"Your Majesty, the enemy has ambushed our cavalry and is holding them hostage until terms of their release can be negotiated. Do you wish to respond?"
King Richard was sitting in his study with one of his commanding officers and Hans, who was twenty-one years old, "How many men were captured?"
"Fourteen, Your Majesty."
"And if I decline?"
Hans questionably looked at the officer, but remained silent, "They will be killed on the spot…" When the King didn't answer, the officer pressed forward, "So what will it be, Your Majesty? Shall I schedule a time and place to meet?"
The King sternly shook his head, "No."
The officer looked shocked and confused, "No?"
Hans strode towards the desk, "Father!"
King Richard authoritatively stood, "We are on the threshold of victory, and this is merely a distraction. We press on, without them."
Hans leaned forward on the desk, "Father, I can lead a small rescue party to go behind the enemy lines-"
The King slammed his fist down on the desk, "No, Hans! They understand that they must sacrifice their lives for the good of the kingdom. This is war, Hans!"
"But they don't have to die! They have families that love them and wait for their return; we can't just give up and turn our backs on them."
King Richard started to walk away, "You don't understand sacrifice, Hans."
Hans strode after him, "I understand-"
The King turned towards him, "No, you don't! You understand loss…sacrifice is a choice you make, loss is a choice made for you." Hans didn't respond, he just disapprovingly shook his head, and stormed out of the room.
The visions disappeared and everything went black, as voices began to echo in the darkness, "Why did you volunteer to come with me?"
"To protect you…the people here may be dangerous."
"Was it another dream about your family?"
"Not exactly…it was about losing someone I really cared for."
"You saved my life, again!"
"It's all a part of the job description."
"Sure, of course that's all it is."
"Why is it that I always find you attending to my wounds?"
"Because, Hans, you are extremely accident prone."
"Hans, don't take this the wrong way, but, you can place your head in my lap."
"Are you sure about this?"
"I think so…just do it before I change my mind."
"It's the least I could do after what you did for me today."
"Your love comforts me like sunshine after the rain. If you admire the rainbow after the rain then, why not love again after the pain?"
"Did you see anything you liked?"
"I didn't even pay much attention, most of the time you were bleeding all over the place so I was distracted."
"True…except when we were on the ship. Don't think I didn't notice you checking out my butt as I walked by."
"Does this look okay?"
"You look beautiful, that dress looks absolutely stunning on you…"
"You're not going anywhere without me; I need to be by your side at all times."
"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."
"Elsa has made me become a better person, she's helped me overcome my past and the fears that once controlled me. She's taught me to feel again."
"You two would make a lovely couple…"
"I don't know how to dance, Hans."
"I can teach you…"
"I just don't want to make myself look like a fool."
"Your Majesty, as long as you have a partner that knows what they are doing, then you will never look like a fool."
"It's only as complicated as you make it."
"You've changed, Hans, for the better. "
"But is it enough to make up for what I did to you and Anna?"
"No…you still have a long ways to go, but you're on the right track."
"Thank you, Elsa."
"For thawing my frozen heart."
"Your past mistakes are meant to guide you, not define you."
"You are literally my other half and I don't know what's going to happen tonight, but I want you to know that I love you, Elsa."
"Hans…I don't know what to say."
"Say that you feel the same way, that you love me…"
"I'll let you know once we get out of this situation."
"Sacrifice is a choice you make, loss is a choice made for you."
Hans's eyes popped open as he took in a large gasp of air. Eir was sitting on the other side of the room with a book in her hand, "Oh good, you're finally awake."
Hans remained still as he looked around the room, "Where am I? Who are you? What am I doing here?"
Eir walked over to his bedside, "I'm Eir and you're in a room in the back of my shop located in the Kingdom of Sperca. You were killed during the rebel attack on the castle a while back."
Hans furrowed his brow, "Eir? That's right, Eir! The witch doctor! It's all coming back to me…the attack, the antidote, the secret passage, the kiss…Elsa! Where's Elsa? How is she?"
Eir poured him a glass of water, "She's safe…she returned to Arendelle with the antidote about three weeks ago."
