The remainder of the kingdom's issues were, it seemed, much easier to solve than the problem with Bjørn, though Anna's heart remained heavy. She had in no way liked the prince—still didn't, in fact—but the regret and the grief she felt over his death was horrible. Almost unbearable, even, as it weighed upon her shoulders, but with all the chaos and fear her mind quickly managed to push the terrible thoughts aside.
By the time the sun had set on the third day after, they had managed—with much difficulty and very little time to breathe, it should be noted—to solve all of the small problems that they could think of, with finding medical help for the wounded and searching for any other survivors being their top priority. After yet another exhaustive day working in the kingdom, the presence of royalty amongst the common people after everything that had happened being somewhat uplifting, they reached the castle courtyard.
Dismounting her horse and walking slowly to the stables, her family ahead of her as they rushed to get a break, Anna gazed around wearily as she relished in the moment's break before her mind, calmed as it was, remembered that Bjørn was still laying out in the stables, forgotten in the madness. Sighing, she held her baby daughter closer and looked to her cousin in front of her.
"Rapunzel," she called out, her hands shaking from the nerves she felt coursing through her body. "Could you… Could you c-come with me, please?"
The woman frowned but nodded all the same and she followed her cousin towards the stables in silence, completely oblivious as to what to expect. The sight that met the pair's eyes was a shocking scene to behold indeed.
Bjørn's now pale-white body was laying where Anna had left him, although a breeze must have blown some straw so that it partially covered his lifeless frame. A slight stench of death hung on the air, though his body was cold and, thankfully, not as unpleasant as it should have been. His eyes were shut tightly, squeezed together slightly, and except for the paleness of his complexion he would have passed easily as simply having a nightmare. Rapunzel, however, knew better, and she glanced at Anna nervously.
"You killed him?" she asked, her voice quiet and unsteady despite the fact that she didn't really believe her own words, but Anna shook her head quickly.
"N-no!" she replied as she bent down to feel his forehead, but he was icy to the touch and she could not keep her hand resting upon his skin. She drew back immediately. "I don't really understand much of what happened. He... he just fell, and then he began to struggle for breath. I think he suffocated."
Rapunzel looked a little skeptical as she folded her arms. "How could he just suffocate?" she queried, but Anna shrugged before glancing back at the man. Thinking about his death, she felt the tears begin to form in her eyes.
Wiping the water from her eyes, she looked to her cousin desperately. "I'm not sure if it will work now, after all this time," she said, as she gestured to Bjørn, and she didn't need to finish for Rapunzel to comprehend what she was trying to tell her.
"You want me to try to bring him back to life?" she asked, but in truth it was more a statement than a question. Anna nodded, her eyes glistening. "I don't know… Eugene and I couldn't have been more than a day gone when you saved us…"
"I know he seemed like he was taking advantage of Elsa, almost like Hans, I guess, but there was a lot more to it than that. He was really misunderstood, by me especially because I was so angry at him. He deserves to at least get another chance, if we can give him that."
Though she didn't completely understand what Anna had meant, Rapunzel nodded and knelt down beside Bjørn. Draping her hair loosely over his neck she sang her melodic song just as she had with Elsa not long before, and as usual, her locks glowed a rich, golden colour. For the second time that day, though, nothing happened. Anna's eager face—she'd foolishly been so confident her plan would work—fell instantly.
"Maybe he's like Elsa?" she asked, trying to find a way that he could still be alive. Mia squirmed uncomfortably in her arms, batting at the air with her fists. "Maybe he's just in a coma?"
Rapunzel shook her head slowly, and she whispered sadly, "He's been gone too long. There's nothing you can do."
Anna hung her head, tears spilling onto Mia's soft, blonde tuft of hair, and they trickled down her cheeks. They ended up soaking the front of Anna's dress, where the baby's head was pressed against her.
Her grief, though, was a confusing topic; she was sad that he'd died,, of course, but honestly her tears were more for the guilt she felt towards him, for having misjudged him. She tried to counter her emotions as she thought of how he only wanted to use Elsa, and how he could have gotten Arendelle into a very sticky situation money-wise, but it did only a little to calm her.
