and most of all a manipulator; he was also misguided.
A thought Anna turned over and over in her head was what drove Hans to do such things? Perhaps he and Anna weren't so different. Hans was desperate for love and sought attention from his older brothers, but he channeled his emotions towards more greedy and dubious actions.
"Can I just say something... Crazy?" Anna debated whether or not to use the 'c' word, but what she was thinking seemed truly crazy.
"As much as I despise him, and I really, really don't like him, but I kinda find myself feeling sorry for the guy."
"You what?!" Elsa looked at her incredulously.
"Hang on! The night of the coronation, he told me how a few of his brothers ignored him." Anna backpedaled. "As in they pretended he didn't exist. I can't help but relate in a way." She added sheepishly. "I mean we were both desperate for attention, but I think Hans wanted their attention. He wanted to impress his older bothers, but his actions were simply misguided."
"How is it you're able to see the good in every bad person?"
"That's just it. I don't think he's a bad person. You aren't a bad person either, Elsa." Anna addressed, seeing the distraught building behind those sapphire eyes. "I don't think there are bad people, but just those who make bad choices because of a void in their life."
"So then what sets you apart from Hans?"
"I think it was the number of those he desired to impress; his brothers I mean. The sheer quantity could never beat quality."
"What does that mean?" Elsa asked, wrinkling her forehead.
"Hans will never know the sacrifice of fighting for someone like you."
The room rose to its natural temperature, yet Elsa sighed.
"We shouldn't let our ideas of that man spoil this night. Anna, I want to give you something."
Anna blinked. "Uh, okay?"
So much for trying to be sentimental.
Anna cocked her head as Elsa rose to grab something off the mantle of the fireplace. She returned to the bed, lounging against the headboard and motioned for Anna to lay next to her. In her delicate fingers was a neatly wrapped present which she handed to Anna. Propping her head in her hand, Elsa turned to her side so she could watch her sister open it.
There was a buzz running through Anna's body, and she could feel her heart just dance with joy. This was the first present in thirteen years Anna received from her sister face-to-face. It wasn't through their parents or servants, Elsa actually gave her something tangible and she was less than an inch away.
"Are you going to open it?"
"Uh, yes. I'm just..." Anna didn't finish as she carefully began peeling the paper back. A small wooden box was revealed and the girl gingerly lifted the lid back to see what was inside. It was clear and circular as Anna carefully took it out of its confines, mindful not to bump it against the wood. The globe was cool to the touch and looked unearthly with its pure white base; hues of blue and purple mingled along the base's exterior, and it took Anna a few orbits of turning it in her hands to realize it was a snow-globe. However, much to Anna's confusion, she also noticed nothing was inside of the glass except for a few snowflakes littering the bottom of it.
"You made this?" Anna asked, for no ordinary hand could craft something so beautiful.
Elsa nodded her head.
An immediate affection arose within Anna as she continued to stare at the object in her hands. Because it was made by Elsa, of course she would love it, even though nothing but a few snowflakes sat inside of t.
"Well?" Elsa asked expectantly.
"Well...?" Anna panicked. Did her face not convey that she was pleased with Elsa's gift?
"Are you going to shake it or just let it sit there?"
Anna shook the globe as her eyes slid from her sister's face back to the gift in her hands. More flurries than Anna accounted for swirled through the glass ball as a blue glow illuminated from within it. A picture arose within the snow-globe, but Anna realized it wasn't a picture for it started moving. Anna had never seen anything like it. Two small figures played in what looked to be the massive room. She recognized it immediately as the Great Hall and then she saw it. It was her and Elsa as kids! They were playing in the Great Hall together! There was snow! And smiles! And laughs! And they were together!
Anna exhaled and gazed in awe at the sight. She shook it again and the scene changed. This time the two girls were in their bedroom playing with dolls. Anna could see Elsa's bed in the background from when they shared living quarters.
"You made this?" Anna repeated in disbelief.
Elsa nodded again, letting a small smile grace her features.
"But how?" Anna was still in disbelief.
"I went to see the elder troll and by combing our magic, we were able to make this."
"But I thought my memories were erased?"
"They were," Elsa confirmed. "But those aren't your memories."
Anna gasped. "But how? Elsa why would you-,"
"I know we couldn't share our childhood together, but I thought we could at least share in the nostalgia." Elsa answered.
"But Elsa, your memories..."
"Not all of my memories are within that snow-globe. I have many to reflect on," Elsa reassured.
"Elsa this is... I don't know what to say."
"Oh, sure you do." Elsa grinned before she tapped the glass with her finger and another image appeared. Little Anna clamored on top of Elsa's bed and jumped on top of her sister.
"Elsa, Elsa!" Little Anna tried to rouse her sister. A mock glare filled Elsa's eyes as they slid open, but a smirk betrayed her features.
"Yes, Anna?" She grumbled.
"Do you wanna build a snooooowman?"
The younger Elsa only smiled as she let her sister drag her out of bed.
The image became blurry as Anna realized she was crying, not because she was sad. Quite the contrary. Anna was undeniably overjoyed.
Anna threw one arm around her sister and brought her down into a hug. Elsa's head landed on Anna's chest as she giggled, letting her arm fall across sister's stomach to return the embrace.
"I love you." Anna said.
"I love you too."
And there they stayed, escaping from the party and escaping from Hans. The night was a simple detour from reality, but neither could be happier. Anna's gaze was fixated on the snow-globe in her hands while Elsa, still under her arm, looked to glass ball as well. She didn't need to look up to see her sister's reaction. Elsa simply had to lay her ear next to Anna's chest. Elsa would even be satisfied if Anna didn't have a gift for her in return, for Elsa found nothing more fulfilling than listening to the beat of a gratified heart.