As soon as Elsa stepped foot through the castle gates, Anna was already running down the stairs to greet her, "Elsa! You're back!"
Elsa genuinely smiled for the first time in three days, as her sister embraced her in a long hug, "Yes, Anna, I'm back…and even better, I have the antidote for Kristoff."
Anna's eyes filled with joyful tears, "Oh my goodness, that's amazing! Thank you, Elsa! Thank you!" She grabbed Elsa's hand and started running towards the castle, "Let's go get the doctor!"
Anna practically dragged Elsa through the castle corridors, "Anna, slow down! I didn't even know you could run this fast!"
As they approached the doctor's office, Anna gave Elsa a funny look, "Elsa, are you feeling alright? Because even when you wear heels, you can run just as fast as me…by the way, I absolutely love your boots! And oh my gosh, you're wearing pants?! You look so fabulous, Elsa!"
Elsa lightheartedly rolled her eyes, "Anna, can we discuss my outfit later?"
"Oh right!" Anna knocked on the door, "Doctor Omsorg? It's Anna! Elsa's back and she has the antidote!"
The door quickly opened, "Your Majesty, is it true? Have you received the antidote?"
Elsa lifted her satchel, "Yup, three whole vials worth."
The doctor grinned and grabbed his medical bag, "Then let's go! We haven't got any time to lose!"
Elsa sighed as Anna and the doctor took off down the hall towards Kristoff's room, "My goodness…Anna has definitely been cooped up for far too long if she has this much energy."
By the time Elsa jogged over to Kristoff's room, the doctor had already used half of the first bottle to make up a drinkable remedy for the ice harvester. But that's not what shocked Elsa the most, Elsa had to do a double take on Kristoff because the man lying in bed resembled very little of the man that captured her sister's heart. He was no longer the broad shouldered, muscular, tough blonde mountain man she knew, but instead a small, frail, sickly pale man lay in his place. Anna was sitting on the other side of the bed, holding Kristoff's hand and combing her fingers through his hair, "Every things going to be alright now, Kristoff. Elsa has returned with the antidote and you're going to be all better, back to your old self, you'll see. "
The doctor leaned over Kristoff with a glass of the remedy, "Okay Kristoff, I need you to drink all of this in one shot, try not to cough because that will make it extremely difficult for the antidote to work quickly and efficiently." Kristoff slowly nodded his head as the doctor placed the glass to his lips, "Here we go…"
For the next several seconds everyone held their breath as Kristoff slowly drank the entire glass without even a single hiccup or cough. As soon as he finished everyone breathed out a sigh of relief and look around at each other with a sense of renewed hope. Elsa looked at the doctor, "So how long will it take before it works?"
The doctor scratched his head, "It depends on the person and how serious the illness is…sometimes it can work immediately but other times it can take up an entire recovery period."
Anna looked down at Kristoff, "How are you feeling?"
Kristoff took in a deep clean breath, "Better than I've felt in days…" He let out a few harsh coughs but none of them produced blood, which was already a good sign.
Elsa noticed the color in his face started to come back, "You look better too."
Kristoff surprisingly looked over at Elsa, as if he wasn't aware of her presence, "Oh, Queen Elsa-"
Elsa kindly smiled, "You can just call me Elsa right now…" She pointed to her crown-less head, "See? No crown…"
Kristoff gave her one of his famous lopsided grins, "Thank you for getting the antidote for me, I hope it wasn't too much trouble for you and Hans-" Kristoff frowned and looked around the room, "Where is Hans?"
Elsa shook her head and tried to avoid where the conversation was headed, "It wasn't that much trouble…I actually met some very nice people there-"
The realization of Hans's absence finally hit Anna, "He wasn't with you when I greeted you at the gates…in fact, I haven't seen him at all since you got here. Did you come alone?"
Elsa began to wring her hands, "Yes…"
Anna stood up and faced her sister, "Then where is he?"
