Warm Hugs

The "Doctor"

As Hans and Elsa walked down the gangplank, Elsa hid her hair under her scarf and Hans secured his hat over his sideburns. As they walked through the docks, they were shocked to see how many people were out and about at midnight. They looked at each other with worried eyes and tried to act as inconspicuous as possible. By the time they reached town, they couldn't believe what they saw. Elsa's jaw dropped, "Oh my goodness…" Everywhere they looked there was disaster and ruin; buildings were crumbling, furniture was being thrown out of windows, wagons were lit on fire, random gunshots rang out, and people were drinking excessively.

Hans shrugged, "Huh. This is always how I imagined a kingdom ruled by Kendrick would look like."

Elsa picked up a flyer that read, Down with Monarchy, Death to King Kendrick. Elsa handed the flyer to Hans, "This is far worse than anything I could imagine."

Hans read the flyer with a complacent look, then looked around, "These flyers are everywhere…this revolution is definitely not a joke."

Elsa and Hans ventured into the town, dodging the occasional drunk and flying pieces of furniture. Elsa carefully stepped over a man who was drunk to the point of unconsciousness, "What do you think the King is doing about all of this?"

Hans pushed his way through the crowd, "Well…knowing him…he will either try to fight or…if he knows he can't win…he'll just hide in his palace until things settle down." Just then a wagon exploded near them, causing Hans to instinctively push Elsa against a wall and throw himself over her, acting as her human shield. As the drunks cheered, Hans cautiously stepped back and when the coast was clear he offered his hand to help Elsa up, "Which, by the looks of things, this revolution is nowhere near settling down."

Elsa took his hand, "Thanks." She looked him over and noticed a small flame over his right shoulder, "Your coat's on fire, by the way."

Hans's eyes widened, "What?!"

As he turned and saw the small flame, Elsa reached over, "Here…I got it."

With her icy touch she easily extinguished the flame, letting Hans exhale a relieved breath, "Thanks." He protectively put his arm around her shoulders and continued to lead her through the crowd, "Now let's find the doctor's friend…where did you say the place was?"

Elsa pointed, "There…it's that little shop over by the pub."

Hans let out a short laugh, "Ha. Of course it is."

They walked up to the shop, but there was no sign of anyone in there. Elsa looked through the windows, "No light…nothing going on in the fireplace…no movement whatsoever. Maybe we should come back in the morning?"

Hans reached for the doorknob, "Technically, it is morning…" He jiggled the door open, "Besides we have nowhere else to stay."

Elsa skeptically looked at him, "Are you sure that's a good idea? I'd think that breaking into someone's place would be a one way ticket to your brother's castle."

Hans innocently looked at her, "We're not breaking in," He gestured at the door, "The door just happened to be open and we just happened to need the doctor's assistance right away." He gave her a playful grin, "Worse case scenario, we lie and say you're ill."

Elsa crossed her arms, "I don't look sick."

Hans swiftly scooped her up in his arms and mischievously smiled, "If you prefer, I can lie and say you're pregnant, instead."

Elsa fidgeted in his arms, "Let go of me this instant! Hans! Put me down!" But his hold on her was too strong, so she just let him carry her in. Once they both were in, Hans closed the door behind him with his foot and Elsa angrily sighed, "Can you put me down now?"

Hans gently put her down, "Sorry, Your Majesty, but I had to get you in somehow." He turned to look out the window and then faced Elsa, "People might have noticed two strangers just loitering about, it looked too conspicuous."

Elsa placed a hand on her hip, "Yes, and just picking me up and dragging me in here against my will was normal behavior?"

Hans started searching around in the dark room, completely ignoring the queens icy glare, "Elsa think about it, we're next door to a pub…you're an attractive young women, I'm a 'drunk' young man. Do the math; this town has no concept of right and wrong so it would just appear as if I'm enjoying a night on the town with a very pretty lady…if you catch my meaning."

Elsa blushed, understanding his thought-process, "Oh…" She began looking around, trying to find a way to light up the dark room, "Do I look pregnant?"

That caught Hans by surprise as he almost knocked over a vial, "What?"

She walked up to him, "You said that you'd lie and say that I was pregnant…obviously you think I look the part since you brought it up."

Hans dramatically held Elsa's hand and knelt down before her, "My lady…dear Queen Elsa, please forgive me. I was a drunk man out there…I couldn't think straight."

Elsa laughed, "Well, if that's the reason then I suppose I can't do anything about it now."

