Warm Hugs

Dreams (II)

Hans picked up his satchel and followed Elsa through the forest; "At least it was only a dream"…but what if it wasn't? It was so real, and the detail was disturbingly precise. They continued walking in silence for a couple of hours; What if my dream was a vision of what is yet to come? Hans was startled when Elsa suddenly stopped, "What is it?"

Elsa looked back at Hans, "We're here." She pointed out in front of her, a large entrance to a very familiar looking cave.

Hans reluctantly turned around and a knot began to form in his stomach when he saw the same exact view of the Kingdom of Sperca as he did in his dream, "Great…"

Elsa took a deep breath and turned towards Hans, "I need you to stay out here…Eir said only I could find the fruit and bringing you along may jeopardize my task. I'll be back as soon as possible."

She started making her way into the cave when Hans called after her, "Please, be careful!"

Elsa turned around and tried to give Hans a comforting smile, "I will, don't worry about me!"

As soon as Elsa disappeared from Hans's sight he searched the area around him and began constructing a weapon out of stones and sticks; I do worry about you, Elsa. I worry that you do not see how dangerous this assignment really is. After another couple of hours, Hans admired his newly constructed knife; I will not fail this time, I promise.

Elsa cautiously made her way through the dark, cold, wet cave. A chill ran down her spine, not because of the temperature, but because of the eeriness that surrounded her. There hasn't been any sign of the Balembo fruit or of anything containing life, for that matter. She ran her hand along the side of the cave; I wish it wasn't so dark down here, I could use some light right about-

She stopped in her tracks; there ahead of her was the slightest bit of light, almost like the light at the end of a tunnel. She walked a little faster towards it, getting her hopes up that this light led to the fruit, but as soon as she reached the light, she became blinded by it and couldn't see where she was going or what was happening, as a sudden wind picked up. She slowly continued walking forward, but she felt as if she was moving in what seemed to be in slow motion. Finally the blinding light disappeared and she was dumbfounded to discover where she was, "Arendelle? But how is this possible?"

Elsa perked up when she saw her sister walking down the corridors towards her, "Anna!" She went to give her sister a hug, but she went right through Anna's body. That's odd…I must be seeing visions about what's happening in Arendelle.

Anna walked up to Kai, "Any news regarding my sister?"

Kai solemnly shook his head, "I'm sorry, Your Majesty, nothing yet."

Anna's usually cheery face, now looked tired and miserable, "Thanks anyways, Kai."

As she turned to walk away, Kai gently placed a hand on her shoulder, "Queen Anna, I think you should start thinking about your coronation, such as the date and other important details."

Elsa's furrowed her brows; Queen Anna? Coronation? Wait, does this mean that I'm-

Anna shook her head, "I just can't Kai…I feel that if I start planning my coronation, I'm also giving up the hope that she's still out there."

"Your Majesty, I think it's time to acknowledge that she's not coming back-

"No she will! She's not dead! And I won't believe it until I receive a letter telling me otherwise!"

"Your Majesty, it's almost been a year since Elsa and Hans left for Sperca, and we haven't received any notice that they're still alive. I understand that this past year has been quite painful for you, losing Kristoff and all, but I think it's time for you to step up in your sister's place as the next rightful Queen of Arendelle."

Anna nodded and took a deep breath, "Yes, I suppose you're right. Elsa would have wanted me to be strong and step up in her absence, and I will do just that. I'll set a coronation date by tomorrow, so we can begin sending out the invitations soon."

Kai bowed, "Yes, Your Majesty."

Elsa observed Anna's mature persona; since when did Anna grow up so fast? She doesn't look the same; her hair's pulled back into a tight bun, her dresses are more formal than fun, she's lost the skip in her step and the life in her eyes are gone.

Anna quickly walked away, down the palace corridors, into the courtyard, out of the castle gates and headed straight to the bluff looking over the ocean, where both her parents were buried. She placed a bouquet of flowers by each of her parent's tombstones, and then proceeded to another tombstone that was much farther away. Anna slowly approached the tombstone and placed a bundle of carrots by it, followed by a single chocolate rose. Anna gracefully sat on her knees, "Hey Kristoff, I brought you some carrots. I know that the traditional thing would be flowers, but I know you're not much of a flower person and that you would appreciate a good carrot much more. I talked to Sven again this morning, I make sure to at least see him once, maybe twice a day, for you. He's doing okay; he misses his best friend a lot though. No news about Elsa and Hans still, and tomorrow I'm setting a date for my coronation, so that's something new. I miss you so much…do you realize that today would have been the one year anniversary of our first kiss? Do you remember that day? Elsa had just thawed Arendelle and I finally gave you that spiffy new sled I owed you, and you were just so excited that you picked me up and twirled me around like I weighed nothing. Then in the most awkward and adorable way, you asked if you could kiss me…" Anna couldn't keep it together any longer; she dropped her face into her hands and began to weep, "Oh Kristoff, why did you have to leave me here all alone?"