Elsa nervously looked out the window, "Back in Sperca…"
Kristoff raised an eyebrow, "Did you leave him there?"
Elsa wrapped her arms around herself, "Yes, in a way…"
Anna leaned against the bed, "But why?"
Kristoff looked slightly miffed, "Did he do something bad again?"
Elsa sternly shook her head, "No."
Anna could feel the temperature dropping and she knew that something was wrong, "Elsa, where is Hans?"
Elsa held back the tears that began to sting her eyes, "Hopefully he's in a better place…"
Kristoff's mouth dropped slightly as Anna gasped, "Elsa, are saying that he's-"
Kristoff widened his eyes, "Dead?"
Elsa nodded, "He saved my life…but at a great cost."
Anna sat on the bed, beside Kristoff, "Elsa, what happened?"
Elsa sighed and brought a chair over to the bed, "It's a long story…"
Annaliese was drenched in sweat from carrying Hans' dead-weight body for several miles, "How much farther is this Eir? I'm going to need some of that all-healing antidote to help with this back pain I've developed…"
"Excuse me? Who did you say you were looking for?" From behind a tree, a beautiful middle-aged woman with long black hair and kind, intellectual, blue eyes stepped towards her.
Annaliese took a cautious step back, "Umm…a doctor." She thought that it would be best to leave out the witch part, "My friend here is very injured and needs some immediate medical attention."
The woman skeptically raised an eyebrow, "It looks to me that your friend may need more than just a regular old doctor."
Annaliese nervously swallowed, "W-what do you mean?"
The woman clasped her hands together and let out a long sigh, "Sweetie, I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news…but your friend is dead."
Annaliese shook her head with wide eyes, "No he's not…he's, uh, mostly dead. But that's why I need to find this special doctor named Eir, I was told that she could perform miracles."
"No ordinary person can perform miracles, dear. "
Annaliese readjusted Hans's weight on her back, "Well, maybe she's not normal…I'm familiar that the name Eir came from the Norse Goddess of medicine and healing, and that her name means mercy and protection. So maybe she has a gift…like Queen Elsa."
The woman brightened up and smiled approvingly, "Very good, Annaliese."
Annaliese was so surprised that she almost dropped Hans, "Wait how do you know my name?"
The woman took a step towards Annaliese, "I am the person that you seek, my name is Eir."
Annaliese's jaw dropped slightly, "You're Eir? You're not at all what I expected when I heard you were a witch doctor."
Eir shrugged, "What did you expect? An old, ugly, hunched back woman with a hooked nose and warts?"
Annaliese sheepishly looked down, "Aha…well-"
Eir gave her a kind smile, "You really shouldn't believe everything you read in fairytales…now follow me."
Eir and Annaliese silently traveled back to Eir's shop. As Eir opened the back door for Annaliese, the queen-in-hiding spoke up, "Do you know who I am?"
Eir gave her a funny look, "Yes, I think we already established that you're name is Annaliese back in the forest."
"But is that all you know about me?"
Eir smiled, "For now…I haven't known you for that long. Why do you ask?"
Annaliese let out a sigh of relief that Eir didn't seem to know that she was the Queen, "I was just curious…"
As the two entered the shop Eir gestured that Annaliese follow her to a dark room, "Set him down on the observation table."
Annaliese grunted as she hoisted up Hans' body, "You don't seem to be very surprised to see Hans like this."
Eir lit several candles to illuminate the dark room, "I have the gift of foresight, so most things don't usually come as a surprise to me. I already knew that Hans was killed three days ago during the rebel attack on the castle."
Annaliese raised her eyebrows, "Wow, you really are good."
Eir smirked, "Actually, Queen Elsa told me about Hans' death. I was far too busy working on a project to foresee his death."
Annaliese widened her eyes, "Queen Elsa was here? How long ago was this? Did she seem okay?"
Eir started shuffling through several vials, "Yes…she was here about three days ago. Actually, she came to me on the night of the attack; she was physically unharmed, but emotionally devastated."
"Where is she now?"
