Chapter 11: Family Reunion
A few days have passed since I chased Hans away and I have been keeping an eye on Elsa ever since, I've been trying to help her through it, but I wanted her to tell me what they did to here, something she hasn't told me.
Right now Elsa was asleep. I know watching a girl while she sleeps could make myself a creeper, but I couldn't sleep, because Elsa looked like she was having a nightmare, she was tossing and turning and muttering. I was at her side and started shaking her, "Elsa, wake up." After a few more attempts, each one getting louder and more serious, she woke up with a scream and breathing heavily. She looked around as if she was making sure it was just a dream, "Elsa it's alright," she looked at me, "It was just a dream." Tears came to her eyes and she started to cry.
She was sitting on the edge of her bed, so I sat next to her and put an arm around her, "It felt so real," she said her voice choked back with sobs, she started crying into the fabric of my vest.
I sighed, "Was it about Hans?" she didn't answer. I put a hand under her chin and tilted her head up to look into her eyes, "Elsa, I want to help you, but I can't do that if you don't let me in. Please don't shut me out."
The last part seemed to do the trick. She looked down and took a shaky breath, "When Hans kidnapped me, he would abuse me. He would beat, insult, and torture me saying if I put up any resistance he would kill Anna." Every word Elsa was saying was only adding to the long list of reason why I hate Hans. "And right before you came in and rescued us…" she hesitated and I knew what was coming. "Hans wanted an heir with my powers… so he raped me." she started to cry more and I hugged her tighter, "And now, I keep thinking he'll come back, and he will." She said.
"It's okay," I said.
"No it's not," Elsa said, "Hans promised that he would be back, and he would bring armies. Hans want to go to war with Arendelle." This was worse than I originally thought. She eventually fell asleep too exhausted to continue. I laid her back in her bed and put the covers over her.
"Don't worry Elsa," I said before kissing her on the brow, "As long as I'm around, Hans won't go anywhere near you." I sat down in the chair and slowly drifted off.
"Have you been watching over her all night?" I came out of my drifting; I looked at the door, and saw Anna in the doorway looking at me with surprise. I looked at the window and saw that the sun had risen.
"Looks like it." I replied like it didn't bother me.
Anna gave me a slight smile, "You really care a lot about her don't you?"
I didn't answer her question, I just turned back toward Elsa, "She's going to need a lot of comfort, which means she's going to need me, and you more than ever."
I was pacing the room. I stopped and started to think, "Hey Anna, you're probably not going to believe me, but while doing my patrol of Arendelle I found a couple who turned out to be your parents who have been dead for three years." I sighed and rubbed my brow, "There's no way I can do this." Then I snapped my fingers getting an idea, "I'll talk to Zander." I walked to the door then stopped, "Will me decided not to give him this news until now give him enough reason to burn me alive? I hope not."
When Kristoff told me he had news for me, I didn't know what to think. "Anna, watch over Elsa and send someone for me if she wakes up." I followed Kristoff out the door and he led me into another room, "Well Kristoff I could use some good news right now so I hope that's what you have."
"Well… the news has good and bad elements to it." Kristoff said.
"What is it?" I asked.
"You might want to sit down for this one." Kristoff said.
You really have to admire Zander's dedication. He is so in love with my sister, "Anna?" I looked and saw that Elsa was waking up.
"Hey Elsa." I said.
"Where's Zander?" she asked, this was really adorable. Elsa was asking for her knight in shining, or should I say flaming, armor.
"He's taking care of things with Kristoff, they'll be back soon." I said to reassure her. She looked a little down so I tried something that never failed to cheer her up, "Do you want to build a snowman?" Elsa smiled.
Kristoff was right about me sitting down for this, because when he told me the new I stood up so abruptly that the chair toppled over, "You're serious." I said, Kristoff nodded, "Where are they?"
"They showed up last night and I decided to let them stay in your old place." I was about to shout at him, but stopped myself knowing that wouldn't solve anything.
"Well before they see the girls, they should see me." I said I didn't care if they were their parents. After last night I'm not taking any chances.
"Okay, but what are we going to tell the girls?" Kristoff asked.
I thought for a minute, "Find Kai and tell him that we're taking care of things in the market. I'm sure he'll pass the message along."
I knew the way to my forge all too well, but Kristoff led the way anyway. I never really took time to learn about the late Highnesses Agdar and Idun, now that I was about to meet them I wish that I had. Maybe Xant was right about my knowledge on history. We arrived at my forge and we hesitated at the door.