Hans coughed into his water and cleared his throat, "Three weeks ago?! How long was I out?"
Eir helped him sit up, "You were dead for about five days, and you've been unconscious for two weeks."
Hans opened his mouth to respond, but instead a quiet voice came from the doorway, "Hans?"
Hans turned his head and gazed upon a beautiful young woman in a long white night gown, "Annaliese?"
Annaliese excitedly ran across the room and embraced Hans in a gentle hug, "You're awake! How are you feeling?"
Hans chuckled, "Uhh…alive?" He looked around the room, "How did I get here?"
Eir grabbed a chair and brought it over to the bed, "Annaliese found your body in a stream and she brought you here."
Annaliese sat down on the bed, beside Hans, "I remember you telling me about a woman in town by the name of Eir who was a witch doctor, so I was hoping that she could perform a miracle and bring you back."
Hans looked back and forth between Eir and Annaliese, "But why? I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm extremely grateful that you did, I just don't understand why."
Annaliese took Hans' hand in hers, "You've been through a lot Hans…I knew you loved Elsa, and according to Eir, she felt the same about you. After all the years of cruelty and heartbreak, you deserve a happy ending with the woman you love."
Hans gently squeezed her hand, "Thank you…You've always been so good to me, Annaliese. You're the greatest best friend a guy could ask for. "
Annaliese gave him a sad smile, "That's what friends are for."
Hans looked back at Eir, "So how long do I have to stay in bed?"
"Until you feel like you're ready to start moving around, I'd suggest that you start tomorrow."
Hans smiled, "Great! When does the next boat leave for Arendelle? I need to get to Elsa."
Annaliese let of Hans' hand, "Actually, Hans, there are no more ships headed to Arendelle."
Hans shrugged, "Well, that's fine…I can find multiple ships that will eventually connect to Arendelle."
Eir shook her head, "No, Hans, what she means is that the docks are closed for the winter."
Hans looked at Annaliese, "What? Why?"
Annaliese sighed, "Every winter we have to close our ports due to terrible storms, we don't want any shipwrecks. That's why we try to get most of our trading done a few weeks prior to winter. I'm afraid you're stuck here until March."
Hans ran a frustrated hand through his hair, "No, this can't be happening."
Eir stood up and started to walk out of the room, "Hey, look on the bright side…you're alive! You will eventually get to see Elsa again, you just have to wait a bit longer than expected, but given the alternative, three months is not so bad."
Hans wildly looked at Annaliese, "But she thinks I'm dead! So what if some other suitor comes along?"
Annaliese playfully rolled her eyes and stood up, "Like that would happen-"
Hans grabbed her arm, "What day is it?"
"December 14, why?"
Hans let out a frustrated sigh, "Elsa's birthday is in a week, she's probably going to have a ball where plenty of ambitious suitors will try to sweep her off her feet…there's a good chance that at least one of them will succeed, and then I'll be out of luck."
Annaliese put a gentle hand on his shoulder, "I don't think Elsa is one to quickly fall in love with a guy she just met…"
Hans smirked, "No, she's not…but she is dutiful and if a prince should propose a good enough reason to alliance their kingdoms through marriage, then she will probably say yes."
Annaliese started to walk out of the room, "I'm sorry Hans, but it looks like you're going to have to hope that fate will bring you and Elsa back together again."
Hans hopelessly looked out the window, "When did the last boat leave?"
Annaliese stopped at the doorway but she didn't turn around, "About three days ago."
"Where was it headed?"
Annaliese turned her head to look at him, "…Arendelle."
Hans dejectedly fell back against the pillow, "Of course it was."
"Elsa! Psst, Elsa!"
Elsa tiredly turned away from her pesky sister, "Hmm?"
Anna jumped on the bed and started shaking her older sister, "Wake up, wake up, wake up!"
Elsa put a pillow over her head, "Anna, go back to bed."
Anna stuck her head underneath the pillow, "I just can't…the sky's awake, so I'm awake, so we have to plan!"
Elsa opened one eye, "Plan for what?"