Eir walked back over to the observation table with a collection of vials, "Hopefully, if all went well, she is back in Arendelle. I sent her back during the rebellion to avoid any more trouble."
Annaliese gave Eir a surprised look, "So you're not a part of the rebellion?"
Eir smirked and gave Annaliese a knowingly look, "No I am not…Your Majesty."
Annaliese's jaw dropped, "But-"
Eir laughed, "I knew all along…I do live in Sperca, what kind of citizen wouldn't know their own queen?"
Annaliese rubbed the back of her neck, "Sorry…" She looked down at Hans' body, "So you know why I'm here?"
Eir nodded, "Of course."
"Can you do it?"
Eir sighed, "Maybe…it's been quite a while since I did anything this complex, and he has been dead for a while."
Annaliese placed a gentle hand on Hans's cheek, "Please, Eir…do what you can."
Eir gave her a comforting smile, "I will try."
"…he was shot by five crossbows and his body fell out the window, into the waters below."
Anna and Kristoff remained quiet for a few moments, until Anna stood up and held Elsa's hands, "Elsa…I had no idea how dangerous these people were. I feel awful for making you go, I'm so sorry."
Elsa shook her head, "No don't be…you didn't make me go, I wanted to go. Just like Hans wanted to go with me. You of all people should understand self-sacrifice."
Anna looked into Elsa's eyes, "I did what I did because I loved you, Elsa. It was an act of true love-" Elsa smiled but quickly looked away, feeling guilty that she left out the part about Hans kissing her. Anna raised an eyebrow in suspicion, "Kristoff, I think you should get some rest. Elsa and I will finish this conversation elsewhere."
Kristoff looked at Anna suspiciously but he decided not to push it, "Whatever you say, Doctor Anna…"
Anna giggled and gave him a quick kiss on the head, "I'll be back to check on you later."
Anna linked arms with her sister and guided her out of the room and towards Elsa's bedroom, "I'm guessing that you would like to change out of your traveling clothes and into something more suitable for a queen?"
Elsa smiled, "You're starting to sound more and more like me…"
Anna shrugged, "I'm just growing up, I guess. I have to start acting like a princess sooner or later."
Elsa looked at her sister, "Just don't grow up too fast, okay?"
Anna frowned, "But what about you? You're not that much older than me, Elsa…"
Elsa gave her sister's arm a gentle squeeze, "I had no choice but to grow up quickly because I knew that I was to become queen as soon as I became of age. You don't have to deal with that pressure, nor do I want you to. Just enjoy your youth because someday you're going to wake up and realize that perhaps some of the best years of your life are over."
The sisters walked into Elsa's bedroom and closed the door. Elsa strode across the room to her wardrobe and picked out a black dress with a light blue bodice. As soon as Elsa began to undress, Anna gave her sister an impish grin, "Soooo?"
Elsa avoided eye contact with her, "'Soooo' what?"
Anna leaned against the door and crossed her arms, "Is there something else you want to tell me? Something you might have left out of your story previously?"
Elsa buttoned up her dress, "I don't know what you're talking about."
Anna walked over to her sister, "Uh-huh, sure." She helped button up Elsa's bodice, "Elsa…what are you not telling me?"
Elsa undid her braid and began brushing out her hair, "Its…personal, Anna."
Anna gave Elsa a hurt expression, "Personal? So you mean you're keeping more secrets that you don't trust me with."
Elsa walked over to the mirror, "No, Anna, I didn't say that-"
"Well it sure sounds like it…your starting to sound like the old Elsa, the one that shut me out for thirteen years."
Elsa angrily turned around, "Enough, Anna! Stop before you say anything that you'll regret…" Elsa sighed and let go of her brush that was now covered in ice, "It's not that I don't trust you, because I do, with my life. It's just…what were your feelings towards Hans?"
Anna raised her eyebrows, "Feelings? Like did I still love him or hate him?"
