A Complicated Friendship
The walk to the dining hall was especially icy and to make matters worse, since Elsa and Hans were the guests, they had to wait in the dining hall for the King and Queen. Elsa and Hans sat down across from each other, and Hans couldn't stand Elsa being upset with him, "Elsa, I'm sorry-"
She curtly cut him off, "It's Queen Elsa, to you, or Your Majesty…one of those two will work just fine."
Hans sighed, "We're back to that again?" When she didn't answer, he ran a hand through his hair, "Fine…Your Majesty, I'm sorry I lied to you about Annaliese, but please believe me when I say that nothing happened."
She shot an icy glare at him, "That's not what your ruffled hair, rumpled clothes, and lipstick residue says."
Hans leaned forward, "Okay, yeah we kissed, but that was the end of it. I kept my clothes on and she kept her clothes on. It was just an innocent kiss! Why would you care anyways since you and William obviously have something going on?"
Elsa leaned forward on the table, "I care because you are a part of my staff; you represent Arendelle, and if you are going around making out with queens from other kingdoms, then that makes me look bad!"
Hans looked down, "I'm sorry, Your Majesty, I didn't think about it like that."
The rest of the dinner was very uneventful once Kendrick and Annaliese showed up. They all conversed in appropriate small talk and discussed a few terms of the Arendelle-Sperca trade alliance. Fortunately for Hans, the dinner and trade agreement gave Elsa a long enough time to even out her temper. Once the actual dinner part of the evening was over, the group of four moved into the parlor. Kendrick held out his arm for his wife, "I have a surprise for you, Annaliese."
Annaliese took his arm, "Really? What is it?"
As the doors opened to the parlor, Annaliese gasped, "A live string quartet? How did you know I loved those?"
Kendrick grinned, "Geez Annaliese, I am married to you…I know what you like and what you don't like."
Elsa's reaction was not as thrilled; A live string quartet? How did he know I can't dance? This evening has gone from bad to worse.
Once everyone got into the parlor, Kendrick signaled the group to start playing, "After all, this is supposed to be a party, celebrating our new alliance!"
As the musicians started playing, Kendrick and Annaliese began their waltz. Elsa uneasily watched as they gracefully danced around the room and making it look so easy. Hans cleared his throat, "Queen Elsa," He held out his hand and bowed, "May I have this dance?"
Elsa shook her head and timidly took a step back, "I don't know how to dance, Hans."
Hans kindly smiled and daringly reached for her right hand, "I can teach you." He placed her left hand on his shoulder and then gently placed his right hand on her waist, "You're blushing…"
Elsa cleared her throat, "I just don't want to make myself look like a fool."
Hans thoughtfully smiled, "Your Majesty, as long as you have a partner that knows what they are doing, then you will never look like a fool."
Elsa cracked a small smile, "Then I sure hope you know what you are doing."
Hans playfully winked, "You just have to trust me. Now..." For the next few minutes Hans slowly taught her the most simple ballroom steps, "And that right there is known as the box step."
Elsa looked up at him confused, "That's it?"
Hans chuckled, "That's it."
Elsa nodded, "Okay, let's try it again."
For the next two hours Hans taught Elsa more and more intricate dance moves. They laughed the few times Elsa accidently stepped on his foot and they celebrated the times Elsa successfully completed a dance without incident. It was around ten thirty when the live music had to take a break, so everyone sat on the sofas and socialized with their drinks.
Kendrick drunkenly looked at Elsa, "So… how long have you and Hansey been a couple?'"
Elsa definitely couldn't hide the shock on her face, "Hans and I are not a couple. He is just simply my servant and nothing more."
Hans playfully pouted, "We're not even friends?"
Elsa smirked, "It's complicated."
Kendrick finished off his fifth drink, "It's only as complicated as you make it."
Elsa and Hans looked at each other and shared a surprised look at Kendrick's wise words. But no more than five seconds later, Kendrick knocked out. Annaliese signaled for William to come and take him back to their bedroom, "Excuse me, I need to get him to bed." Elsa and Hans nodded as Annaliese and William left with the passed out king.
Hans looked at the drink in Elsa's hand, "Can I get you a refill, Elsa?"
Elsa smiled, "Sure, why not?"
Hans refilled both their drinks and then rose his glass, "To new beginnings!"
Elsa raised her glass, "To a less complicated friendship!"
They clanked their glasses together and took a long drink. Hans noticed that the string quartet had returned, "Care for another dance?"
Elsa finished off her drink, "I don't see why not."
Hans stood up and offered her his hand, "Milady?"