"I'll go in first," Kristoff said, "Get them warmed up before actually meeting you."
"Translation," I started, "You're going to warn them about how I can be so the situation can be handled as delicately as possible." Kristoff laughed a little before going inside. I leaned my back against the door and began to focus. I could hear just about everything within a reasonable distance, reasonable by dragon standards, but I focused on what was being said in the room.
"Okay," Kristoff said, "Before I can get you into the castle to see your daughters, first you need to talk to Zander."
"Who's Zander?" a male voice asked, obviously it must've been Agdar.
"Zander is new to Arendelle," Kristoff started, "But he's now Arendelle's protector." I nodded; he was doing good so far.
"Why is he protecting Arendelle?" a woman, most likely Idun, asked.
Kristoff didn't answer, "I think it would be best if he, or one of the girls told you." I heard footsteps, "Just to warn you, Zander has a fiery temper, so I would suggest you be careful what you say when he talks to you." The door opened, as did my eyes, "They're ready for you." I nodded and walked inside.
When I first walked it there was no argument that these people were Elsa and Anna's parents. Elsa looked a lot like her mother, and it was clear that Anna got some of her qualities from her father. The looks they were giving me, combined with the emotion I was sensing was giving me a clear picture of how they felt about meeting me.
I gave a warm smile, "Don't worry, I don't bite." I said, "Have a seat," I motioned to the chair and the sat down, "Well I'm sure we can see each other eye-to-eye, I don't know much about you, and you don't know much about me." they nodded in agreement, "I know that I frighten you and I don't blame you, but I want us to be on more friendly of terms." I said hoping to ease their conscious. "Well why don't I ask you a question before you ask me, or Kristoff, any questions you have." They nodded, "Why have you waited this long to return to Arendelle?" I asked.
It was Agdar that answered, "We washed up on the shores of a kingdom across the sea, and as much as we wanted to come back; we couldn't. Anything we had we lost when the boat sank. We had to get jobs and work to raise enough money for us to get by, and then we had to work even harder to find someone to take us back to Arendelle."
"Getting to where you need to go can be hard." I said, I can definitely relate to that, "Well a deal's a deal. If you have any questions, by all means ask away."
This time Idun spoke up, "Well where are you from Zander?"
"The Kingdom of Sorceric." Agdar's eyes widened, "What?"
"That's very far away; you would have to travel through at least five kingdoms." He said.
"Seven actually, Tocia has split due to rebellions and Civil War, and I had to take a detour through Skyridge because of a war going on in Auroria while traveling through there," I clarified, "I needed a new life, be best if I did it as far away from my old one as possible, and the long trip was definitely worth it. Next question?"
"How is Elsa performing her duties as queen?" Agdar said, pretty much saw that coming.
"Kristoff you want to take this one?" I asked him.
"Sure," he said, "Elsa has been doing a stupendous job of being queen, she is very well loved by the people and she is a natural at keeping the peace."
I snorted, "More like no one wants to mess with the Ice Queen." I muttered under my breath, but Idun heard me.
"What do you mean by 'Ice Queen'?" she asked.
I had to think before answering that one, "Well I don't know all the details," I started, "But shortly after Elsa's coronation, her ice powers became known to the people after she lost control of them sending Arendelle into an Eternal Winter in the middle of summer, but after quite a bit of help from Anna, Kristoff, and a few others Elsa was able to find the secret to controlling her power and end the winter she caused."
"So… she has gained control over her powers?" Agdar asked.
"Yes," Kristoff said, "Well I mean. She had a bit of trouble when her and I were planning Anna's birthday celebration, but other than that she's been in complete control." I'm going to have to hear that story sometime. Agdar looked deep in thought.
"But that can't be right, we tried for years and she could not gain control, how did she do it on her own?" he asked mainly himself.
I gave a nervous laugh, "Well, with all due respect sir… you don't exactly win the Medal of Honor when it comes to parenting. Your intentions were good, no doubt about that, but your methods weren't exactly the best."
"And exactly what do you know about parenting?" he asked.
"Nothing," I said, "Except for this; a good parent never keeps their child from the world around them." My fist clenched, "But that didn't stop my father from doing it. He never did it for my protection, he did it to hide the shame I bestowed upon him." I sighed.
There was a moment of silence before Agdar spoke, "Well Zander I only have two more questions." I made a motion telling him to go ahead, "How did you become Arendelle's protector? And, can we see Anna and Elsa now?"