Elsa shrugged, "More or less…"
Anna gave her an unimpressed look, "I found him barely tolerable, and that's only because he saved your life…does that answer your question?"
Elsa began to wring her hands, "Yes…But, Anna, Hans changed-"
Anna leaned against the bed and let out an exasperated sigh, "Elsa, don't tell me you fell for his hero act! I specifically warned you to watch out for his charm!"
"I didn't fall for his charm, and as for the 'hero act', it wasn't an act. He sacrificed himself for me! Hans cared about me Anna, he told me so…"
Anna rolled her eyes, "Been there, done that, doesn't mean a thing. "
Elsa sat down in front of the mirror, "Anna, you're not being fair."
Anna dramatically put her hands on her chest, "I'm not being fair?! I saved his neck four months ago when you wanted to hang him! I think I've been more than fair to him…Elsa, ninety-nine percent of the things Hans says are just words with no meaning…actions speak louder than words, right?"
Elsa wrapped her hair into a tight bun, "You weren't there, Anna. You didn't see the way he always had my back, he was always there for me, always watching out for me. He protected me, kept me safe…he's the reason that I'm here right now. "
Anna gave her a sad smile, "I'm grateful that you're back safely, I really am. It's just out of all the men in the world, why him?"
Elsa placed her crown on her head, "Well it doesn't matter anymore because he's dead."
Anna took that as her cue to leave but as she started making her way to the door, she quietly piped up, "Maybe it's for the best…"
Elsa turned around with a look of shock and anger, "How can you say that?! When did you become so cold-hearted?"
Anna quickly spat back, "About four months ago when my heart was struck by ice!" Both Anna and Elsa gasped, Anna quickly covered her mouth with her hands, "Elsa, I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking, I didn't mean to-"
Elsa lowered her head as ice began to form along the walls, "Go away, Anna."
Anna took a step towards her sister, "Elsa, I-"
Elsa looked up at Anna with angry tears, "Go away, Anna!"
Anna opened her mouth to say something, but she stopped herself when she noticed that snow was beginning to fall. She knew that if she pushed Elsa any further then she could experience another major ice blast, similar to the one that originally froze her heart. So she just solemnly nodded and hurried out of the room.
Elsa looked at herself in the mirror and gasped at her reflection; her eyes were slightly red from the tears that stained her cheeks, her face was splotchy and slightly puffy from all the crying…she looked like a monster. She covered her face with her hands and let out an aggravated scream as ice blasted in all directions around her, freezing everything in sight. She sank to the floor and let out all the emotions she had been holding back for the past several days.
Eir was studiously sitting down at another table, surrounded by several vials and scientific instruments. Annaliese, on the other hand, was anxiously pacing back and forth while constantly looking over Eir's shoulder.
"What's in it?"
"What kind of liquid?"
"What does it do?"
Eir put the vial down on the table, "Oh my goodness! Can you please stop talking?"
Annaliese took a step back, "Sorry…" Once Eir turned back around, she returned to looking over her shoulder, "Is that the all-healing antidote?"
Eir let out an exasperated sigh and turned around to face Annaliese, "Yes! Now if you insist on staying here, then you might as well do something useful, other than question my work."
"What do you need me to do? "
Eir gave her a challenging look, "Well, what can you do?"
Annaliese expertly matched Eir's expression, "I use to be a maid in the Southern Isles castle when I was growing up, so I am pretty well rounded when it comes to working on a variety of tasks."
Eir raised a surprised eyebrow, "Really? Then I want you to clean out his wounds and prepare to them stitch up as soon as I apply the ointment. The supplies you need should be in that cabinet over there."
Annaliese strode across the room to the cabinet, "Got it. And how long do I have?"
"At least a couple of hours, the ingredients are all in liquid form. I need to transform some of it into a cream ointment instead of just a liquid antidote."
Annaliese gratefully smiled, "Thank you for doing this, Eir. If you ever need anything from me, just let me know."
Eir smirked, "Can you cook?"
