DISCLAIMER: Frozen is not mine.
Elsa's tea froze at the sharp, hurried rapping on her study door. "Yes?" she said. Perhaps Anna had actually managed to find that secret passage in the castle she'd read about. Then again, Anna would have broken down the door.
Sure enough, it was Kai who burst in. "Your Majesty…!"
"Is something wrong?"
He shook his head. "The Drage has been spotted."
Her father's last act as king had been to send out the expedition. Now the docks were packed with cheering crowds as it came home. A carriage was waiting for the head of the party and his men when they descended the gangplank, and a procession of treasure-laden chests followed them to the palace.
Anna was face-deep in a book and only noticed what was going on from the noise through her open window. When she saw the ship and the approaching carriage, she flew towards the great hall. "They're back! They're back!"
Elsa was standing in front of her throne when the party arrived. "Sir Norberg."
Their leader, a bearded, dark-haired fellow as old as the king would have been, removed his helmet and bowed. "Queen Elsa…"
She clasped her hands behind her back. "No need, Your Majesty," he added with a smile. "We heard what happened when we stopped in Corona."
Elsa relaxed and happily sank into the chair before regaining her composure. "Very well. I suppose there's a flag of ours waving around somewhere out there?"
"In Central America, my queen. We call the land New Akershus, and we have brought you an assortment of its riches — "
"Wait!" The doors of the great hall were flung open, and Anna came skidding across the floor. "I'm not too late, am I? To meet the explorer guys."
Elsa nodded to Sir Norberg. "May I present Princess Anna."
"Wha-oh! I mean, hi there! Where did you go? Did you see a bunch of amazing stuff? Did you die? Wait, what…?"
"He'll tell us when he's ready," Elsa said, pulling her sister back towards the throne.
"Indeed. With the ladies' permission," said Sir Norberg, "I shall proceed."
One by one, the chests were brought forward and opened. Out came precious gems, gold jewelry, and rocks covered in intricate carvings. From others came strange new fruits, beans from which to make chocolate (Elsa immediately agreed to consider the knight's request for a second trip when she saw this), capes made of animal skins and a stuffed bird with colorful feathers.
"You have done well," Elsa said to Sir Norberg as his men began to clear away the chests. "A look at all this ought to swa the cabinet."
Anna was staring sadly at the glassy eyes of the bird. "It looks sad…"
"Would you like to see something alive, Your Highness?"
Sir Norberg gestured to his men, who brought forth a crate which had been sitting in the corner. It was held together by locks, two handles jutted from the sides, and holes were punched in the wood all around.
Elsa eyed the box suspiciously. "And this is?"
"Either a pet or a meal, whichever you see fit. May I present Bradypus variegatus."
The sides of the crate were unlocked and lifted apart, and the sisters gasped — the elder in surprise, the younger in delight.
Before them sat a stand with two poles and a bar between them, and from the bar hung a furry gray creature. It was like a monkey with the face of a dog, Elsa thought, and it had three toes with long, curved claws. It stared at the girls, blinking slowly and yawning.
Anna ran forward and gently stroked its belly. "You brought a sloth!" she exclaimed. "See, Elsa? They brought a sloth! Hi, little sloth…"
"You know about them?" Elsa asked.
"Of course! Can I keep him? Please please please can I keep him, Elsa?"
"I'll have it taken to your room."
Anna threw her arms around her sister and emitted a flurry of overjoyed "thank you"s before skipping off with her new pet, lovingly chattering at it. "You are going to be so happy here…!"
"Anna, wait — "
Then she heard the crowds streaming through the castle gates, and the rest of the day was lost.
After the party, during which Sir Norberg was constantly at her ear, she found herself pulled away into a cabinet meeting that droned on until midnight and then some. There was talk of funding, supplies, the number of ships in the convoy...eventually she began simply nodding to whatever was said and letting the others argue.
"Queen Elsa?" Kai was touching her shoulder. "They're finished."
She snapped herself back to the present with a shake of her head. "Good. I want a summary of the decisions on my desk first thing tomorrow morning." She left without another word and walked to her room, stopping to open a window and breathe in the cool night air. After undoing her cape and draping it over her bed, she stepped into a pair of slippers and crept off to the east wing.
There was still a light shining through the bottom of Anna's door. Smiling, she softly knocked on it in the same playful rhythm she had grown up hearing. "Anna? Are you awake?"
"I-I was just going to sleep, Elsa!"
"Oh, you're fine," she said as she opened the door. "I just wanted to talk."
It was like stepping back in time. The place was still as pink and as messy as ever. Anna was sprawled on the floor with disheveled hair and bare feet, while the sloth's stand sat at the end of her bed. "Do you think he'd like chocolate?" she asked, staring up at the creature.
"I wouldn't risk it."
"I know they like leaves and those yellow things. Bandanas, right?"
"Bananas." Elsa sat on the bed. "I didn't even know you liked sloths."
Anna sat up and stared at her. "You didn't?"
"Oh." She flopped down again.
"Did I say something wrong?"
"No, no! I just...um...it's kind of weird."
"Tell me anyway."
"...I liked to think that you were still watching me, even when you said to go away."
Elsa pulled her knees to her chin and wondered what else she had missed. How much of the Anna she had left behind remained in the Anna that was before her now.
Well, worrying's going to get you nowhere. Getting off the bed, she leaned over Anna. "So how'd you learn about them?"
"There's a book in the library. Why do you want to know?"
Elsa pulled her to her feet. "If I'm going to help you with him, I'll need to find it."
I suppose I ought to explain where the idea for this came from. Basically, it's a fact that Anna's voice actress has an affinity for sloths. As in, "once had a panic attack when she realized she was going to meet one." I thought it would be fun to write about Anna interacting with a sloth, and turned into the idea of Anna and Elsa bonding over a sloth. Which is what the next part will be about. :)