A/N: I'm really, really sorry for the lateness on this one, you guys. It's on the shorter side, but I hope it's still up to snuff.
A/N 2: *quietly fixes some of the pronouns* Edward is definitely a guy, sorry for the confusion. The other pronoun switches regarding Andrew/Anna are on purpose, and depend on the character's view. When referred to as Andrew, Anna is a he. When Anna, she. Andrew refers to Anna as a he, so when he sis acting, Anna is he because she is Andrew. If that makes sense. I'm so sorry omg.
She was burning up. Anna was crouched against the wall of the castle, hidden behind a bush in the back garden, her knees pulled up to her chest. Her throat was raw from hard, dry breathing, and her feet hurt from sprinting down the halls then over cobbled paths and rocks. Still, the heat of pain could not compare to the heat that lingered on her lips and fingertips. She couldn't stop thinking about it. In the heat of the moment, she had thought running away would help, but it never did. It hadn't helped when Elsa ran away as a child or as an adult, and it wasn't helping Anna now. All it did was cause guilt to gnaw at her. Not guilt for her actions—Elsa had reciprocated and she knew it—but guilt for fleeing from her sister and letting her deal with this on her own.
How was Elsa feeling? Probably the same as her: confused, upset, conflicted, but.. maybe happy? Elsa hadn't looked disgusted. Even in her haste to flee, Anna had seen the dark longing in her sibling's eyes. The desire within, it had made her shiver. She hadn't given Elsa a chance to touch her, eager to give in to her own feelings; but she knew that Elsa had wanted to, that wasn't up for debate. As wrong as others may find their relationship , she knew Elsa did not.. but she much more worried about the opinions of others than Anna was. Rightfully so, of course, she's the Queen. Even if she did want this just as much as Anna did, she would be afraid, and most likely force her desires down to protect them both.
Anna wouldn't allow that.
She had to prove to Elsa that this was important enough to her that she'd be willing to risk everything. She already had before, had died for Elsa, but she also knew that Elsa would never want her to do that again. She'd never want her to throw her life away for her, even if Anna believed in her heart that it was worth it. She'd sacrifice herself again to protect her sister, and she'd fight for this new relationship, this new love. Anna pushed herself back up, brushing herself off, eyes burning with both resolve and withheld tears. Like running, crying wouldn't help. She rubbed at her eyes and swiftly returned to her room, immediately climbing into bed. She needed to get some rest and sleep off the pain if she was going to do well in the final fight tomorrow.
The next morning was, to put it nicely, stressful. Elsa knew today was the last fight between ' Sir Andrew' and Sir Edward. She didn't know what to expect. Would Anna still fight? She deeply wished she wouldn't hoping that she would drop out now that her secret had been revealed to her. That was it, right? Elsa knew, very well, how Anna felt. Now all that was left was to.. talk her out of these feelings and settle it. Just because Anna had been rather.. passionate.. the other day didn't mean a little logic couldn't deter her. Elsa ignored the heat that reddened her cheeks as the memory and sensations ran through her mind. No, she couldn't afford to dwell on it. If she did, she was done for.
She had cancelled a morning meeting on the grounds of illness in order to go speak with her sister before the bout. Knuckles rapping against the door, she hesitated before talking. Her voice sounded slightly uncertain, and not a small amount worried, but still stern. This was important, after all.
"Anna? I need to speak with you."
"Anna, I'm coming in. We need to discuss this-"
She was startled to find the room empty. The bed had been made, but it was clear she had slept in it last night as her clothes, the same worn the other day, were strewn about the room. She had vanished before the maids had even had a chance to tidy up. Elsa furrowed her brows, fear making her heart race. Where had Anna gone? She hadn't run away, had she? No, no, Anna wasn't that foolish. Reckless and strong-headed, certainly, but not foolish. She had to be around here somewhere; but Elsa did not have the time to search. It would be fruitless, anyway. She had the sinking feeling that Anna would be coming to her, whether she wanted her to or not. In this particular case, she did not, not when she had a feeling she knew where she would appear.
Inhaling deeply, Elsa turned and exited the room, returning to her own. She needed to prepare, both mentally and physically, for what she knew was to come.
Knowing Anna, she would come to the fight anyway. Why? To prove a point, to make some sort of stand? She wasn't entirely sure herself, but she knew her sister would be there. Anna was not someone to give up partway through something, especially when it came to her sister. No, Anna had only given up then when she had found Elsa and Elsa had pushed her away, desperate and fearful. Now she was doing it again.. but she hadn't pushed, not really. She had kissed back, let her hands roam, she had given Anna hope, hope for this strange new relationship. That was her mistake, and now she'd have to watch Anna throw herself into another fight for her sake.