"Come on, Anna," Rapunzel said, as she wrapped her arm around her cousin's shoulders, her own actions unsteady. "Let's get back. We can arrange for him to be sent back to his kingdom, and he can be buried there."
Blindly Anna nodded and she walked slowly out of the stables with Rapunzel, her feet dragging along the floor as she went. When they reached the rest of the group, she took a deep breath before quickly speaking. Her words were so rushed, in fact, that it was hard to understand anything she was saying. "Bjorn's d-dead. We'll… We need to get his body ready to return to his k-kingdom." In a sudden wave of emotions, the truth crashing over her as she admitted it to her whole family—minus one very important woman, who was still waiting inside to be saved—she broke down and ran off towards the castle, sobbing, and Kristoff quickly rushed after to comfort her.
Eugene and Odd looked at Rapunzel expectantly, awaiting an explanation, but the princess knew about as much as they did.
"I'm not quite sure what happened," she said quietly as her mind began to drift to Mother Gothel's death and she relived the moment her so called parent had fallen to her doom with such clarity tha the felt like reaching out for her once again. "I think he suffocated, but I can't tell how."
Eugene, unlike Rapunzel, wasn't nearly so trusting—being a thief could do that to a man—and he frowned. "I don't mean to say anything bad against your family, Blondie," he began, "but isn't the obvious answer that Anna strangled him?"
Rapunzel shook her head, certain her cousin would do nothing of the sort, and Odd was quick to back her up. "I don't think it was Anna," he said, "'cause she wouldn't want to kill him. She's not that sort of person, to commit a murder over something as petty as a wedding. She'd probably have wanted to humiliate him, anyway—as far as I know, that's more her style."
Eugene nodded, accepting this, and then he turned back to the castle. "Well, I s'pose that's all of Elsa's problems fixed," he said, "Or at least as many as we thought of. So… I guess we ought to go back now."
Rapunzel nodded, while Odd looked absolutely thrilled. Nonetheless, he contained himself and only walked a few meters ahead of Rapunzel and Eugene, although there was still a little skip in his step as he went.
Upon reaching the castle, Odd rushed to Elsa's room, eagerly awaiting the return of Grand Pabbie so that he could thaw the Queen back to life. He sat down on a chair, and began to rock himself, and he was even amused at himself for his excitement. Still, after about twenty five minutes, Anna—who had now gotten over Bjørn's death slightly after having the chance to get the sight of his body from her mind slightly, and had realised that her sister was going to be revived soon—was just as gleeful, and Odd saw her sliding cheekily past Elsa's room at least every two minutes.
Kristoff, on the other hand, just looked puffed-out and he collapsed when he entered the Queen's room, tired.
"You know," he said, "I really hate winter. There's no work for me up in the mountains, and it means I really need to get some more exercise." He let out a breath of air, and his chest heaved. "I don't know how Anna's always this energetic, and I've been married to her for three years!"
Odd laughed, and nodded at a bowl of chocolates Elsa had left upon he table. Kristoff chuckled as his companion explained his wife's unbelievable energy.
"Chocolates," he said simply, smiling. "And sweets, too. Did you know she hides them all around the castle?"
Kristoff chuckled. "No, I didn't." He replied, "But it is definitely an Anna-ish thing to do. It would certainly explain how she never seems to run out of them, at least." He paused, considering, and then he grinned even larger. "Come to think of it, her breath always seems to smell of chocolate, too."
Odd shook his head lightly in amusement, but then he returned his gaze to Elsa as Anna skidded into the room, sliding to a stop just before she hit the table, quickly grabbing a chocolate and popping it into her mouth. Odd looked over at Kristoff hastily, sending him a 'told you so' look, before he focused back on the Queen, watching her intently as if she would suddenly disappear if he didn't.
