A/N: So I was given a prompt to write a multi-chapter fic that entails the adventures of villager Anna crushing hard on royal Elsa and I present to you the relatively short introduction chapter to such a fic. Much angst is to follow, so I'm just going to apologize right now. I hope you enjoy the ride!
Anna was eleven when the darling princess of Arendelle celebrated the turn of her fourteenth year.
A celebration was to be held throughout the entire kingdom, the center of the party bustling on the castle grounds. Princess Elsa's birthday was an occasion all of Arendelle cherished - the heir of their beloved King and Queen was most popular among the citizens. With her bright, innocent eyes and platinum hair accompanied by her impeccable manners and kindness, she won the love of her kingdom on the day of her birth and continued to warrant it as she aged.
Little Anna favored her quite strongly in particular. And today was one she earnestly looked forward to more and more with each passing year.
"C'mon, Kristoff!" Anna hopped on one leg out of the front door of her cottage, tugging on her boot as she went. "We'll be late for the opening ceremony!" she called in her teakettle voice, words whistling out of her mouth. "I wonder what the princess will wear this year," she clasped her tiny, mitten muffled hands together and her gaze went glossy. "She's so beautiful."
Suddenly a rough shove had her dining on a mouthful of snow. A laugh punctuated the assault and Anna reared her head, glaring at the young boy smiling at her from the doorway.
"Maybe Princess Elsa will notice you this year if you're covered in snow, since she loves it so much."
Anna dusted the snow from her clothes as she stood, then pointedly punched her companion in the shoulder.
"Jerk," she adjusted her knitted winter cap. "And I don't need to be covered in snow for her to notice me."
"You're right, it's pretty hard not to notice the lovesick puppy eyes you make at her. I bet she notices you from a million miles away."
Anna's cheeks burned at that and she fruitlessly kicked snow toward Kristoff.
"I don't do that!" she cried in denial, crossing her arms. "She's just super pretty, and talented, and nice, and she's a princess, and she's a really smart princess -"
"Lovesick puppy eyes," Kristoff sang, as if Anna had proved his point, dodging the snowball Anna hurled at him as he continued to taunt her by repeating the phrase. It arced through the open door and knocked a lit candle from one of the carved wooden tables that sat in the main sitting room. Anna's eyes doubled in size as she scrambled back into her home, stamping out the tiny flame and destroying the candle beneath her boot clad feet.
At the sound of all the commotion, her father posed a question in the form of Anna's name, his voice calling from his room. A large man by the name of Hardegin with ginger scruff and a weathered yet kind smile, Anna's father was the blacksmith of Arendelle and the bulges of muscle in his arms and broadness of his chest proved it. His voice was deep, low, and powerful, although Anna knew he was a teddy bear of a man.
Anna, not desiring to delay herself any further, quickly stuffed the ruined candle into her coat and bolted from the house, pulling the front door shut as she went and effectively ignored her father.
"Thanks a lot, dummy!" she hissed as she ran by Kristoff, her rapid footfalls carrying her toward the castle.
Kristoff laughed, hands tucked behind his head as he leisurely followed behind her.
"Not my fault you threw a snowball at me and your family lights candles in the middle of the day!"
This time the snowball she threw landed on its mark, and Kristoff's smile melted with the snow as he wiped it from his face.
- - x - -
"I can't see her!"
Anna bobbed through the sea of villagers present for Princess Elsa's celebration, straining on the tips of her toes to catch a glimpse of her entrance. Gradients of winter colors dressed the courtyard in ribbons and the excited chatter of townspeople accented the cold, but sun-kissed day.
Kristoff, while only a year and a half older than Anna, could see well enough over the heads of the crowd to know the gates had yet to even be opened for the dramatic introduction of his kingdom's princess. He hung at the back of the assembly while Anna flitted here and there - he was not lost on the fact that while Arendelle was a lovely kingdom, there was a totem pole of wealth and nobility that he and Anna resided at the bottom of. Anna's father, however, was an important asset as he provided weaponry for those of the royal guard, so he supposed Anna may have ranked higher than himself. Regardless, the nobles populated the front of the crowd and the social ranks beneath them followed suit, the villagers and peasants residing at the back end.
"The gates are still closed," he said, his hands tucked into the pockets of his trousers as he casually rocked back and forth on his heels. Surveying the expressions of excitement and awe among the citizens of Arendelle, he saw Anna reflected in each one of their faces. Even if he didn't express it as freely or desperately as his best friend (or his fellow villagers, apparently), he thought highly of the princess as well. Though he did harbor the opinion that all of the fuss over her could be overwhelming and unnecessary at times.