Hans got up with a serious look on his face, "And, no, you don't look pregnant, I just said that so if anyone was eavesdropping," He turned and continued to search the room, "Well, let's just say, they got a little more than what they bargained for." Hans stumbled across some wood, "Ah-ha! Found some firewood!" He strode over to the fireplace, "Now let's get this fire started."

In a matter of a few minutes, Hans had a roaring fire set ablaze and the room filled with its warmth and light. But the warmth quickly disappeared once Hans and Elsa got a good look around the room. Elsa gasped, "What is this place?"

Everywhere they looked, there were bottles and vials filled with dismembered parts of animals; frog legs, mouse whiskers, pig tongues, the list was endless. Hans walked over to a vial filled with eyeballs, "Are you sure this is the right place?"

A fragile voice came out of nowhere, "Welcome new comers!"

Both Hans and Elsa jumped, causing Hans to reach for his side, but ended up empty handed remembering that he no longer possessed a sword, while Elsa protectively positioned her hands out; preparing to strike whatever caught them off guard.

The delicate voice came from the doorway that led to a back room, "Sorry to startle you, Queen Elsa."

Elsa's position stiffened, "Who are you? And how do you know my name?"

The owner of the delicate voice stepped into the room, revealing a beautiful middle-aged woman with long black hair and kind, intellectual, blue eyes, "I am the person that you seek, my name is Eir…my friend sent you here to receive my help about an antidote."

Hans took a step towards her, "What kind of doctor are you?"

Elsa dropped her hands, "A witch doctor."

Eir nodded her head towards Elsa, "That is correct, Queen Elsa. My good friend, Doctor Herald Omsorg, told you about my discovery of the Balembo fruit?"

Elsa shook her head, "He didn't tell us anything other than you having an antidote for my friend who is currently dying of some form of the plague."

Eir signaled for Hans and Elsa to follow her as she walked into a back room, which turned out to be the kitchen and dining room. She sat at the table and gestured for them to sit, "Yes, the Balembo fruit is the final ingredient to an all-healing antidote that I have been working on for a few decades, now. It is hidden within the caves of these lands, but only those born with the powers of the unknown can find it." She looked at Elsa, "Your Majesty, I assume that you are aware of your powers?"

Elsa nodded, "Yes."

Eir smiled, "Good…" She looked at Hans, "And what about you?"

Hans almost fell out of his chair, "Excuse me? Sorry to disappoint, but I don't have any powers."

Eir laughed, "No, that's not what I meant. I foresaw Elsa coming here, but I didn't foresee you, Hans. I don't understand your purpose for coming along with her."

Hans sat up straight and slightly puffed out his chest, "I'm her protection detail."

This caused Eir to burst out laughing again, "I'm sure Elsa can protect herself…she is the queen of snow and ice after all."

Elsa uncomfortably shifted in her chair as she cleared her throat, "Actually, Hans saved my life a while back, so I thought an extra set of eyes would be helpful to ensure that I return home safely to my sister."

Eir wore a kind expression on her face, "I understand, Queen Elsa. I wanted to test your loyalty to this man, to see if he is fit to go on this trek along side of you. Obviously you trust him, so he passed." Eir stood up and went to go get some fresh water for her guests.

Elsa looked down at her hands and mumbled, "I wouldn't exactly use the word 'trust'."

After an hour of socializing and refreshments, Eir led the two travelers to another room filled with books and maps. Eir climbed up a ladder that led to a high bookshelf, "Let's see here…ba-ba-ba, there! Here we go!" She grabbed a book and slid down the ladder with ease, then began reading from the book, "Balembo! It is a small round fruit that turns black when ripe. They are rich in flavonoids and polysaccharides, and the seeds have anti-inflammatory properties. The fruits are boiled in water to produce the syrup, which was the most effective of several antitussive remedies tested, and is nontoxic when given orally. Unfortunately, these Balembo fruits are found only in Africa." Eir closed the book and slammed it down on a nearby table, and then she made her way over to a desk with a large map lying on top.

She leaned over the map, "This is a map of Sperca and its surrounding landscape. Miraculously, I've been able to find traces of the Balembo fruit within the caves, here."

Hans peered over her shoulder, "If the Balembo fruit is indigenous to Africa and its warm, sunny climate, then how can it possibly grow in a cold, dark, cave?"

Eir smiled, "Valid observation, Hans. That's where Elsa and her powers come in. By some means, a specific area in the caves have developed an ideal environment for the Balembo fruit to grow, but only those with the powers of the unknown can get to it. I've tried to find it myself but, alas, I only have the powers of foresight and that alone is not enough to find the fruit."