"Well the first question is kind of a long story," I explained, "I just have one question for you, do you trust me?"
"You really haven't given us reason not to." Agdar said.
"Well one of the reasons that led Elsa to trust is a good way to lose trust in others," I said, "You might want to brace yourself." I raised a hand palm facing up and there was a slight flicker before a flame appeared. I sent the flame and directed it around the room like a small shooting star before retracting it back into my hand.
I examined them, "Since you haven't freaked out, I can assume you still trust me?" they nodded, "Well then, let's get started on this little family reunion."
I walked into the castle and was approached by Kai, "Mr. Smith, we're glad to have you back. Where's Mr. Bjorgman, I thought he was with you?"
"He was," I said, "We were looking for some more people to help out here in the castle, and I think we've found them."
"Really?" Kai asked and I nodded, "Well, you'll have to tell me more about them, but right now. The council has asked to meet with you." Well this can't be good.
Kai led me to the council room, "Ah Mr. Smith," a councilman said as I came in, "I'm glad you could come, we have much to discuss." I nodded and took a seat, "Well first we need to discuss what it is that happened in the past few days."
One of the other councilmen spoke up, "It seems that in the Queen's absence, the Duke of Weselton, Prince Hans, and a group of mercenaries were able to sneak into the castle to overthrow us."
"Yes, but how?" another asked.
"Because they had someone on the inside," I said and all eyes fell towards me, "Our Guard Captain was contacting them for months planning the appropriate time to come to take this castle."
The councilman next to me started to speak, "I see, well it certainly shows the weakness of this kingdom, maybe this shows that Elsa is unfit to be-" I grabbed him with one hand and threw him across the table.
I walked over to him and picked him up with one hand and set fire to the other, "Never, and I mean never! Assume that Elsa is unfit to rule over this kingdom!" the councilman nodded and I dropped him and turned to the other council members, "Does anybody else agree with him?" nobody answered, I willed myself back to normal, "Queen Elsa has done an amazing job with this kingdom, the only reason she didn't stop them was because they captured Princess Anna and threatened to kill her if she resisted. Do you know what they did to her?" I didn't give them time to answer, "They locked her up, insulted her, and tortured her until her spirit was broken, and do you know what they did then… Hans raped her!" I boomed, my voice getting louder and more angrier with each word, "And it won't end there, now that Captain and the Duke of Weselton are dead, there's no doubt that Hans will flee to his home country and gather his father's and Weselton's armies and come back and take Arendelle by force."
The council members muttered, "Well what are we going to do about it?"
"First, we need to make sure the queen is okay and has recovered from the event," I said, "Then we need to prepare for war."
"How can we prepare for war?" a councilman said hopelessly, "We don't have an army."
"Yet." I added before continuing, "The people trust Elsa, and if she agrees that we need to reform Arendelle's armies, people will volunteer to join the cause."
"You make a good point Mr. Smith," Kai said, "But even if we do get volunteers, how are we going to train the new recruits, and get the equipment we need?"
"We place orders," I said, "and I think I know some people who can be very good teachers or instructors."
"Forgive me for interrupting sir," a councilman said, "But an order for weapons and equipment is going to take a large amount of money; and a large amount of our funds are going to the reconstruction of the damaged areas of the castle."
"Yeah, sorry about that." I muttered, "But let me handle it, I have my sources."
"Well then," Kai said, "It looks like everything has been settled. All me need is to give the news to Elsa." Everyone looked at me.
I rolled my eyes, "Alright, looks like I'm going to have to take this crossbow bolt."
The trick was finding Elsa, usually I would just have to look for Anna and I would usually find her, but she was hard to keep track of too. "Now where would they go?" I asked myself, "The chocolate store? Possibly, but Anna just went there yesterday." It was true, and even though she loved chocolate. She had promised never to go there two days in a row… one of these days I should ask her why.
After several nerve wracking moments I decided that they must be outside, probably building a snowman. I walked through the garden to the frozen pond and saw that Elsa, Anna, and Olaf were ice skating. Olaf was the first to notice me.
"Hey Zander," he said waved one of his twig-like hands, "Why don't you join us?"
I looked at the ice and then back up, "No thanks," I said, "I'm fine just watching."
They skated over to me, "Oh c'mon where's the fun in that?" Anna asked.
"Well actually," I said in a nervous tone, "I don't know how to ice skate."