"Lemme climb on your back," suddenly Anna's voice was directly behind him and she was already attempting – rather poorly – to hoist herself onto his shoulders.
"Whoa!" Kristoff whirled and took a step back, throwing Anna off balance but catching her before she took another nosedive into the snow. "I'm not holding you up, you're too heavy."
"Come on, you're taller than me. And I'm small."
Kristoff scoffed, "It's not like you've never seen her before -" he bit off the end of his sentence as the mouth of the castle gates opened with a deep yawn and Anna positively squealed beside him. Before he could blink, she was ducking beneath arms and weaving around members of the crowd in the direction of the imposing castle doors.
Flanked by the king and queen, the heir of Arendelle entered the courtyard with a soft, trained smile. Her ethereal hair was woven into a French braid that drew a halo around her head and tied into a bun at the nape of her neck. A cobalt blue dress with black, velvet sleeves adorned her small frame and a glimmering diamond pulsed at the heart of the dress. A small, though detailed crystalline crown was tucked into her hair atop her head and deep blue gloves clothed her hands.
Kristoff could practically hear Anna screaming from the head of the crowd as he imagined her reaction to how well decorated the princess was for her birthday.
"The King and Queen of Arendelle," a member of the royal staff, a pear-shaped man with a bellowing voice, announced as he swept his arm in the direction of the royal trio. They bowed and curtsied accordingly, their smiles warm. The Queen's arms were tucked around one of the King's as they watched their daughter. "And I present to you, Princess Elsa!" He emphasized his introduction with a bow and the princess smiled gracefully as her eyes crinkled at the corners, though humbly looked as though she thought the formality and attention was unnecessary. She curtsied politely.
"Thank you," she said, the pair of words delivered quietly and almost bashful. She then turned and curtsied to her kingdom, receiving a storm of claps that pelted the surrounding area like rainfall and a tidal wave of cheers rolled over her.
Kristoff, despite himself, joined in and clapped rather enthusiastically as Elsa disappeared from his sight and approached those at the head of the crowd, initially mingling with the noble families as she was meant to. The king and queen, still standing at the doorway, were approached by a man that appeared to be a member of a distant royal family, who congratulated them on the continued success of their daughter. Kristoff watched the interactions occur in a strange sort of muted fascination, all coherent words silenced by the static cheering.
And then the wave of claps and cheers transformed into a rush of gasps as silence swept through the courtyard. It seemed everyone's attention was being directed at the border of the crowd where Kristoff had lost sight of the princess and he craned his neck to try and see.
A blur of red hair was enough for his jaw to hang loosely from its hinges.
In her haste and excitement, Anna seemed to have popped out of the crowd unannounced and caught her foot on a rather large man's boot - a noble man's boot- and promptly knocked the princess to the powdered ground. Her body was accessorized by none other than Anna herself, sprawled on top of her. The king's attention snapped to his daughter and he moved to approach her while a servant rushed to Elsa's side and the young princess held out her hand in response, a silent demand to halt.
Anna's cheeks caught fire despite the cold and her stomach slowly drew itself into a tight knot as she came to fully comprehend what she had done. Fear gripped her in an unforgiving vice and shame burned across her skin when a man in the crowd hollered for someone to pull the peasant from the princess. Anna didn't witness it, of course, but Kristoff's eyes hunted for the man who possessed that voice, his knuckles braced.
Elsa's calm voice snagged her attention.
"Are you alright?"
Anna's eyes bugged in her head and she scrambled to her feet, offering Elsa the crown that had tipped off of her head in the fall.
"I – I am so sorry, forgive me Your Highness, it was an accident, suddenly I was just falling and – and then you were just there and then there I am in the same place you are – "
Elsa had taken the crown and adjusted it back on her head and Anna dropped into a bow in response, knees buried in the snow. The princess brushed the light dusting of snow from the front of her dress before touching a hand to Anna's shoulder, effectively silencing her. Anna gazed up at her in fear and apology.
Elsa slipped her hand from Anna's shoulder to her wrist, pulling her up to stand.
"You're alright, then?"
Anna's eyes couldn't grow any larger.
"Me? I'm fine, I'm completely – are you alright? I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to – wow, I'm so stupid –"
Elsa laughed and Anna saw it in her eyes before she saw the smile on her lips. A match swept against her cheeks, skin catching fire once again. An innocent child's crush. She struggled between running away (preferably to an entirely different country at this point), staring, and fainting.
"I'm fine, thank you," her gaze disconnected from Anna's and glided across the courtyard's audience. She seemed to communicate to the anxious faces before her that all was well, and her father's white gloved hands touched to Elsa's shoulder, then Anna's as he called from behind them.
"Let the celebration begin!"