Three months have passed and the first week of November was upon the Kingdom of Arendelle. Although it's been fall for quite a while, some of the leaves were still changing color on a few of the trees around the kingdom. Anna loved watching the seasons change when she was younger, it gave her hope that maybe the changes of the new season would bring a change with her relationship with the sister she never saw. Elsa, on the other hand, did not care for the changing seasons because she knew that the change in seasons meant that she was getting older, and her powers were becoming more powerful. But now, Elsa saw a different kind of beauty in the changing seasons. She saw herself as a tree with its changing leaves, slowly changing how she came across to people and eventually, she would shed her cold exterior and a new "Elsa" would emerge, just as a tree's leaves fall and die in the winter, but new, brighter, prettier, and healthier leaves appear in the spring.
Elsa stood in the gardens with her sister as Anna tried to explain the point of jumping into a leaf pile, "Basically…after you collect enough leaves so that the pile is big enough, you jump!"
Elsa's face remained questionable, "But, I still don't get it…what's the point?"
Anna became exasperated, "It's fun! Come on, Elsa! You're too serious! You need to have more fun! You do know how to have fun, right?" Anna crossed her arms and gave her sister a challenging look.
Elsa raised her eyebrows, then smiled and took off her crown, "Hold this…" She handed her crown to Anna and then proceeded to take several steps away from the pile. She spoke to herself, "Okay, this is supposed to be fun." As Anna cheered her on, she took a deep breath, and charged towards the leaf pile, feeling a sort of adrenaline rush as she jumped. Anna put the crown down onto the nearest bench, ran towards the pile, and jumped beside her sister who was laughing aloud.
Elsa turned towards her sister, "So, this is what fun is like?"
Anna smiled, "Fun is doing something you love with the people you love, Elsa."
Elsa embraced Anna and hugged her little sister tightly, "Then this was truly fun." Suddenly Elsa pushed Anna back and held her by her shoulders, "Anna? Where is my crown?"
Anna put her hand on Elsa's shoulder, "Oh! I didn't want to damage it so I put it down on that bench over there-"Anna pointed over to the bench, but her eyes widened when she noticed that it was gone. "Uh…well it was over there."
Elsa quickly got up from the leaf pile and ran over to the bench, checking the ground around the area, and soon she got down on all fours and crawled underneath the bench.
Anna calmly walked over to her sister, "Uh…Elsa?"
Her sister was starting to panic and the ground began to frost over, "Not now, Anna! I need to find that crown!"
A masculine voice spoke above Elsa, "Excuse me, Your Majesty?"
Elsa looked up and saw Hans holding out his hand with her crown in his grasp, "What-"She banged her head on the bench, "Ouch!"
Hans handed the crown to Anna, bent down, gently grabbed Elsa by the elbows, and helped her stand back up, "Your Majesty, are you alright?"
She forcefully pulled away from him, "I'm fine…What are you doing out here?"
Hans put one arm across his waist and respectively bowed, "Footman Hans at your service, Your Majesty."
She suspiciously eyed him up and down, "I thought you still had to be on crutches? It's only been three months."
Hans tightly smiled, "I heal pretty quickly…I've been roughed up badly before so my body is used to making speedy recoveries."
Elsa rolled her shoulders back and lifted her chin regally, "I see…well then, I want to see you in my study to discuss your new position here."
He bowed again, "Yes, Your Majesty."
Anna silently handed her sister back the crown and Elsa delicately place it upon her head. As the Queen and her new footman started to make their way back to the castle, Anna came up beside her sister, "Ahem…Elsa?" She removed pieces of leaves from her hair, "You got a little something in your hair."
The Queen blushed and as Anna continued picking leaves out of her hair, Hans quietly walked behind them, holding back a laugh.
Elsa sat behind the desk in her study as Hans and Kai both stood before her, "Gentlemen, I have been thinking." She looked at her new servant, "Hans, I told you a while back that I would only waive your death penalty if you worked on staff here at the castle permanently, but I also side-noted that I would be the one watching you very closely, everyday." Hans only nodded in response, so the Queen continued, "I know that I haven't exactly been watching you too much during your recovery, but all of that is about to change." She looked at Kai and smiled, "Kai, you have been my personal servant for as long as I can remember, but you and I both know that I can only have one personal male servant. So, you see where I am conflicted."
Kai nervously spoke up, "Your Majesty, are you firing me?"
Elsa leaned forward on her desk and clasped her hands together, smiling at her friend, "Of course not, in fact, I am promoting you to be my royal advisor. I have wanted to promote you for some time now, but we could not find anyone to replace you…" She looked over at Hans, "…Until now." She looked backed to Kai, "You will start receiving your new salary by the end of the week."
Kai widely grinned, "Thank you, Your Majesty! Thank you so much! May I please go tell my wife the good news?"
Elsa laughed, "Of course you can. You earned it, Kai. Now go tell Gerda the news!"
Kai started towards the door, "I will, Your Majesty! Thank you!" And with that he was gone, leaving Elsa and Hans alone, again.