There was a moment of silence before the girls giggled, "What is that it?" Elsa said.
"Never learned how, because well you know, fire power, thin ice. Not exactly the best combination." I said.
Anna giggled, "Well Elsa can help you out with that." I didn't have time to argue because Elsa already formed some literal ice skates and pulled me out onto the ice.
She let me go and immediately I started wobbling, "Bad idea bad idea." I kept repeating as I tried to move around. I tried to move myself forward, but it only resulted in my feet going out from under me and falling backwards onto my back.
For the next hour or so the trio tried to teach me how to skate. The key word in that sentence is 'tried'. "I told you I'm hopeless on the ice," I said.
"Aw c'mon you haven't done that bad." Anna said.
"Oh yes I have." I said, "I've got the bruises to prove it," I got up from my position on the ground, "Elsa can you get me back to the edge of the pond." She giggled and led me easily to the edge and took the skates off my boots, "Elsa, the council wants me to tell you something, and after that. Kristoff and I want to show something to you and Anna."
"What?" she asked.
"It's a surprise," I said standing up, "Hopefully it'll a good one," I said under my breath, "Why don't we go inside I think the lake is taunting me." Elsa giggled at the jest and we made our way to the castle.
I asked her if she knew any place quiet, she led me to her study. "Okay so what do you need to tell me?"
"The council talked to me earlier about what happened while Hans was in control." I said and her eyes widened, "Don't worry I only told them what they needed to know." She calmed down a little, "I told them on how Hans plans to return ready for war, and they think, with your permission. That it would be best to reform Arendelle's army."
Elsa was beginning to look nervous, "But how can we do that, we don't have enough guards to make an army."
I sat down, "You can ask for volunteers," she looked ready to protest, but I continued, "If you're worried on whether or not they'll listen to you, then you shouldn't. The people love you and respect your decisions." I chuckled, "Besides I'm sure every single guy in the kingdom will want to join the army to impress you." She scowled at me and her cheeks turned pink. I laughed harder and she cut me off by hitting me in the face with a snowball. Wiping the snow away I said, "Okay I guess I deserved that one."
There was a knock at the door, "Hey are you guys in there?" it was Kristoff.
"Yeah, is the surprise ready?" he responded with an affirmative. I turned toward Elsa, "Let's go meet your big surprise."
Kristoff and I brought the girls to a room where Agdar and Idun were, they were wearing robes so the girls couldn't see their faces. "Elsa, Anna, I'd like you to meet our newest members of the castle staff," I said, "I think you'll like them, they say they know you." Agdar and Idun pulled down the hoods and struck the royal family into a state of shock.
"Mama?" Anna asked.
"Papa?" Elsa asked.
"Girls," I said, "Agdar and Idun," I said as if introducing them. The girls didn't really look like they were believing it.
"Elsa," Idun said, "When you were 5 years old you were very afraid of storms and during stormy nights the only way you would go to sleep is if I sang you your favorite lullaby; 'Snowflakes Falling'." Elsa's eye's widened and looked close to tears.
"Anna," Adgar said, "After I made the decision-"
I coughed loudly, "A stupid one." I said between coughs.
Adgar glared at me for a split second, "The stupid decision of separating you and Elsa, you would always get in trouble for knocking over suits of armor while exploring the castle, the most memorable of which was when you knocked a sword out of a knight's hands and pinned one of the servants against the wall." I tried not to laugh at the mental picture that gave me. Anna gasped softly.
The girls walked forward slowly as if they couldn't believe their eyes, and their ears. They stood a couple feet from each other standing still. I leaned over to Kristoff, "Why isn't anything happening?" I whispered. I don't know if Anna heard me or not, but she finally did something by jumping forward and hugging Agdar, Idun joined in the hug and Elsa was the last to join in.
"Well I think you guys need some alone time," Kristoff said.
"So," I started, "We're just going to leave you." We turned around and started to walk toward the door.
"Not so fast," Anna said sternly. We turned around almost fearfully. I felt tempted to melt the ground beneath me and tunnel myself out. The stared us down before giving her sweet and playful smile, "We still have to thank you."
I breathed a sigh of relief, "Oh that's good," I said, "I thought I was going to start making my will." Anna laughed and pulled me in for a bone crushing hug, no really she was really hugging me hard, "Anna, you might want to loosen up, I can't breathe." I said in a strained voice.
"Anna seriously, I think he's turning blue." Kristoff said. Anna released me and now it was Kristoff's turn to be suffocated.
