"No, you stop!"
Laughing, Anna finally stopped hitting Elsa with the pool noodle and threw it to the wayside, using both arms to keep her head above water now. "Fine, fine. You're the one that brought them."
"I brought them because they seemed like 'fun date items'. You know that."
"I do know." Anna glanced over at the chairs on the far end of the pool, at the way one of them was nudging another. "And they're eating it up like dogs with Beggin Strips."
Elsa resisted the temptation to glance over her shoulder, instead just shrugging and saying. "Why am I not surprised? I still don't understand how anyone can be this invested in someone else's relationship. Don't they have lives of their own?"
"Doesn't seem like they do. Just want to watch us suck face so they can get whatever weird high they get from it, and knowing they made it happen."
"Yep." Then Elsa cleared her throat nervously. "Speaking of which… we're coming up on our next scheduled pretend-kiss, I think."
That made Anna grow quieter. "Oh yeah, I, um… guess we are. It's been five days." Then she glanced over at them one more time before swimming closer. "Hey… can I ask you something?"
"Have these started to feel… weirder? I mean, it's weird that we're doing it, obviously, but at first that was all there was; it was weird and funny, and we made sure to pop a few Tic Tacs so we didn't offend each other. But now…"
Elsa felt her heart pounding in her throat as their noses brushed. That was the limit of their activity, on a normal day. "Now?"
"Well, last time we couldn't get away with faking it because we were in too close quarters, so we had to actually kiss. It's a weird line I didn't think we'd be crossing, you know? And I'm worried the next step might be… missing it after we finally drop the bomb, drive the prank home."
"Ah." Elsa heard the shaking in her own breath as Anna's forearms draped over her shoulders, hands clasped loosely behind her head. "So you… think we'll actually be…"
"Well, no!" Anna laughed nervously, right against Elsa's mouth. "But it's- the thing is, with all this time we've been spending on pretend-dates, I'm really starting to be glad to have you back in my life after what happened. So it… I… I don't…"
The hand that raised to touch her cheek was honest, not just part of the act. "Go on, Anna. Say whatever you want to me, I won't pass judgement."
Biting her lip - which was so hard for Elsa to ignore - Anna finally said, "I'm starting to worry that the way we've had to act for this huge joke is going to mess up our relationship as sisters. Like, are we going to keep kissing on accident, even afterward?" When Elsa didn't reply, Anna grimaced and said, "That's a weird thought, isn't it? I'm weird. So weird!"
"No, no, you're not! I don't think so!"
"I just don't want that to be the reason I lose you again," she blurted out next. "S-so… so maybe we should plan the party for sooner than we said. Next month, it… I might have to kiss you so many times between then and now-"
"Shhh," Elsa soothed her, leaning her lips up to kiss the end of her nose. More neutral territory. "If that's what'll make you comfortable, then by all means. These are your friends we're pranking mostly, aren't they? Totally up to you."
Nodding, Anna leaned their foreheads together as she caught her breath, both of their legs kicking to keep them afloat. "Okay. Okay, this… this is good. Let's do it next weekend."
"Very well. However, just one thing."
Smiling, Elsa pressed her lips gently against Anna's. Nothing moved as she did so, there was never a hint of a tongue or a sliding of the lips all over; just brief contact that held still and then was withdrawn. "I don't mind kissing someone who feels as nice as you do. Not saying it should continue, or that I want it to! Obviously that wouldn't be possible! Just that… it's not something I particularly disliked."
They both treaded water for a long moment as they absorbed Elsa's words. Even she had to absorb them herself, despite having spoken them into being. The air was full of the sound of sloshing water around a pool drain, and scattered conversation too faint for them to overhear. And breathing.
"So it wasn't just me…"
Anna shrugged hastily. "No, I mean, um… I didn't say anything because I figured you thought kissing me was a gross thing you had to put up with, just for the prank, and I didn't want to be the weird one. But yeah… I've had way worse kisses than yours."
Elsa's cheeks were definitely glowing, but she tried to keep her voice neutral. "Really? Whose were better than mine? I mean, just curious."
"Nobody's." When Elsa didn't answer, she plunged ahead, "I m-mean, you tie! You tie with some of the other really good kisses I've had. Not that yours are the best of my whole life. That would just be so pathetic, right? If the best kiss I ever got was from my own sister?"
They both started laughing, but it was a very strained laugh full of uncertainty. And their eyes were locked the entire time - plunging into each other's, exploring for a hint of disgust, or unease… or acceptance.
Then Elsa splashed Anna in the face and began to backstroke away from her, and Anna laughed. However, when she was pulling herself up on the ladder, she found her eyes drawn to the tightly-clinging blue two-piece that hid her body from the world, at the silver bangle draped around a slender heel. Things she wouldn't have thought nearly as deeply upon an hour ago.
It took a noseful of chlorinated water to bring her back to her senses and make her swim for the wall herself.
To Be Continued