Elsa laughed and took his hand, "Thank you, kind sir."
As they music started playing a soft romantic melody, Elsa rested her head against his chest and the two just swayed back and forth with the music. They stayed like that until the musicians were finished and even after they left, Hans and Elsa continued swaying. Elsa looked up at Hans, "The music ended."
Hans smiled down at her, "Really? I can still hear them…" Hans started to hum a lovely melody.
Elsa giggled, "Perhaps we should take this outside?"
Hans twirled Elsa around and lead her out onto the balcony, "As you wish."
They sat on the railing and looked up at the stars and moon. Elsa sighed, "Beautiful, isn't it?"
Hans tenderly looked at Elsa, "Yes."
Elsa blushed when she realized that he was talking about her. She scooted closer and looked up, "What do you think about when you gaze up at the stars?"
Hans scooted closer and looked up, "Usually my mother…I know she's looking down on me, watching over me…you?"
Elsa sighed, "My parents…I always wondered that if they were still alive, would they approve of the person that I have become…" But now I know the answer to that…
Hans gently took hold of Elsa's hand, "I don't see how they could be anything but proud of you, Elsa. You are a fine ruler, and an even better person."
Elsa smiled and looked at Hans with a thoughtful face, "What about you?"
Hans looked at her with a blank face, "What about me?"
Elsa looked up at the stars, "What would your mother think of you if she was still alive?"
Hans hesitated, "If she was still alive, then I probably wouldn't have turned into the monster that I am…"
Elsa absentmindedly cut him off, "Were…"
Hans raised his eyebrows, "Pardon?"
Elsa looked back at Hans with a kind expression, "The monster that you were…you've changed, Hans, for the better. "
Hans guiltily looked down, "But is it enough to make up for what I did to you and Anna?"
Elsa thoughtfully shook her head, "No…you still have a long ways to go, but you're on the right track."
Hans looked up at her with a sense of gratitude, "Thank you, Elsa."
Elsa raised her eyebrows, "For what?"
Hans gave her hand a gentle squeeze, "For thawing my frozen heart."
Elsa looked down and realized for the first time how nice it was to have Hans with her on this journey. She realized that without him, this journey could have turned out very differently. She thought back to when he protected her when the wagon exploded, how he saved her life back in the forest, how he was willing to go anywhere she went just so he could protect her. Elsa looked at his hand holding hers, and without any warning her heart began to beat faster and butterflies began to form in her stomach. She quickly let go of his hand, "It's getting late…we should go to bed."
Hans nodded, "You're probably right." They began to walk back to their room, "When will we be heading back to Arendelle?"
"Eir said that we had to wait three days for the antidote…one down, two more to go."
As they entered the room Hans looked at the single bed, "I'll sleep on the sofa."
Elsa gave him a concerned expression, "Are you sure? We can find you another room, because technically you're still recovering-"
Hans started walking towards the sofa, "Elsa, I'll be fine. And I'm not letting you out of my sight as long as we are still in this kingdom. Besides, you're the queen, you deserve the bed."
Elsa nodded and silently got ready for bed. She decided to sleep in her dress because she didn't feel comfortable wearing a night gown with Hans in the same room. By the time she got under the covers it was about midnight, "Goodnight Hans."
Hans fidgeted on the sofa until he found his comfy spot, "Goodnight Elsa."
The next morning, Elsa and Hans were alone at the breakfast table, while the King tried to sleep off his hangover. They didn't say much as they ate, but once they finished Hans leaned back in his chair and gave Elsa a curious look, "You never told me about the Balembo fruit."
Elsa refilled her glass of water, "Pardon?"
Hans took the pitcher of water from Elsa and refilled his glass, "The Balembo fruit? How'd you get it anyways? Did you have to battle some sort of monster with your ice powers?"
Elsa giggled, "No, no, no…nothing like that."
Hans leaned forward with his elbows on the table, "Then why were you the only person allowed to find it?"
Elsa slowly brought the glass to her lips, "Let's just say that it was my destiny to discover the fruit."
Hans raised a suspicious eyebrow, "So you're not going to tell me?"
Elsa took an extra long sip of her water, "…nope."
They stopped their conversation as William walked into the dining room and bowed, "Good morning, Queen Elsa. Good morning, Sir Hans."
Elsa kindly smiled and nodded, "Good morning, William."
Hans gave him a less enthusiastic smile, "William…"
William straightened his shoulders, "Queen Annaliese sent me in here to let you know that you two are free to explore and roam the castle, but please do not, under any circumstance, leave the castle gates."