I caught my breath and looked up at Elsa and had the breath stolen from my body once again, but not because Elsa hugged me as hard as Anna did, quite the opposite actually. Her hug was quite soft compared to her sister's hug. What took my breath away was the smile she gave me before she hugged me, I didn't think it was possible, but it made her angelic face look even more enchanting.
Elsa hugged me for a few seconds, "Thank you Zander." He whispered into my ear. I was starting to question whether or now she had ice powers, because she never failed to make my insides melt.
I'm guessing Agdar suspected something because he was giving me a strange look. Elsa pulled away from the hug and went back to her parents, "I can't believe this is happening."
"Yeah I know," I said, "First you and Anna become close sisters again, then Anna gets married, she's also expecting and now-"
"What did you say?" Idun asked me.
"Oh," I said thinking over what I just said, "Did I say too much?" I shrugged, "It was bound to come out sometime, better to be sooner than later." At first Agdar and Idun were surprised, but then they looked overjoyed. Then they started bombarding Anna with questions, but they were so jumbled together I couldn't catch most of them.
"Okay, slow down," Anna said, "Well my husband is Kristoff; I married him a couple weeks ago. I just barely found out, I'm not sure what the gender is or what I'm going to name it-"
"How did you hear all those questions?" Kristoff asked voicing my thoughts. The girls laughed.
The girls had been catching up with their parents for at least an hour and I knew that Elsa had to make the announcement soon, "Elsa," I said, she turned to look at me, "You need to make the announcement."
Elsa nodded and left the room, Agdar looked at me with a curious expression, "What announcement?"
"You'll see, also I have a question for you, just out of curiosity." I said, "How skilled are you in the ways of combat?"
I took a while, but the entire city of Arendelle had gathered in the castle square where Elsa usually creates her ice rinks, at least that's what Anna told me she used it for. "People of Arendelle," Kai said, "Our queen has an announcement to make."
Elsa looked nervous, "Don't worry," I said, "You'll be fine." She nodded and walked forward.
She cleared her throat, "People of Arendelle, I'm afraid I have grave news. Weselton and the Southern Isles have threatened to go to war against Arendelle." There were gasps and mutterings of shock, "I know, and in Arendelle's current state, I feel there is only one thing we can do." She paused, "We have to reform Arendelle's army. I know it's a lot to ask, but the royal family and royal council need volunteers in order to create this army, which mean that I, along with the rest of Arendelle, need you." She looked back at me and then back to the crowd, "Now to introduce Arendelle's new Military Commander; Zander Smith." She looked back at me and made a notion that she wanted me to speak. I don't know if it was to motivate them, or revenge for what I said earlier, but I stepped forward and looked at the people in front of me.
"I know some of you are scared." I said, "Afraid that you might lose your home and your life, but let me ask you something. What are they fighting for?" I waited a moment for them to ponder the question, "They fight so they can take what we worked so hard to get, but why do we fight?"
"To defend?" someone asked from the crowd.
I smiled, "Exactly, we fight to defend. We have something they don't… something worth fighting for." I could sense that some of them were getting more determined, "We defend the things and people we love, and are we going to just let them think they can just take that away?" I said, "No, to them Arendelle is just a place up for claim, but to us. It's our home." People nodded in agreement, "Now I have one last question, are you willing to defend your home.
"Aye," a couple people said, but not very loudly.
"What are we defending?" I said.
"Arendelle." The crowd said.
"What are we defending?" I repeated a little louder.
"The royal family." The crowd said.
"What are we defending?!" I said even louder.
"OUR HOME!" the crowd shouted. I raised I fist into the air and the crowd followed my example.
"For Arendelle!" I shouted.
"FOR ARENDELLE!" the crowd repeated.
After Elsa's and my speech there were several volunteers, their training was to start next week, I would've started their trainer sooner, but Agdar insisted because of the time of year.
"What do you mean when you say 'because of the time of year'?" Zander asked my dad, who he introduced to the other members of the castle staff as Adrian, who would be helping him train the volunteers.
I thought for a minute, then I remembered what month it was, "I can't believe we forgot." The others looked at me, "Christmas is coming in a few days!" I said excitedly and Elsa and Kristoff got the message. Zander just looked puzzled, "What's wrong Zander, aren't you excited?"
"Yeah, well I guess I should be." Zander said with uncertainty, "I just have one clarifying question." He waited for a moment before asking a quite shocking question, "What's Christmas?"