Hans' Story (III)
Hans and Annaliese, both now eighteen years old, were sitting together on a picnic blanket in the castle gardens happily holding hands. They had secretly started dating when they were sixteen and been going strong ever since. They had scheduled to meet around midnight, every night, in the gardens so they could be together in privacy and actually act like a couple. They loved to talk about anything and everything from the day's events, to past experiences, to teasing and bad-mouthing the other princes behind their backs (that was their favorite subject). But the one thing they both avoided was talking about their future, because with Hans being a prince and Annaliese being a servant, they weren't sure that they really had a future together.
Annaliese let go of Hans's hands and snuggled closer to him, nestling her head on his shoulder, "Hans, can I ask you something?"
The prince smiled down at her, "Sure, of course."
"Why do you insist that we keep our relationship a secret from your father and brothers if you say that you do not care about what they think of you?"
"Because if my father finds out about us then he would definitely disown me and I would no longer be a prince."
Annaliese was a bit perplexed, "But if that's the case and you were no longer a prince, then we could be together and perhaps someday get married."
"But if I'm not a prince then I am no longer eligible to inherit any sort of kingship from any other kingdom."
Annaliese stood up and glared down at Hans with her hands on her hips, "So you're saying that inheriting the throne is a much higher priority than our relationship? I thought you loved me?"
Now Hans stood up and faced Annaliese, "I do love you! More than anything else! It's just that, I promised my mother that I would make her proud someday and rule as a great king over a grand kingdom. And I can't fulfill my promise to her if I were to be disowned."
Annaliese's expression softened, "I understand where you're coming from, Hans, I really do. It's just that...you and I are soon becoming of age where we have to start finding someone to marry and settle down with, and if you are to keep your promise to your mother then..." She looked down at her hands.
Hans started to feel a knot in his stomach, "Then what?"
When Annaliese looked back up at Hans, she had tears in her eyes, "Then maybe it's time we moved on and saw other people?"
A lump formed in Hans's throat, "Wait, what? Are you saying that we're over?"
Annaliese looked away and started walking towards the courtyard, "Yes and no...Hans, I don't want it to be over but it's starting to dawn on me that you and I both want different things out of life and if that be the case then one of us cannot succeed while with the other."
Hans grabbed her arm and turned her to face him, "No Annaliese. We can make it work. We just need more time-"
"Time is not on our side, Hans! Most girls my age are already married and I haven't even technically started looking for someone in my class. It was fun while it lasted and I'll still be your friend, but I cannot bear the pain of continuing to fall in love with a man I know I will never marry." She got on her tippy toes and planted a heartfelt kiss on her lover's lips. Then she cupped his face with her hands, looked into his eyes one last time, and sorrowfully walked away.
One week later, Hans was still heartbroken about what had happened with Annaliese, but he was determined to not show it. He just bottled up his emotions, pushed them way down, and continued on with his daily activities. Although he couldn't help but look wistfully at Annaliese every time she would pass him by in the halls. It wasn't until then though that he noticed that he was not the only one who had his eye on the stunning servant girl. Lots of his older brother began to notice Annaliese more and more as she grew older and more beautiful. This gave Hans a bit of concern for his childhood friend because he knew that although his brothers were princes, they didn't always act as such.
Six months had passed and one night at supper, Kendrick, who was now twenty-one years of age, clinked his glass, signaling that he had an announcement. Once the room had quieted down he started, "Good evening everyone. I have a special announcement to make. The Kingdom of Sperca has fallen due to the lack of authority in their monarch system. Both the King and Queen have been dead for about five years time, and the Queen had no children. Originally, the Southern Isles had volunteered to send a prince over there to become their new king, but they refused saying that they wished to run things without a monarch's rule. But now that things have taken a turn for the worst, they have asked for our assistance once again. Being that I am the next available prince in line to rule, Father has agreed that I am the best choice to take on this challenge of reviving this lost kingdom. But if I am to ensure that the Kingdom of Sperca stays within our family, then I must take a bride. Father and I have already discussed everything over and, brothers, without further a due, I present to you my fiancé, Miss Annaliese!"
All of the brothers cheered except Hans, who just stood there feeling a flood of emotions hitting him like one hard wave after another. Shock, confusion, anger, hate...he looked at the future king of Sperca wrap his arm around Annaliese's waist and continued his announcement, "And do not worry my brothers, I will not make the same mistake as the former King and Queen of Sperca." He looked directly at Hans, "I will make certain that Annaliese and I will have lots of children."
The brothers all laughed, but Hans stormed out of the dining hall and headed towards the courtyard to get some fresh air. Once there, Hans angrily paced back and forth thinking through everything that had just happened. He knew! Somehow Kendrick knew about Annaliese and I! And now he's marrying her and they're going to move far away and have children together! Then he heard a familiar voice, "Hans!" He turned to see that Annaliese was running towards him with a look of desperation and regret on her face.
Hans started backing away from her, "No you...you stay away from me!"
She stopped running, "Hans, I'm so sorry-"
Tears formed in his eyes, "How could you?! How could you do this to me?!"
She pleaded, "Hans, please listen to me! I didn't have a choice-"
Hans was becoming distraught, "Sure you did! Everyone always has a choice."