Anna turned to look at Kristoff as she placed Mia gently down on the end of Elsa's bed, laying two little pillows by her side so that she wouldn't fall off.
"So?" she asked, smiling happily. "When are we going to get Grand Pabbie to revive Elsa?" Her eyes sparkled excitedly, but Kristoff looked disheartened.
"We're going to have to wait until the morning, I think." he said, sadly. "If there's one thing I've learned over the years, it's that you should never interrupt the trolls when they're having one of their weekly love ceremonies, which are always held at this time in the evening, on Fridays."
Anna raised her eyebrows quizzically. "Seriously?" she asked, "What is this love ceremony anyway?"
Kristoff placed his hand on the back of his neck, rubbing it awkwardly. "You don't even want to know." he muttered, "I always tried to do extra chores on Friday evenings, to say the least."
Anna giggled, but she quietened when she realized that Elsa would remain frozen until the next morning, and she sighed sadly. Picking Mia up, she said in a dejected tone, "I'm going to get ready for bed," and then left the room. Kristoff stood as well and made to follow her, but he noticed Odd trying to tear his gaze from Elsa, with much difficulty, so that he could go to his small room in the servants' quarters. No matter what anyone said, no matter how he felt for Elsa, he was still just a stable-boy really.
Just one who also played butler to Elsa often, too.
Kristoff smiled at him, understandingly. "Why don't you camp out in here tonight?" he suggested, and Odd raised an eyebrow at him.
"Wouldn't that, you know, be kind of inappropriate?" he asked, and Kristoff waved his hand dismissively.
"Eh, don't worry. I'll get Anna to ask a servant to bring up a mattress and blanket in here for you. Even if it would be weird normally, they won't question Anna. They value their noses and the last I heard, Prince Hans' is still crooked from when she punched him. She can sure pack a powerful one."
Odd chuckled, and smiled gratefully at the mountain man.
"Thanks," he said, and Kristoff nodded before leaving to catch Anna up. Odd sat down on the floor, watching Elsa as she lay still and he smiled at her, though she'd never see the gesture. With unwavering attention he watched over her, but slowly, as the moon climbed higher into the sky, he began to drift off until eventually, by the time Heidi had come with a mattress and sleeping bag, he was fast asleep on the floor. Gently, she moved him onto the makeshift bed and placed a gentle kiss on his forehead, smiling for him.
"Goodnight, brother," she whispered quietly, and then left the room.
The following morning, Anna awoke at the crack of dawn, although when she tried to wake Kristoff, all she got in return was a gentle shove. Of course the princess, being the drama Queen that she was, took this to her advantage and fell off of the bed on purpose, trying to make her husband feel sorry for her.
"Nice try," Kristoff said groggily, before falling back to sleep again. Anna sighed, although in truth, she knew she deserved it; often, it was she who refused to get up, because she simply adored to snuggle down under her thick duvet, where possible.
Sulkily, she walked down to Mia's room (which was tended to by the child's nurse), deciding to make use of her time to feed the little baby girl and to make sure she was clean. Besides, the child could do with a bath, after at least a week of no washes, except for when her diaper needed changing.
After three quarters of an hour, Anna got up and, after dressing Mia in a soft, baby pink silk dress, she skipped back to her own room, throwing her daughter around and making her giggle as little snowflakes fell gently. Rushing into her room, she sat, cross legged, on the end of her bed and then she grinned, crawling over to her husband and coming to a rest next to him. Adjusting Mia, she gently placed the baby on the man's chest and then, grinning evilly, she began to bounce the child, gently at first, and then harder, until the baby gurgled and Kristoff awoke with a loud 'Oof!'
He scowled at Anna as she pulled Mia off of him. "What was that for?" he moaned, grumpily, and the Princess grinned innocently.
"Mia was bored, and I can't have that, now, can I?" she replied, and Kristoff groaned as he took his daughter and rested her next to him, supporting her head.
"If you turn out like your Mother," he said, his eyes sparkling even if he was a little annoyed. "I think I might have to work a lot more hours just to get a break!"
