Warm Hugs

Welcome to Sperca

It was the late afternoon/early evening on the third day since Elsa and Hans departed Arendelle for their journey to Sperca. Anna was sitting beside Kristoff's bed, mindlessly playing with her braids, waiting for him to wake up. Every time Anna had been in his room he was either sleeping, or having some sort of cough attack. She hadn't been able to tell him about Elsa and Hans' quest to retrieve an antidote, and she also just missed talking to him. Finally he started to stir and Anna perked up, "Kristoff?"

He slowly opened his eyes and smiled when he saw Anna's face, "Hey you…I haven't seen you in a while."

Anna jokingly rolled her eyes, "I've been in here a lot the past three days, but you're always asleep. How are you feeling?"

Kristoff took in a deep breath, "I've been better, so far this day hasn't been that bad. Every day, I feel like it's a struggle just to breathe and…well, you know what I mean since you were also sick. But, I'm happy that you're here though."

Anna grabbed his hand, "Kristoff…I have some good news."

Kristoff raised his eyebrows, "I'm not dying?"

Anna squeezed his hand, "Don't talk like that, it's very unsettling…"

Kristoff lifted her hand and planted a gentle kiss, "I'm sorry Anna…but we both know that I don't have any ice magic in me that can cure this plague. So it is inevitable that…"

Anna stood up and gestured her hands wildly, "You're not going to die! There is a cure out there! And Elsa and Hans left three days ago to go find it!"

Kristoff's eyes opened wide, "Wait, what?"

Anna sat back down, "The doctor told us he has a friend that claims to have found an antidote to most diseases, but the antidote needs a special ingredient that can only be found by those born with the powers of the unknown, which means only Elsa can find it. So she and Hans left three days ago to go find it-"

Kristoff put his hands up, "Woah, woah, woah…slow down. Hans went with her? How did that happen?"

Anna shrugged, "I don't know, Elsa wrote in the note that he volunteered and somehow persuaded her to let him tag along."

Kristoff gave her a questionable look, "Doesn't that sound a little suspicious to you?"

Anna shook her head, "Nope! Well, yeah okay maybe at first it did, but Kai told me that Hans actually saved Elsa's life back at her ice palace during the eternal winter."

Kristoff furrowed his brows, "Back when he was trying to gain her trust and before he attempted to kill her?"

Anna started to wring her hands, "Yeah, well…Elsa can take care of herself."

Kristoff raised an eyebrow, "Can she? He almost succeeded the last time, and you're not there to stop him now."

Anna silently thought for a few seconds, "She'll be okay…Hans fears Elsa; he admitted that to me a while ago."

"I don't know Anna…why else would he volunteer to go with her?"

"Well, why did you volunteer to take me up the North Mountain?"

Kristoff smirked, "You bribed me and owed me a new sled." Anna crossed her arms and gave him an unimpressed look. Kristoff laughed and took hold of her hand, "I'm kidding, well sort of, but the reason I continued to help you and came back for you was because I cared about you. I loved you, Anna, and I still do."

Anna smiled and softly kissed his forehead, "I do too. And maybe that's the reason for Hans wanting to go with Elsa. Maybe he cares about her; they do share a common bond, despite their rough history. I think he'll watch over Elsa and take care of her."

Kristoff smiled and closed his eyes, "Where did you say they were headed?"

Anna stood up, "Sperca."

Kristoff's eyes popped open, "Wait! Did you say Sperca?!"

Anna shrugged, "Yeah, why?"

Kristoff looked at her with a concerned expression, "Isn't that kingdom ruled by one of Hans's brothers?"

Anna's faced paled, "Ohhhhhh noooo…Hans hates his brothers! Do you think that's the reason he volunteered to go with Elsa, to somehow get his revenge on his brother?" Anna gasped, "Oh my goodness! That's where Annaliese is! Maybe that has something to do with it, too!"