Hans suspiciously raised an eyebrow, "Why? Has something happened?"
William tiredly sighed, "The people of Sperca have been extra rebellious lately, our guess is because they somehow found out about you two."
Hans looked at him skeptically, and just as he was about to say something, Elsa cut him off, "We shall do what Queen Annaliese requests…thank you, William."
William bowed, "My pleasure, Queen Elsa." Then he strode out of the room.
Elsa looked at Hans and noticed a concerned expression on his face, "So…what are we going to do today, Hans?"
Hans snapped out of whatever he was thinking about and gave her an adventurous smile, "Well you heard the man…let's go exploring!"
Elsa laughed as Hans excitedly jumped up and grabbed her hand, "You remind me of my sister."
Hans shrugged, "Well if there's one thing I learned from Anna, it's that you have to embrace life and whatever situations it may throw at you."
Elsa smiled, but she stopped walking, "I hope she's doing okay…"
Hans gave her hand a gentle squeeze, "She'll be fine, Elsa…Anna's a strong young woman."
Elsa let go of his hand and walked to a window overlooking the ocean, "I know it's just…the man she loves is dying before her eyes and we are her only hope in saving him. And yet, we're here, running around, acting like we're on some sort of vacation."
Hans came up behind her and put his hand on her shoulder, "Elsa, we did our job, now it's time for us to let Eir do hers. I guess technically we are on vacation until tomorrow, so let's go have some fun! Can you do that?"
Elsa turned around and looked up at Hans, "Do what?"
Hans had a challenging look in his eyes, "Let yourself have fun for one whole day?"
Elsa smirked, "I think I can manage."
By two in the afternoon, Hans and Elsa explored almost every room in the castle; they strolled through the castle gardens, danced in the grand ballroom, snatched some chocolates from the kitchen, read aloud to each other in the library, marveled at the artwork in the hallways, played with the animals in the stables, and they were approaching one of the few rooms that they hadn't explored yet. Hans opened the door for Elsa, "I wonder what's in here?"
Elsa stepped inside and gasped, "Hans, this is the armory…should we even be in here?"
Hans walked in behind her and shut the door, "Well, according to William, Annaliese said we can go anywhere within the castle. So I guess that means its okay for us to be in here. Besides, if they didn't want us in here, they should have locked the door."
Elsa peered closely at one of the suits of armor, "Perhaps it would be okay as long as we don't touch anything." Elsa heard a noise behind her, so she quickly turned around to discover Hans taking a sword off the wall, "Hans! What did I just say?!"
Hans shrugged, "Hey I never agreed to that, besides…" He took a second sword off the wall, "Perhaps this would be a good time to give you a quick lesson in sword fighting."
As Hans strode over to Elsa and offered her a sword, she stubbornly crossed her arms, "I don't need a sword to fight…I have my own ways of defending myself."
Hans strapped one of the swords to his side, "What happened to only revealing your powers when the situation called for it?"
Elsa rolled her eyes, "If I need to use a sword, then that means that the situation would also call for me to use my powers, therefore, a sword would be pointless."
Hans seriously looked her in the eye, "Well, what if you needed to use it to threaten someone? Waving your hands at someone can only do so much."
Elsa shook her head, "I don't think so…"
Hans teasingly waved the sword in front of her face, "You could teach Anna when you get back to Arendelle, imagine how amazed she would be to find out that her sister could defend herself with a mortal weapon…or I guess I could just teach her one-on-one-"
Elsa swiftly grabbed the sword from Hans, "Give me that! There is no way I'm letting you hang around Anna, one-on-one, with a sword."
Hans chuckled, "Okay, so here's the basic anatomy of a sword; what you're holding right now is called the hilt, and this is obviously the blade-"
Elsa threatening point the sword at Hans, "I know what is what…teach me how to fight, pretty boy."
Hans stepped back and raised his sword, "Oh you did not just go there…"
Elsa teasingly slid her blade up and down the blade of Hans's sword, "But I did."
Hans swung his sword at Elsa, but she easily blocked it, "Something tells me that you're not as inexperienced as I thought."
Elsa smirked as Hans swung his sword again, and she deflected his blows with ease, "I may or may not have played with my father's swords when I was growing up. In case I ended up losing my powers, I wanted to know that I could defend myself, or Anna."
Now Elsa fought back on the offense, as Hans skillfully defended himself, "I must say that I am impressed, Elsa. But how is your footwork?"