Elsa's vision became blurry because of the tears; I don't understand…why am I seeing all of this desolation and despair? I thought I was here for the Balembo fruit, not to be tortured by more haunting visions.

The wind around Elsa picked up and before she knew what was going on, she realized that she was back in Arendelle's castle. But this time the corridors were not filled with misery, instead there were bright spring flowers everywhere, while maids and footmen breathlessly ran about the castle halls. Elsa spotted Gerda excitedly make her way to Anna's bedroom with what appeared to be a white dress. Elsa couldn't help but suspect what was going on, but just to make sure, she ran after Gerda and also entered Anna's bedroom.

Gerda was surprised that Anna wasn't in her room, "Princess Anna?" Anna peeked out of her wardrobe, "Princess Anna! I managed to get the chocolate stain out of your wedding gown!"

Elsa let out a sigh of relief; Princess Anna…now that's a good sign!

Anna excitedly strode into the room with a silk lime green robe on, "You did?! Gerda that's wonderful!" Anna picked up the dress and twirled around the room with it, "I promise I'll be more careful with it this time! Thank you!"

There was a knock on the door, before Queen Elsa stuck her head in, "How's it going in here?"

Anna smiled upon seeing her sister and held up her dress, "Elsa! Look! Gerda saved my dress!"

Elsa laughed and walked into the room, "I'm glad! Just remember what we discussed earlier-"

Anna impatiently nodded, "I know, I know…eating chocolate while getting your wedding dress fitted is a mistake you only make once in your life."

The Elsa from the present skeptically looked at the Elsa from the vision; There's something different about me…There seems to be a sort of sparkle in my eyes, my face is radiate, my smile is friendlier, my overall appearance seems to be much happier, almost Anna-like.

Anna slipped on her wedding dress while Elsa and Gerda complimented about how beautiful she looked, until visionary Elsa hugged her sister and headed for the door, "I'm just going to go check on the final details; I'll see you right before the wedding starts."

Present-day Elsa followed visionary Elsa out of the room and down the halls, towards the chapel. When visionary Elsa turned the corner, she came face to face with Hans, "Good morning Hans, is everything all set to go?"

Hans smiled broadly at her, "We are indeed ready for the most extravagant wedding of the year!"

Elsa joyfully laughed and lovingly reached for Hans's hands, "Most extravagant wedding of the year?"

Hans chuckled, "Well, I would have said of the decade, but given that our wedding is also coming up next year, I didn't want one to seem more special than the other."

Hans leaned down and softly kissed his fiancé on the lips with such tenderness that it made his bride-to-be wish that they were also getting married today. Elsa affectionately looked at Hans, "You know…Anna tried to convince me that we should have had a double wedding today."

Hans laughed quietly, "But then each of you wouldn't get your own spotlight, you'd be sharing it. I know sharing is a good thing, but I think its best that you and Anna be a little more selfish about your wedding days and anniversaries."

Elsa giggled, "Perhaps you're right."

Present-day Elsa couldn't help but smile at the two lovebirds; so that's why I look different…I'm in love! Although, being engaged to Hans was not something I was expecting.

Another whirlwind kicked up and transported present-day Elsa from the lovely scene to one of nothing but white. Elsa looked around, confused; where am I now?

From behind, she heard a voice that she had not heard in several years, "Elsa?"

She quickly turned around and almost collapsed from shock, "Mama? Papa?"

Elsa warily walked over to her late parents and stopped directly in front of them. She slowly stuck out a shaky hand to see if she could actually touch them, then she let out a small gasp when her hand didn't go through them. The late King smiled warmly, "It's okay, Elsa."

Tears streaked down Elsa's face as she hugged the parents that she lost several years ago, the parents she had not be able to touch since she was eight years old. The three of them stayed in the warm embrace for a few minutes, before pulling away. Elsa looked back and forth between her parents, "Am I dead?"

Her father chuckled, "No, Elsa…you are in a deep comatose-like sleep, but still alive. You were on a quest to find the Balembo fruit for an all-healing antidote to save Kristoff. What you are experiencing, right now, is the process to gain the magic fruit."

Elsa raised her eyebrows, "It is?"

Her mother smiled kindly, "You have seen glimpses of two very different futures, one with desolation and despair, one with happiness and joy. The choices you make on this journey, Elsa, can affect the rest of your future."

The late King put an arm around his daughter, "Elsa look over here…" A vision of Hans standing by the entrance of the cave appeared, "You have been gone for about a day and a half, and that man has not left that same spot since you first departed. He has seen something terrible in his future through his dreams and he is determined to make sure that it doesn't happen."