Elsa's warm gaze had turned cold once her new advisor left, making Hans shift uncomfortably. She stood up, "Congratulations Hans, you just got promoted to be my new personal servant. That way I can keep an eye on you at all times." She walked around to the front of her desk and stood directly in front of Hans, "Now, I have to go meet with my council and I'm sure they would just love to meet you too." She started towards the door, but stopped right in front of it. She cleared her throat and looked back at Hans, hinting for him to get the door. He rushed over and opened it, "My apologizes, Queen Elsa."
As they continued their walk towards the meeting room, Hans spoke up, "Your Majesty? If its fine with you, may I be allowed a quick debrief about the meeting we are heading to?"
At first Elsa didn't think it was any of his business, but figured that since he will eventually hear about it at the meeting, there's no harm telling him the main points right now, "Over the past week and a half, my council and I have been at odds about the establishment of new trade partners and the impact it will have upon our economy."
Hans was troubled, "Are we in some economic trouble?"
The Queen sighed, "No quite the opposite, really. Since we've been extremely fortunate to have had a bountiful harvest once again this year, Arendelle has started producing more food than what we can actually use. Therefore, I proposed that we use this as an opportunity to reach out to other kingdoms, before the winter season begins, who were less fortunate than Arendelle as a way to gain more trade alliances."
Hans nodded, "Sounds logical, so why is the council against it?"
She frowned, "They think it is foolish of me to offer up our number one export, besides ice, before the winter season begins. They think that I am putting the people of Arendelle in great harm if I go forward with this plan. But I have run the numbers over and over again, and I know that my people will have more than enough food to last them at the very least one year before going into rations."
He thought about it, "Why don't you just wait until after the winter season to act on your plan? That way your council will be satisfied but your plan will still go forward, it'll just be a little postponed."
She stopped walking and looked Hans in the eye, "When you were temporarily in charge of Arendelle during the eternal winter, there was a food shortage was there not?"
Hans nodded, "Yes, the people were very worried that they would not have enough to support their families, let alone survive."
Elsa gave him a curt nod, "Exactly, and I do not wish that problem on any other kingdom. Therefore, if I can prevent that from happening, then I must try to do so." She turned away and continued towards the meeting room door. When Hans put his hand on the doorknob, Elsa put her hand on his arm to stop him. She whispered, "Do you hear that?"
Hans shook his head, but then realized he did hear something. Both him and Elsa put their ears against the door so they could hear the councilmen talking, "We have to shoot down Queen Elsa's plan to encourage new trade alliances, if not she could possibly put Arendelle back into ruin!"
"It wouldn't be the first time she almost destroyed Arendelle."
"The King was right to fear her and her powers! Who knows what she is thinking!"
"Anna was supposed to be the heir to the throne, not Elsa. If only the King and Queen had lived long enough to see their youngest daughter come of age to take the throne."
"Elsa became queen by default!"
"Well if worse comes to worse; we can always lock her back up in her special cell."
"It's true! We made sure to fix that first, before anything else, and we even made some adjustments to counter the ice."
"The King had plenty of blueprints lying around that could help us contain the Queen, each designed to better confine her as her powers grow."
"What a brilliant man our late King was! He knew how to control that monstrous daughter of his."
Elsa's heart was beating so loud that it drowned out the rest their conversation. Hans cautiously looked at her, not knowing what to say or what was going to happen next. Confusion and fear shot through her veins as the hallway walls began to ice over and snow slowly started swirling around her and Hans. Next, as anger and betrayal overcame her, sharp icicles started to protrude from everywhere around them. Hans noticed Elsa looking down at the doorknob and quickly moved his hand just moments before she sent a cold hard blast at it, making sure to lock the councilmen inside. She turned around and stormed off towards the dungeon, with a trail of ice following behind her.
As Elsa ran down the spiral staircase she made a sharp right turn down the hidden passageway she found months earlier, and came across a single prison cell door. Now I know why this looked familiar, I had been held prisoner here before when Hans brought me back from the North Mountain. I had noticed that when Hans was locked up in the dungeon, he had normal iron hand cuffs on, not the ones I was force to wear when I was held captive. At the time I found it odd, but irrelevant to the situation, so I ignored it. She strode over to the door, swung it wide open, and stepped inside. Sure enough, it was the same cell, although now it was completely refurbished and wiped clean of any ice residue. She took another step forward, accidentally kicking a stone that rolled and hit something that sounded like glass. She looked underneath the wooden bench and a horrific sight was hidden beneath. Elsa reached underneath and pulled out the pair of icy broken hand cuffs she had previously frozen in order to escape. A large lumped formed in her throat and, once again, she couldn't control her emotions anymore and she burst into tears.
Hans had followed her and stepped into the cell just as Elsa started bawling. His heart ached for her, for he saw glimpses of himself in her, and he just wished that he could put his arms around her and comfort her. But instead, he just stood by the doorway and let her cry, for there was nothing he could do to console her, at this time.