That was when Kendrick decided to show up and smirked, "Oh Hansey! I didn't know that you and Annaliese had some sort of history together."
"Shut up, Kenny! Why are you doing this to me? Somehow you knew about Annaliese and I! You planned this whole thing just to make me feel like a fool!"
By now the rest of the brothers and even the King joined them in the courtyard and watched the drama unfold. Kendrick strutted over to Annaliese and put his arms around her waist again and planted a big kiss on her lips, Annaliese looked disgusted by it. Hans couldn't take it anymore, he ran over to Kendrick and landed a great punch right in the nose, hearing the snap of the broken bone along with it. Everyone gasped and Kendrick looked stunned at his youngest brother's outburst. Then Kendrick returned the punch right back at Hans followed by another, then a swift kick to the stomach and an elbow blow to the back, causing Hans to fall powerlessly to the floor. Kendrick ruthlessly grabbed Hans's neck and turned his face towards his own and scoffed in a low voice, "Oh Hans, if only there was someone out there who loved you..." He then slammed Hans's head into the ground.
Kendrick started walking away laughing menacingly just like he always did, but this time something inside Hans snapped. The youngest prince slowly stood up, grabbed the nearest object, which happened to be a rusty shovel, and charged at his brother with a new sense of anger, hatred, and revenge. Annaliese screamed out to Hans, trying to tell him to stop, but he couldn't hear her anymore. All he heard were the lifetime amount of cruel comments his brothers have ever said to him, 'You're nothing...They don't love you...You're alone...You're no good...' By the time he came to his senses, Kendrick was lying on the floor bleeding profusely, the guards had pulled Hans off of him and dragged him down to the dungeon.
Hans was chained and left alone in the dungeon for the rest of the evening. It wasn't until the next morning that the King had come down to visit his youngest son.
"Hans, my boy! That was some fine fighting you did last night! I have never been so proud of you!"
Hans looked up at his father, "You're saying that you're proud of me for beating up my brother?"
"No, I'm proud that you stood up and defended yourself! Didn't it feel good to have justice served after all that Kendrick has done to you?"
"It did feel a little good..."
"And now that all of your brothers see you in a new light, they respect you."
"They're more scared of me that anything else."
"That's even better. One of the best kept secret weapons a king can have is striking fear into those around him. Now I have no doubt that someday you could truly be a great and powerful king!"
"Son, it is far better to be feared, than it is to be loved."
With that he gave Hans a big smile and walked away. Not so much as 2 minutes passed before Annaliese came down with a worried look on her face, "Hans! What happened to you last night? It was like you were someone else?!"
"I was Annaliese...for the first time in my life, I was powerful. I was feared. I was respected."
She knelt down to his eye level, "But that's not who you are, Hans! You're a kind-hearted, sensitive- "
He was starting to lose his patience, "I still am those things! But with more power and control! Annaliese! Kendrick fears me now! All my brothers do! I have my father's respect and I bet if I asked him to approve our marriage, he will!"
She stared at him for a good long minute before standing up, "No Hans."
He looked up at her, "Wait, what?"
She took a step back, "You are not the same man I fell in love with. The man I once loved is gone. He has been replaced with one who only seeks the throne for power and control. You, Hans, are no longer like your mother. You have become like your father and your brothers...Goodbye Hans, for good." And with that she turned around, walked out of the dungeon and never looked back.
Hans had to stay in the dungeon for the remainder of the year as punishment for attempted man slaughter, especially on a royal prince. Then after he was released from prison, he was under house arrest and could not leave the palace grounds for the next four years. That gave him a lot of time to think about everything he had ever gone through and also further go down this path of self-destruction. By the time his punishment was over, he was now twenty-three years of age. He was still considered to be one of the king's favorite sons at this point, and was called into a private meeting with the King.
"There he is! My favorite and brightest son! How have you been my boy?"
Hans bowed, "I'm doing fine father."
"Good! Just what I wanted to hear! Listen, Hans, I received some great news the other day and I've decided that you're just the one I want to send as a representative of the Southern Isles!"
"I am honored father, what is the assignment?"
"You are aware of Arendelle's King and Queen's tragic death at sea two years ago?"
"Yes, father. And I believe it was three years ago."
"Ah yes of course! Well it appears that their eldest daughter has come of age to step in as the new Queen of Arendelle. And you are to attend the coronation as our kingdom's representative. Sadly, both princesses do not seem to be married which just so happens to open an opportunity for you."
Hans looked skeptical, "How so?"
"You are by far my most charming son. I want you to pursue one of the two royal sisters and, by marriage, eventually secure yourself into Arendelle's throne. Do whatever it takes, and if all goes well, you will become the next King of Arendelle."
Hans continued his skeptical look, "And if something should go wrong?"
"Do not worry, my boy! I will handle it! Besides, they are just a couple of naive young girls, what could go wrong?"
Hans bowed again, "It will be done, father."
As Hans packed his bags for Arendelle he couldn't help but think about his mother. This is it! This is my chance to finally get my own kingdom! And not just any kingdom...Arendelle! I promised you, Mother, that I would someday become king of a grand far away kingdom and now my time has come! I will make you proud, Mother, I promise!