Elsa furrowed her brows, "His dreams? He told me that he lost someone he cared for in his dream the other night; I assumed it was a family member?"

Her mother tenderly held Elsa's hand, "He doesn't care for anyone in his family, so it wouldn't have been a family member…" Elsa silently thought to herself, as her mother gently squeezed her hand, "It was you, dear."

Elsa's eyes widened, "Me? Why would Hans dream about losing me?"

Her father gently squeezed her shoulder, "The man cares deeply for you Elsa, probably more than he knows. He's spent the last thirty-six hours thinking about ways to protect you and to avoid the nightmare he's seen."

Her mother cupped Elsa's face with her hands and looked her daughter in the eye, "If you find someone who makes you smile, who checks up on you often to see if you're okay, who watches out for you and wants the very best for you, don't let them go. Keep them close and don't take them for granted. People like that are hard to find."

Elsa looked down, "I can't allow myself to develop feelings for Hans…he tried to kill Anna and me-"

Her father placed a sturdy hand on her shoulder, "We know what he did to you and your sister…"

Her mother's eyes softened, "The true mark of maturity is when somebody hurts you and you try to understand their situation instead of trying to hurt them back."

Elsa nodded, "I did seem to be very happy with him in the visions…" Elsa guiltily looked back and forth between her parents, "So you knew about everything that happened over the past six months?"

Her father warmly smiled, "Your mother and I are always there for you and Anna, maybe not in the flesh, but in spirit. We saw your coronation and everything afterwards…"

Elsa couldn't meet her father's eyes, "I'm sorry about hurting Anna, again."

Her mother began stoking Elsa's hair, "Don't be sorry…that crazy adventure brought you and Anna much closer together than anything your father and I could have ever done."

The late King smiled sincerely, "Ultimately, you learned to control your powers and let Anna back into your life."

Elsa felt a light breeze starting to pick up, signaling that it was time for her to go, "I must be waking up now…" She embraced her parents for one last final hug as tears welled up in her eyes, "I miss you both so much…I always regretted never saying goodbye and giving you a farewell hug. But now, I think I finally have the closure that I needed."

Her mother gave her hands a gently squeeze, "And don't forget that you always have Anna at your side."

Elsa nodded, "Trust me, I'll never take her for granted ever again."

As the wind grew stronger, Elsa remembered something, "Oh! How long do I have before time runs out for Kristoff?"

Her father yelled over the wind, "In exactly a month's time from when you left Arendelle, which means you have about three weeks left!"

Elsa nodded, "I love you both so much! I'll let Anna know that you guys are watching over us!"

Her father sternly shook his head, "No! You mustn't tell anyone about the visions and interactions you experienced here. Promise me that you will not tell a soul, including your sister!"

Elsa shook her head, "I will not, Father!"

Her mother wrapped an arm around her husband's waist, "Take care, my little snowflake! We love you!"

Her father wrapped an arm around his wife's shoulders, "And we're proud of everything that you've accomplished as queen and as an older sister!"

Tears began streaming down her cheeks, as the image of her parents slowly faded away. The next thing she saw, was the ceiling of the cave; my little snowflake…wow I haven't heard that since I was eight years old. Elsa slowly rolled her head to the left and lone behold, a very small tree bearing the Balembo fruit grew before her. Elsa blinked several times, making sure she wasn't hallucinating, and then she slowly made her way up onto her feet. She bent down to pick the fruit off the tree, "Now time to get this back to Eir, so she can start working on the antidote." "You have been gone for about a day and a half, and that man has not left that same spot since you first departed." Elsa stood up straight and gasped, "Hans!" Then she took off running towards the cave's entrance.

Hans was standing near the entrance of the hidden cave that overlooked the entire Kingdom of Sperca as he began pacing back and forth, "Come on Elsa, what's taking so long?" He quickly stopped pacing, realizing that he was replicating what he saw in his dream a couple nights ago.

Suddenly he heard a distant voice call out, "HANS! HANS, I GOT IT!" He turned to see Elsa excitedly run towards him, holding her satchel out ahead of her, "It took awhile but I got it!"

His shoulders sagged with relief, "Thank goodness…you were in there for so long, I was beginning to fear the worst." His eyes widened with recognition realizing what he had done again.

Elsa reached the entrance of the cave and slipped the satchel around her body, "Sorry, but I'm here and I've got the fruit-"

Hans quickly grabbed her hand, "Let's get out of here before-"

From the forest a voice called out, "Stop where you are! Don't move!" Elsa and Hans froze and exchanged worried expressions. "Slowly turn around with your hands in the air!" Elsa and Hans did as they were told. A group of seven men emerged on horseback from the forest, all carrying swords and had their crossbows aimed at the two foreigners. Hans's heart began to beat faster; gah! It's happening! No, my nightmare won't come true as long as Elsa doesn't say-

Elsa silently observed the situation; the choices you make on this journey, Elsa, can affect the rest of your future. She quietly whispered to Hans, "I want you to slowly reach for your satchel…"

Hans's eyes widened, "Why would you say something like that?"