Hans began to slowly circle Elsa as she mirrored his steps, "You should probably know that I wasn't lying about not knowing how to dance…" Elsa swung her sword upward, gracefully spun around, and swung the sword back down on Hans, forcing him to go down on a knee as he blocked her blows, "But your little dance lesson last night sure helped."
Hans scoffed, "Well then next time I'll think twice before helping a damsel in distress."
Elsa smirked, "So do you wish to surrender?"
Hans chuckled, "You don't know all my tricks, Elsa." He forcefully pushed up his sword with all his might, causing Elsa to stagger back. He somersault to the right and landed on his feet, "I'm not going to go easy on you this time."
For the next several minutes Hans and Elsa skillfully traded off between offensive and defensive maneuvers. Hans was beginning to sweat, but Elsa looked as cool as a cucumber; that's right…I forgot she doesn't sweat.
Hans managed to disarm Elsa with an expertly quick swirl and flick of his sword. By defensive impulse, Elsa released a short blast of icicles at Hans, who quickly leaped over the spikes and instinctively stabbed the sword through the end of her dress and into the flooring, trapping her to one spot. In response, Elsa leg-swept Hans and forcefully pulled on her dress, ripping a part of it off, as she grabbed her sword and thrust it into Hans's side.
Elsa gasped as Hans's body collapsed, "Oh my goodness! Hans are you okay?!" She knelt beside him and held his head in her lap, "I am so sorry! I didn't think it would go this far! Hans, please say something!"
Hans looked at Elsa with wide eyes, "Elsa, I need you to promise me something…"
Tears began to form in Elsa's eyes, "Anything, I promise."
Hans dramatically reached up and touched Elsa's face, "Promise me that you'll work on your aim…"
Elsa pulled away and accidentally dropped his head, "What?!"
Hans gave her a wicked grin and started laughing. He lifted his right arm, revealing that the sword was trapped underneath his armpit, instead of in his side, "You need to work on your aim a little more. Although I'll be the first to admit that I'm glad you missed this time." He swiftly pounced on Elsa and pulled out a knife that he kept in his boot, "I win."
Elsa was breathing hard, "You jerk! You made me think I killed you!"
Hans was also breathing hard, as little beads of sweat formed on his brow, he rubbed the back of his head, "Hey, that hurt by the way."
Elsa squirmed underneath his weight, "You cheated!"
Hans scoffed, "So did you! What was up with the icicles?! You could have really killed me!"
Elsa apologetically looked at him, "Sorry…force of habit."
Hans rolled off of Elsa and helped her up. He noticed that her hair was beginning to fall out of her bun, and more importantly, her dress was torn, revealing a good portion of her leg, "Sorry about the dress…perhaps I, too, went a little far. Survival instincts, what can I say?"
Elsa nodded, "So I guess we're even?"
Hans shook his head, "I don't think so…I won, right? So what's my prize?"
Elsa thawed her icicles, "We never agreed on a prize…this was supposed to be a quick lesson, remember?"
Hans chuckled as he pulled the sword out of the floor and picked up fragments of Elsa's dress, "That was before I knew you were a trained swordsman."
Elsa put her sword back on the wall, "Not trained…self taught."
Hans came up behind her and also placed his sword back on the wall, "Again…I'm impressed."
Hans was standing so close to her that when Elsa turned around to face Hans, she had to back up against the wall, "Thank you. Now, I don't want you telling anyone about what you saw today. I like to keep some secrets to myself."
Hans seriously looked down at her, "Does Anna know?"
Elsa guiltily looked away, "No…I feared that if she knew then she would try to teach herself, because obviously my parents were not going to teach her, and being that she was always so clumsy I didn't want her hurting herself."
Hans tilted his head so his eyes could meet hers, "Elsa, Anna is not as clumsy as one would think. She's a good dancer, very light on her feet. Her strength and hand-eye coordination is also impressive; I should know I had a first-hand experience with her fist."
Elsa giggled, "Easily one of the best moments of my life-"
Hans jokingly took offense, "Hey!"
Elsa rolled her eyes, "What? I think you deserved it."
Hans solemnly looked at her, "I did. Actually, I deserved a lot worse than a broken nose."
Elsa thoughtfully smiled, "Perhaps, but it's too late to change what's happened. Your past mistakes are meant to guide you, not define you." Elsa awkwardly scooted away from Hans and walked towards the door, "You might want to clean yourself up a bit…you're all sweaty."
Hans grinned and jogged after her, "You know…some women find that attractive."
Elsa scoffed, "I doubt it."
Hans teasingly whispered in her ear, "Under special circumstances they do."
Elsa blushed and swatted Hans's arm, "You are positively primeval, Hans."