Anna giggled as Mia looked around herself, intrigued, taking in her surroundings and actually noticing things around her for the first time. For the past two days, she had been increasingly aware of the things around her, much more alert, and she was quickly becoming stronger, too.
Kristoff sighed as he pushed himself up, resting on his hands. "I guess you want me to go and fetch Grand Pabbie, huh?" he asked, and Anna nodded, smiling sheepishly.
"That obvious, huh?" she asked and the man nodded as he got out of bed and pulled on his ice harvesting gear. Anna frowned, tut-tut-tutting at him and he sighed, pulling his familiar and comfortable outfit off and replacing it with the much-despised military uniform. Even if he was a prince, he didn't like all of the royal rules. Nor did he appreciate his wife's adoration of teasing him so.
Finally, Kristoff trudged down the stairs and out to the stables, although he brightened up a bit when he saw Sven. The reindeer slowly walked over, yawning in a way only Sven could, and he bent down to allow his friend to get on.
"I should be back in a few hours," Kristoff said, and Anna nodded, waving as he galloped off before she sighed. She wanted Pabbie to come back and save Elsa, but her heart was heavy as the man left. No matter how much she reminded herself that he wouldn't be gone for long, there was still an empty space in her heart at his absence.
Though she didn't always realise it, she and Kristoff were two parts of a whole—whenever he left, she felt so alone and she missed him so dearly, even if she was sometimes too preoccupied to notice her feelings. They were, however, always still there, bubbling just under the surface.
Making her way back to the castle, she slowly made her way down to the kitchens where she quietly found herself a smooth, milk chocolate mousse in one of the ice boxes. Sneaking back to the lounge, she stretched herself out on the sofa and indulged in the silky taste of the treat, even giving Mia a little of the dessert as she watched the clock tick by, wondering how long it would be until breakfast, and then lunchtime when her husband would be back.
Indeed, the three hours it took for Kristoff to return felt like an eternity. When he did finally make it back to the castle though, Anna was eagerly awaiting his arrival.
"Kristoff!" she cried out, rushing to meet her husband who grinned widely at her as he hopped off Sven's back, swinging her around him quickly and making her cry out in glee as Mia giggled excitedly.
"Hey, Fiestypants. Did you miss me?" he replied, kissing her gently on the cheek and she grinned as she took his hand, though she ignored his question.
"Come on, come on!" she called out excitedly, and Kristoff was pulled along by the mini tornado that was his wife. At times, she did seem to be a literal tornado; if she wanted something, nothing would stop her from getting it, as one unfortunate servant learnt as he was pushed aside by the hyperactive being that was his princess.
Upon entering Elsa's room, the first thing everyone noticed was Odd, sat cross legged on his mattress and gazing at the queen in a near trance; it was hard not to worry that he was sick, to be so seemingly delirious . However, as Anna coughed slightly, he jumped around, shocked, before smiling sheepishly.
"Oh, um, hi," he muttered, running his hand through his hair nervously and Anna giggled, just as Rapunzel and Eugene came into the room too. The latter looked rather put-off.
"Seriously, Anna," he said, as he rubbed his eyes, "You need to learn how to be quieter in the morning! You're louder than thunder!"
Rapunzel scowled, and gently slapped her husband's cheek. "Be nice, Eugene!" she scolded in a motherly tone, and the ex-thief pouted.
"You're supposed to be on my side!" he whined, but Rapunzel just giggled as she shook her head cheerfully, and skipped over to Anna, who was rather distracted.
Instead of registering her cousin, she looked over at Pabbie, and smiled happily. "So?" she asked, "Can you heal her?"
Pabbie frowned for a moment, and then rolled over to Anna. Waving his hand, she bent down and he pressed his palm against her forehead, closing her eyes as he searched her memories for the ones he required. Most people would be astonished—no, aghast—at the thought of invading one's privacy in such a manner, but the princess was much too eager for her sister to be revived to mind.