"Because if you're going to stay here, you might as well pay your room and board fee with some cooking and cleaning chores."
Annaliese smiled, "Yes ma'am."
About an hour after the sister's fight, there was a gentle knock on Elsa's door, "Go away, Anna."
"Elsa? It's me…Olaf."
Elsa sighed, "Go away, Olaf."
Olaf was quiet for a few seconds before there was a rattling sound coming from the lock. Within seconds the cheery snowman unlocked the door and strode into the room, closing the door behind him, "Hi, Elsa…"
Elsa was lying in the middle of the floor, curled up in a small ball, "Olaf, I don't feel like talking right now."
Olaf waddled over to Elsa and sat down beside her, "That's okay…I'll just sit here instead and keep you company." About sixty-seconds later, Olaf began fidgeting, "You wanna talk now?"
Elsa let out a deep breath and sat up, "Well, not really, but obviously you do…"
The snowman observed the ice around the room, "Why are you sad, Elsa? What happened?"
Elsa sniffled, "Anna and I had an argument…a pretty bad one at that. I lost my temper, and I shouldn't have done that…it was all my fault. It's always my fault…"
Olaf encouragingly patted her on the shoulder, "An argument goes both ways, Elsa. One person pushes the other's buttons until someone loses it, that's how it usually goes. Trust me, I push a lot of people's buttons."
"I think I was just being overly-sensitive about everything."
The snowman comfortingly held Elsa's hands, "Well, that's because you're hurting Elsa, your emotions are pretty raw and your tolerance is extremely low. Anna didn't understand how much you were hurting, because if she did, she wouldn't have pushed so hard. You might have thought that concealing your emotions from her would make things easier, but to Anna, it seemed like you were beginning to shut her out again and she didn't want that to happen so she panicked and blurted out the first thing in her head. Knowing her, it probably wasn't the most sensitive thing either."
Elsa groaned, "I didn't even think about it like that, I feel awful! The last thing I want to do is push Anna away from me again, I need her now more than ever."
Olaf cautiously looked up at Elsa, "So why are you hurting so much, Elsa?"
Elsa sighed, "Hans is dead…he sacrificed his life so I could return to Arendelle with the antidote for Kristoff. But the really troubling thing is that I actually think I feel in love with the guy, can you believe it? But now he's gone and my heart is broken…then I have this horrid fight with Anna and I can't handle having her mad at me, not right now."
"She's not mad, a little wound up perhaps, but Anna is probably the most forgiving person I know. Just give her some time to cool off and she'll be ready to listen to what you have to say. But just remember her side of the story; she was also swept off her feet by Hans, only to be betrayed by the one man who claimed to love her. Anna's just trying to protect you from the heartache she went through, but if anyone understands a broken heart, it's your sister. "
Elsa smiled at the wise snowman, "Olaf, how come you're so smart?"
Olaf gave Elsa a comically blank look, "I honestly don't know…I haven't got a brain, ya know?"
Elsa couldn't help but let out a small laugh, "I know…" She gave Olaf a quick peck on the cheek and made her way to the door, "I built you, remember?"
It was beginning to get dark in the Kingdom of Sperca, as the evening transitioned into the night. Eir had finished the procedure of healing the wounds and now laid out all of her instruments, ointments, and remedies on the observation table beside Hans' body. Annaliese had done an excellent job cleaning the wounds and preparing the stitches, even Eir was pleasantly surprised with her work, "I must say, I was more than impressed with your work ethic, Your Majesty. It seems that this was not your first time cleaning an open wound?"
Annaliese smiled down at Hans' expression-less face, "Hans and I grew up together in the castle…he was always being bullied around by his twelve older brothers. The older he got, the more violent his brothers became…it was to the point that I had to personally clean and care for new wounds weekly. I didn't mind though, Hans and I were best friends for most of our childhood."
"I'm detecting that there were some romantic feelings going on between the two of you?"