At least, she had the feeling she would. Never before had Elsa wished so desperately to be wrong about something. Perhaps Anna would have, somehow, realized between then and now that this was a fool's gambit. Maybe she was simply out with Kristoff, complaining to him about how boring her sister was and how she had made a mistake. Conspiring with him on a proper way to apologize, maybe on if it was a good idea to simply brush it under the rug.
It would hurt, but it would be better than watching Anna fight, unable to do anything.
It wasn't as if she could simply cancel the bout, after all. There would be questions, outrage from the princes and her own people alike. She'd have to reveal Anna is Prince Andrew, and what kind of a stir would that cause? There would be claims ranging from cheating the system to blatantly engaging in incest. Elsa shuddered at the word. No, she couldn't stop it.
She could only hope that Anna would know better.
She did not.
There Anna stood, dressed in her armor, waiting for her opponent to come out of his tent. Elsa could not tear her gaze away, while Anna seemed content to simply wait for her opponent, gripping her sword tightly and trying not to shake. Elsa could see her shudders though, even from this distance, from this spot up in the box. She could feel them. What were they from? Fear? Pain? Exhilaration? There was no way she could know, and no way she could ask. She could only wait, teeth worrying her lower lip as she sat rigidly in her chair, paying no heed to the guards that shot her strange looks, or Kai's scrutinizing gaze.
Anna continued staring at her foe's tent, if only because she was too scared to look up at the Queen's box. She knew Elsa was watching her, and she was probably mad, too. There was no way she approved of all this, especially after Anna's assault the other night. Anna flushed at the memory. No, no, she couldn't afford to get distracted by that, not when she was so close to winning, to validating all of this. Jaw set, she looked out over the battlefield and tried not to cringe in pain as she shifted, her injuries flaring up. It would be alright. She was in pain, but she could hold on. For Elsa.
Meanwhile, inside his tent, Prince Edward was smirking. Just one opponent left, and it was that scrawny Sir Andrew. He had gotten lucky in his bouts, but that luck was about to run out, now that he would have to face a proper opponent. Well-trained in swordsmanship, Edward did not find his confidence equal to arrogance. It was simply the truth. Edward would have the kiss, along with the respect and adoration that would be showered on him for winning this petty contest. He donned helmet and took the time to adjust the plumage that jutted from its top before grabbed his sword and stepped out onto the field. He didn't spare his opponent a glance, striding out into the middle of the arena amidst cheers and the announcement of his name.
Anna quickly trotted after him, coming to stand a good few feet away from him as she drew her blade in a wild motion. Alright, just gotta kick Mr. Ego's butt, and I'll win, and no one else will get to kiss Elsa, Anna thought confidently, inhaling deeply as she got into her stance. She actually looked rather gallant now, sure of herself. She'd done this enough to know how to stand, how to hold herself, almost as if she were a proper knight. She puffed her chest out, holding the sword out in front of her point down, before shifting to grip it with both hands. Let's do this!
That was all it took before Edward stormed forward and swung, the clash of metal on metal ringing out as Anna brought her blade up to defend. She bit her lip hard to keep from crying out. Her arms were still so sore, feeling like leaden jelly as shocks ran down them. She'd have to finish this quick. Yelling, she pulled her blade back and struck, crashing it against his side and making her opponent stagger. There we go, a point for me. Let's keep it going-. She didn't even have time to finish the thought before her opponents blade slammed down hard on her shoulder, making her drop out of her stance, then again into her side. Mercifully, it was the mostly-uninjured one, but that didn't mean it didn't hurt.
"I hope you had fun play-fighting, little Prince," Edward spat out as he let his opponent retreat. A wry smirk curled up his lip. "The game will be over soon."
Anna couldn't even respond. She was afraid if she opened her mouth that she'd bite her tongue, considering how hard she was gritting her teeth against the agony. She came at him again, only to find herself tripped as her sloppy footwork proved to be her downfall. Edward laughed as he pulled his foot back in, stepping around his opponent, sneering. This poor fool wasn't even worth wasting his breath on. Still, it wouldn't be gentlemanly to strike as his opponent was down, so he waited, allowing Andrew to return to his stance. Aww, how sad. His little knees are shaking, he mentally cooed. Perhaps he should sit down a bit. Striding forward, he swept around a clumsy blow before striking the back of Andrew's knee, sending the lad crumpling to the ground.
Elsa watched from above, a white-knuckled grip the only thing securing her to her throne to prevent her from getting up. Ice crackled loudly as it coated the armrests and made its way down the chair to the floor. It took a gentle touch and a look from Kai to prevent her from encasing the whole box in ice. Anna, her poor, sweet Anna was getting beaten by that.. that brute. He didn't know it was her, logically she shouldn't be angry at him, but in this moment, she loathed him. She loathed his smug smirk and the confident stroke that sent Anna to the ground, crumpled in pain each time she stood. She couldn't run down there, though.. not yet, not without causing a stir. Her whole body tensed as Anna cried out, a particularly hard strike ringing out as Edward struck her head.