Elsa hissed, "Just trust me!"

As Hans reluctantly moved his hands towards his satchel, the man who seemed to be in charge of the troops moved his horse closer to them, "I said don't move!"

Hans froze, but Elsa calmly whispered, "Keep going…I won't let them hurt you." When she noticed Hans falter, Elsa gently whispered, "You have to trust me, Hans."

Hans's heart pounded in his chest; play along Hans, don't fight it! Remember the plan… Hans continued to move his hands, "I hope you know what you're doing."

Elsa took a deep breath, "Just wait for it…"

The man on the horse stepped even closer, "Stop, don't move!" Hans almost reached his satchel, when the man aimed his crossbow directly at Hans, "Hold it right there…FREEZE!"

That's all Elsa needed to hear, as she shot a strong icy blast from each hand towards the troop, which momentarily stopped them from advancing as they froze with shock. Elsa took that moment to stomp her foot on the ground and created an arena of ice on the ground around them. The horses bucked the men off and ran away scared towards the direction they came from. That woke the men from their shock as they scrambled for their crossbows; Elsa gave an impish grin, "Hans, I need you to step back."

Hans looked at her with false confusion, "Excuse me?"

Elsa glared at him, "Stay back!" And with that she shot another icy blast at one of the men who reached his crossbow first, knocking him and his crossbow in opposite directions. She waved her hand across her body which created a barrier between herself and half of the troops. The other half regained possession of their weapons and aimed at the ice queen, but Elsa quickly responded by swiftly raising her hand as sharp icicles threatened to impale the men. The men quickly dropped their weapons in surrender as Elsa sauntered across the ice towards them with Hans closely behind her. Hans looked around, particularly behind them, and knowingly took count of the men present as he reach in his back pocket for his home-made knife, "All six men are accounted for."

Elsa stopped in her tracks, "Six?!" She turned towards Hans, "There were seven originally-"

Hans hear the sound of the crossbow and pounced on Elsa, "Get down!"

Elsa yelped as Hans tackled her to the ground, he let out a low grimace then he proceeded to swiftly sit up and throw his knife at the seventh man hiding in the forest, miraculously catching his jacket collar and pinning him against the tree as the crossbow fell out of reach.

Elsa's heart was pounding so hard, but she couldn't tell if it was from the adrenaline of the situation or the way Hans was positioned above her. After he trapped the last man he smiled down at Elsa and promptly turned pink when he realized that Elsa's body was straddled between his legs. He clumsily rolled off of her, "Sorry…I didn't to-"

Elsa quietly laughed, "No, don't be sorry! You saved my life, again!"

Hans stood up and helped Elsa onto her feet, "It's all a part of the job description."

Elsa knowingly raised an eyebrow, "Sure, of course that's all it is." She looked around, "So what should we do with these men?"

Hans walked over to the leader, who was the one pinned against the tree, "Who are you?! Why did you try to kill us?!"

The leader seemed to be intimidated by Hans's anger, "We were sent by someone…they told us that two unknown visitors were prowling around our forests and that we were to put an end to them."

Hans leaned closer, "Who sent you?"

The man began to sweat, "King Kendrick!"

Elsa walked over to the man, "Wait, so you're supposed to be a part of the royal guard?"

The man nodded, "We act more as spies in the village than actual guards at the palace, but nevertheless we still work for the King."

Hans stepped away from the man, "Kendrick has gone too far this time…he has crossed the line!"

Elsa followed behind Hans, "So what are you going to do about it? I thought you wanted to avoid him at all costs."

Hans nodded, "I did…but that's before he unknowingly tried to murder two innocent people, which one of them so happens to be the Queen of Arendelle."

The man's eyes grew wide, "Queen of Arendelle? You mean, the Queen Elsa of Arendelle?"

Elsa skeptically looked at him, "Yes…"

He squirmed, "Your Majesty, I've heard so much about you and you're ice powers, which I originally didn't believe in until today that is. It is an honor to meet you!"

Hans yanked his knife out of the tree causing the man to fall on his knees, "Quit brown-nosing it and take me to your King."

The man gave Hans an odd look, "You? I understand taking Queen Elsa to the King, but what importance do you carry?"

Hans sneered and put his face close to the man, "Because I am the King's long lost, thought-to-be dead brother."

The man looked over at Elsa, who just simply nodded and pointed to Hans's genetically unique sideburns. The man nodded, "Yes, sir, of course! Right this way to the castle…"

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