Kristoff's eyelids started to feel heavy, "Well, let's hope that Elsa keeps Hans on a short leash."

The sun was getting ready to set on the third day of Hans and Elsa's journey. The Captain informed Elsa that they would arrive at Sperca by midnight, which was fine with her. That way she wouldn't have to worry about being noticed as a royal by the townspeople since they should all be asleep. Elsa stayed in her room for most of the third day, in order to avoid the Hans fiasco she went through the day before. But being that the sun was about to set and the temperature was no longer hot, she was sure that everyone was wearing their shirts now, so she decided to take a stroll on the deck. When she stepped out of her room, most of the crew was absent, oh of course! It must be dinner time…that makes sense. But to her surprise, she noticed one man standing by the ship's railing with his hands clasped behind his back, attentively staring out at the horizon. Elsa recognized his unique sideburns that can only belong to one man, "Hans?"

Hans didn't even flinch, "Your Majesty."

She silently stood next to him and took in his appearance, he wore his usual black pants with his tall black boots, but what was different was the loose white shirt with the neckline cut low enough to expose a little of his broad chest. "Where did you get that shirt?"

A cool sea breeze tousled his hair, "A crew member gave it to me; he said it would help keep me cool during the day without having to take off my shirt."

"I see..." Elsa looked out at the horizon as the sun began to set. The extravagant red, orange, and purple streaks illuminated the sky for the briefest of seconds; Elsa smiled, look…the sky's awake. Before they knew it, the sun finished its stunning descent and soon the night's darkness engulfed them. Elsa and Hans remained silent for a few more minutes, before Elsa quietly spoke up, "That was beautiful."

Hans continued to stare out at the dark ocean, "Mhmm."

The Queen folded her hands in front of her, "The Captain said that we should arrive at Sperca by midnight."

Han took a deep breath, "Good."

Elsa looked up at him and tried to read his stoic expression, "Is there something wrong?"

Hans didn't answer her right away; he just stood there, starring out into the darkness. Finally he spoke up, "You promised me, a while back, that you would never tell my family about your decision to spare my life…did you?"

Elsa raised her eyebrows, "Did I tell them? No, why?"

Hans took a deep breath, "If you recall, my brother Kendrick is the King of Sperca…and as far as I know, he thinks I am dead." Hans turned to Elsa with a determined look in his eye, "And I would like to keep it that way."

Elsa wore her usual professional face, "I do not plan on meeting the King of Sperca…or the Queen for that matter."

Hans had a firm look on his face, "I just want to find this antidote and leave as soon as possible." He looked back at the water.

Elsa furrowed her brows, "Why did you come with me?"

Hans gave her a sideways glance, "Pardon?"

Elsa crossed her arms, leaned back against the railing, and faced Hans, "Well, you knew we were going to Sperca and it's pretty obvious that you don't like where we're headed so why did you volunteer to come with me then?"

Hans looked at her with concern, "To protect you…the people here may be dangerous, but no one is more dangerous than my brother. If he were to set his eyes on you…"

Elsa raised an eyebrow, "What?"

Hans sighed, "Let's just say he's not the most chivalrous prince out there."

Elsa's expression hardened, "I see…and what about Annaliese? She was probably heartbroken when she heard you were dead."

Hans was quiet for a few seconds, but then he cleared his throat, "My guess would be that she was rather complacent about my so-called death. She doesn't care for me, anymore."

Elsa looked down, "Do you still care for her though?"

Hans looked at Elsa with a mournful expression, "Through years and years of pushing my emotions down and away, I fear that I can no longer feel for others…My emotions are numb most of the time."

Elsa forlornly looked at her hands, "Conceal it, don't feel it…"

Hans absentmindedly finished, "Don't let it show…" They both looked at each in surprise, but Hans spoke first, "How do you do it? After all these years of pushing away your emotions, you still manage to love and care for Anna."

Elsa looked out at the ocean, "I never pushed away my emotions; I just learned to control them."