Anna saw stars, feeling like she was going to vomit. Why now, why did she have to start losing now? No, she couldn't lose, she had to get her head on straight. Fight back. With a roar, she struck out.. only to find that her opponent wasn't there. She whipped around to find him standing close, a cruel smirk hidden behind his mask as he brought the sword down on the side of her head again. Anna's eyes rolled into the back of her head as her knees gave way and she fell to the ground. Everything went black. The last thing she heard was the call for a halt before sound, too, disappeared.
Elsa couldn't give any less of a fuck about propriety than she did in that moment.
She didn't even bother to run down the steps, instead simply creating them out of ice as she rushed down from the box and ran right over to Sir Andrew. Distraught, she dropped to her knees and cradled his head in her lap, panic marring her features. Sir Andrew- no, Anna. She was still breathing. She could hear it slightly whistling in the helm as she leaned down. She couldn't help it. She cried, hugging her sister tightly as tears ran down her face. She was relieved, so relieved. She didn't resist when Kristoff ran over and scooped the still fully-armored girl up. Words were exchanged, and Elsa collected herself before quickly turning and disappearing into the castle, leaving a stunned audience and a furious Edward in her wake.
What the hell was that all about? He had won, and yet the Queen ran to that shrimp's side and not his. Cried for him, held him. What was this, some sort of joke? Had the Queen's heart been captured by that boy before he even had a chance? Even in his victory, Edward felt a great loss, and he hated to lose. Tearing off his helmet, he threw it on the floor of his tent, stabbing his blade into the ground next to it. The rest of his armor was removed in a similar way, his attendants waiting outside, sent out by the young man's enraged order to get out of his sight.
How dare that young cur take away his prize to be won. The kiss was supposed to be in first step to capturing the heart of the Queen. He loved her, he had loved her since he set his eyes upon her at the coronation. Her ice powers only served to make her more awe-inspiring, more desirable, her beauty highlighted by the magic of her abilities. Now that little wretch had ruined it all! In a fit of jealousy, he made his decision. Andrew had to be removed. Edward grabbed the handle of his sword and yanked it free. Sliding it into the scabbard on his hip, he snuck out of the back of his tent.
Hours had passed since the bout. The stands were clear, as was most of the area. The people had been quickly ushered out after the loss, and the Queen had not again shown her face since it. It would be easy, as long as Andrew's buffoon of an attendant would stay out of the way. Thankfully, as Edward peeked into the tent, he was nowhere to be found. Little miracles. The only person he could see in the room was Andrew himself, sprawled out on a cot, head bandaged with bags of ice placed upon it. Edward couldn't help but smile gleefully at the evidence of his triumph. The boy looked so small, so frail, so curved and shapely-
Edward blinked. In this light, without his armor, Andrew appeared to look like a woman. Edward quickly strode over to confirm his suspicions. A woman. There wasn't a doubt about it. How odd. She even appeared to be vaguely familiar, though he couldn't quite put his finger upon it. Still, their gender didn't really much matter at this point. Instead, Edward lifted his blade, and brought it down with a violent stab through the young woman's side. She gasped out in pain, crying out as she was jolted awake by the new wound, her eyes wide as she stared in shock at her assailant. Ripping his weapon away realizing his mistake in that he hadn't exactly hit a vital area, due to the fact he was taken by surprise.
He did recognize her.
He knew exactly who she was.
Princess Anna. He had seen her up in the box.
The young woman clutched at her wound, unable to make another sound as she sat half propped up. The bloodied blade fell to the ground, Edward quickly stepping backwards. No, not it wasn't possible. The Princess? Why would she- oh, no. No. He had stabbed the princess. He couldn't be caught for this, he would be ruined! Executed! Turning, he went to run, only to be stopped as he slammed into someone. Someone who didn't budge.
"What are you doing in here-" The voice started off gruff and confused, and was then cut off by a gasp of shock. "Anna! You!"
Edward found himself grabbed around the throat before a fist was brought to the side of his head, doing quick work of knocking his lights out.
Kristoff quickly moved to Anna's side, screaming out for Elsa and her guard as he did his best to plug up both side of the bleeding wound. He spoke soothingly and calmly to Anna, who appeared to be in utter shock. At least the wound looked clean – the Prince didn't use a serrated weapon after all – but it would need to be tended to quickly. After that, Kristoff was going to break that scrawny little piece of shit's neck. Holding Anna close, he yelled until he could hear footsteps approaching, then rubbed her back soothingly. "It's alright Anna. You're going to be alright.."
It didn't take long for Anna to slip back into unconsciousness. Tired, beat up, and in pain, she simply didn't have the energy to cope with the shock.
It was more than simply the shock of her wound, the shock of the attack. Those things paled in comparison to what she had realized when she was rudely awoken.
She had lost.