"Yes, yes," Pabbie muttered, and he slowly drew his hand back and a ball of wispy strands followed his fingertips. "These should be okay..."
For a few moments Anna watched, but then suddenly she collapsed, her body limp, and Kristoff quickly rushed to catch her. Holding his princess in his arms, he turned to the troll and snapped, a little too loudly, "What did you do to her?"
Pabbie shook his head, and held his hand up in a gesture of peace.
"It is okay, Kristoff. She has just fainted - as soon as I return her memories to her, she'll be better, although she might have to sleep it off. It is a strange experience for the body to lose a memory."
Not even waiting for the man's reply, he walked over to Elsa, and climbed up onto her bed so that he was sat beside her. Closing his eyes, he gently rested his stony palm upon her forehead and the Queen began to thrash about for a second as if she were revived, but in the end, she was still, just as before. The troll removed his hand, frowning.
"Hmm," he said quietly, and he glanced back at the queen. "She will be all right, but I expect that it may take longer for her to be thawed than I had expected. It seems you missed out one issue of hers which must be resolved, but no matter, no matter; she will still get better, but it may take a little while. If you can, I urge you to try and find the remedy." He looked directly at Odd now with a small sparkle in his eyes. "If you realise what it is that you have missed out, just come here, and say it to her. As she is now beginning to thaw, her brain should be able to process the information." Pabbie then turned back to the others, pulling his mossy cloak around himself tighter. "Now, if you would excuse me, my family are having a feast at lunch and I'd rather not miss it. Rock candy really is a dish which cannot be beaten, and I'm rather looking forwards to it."
Bowing, he then quickly rolled off before a word could be said, leaving the others waiting around helplessly. After about a minute of silence, Kristoff stood up.
"Come on, guys," he said as he looked out of the window to the docks. "I think we ought to help the other royals to fix their ships—they can't go anywhere, otherwise, and I don't think any of the inns will have much space left. The nobles'll probably be getting annoyed too."
Slowly, the group nodded and left, with Kristoff taking Mia and Anna and placing them gently in their bed first, the young child nestled happily in her mother's arms as the two slept peacefully. The mountain man smiled warmly, before tearing his gaze away to leave.
As he passed Elsa's room, he didn't even have to look inside before he said, "Come on, Odd." and, lo and behold, he was still there. It was sweet, really, but there wasn't time for sentiments. "We have work to do."
Odd quickly jumped up. "Oh, right!" he said and, before his legs could carry him back to Elsa, he rushed out of the room.
One week... Two weeks... Even by three weeks, Elsa was still frozen. A check up from Pabbie had concluded that she was about half thawed now, but this only made everyone's mood fall, for it would roughly be another whole month until she was well again.
By the first day of February, Mia had made great progress, and now, at two months old, she was easily able to lay on her stomach and hold her head up. Just the day before, she had also smiled her first, toothless smile, which set a more cheerful atmosphere in the castle. Rapunzel and Eugene were also still in Arendelle, waiting for Elsa to awaken, and had organised for someone to look after Corona while they were away. Sadly, the King and Queen still had not been found.
Odd was sat in his own room, which was nothing special—no matter how he felt about Elsa, nor how she felt about him, he was still just a stable boy and as such, he could not be treated any differently to the other servants. Favouritism was always frowned upon in these situations. Nonetheless, Elsa had given him the biggest servant's room, with a double bed and, something she must have sneakily snuck in herself, a heavenly mattress. The pillow was a little scratchy, but he couldn't complain - it was better than he'd ever been used to and besides, the duvet was so warm and soft he couldn't really care.
In his room, he also had a small chest of drawers and, something none of the other servants had, a teapot. Most of the workers got tea at mealtimes, but he was the only person who could have it whenever he wanted. Then again, he didn't eat meals with the other servants anyway, because Elsa still liked him to eat with her—something which he was fine with—and as he had helped to rescue her from Karleif the first time, they were allowed to be friends, at least.