Annaliese nodded, "We secretly dated for two years, and those were probably the best years of my life. But I had to break it off because we both wanted two very different things in life; I wanted to settle down and have a family, but he wanted to become a great king to a grand kingdom in order to fulfill a promise he made to his mother before she died."
Eir began putting away her vials and instruments, "So how did you end up with his brother, Kendrick?"
Her smiled quickly faded, "Arranged marriage…it was out of my hands. I had no choice but to go through with it."
Eir carefully eyed Annaliese, "That must have devastated Hans."
She sighed, "And me as well…but he took it extremely hard, to the point of changing into some sort of heartless, overly ambitious, power-hungry monster. When I heard about what he did in Arendelle, I was convinced that he was a lost cause. But when I saw him again a few days ago…he seemed different, like the old Hans that I fell in love with."
Eir slowly walked over to Annaliese, "Do you still love him?"
Annaliese sadly smiled at Eir, "Yes. But his heart belongs to another…he only had eyes for Elsa and I knew that I no longer had a chance with him. I know what Elsa is feeling right now, losing the one man you truly ever loved. That's why we need to bring him back, so that he and Elsa can be together…they both deserve their own happy ending."
Eir smiled and held Annaliese's hands, "And that was the last step to the procedure. Now kiss him…"
Annaliese quickly let go of her hands, "Pardon?"
Eir nudged her towards Hans' body, "An act of selfless love will overcome any obstacle, even death."
Annaliese slowly leaned forward, "An act of selfless love…" She delicately planted a gentle kiss on his cold lips, than soon started to warm up mid-kiss. Annaliese took a step back as the color returned to Hans' face and his chest began to move up and down with revived breathes. Annaliese was slightly perplexed because although he seemed to be alive, he wasn't conscious, "What went wrong? Why hasn't he woken up, yet?"
Eir light-heartedly laughed and put a comforting arm around Annaliese's shoulder, "This isn't some sort of fairytale…he may not wake up for a few days, even a week or two. It's all a part of the recovery process; his body has to utilize the antidote we placed in him and slowly heal itself. He will wake up, eventually, we just have to take care of him and wait."
Annaliese looked at her, "So that's all it takes? An act of selfless love?"
"Well, that's all it takes for the spirit, but without the ointment and the antidote the body wouldn't be able to heal itself and he would just die a slow painful death…again. So although I healed the body, you revived the spirit…" Eir jokingly elbowed her in the ribs, "…told you I wasn't some miracle doctor. The cure to most things is love. But true selfless love is so rare and hard to find, that it is basically a miracle in itself."
Annaliese hugged her, "Thank you Eir! Thank you! You are truly amazing, and I promise to stay here and help out until he wakes up."
Eir laughed and guided them both towards the kitchen, "That's good to hear…now let's go make ourselves some food, I'm starving!"
Elsa decided to wait until after dinner to talk with Anna, and she wasn't surprised when Anna didn't show up to dinner because Elsa figured that she was going to be with Kristoff anyways. As Elsa slowly walked down the castle corridors, she began to wring her hands; Okay, I'll apologize to Anna and afterwards I have to tell her everything that happened, no more secrets. I don't want Anna to feel any hostility towards me…Elsa gently knocked on the door, "Anna? It's your sister. Are you free to talk?" When there was no reply, Elsa slowly opened the door and peeked into the room. She couldn't help but smile at her sister who was fast asleep beside a sleeping Kristoff. Normally, this would be considered indecent but she realized that Kristoff was sleeping underneath the blankets while Anna was sleeping on top of the blankets, therefore there was no real physical contact going on. Anna must have passed out from exhaustion and she just happened to have been sitting beside him while that occurred. Elsa watched as Anna stirred in her sleep and unintentionally snuggled closer to Kristoff as he instinctively wrapped a protective arm around her shoulders; they sure look cute together…even in their sleep they're inseparable. And they look so peaceful too…
Elsa moved a piece of hair that was covering Anna's face, "Even though I may not get my happy ending, I'm happy that you'll be able to get yours."