Elsa furrowed her brows, "How are my powers of snow and ice, different from your powers of foresight?"

Eir rested a gently hand on Elsa's shoulder, "My gift is nothing more than a mere mental game, but yours have the ability to cause great change in the external and internal of all living things. Your powers can serve a purpose for everyone, while mine can only serve myself." Eir strode out of the room and returned with a couple of satchels, "I've prepared enough food and drink to last the entire time you both are gone. Elsa, if you'll please follow me."

Eir led Elsa out of the study and into a bedroom, "I suggest that you change into something more reasonable while you're off on your quest." She handed Elsa a pair of tall black boots, a fitted light blue button-down long sleeved shirt, and a pair of fitted light gray pants.

Elsa's jaw slightly dropped, "Are you sure? I've never worn pants before…even when horseback riding, I always opted for a gown."

Eir nodded, "Trust me, Your Majesty, your quest will be a lot easier without having to worry about your dress getting caught on things or accidentally flashing your very handsome colleague."

Elsa blushed, "You make a good point." She took the clothes Eir gave her and headed behind the changing screen.

Eir sat on the bed, "So what's your story with Hans?"

Elsa unhooked her bodice and started unbuttoning her dress, "What do you mean?"

Eir nonchalantly started braiding her dark hair, "Well, you obviously fancy him, and I see the way he looks at you when your back is turned, and I can confirm that he fancies you too."

Elsa attempted to put on her pants, "He is nothing more than my servant, and that's the end of it."

Eir shook her head, "I don't think so…I can feel some intimate tension between you two. So what's the problem?"

Elsa finished buttoning her shirt and step out from behind the changing screen, "He left my sister to freeze to death and attempted to kill me, all just to gain the throne of Arendelle."

Eir's jaw dropped, "I'm sorry, I had no idea!"

Elsa tucked in her shirt and started putting on her boots, "I thought you had the supernatural ability to see things, this shouldn't be a surprise to you."

Eir guiltily looked at Elsa, "I only have the ability of foresight, which means I can't see things of the past, I can only see things that are yet to come. I wasn't aware of you or your kingdom until recently."

Elsa looked at herself in the mirror; Not bad…this is actually pretty comfortable. And it surprisingly fits me really nicely. She looked at Eir in the mirror, "Will Kristoff survive this plague?"

Eir stood up from the bed and placed a loving hand on her shoulder, "If all goes well with your quest, and he should receive the antidote, he will indeed survive the plague."

Elsa smiled weakly, "I'm willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that Kristoff gets this antidote."

Eir knowingly nodded, "I know."

The two women stepped out of the room, and Eir couldn't help but giggle when she noticed Hans's reaction to seeing Elsa in such form fitting clothes, the man's eyes practically bugged out of his head and his jaw went slack. Elsa cleared her throat which snapped Hans back into reality, "Your Majesty, you look absolutely stunning in those clothes. You should wear pants more often."

Elsa giggled, "Thank you. They are quite comfortable but not really fitting for a queen to wear around her palace."

Eir handed each of them a satchel; one with the food and drink, the other with the map and information of the Balembo. As she handed them their satchels, her face went very solemn.

Elsa became worried, "What is it? What's wrong?"

Eir quickly grabbed hold of Elsa's wrist and hastily walked to the back door, "You must go now."

Hans slipped on his satchel, "What's happening?"

Eir opened the back door, "Usually, I would insist that you both stay the night here, but given what I have just seen…if you were to wait until morning to start your quest, you would never make it out of the town."

As Elsa and Hans stepped outside, Elsa grabbed Eir's hand, "What did you see?"

Eir's concerned eyes met Elsa's worried eyes, "I'm not supposed to tell you, but…let's just say that there is a good chance that your cover has been blown."

Elsa's eyes widened, "What?!"

Hans sneered, "That's impossible!"

Eir shook her head, "You must go now…stay safe, watch out for each other, and remember only Elsa can find the Balembo fruit. Hans, you have to trust her, whatever she says goes."

Hans nodded, "That's how it's been for the past few months, anyways."

Elsa gratefully smiled, "Thank you, we'll be back before you know it." And with that, Elsa and Hans ran into the thick forest behind them.

As soon as she saw them disappear into the forest, Eir closed her door and began to weep. For she had seen the outcome of their journey, and she knew that only one person was going to make it back to Arendelle with the antidote.

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