Laying on his bed, his mind wandered to Elsa, resting on her much larger queen-sized bed, frozen still, and he thought about how much he loved her. Her beauty, and the way her plait blew in the wind with the little snowflakes in it, made his heart melt, but he loved her for much more than just her attractive appearance. He adored her for so much: her spirit; her kind heart; her often playful personality; her caring demeanor; her intelligence; and for her loyalty to her kingdom. She was so elegant, yet beneath the regal mask she was so powerful and would protect those she loved with her life. And Odd knew that, without a moment's hesitation, he'd do the same for her.
Suddenly, something struck him, although it took him a few moments to process the thought; he hadn't once said that he loved Elsa! At least, not in the weeks after her wedding, and perhaps, just perhaps...
Quickly, he jumped up and rushed to the queen's chamber, where he rushed inside and was glad to find it empty, except for Elsa, of course. Kneeling down at the edge of her bed, he took her icy cold hand in his and gently pressed his lips to her forehead, before he lowered his mouth to her ear and whispered, just louder than silent, "I love you."
He drew back, but his face fell when Elsa remained frozen and he had to fight back the tears, ever so unmanly and weak, as one thought went through his mind.
That wasn't it, he thought bitterly, she doesn't love you anymore.
Slowly he stood up and, silently, he drew back, before briskly walking to the stables to fetch Storm Chaser. He needed to get away; he couldn't stay here anymore. It hurt too much, even if he was being pathetic by acting as he was. His were hardly the actions of a man, more those of a lovesick girl. The thought burned his pride and made him feel sick, but the agony of knowing his feelings were worthless were even more torturous.
It took him less than ten minutes to get ready to leave. Mounting his horse, he set off at a walk, slowly making his way through the crowd that bustled around the castle courtyard. Even after all of the years, the courtyard was still as popular as ever, with new things to see popping up often, such as the ice sculpture of Arendelle's logo that Rapunzel had so carefully sculpted. The princess had never tried shaping ice before, but she seemed to have a natural talent for it.
It was a shame that he'd never see it again.
"Odd!" The voice carried on the wind, and it had a beautiful, melodic sound to it, mixed with a subtle hint of breathlessness, as if it's owner had been running. "Odd! Wait!"
He didn't need to look to know who that voice belonged to, but he did anyway, and there was Elsa, standing in the doorway, calling for him. His face broke out into a large, though somewhat uncertain, grin as he saw her.
For a moment, she just stood there and then she ran towards him, holding up the bottom of the tattered wedding dress with her good arm - the one which wasn't broken still - so that she wouldn't trip over it. For all of the time she had been frozen, the gown had been stuck to her, and it had been impossible to remove.
Odd grinned wider as she made her way over to him, and he jumped off of Storm Chaser quickly. The crowd parted as their Queen ran through the middle, and, as she rushed towards him he couldn't help but notice how beautiful she was when she smiled - even if she did have hundreds of scratches all over her face, including a rather nasty gash across the side of her forehead.
She quickly reached Odd, and he caught her in his arms, giving her a massive hug, the type that one only gives to someone they truly love. He pulled away, and Elsa smiled at him gently, and her joy over-ruled the stinging pains all over her body. She looked at him in the eyes and then suddenly, not caring that at least one hundred people were watching, she pulled him closer and gave him a long, gentle kiss, as she wrapped her arm around him, her eyes fluttering shut in bliss as he kissed her back.
After a few seconds—though it could quite easily have been days—they drew back, and the surrounding crowd cheered. Elsa and Odd looked around sheepishly, remembering their company for the first time since, and Anna came running over and caught the pair off balance in a bone-crushing hug. Rapunzel cheered happily, and Kristoff and Eugene grinned at the scene before them. Sven bleated happily as he reared up, and Maximus bowed to Odd and Elsa before pushing the two Princes into the group as well. He whinnied in amusement, and Sven bleated again, as he pawed the ground, throwing his head around as if he were laughing.
Elsa smiled happily, and she glanced around at the ecstatic crowd.
For the first time in forever, everything was perfect.