Hans took a step closer to her, "But you and I both have so much baggage from our past, how can you just simply let it go?"

Elsa sighed and looked back at Hans, "Letting go doesn't mean that you don't care about someone anymore. It's just realizing that the only person you really have control over is yourself."

In that instant, something clicked inside Hans, something that he hadn't experienced in a long time…he felt emotion, again. In that moment, Hans was no longer the broken and forgotten exiled prince, nor the man who almost killed for ambition in the past. No, that man was gone, dead; in his place was a man who felt compassion for this beautiful, independent, and wise woman who stood before him. Elsa also felt something change in Hans, but she wasn't exactly sure what. She looked away and cleared her throat, "I'd better gather everything up in the room, it'll be midnight before we know it…" And with that she walked away.

As the Kingdom of Sperca came into view, the entire crew rushed around on deck fulfilling the orders that were being commanded by the captain. It was organized chaos, to say the least. Elsa and Hans stood side by side against the railing watching the men run around, while trying to stay out of their way. Elsa was wearing her simple dark blue dress with the even simpler black bodice and holding onto the coat Gerda gave her. Hans was wearing the same outfit he wore earlier that day, but he had on his brown coat. Hans looked the Queen up and down and noticed something wrong with her appearance…she still looked like a queen. He cleared his throat, "Your Majesty, are you planning on doing anything with your hair?"

She raised an eyebrow, "What's wrong with my hair?"

Hans sighed, "It's still in a bun…you know, the bun that makes a queen look professional and presentable at all times?"

Elsa understood what he was getting at, "So you think I should let my hair down?"

Hans smirked, "I think you should wear your hair different than what you would normally do."

Elsa thought about it, "Fine…" She reached up and unclipped her bun, letting her hair gently fall to her waist. "Better?"

Hans smiled, "Much better…but-"

Elsa crossed her arms, "What now? "

He gestured towards her hair, "Your hair color…it's very unique and could attract a lot of attention, shouldn't you do something about it."

Elsa looked at the ends of her hair, "I can't change my hair color; it's this color because of my powers."

Hans raised his eyebrows, "Really?" Elsa nodded. Hans methodically rubbed his chin, "Interesting…then perhaps you should consider wearing a scarf of some sort over your head?"

Elsa pulled out a scarf that was hidden within her coat, "I'm way ahead of you."

He laughed and positioned himself behind her, "Forgive me for doing this but…" Hans started massaging her shoulders, "You need to fix that posture of yours. It's too straight and stiff, you need to loosen up a bit."

Elsa tensed up at first, but she eventually relaxed and closed her eyes; hmm…that actually doesn't feel so bad. It's rather nice and stress-relieving…She let out a quiet sigh, wow…he is really good at this…I wonder if we were married he would massage my shoulders, like this, every night before bed… That thought quickly woke her up and she took a few steps away from him, "Thank you, I think I'm good."

Hans slightly blushed, "Sorry, Your Majesty, I might have gotten a little carried away."

Elsa smirked, "You know…those sideburns of yours are also quite unique."

Hans looked at her suspiciously, "Yeah?"

Now Elsa was feeling sassy, "Well, we wouldn't want someone to notice that you have the same genetically unique sideburns as their king."

Hans understood where this was going, "Aha, no."

Elsa made scissoring motions with her fingers, "We could just clip them a little bit-"

Hans took a step back, "No, I don't think so, sorry."

Elsa crossed her arms, "Fine…but you should definitely consider wearing a hat."

Hans pulled out a hat from his coat and mimicked Elsa's earlier remark, "I'm way ahead of you."

Both Elsa and Hans laughed, as the captain came up behind them, "Excuse me, Your Majesty, but we have arrived at the docks." Elsa and Hans looked at their surroundings and, sure enough, that had arrived at their destination. The captain smiled, held out his arm, and bowed, "Welcome to Sperca."

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