Anna took the pillow and threw it across the room, "Your birthday ball! You're turning twenty-two in a week and we haven't even started planning anything!"
Elsa tiredly rubbed her eyes, "So why are we going to start now?"
Anna playfully pouted, "Because you're always so busy during the day so we never have time to plan fun stuff like this!"
Elsa sleepily patted Anna's knee, "I'll set apart some time in my schedule tomorrow to discuss my party with the staff."
"But, I wanted to just plan it with you…I don't want any help from anyone else. I wanted to do this together, sis."
Elsa smiled and slowly sat up, "Okay, Anna. What did you have in mind?"
Anna happily gasped, "Really? You want my opinion?"
Elsa stretched, "Yes…since I'm still trying to wake up, my brains a bit fuzzy."
Anna excitedly squealed, "Okay so what I was thinking was that-"
Anna was interrupted by someone gently knocking on the door, "Your Majesty, are you awake?"
Elsa quickly ran her fingers through her hair, "Yes, please come in Kai."
Kai apologetically opened the door and bowed, "I'm so sorry to wake you, Your Majesty…" When he noticed Anna sitting beside Elsa, he bowed again, "Your highness."
Anna just smiled and waved as Elsa nonchalantly shrugged, "Don't worry about it, I was already up anyways. Is there something wrong?"
"A ship arrived from Sperca, not too long ago, and a young man, who claims to know you, wishes to see you."
Elsa tiredly sighed, "Right now?"
Kai sympathetically nodded, "He says it's urgent."
Elsa tossed off the covers and made her way to her wardrobe, "Well, it looks like I'm not going to be getting a whole lot of sleep tonight anyways, so might as well see what he wants."
Kai kept his hand on the doorknob, "Shall I take him to the throne room?"
"No, that won't be necessary…have him wait in my study."
Kai bowed, "Yes, Your Majesty…Your highness."
Elsa regretfully smiled at her sister, "Sorry Anna, it looks like we'll have to start planning my party at a later time."
Anna nonchalantly shrugged, "It's okay…can I come with you?"
Elsa looked over her shoulder, "Wouldn't you rather get some sleep?"
Anna gestured towards the window, "Sky's awake…"
Elsa laughed, "Okay, but you're not going in your night gown and robe, so you better go change."
Anna playfully saluted and ran out the door, "Yes, ma'am!"
When Elsa finished changing, she looked in the mirror; A young man from Sperca? I wonder who it could it be? What if it's Hans? No Elsa…Hans is gone, dead. I'm just setting myself up for disappointment.
In about ten minutes time, Elsa and Anna were both appropriately dressed and tiredly making their way to Elsa's study. Well, Elsa was tired, Anna, on the other hand was excited to see who this mystery person was, but for Elsa's sake, she kept her questions to herself.
The two sisters entered the room and saw the young man sitting in a chair in front of Elsa's desk. They couldn't see who it was because he was sitting with his back to them and the room was still pretty dark. Elsa cleared her throat, making the man jump and quickly turn to face the Queen, "Your Majesty, Queen Elsa, I'm so sorry to come to you in such an inconvenient hour but I didn't know who else to turn to."
Elsa stepped closer to the man, "I'm sorry, who are you? I can't see your face…step into the light."
The man hastily walked towards them, "Oh, of course! My apologizes, Queen Elsa."
When Elsa saw who the man was she gasped and ran over to him, "William?! I'm so glad that you're unharmed! I didn't know if you got out in time, I was so worried!"
He looked surprised, "You were worried about me?"
Elsa nodded, "Yes, I remember you telling me that it is just as dangerous for a castle maid or footman to step foot outside the castle walls as it is for any monarch."
"Wow, I'm impressed that you remembered that. Most people just blow me off-"
Anna unattractively snorted, "Get in line buddy, I know the feeling."
Elsa threw Anna a warning look, "Let me introduce to you my sister, Princess Anna of Arendelle."
Anna scoffed, "Oh, please just call me Anna; any friend of Elsa's is a friend of mine." Elsa threw her another look but Anna completely ignored it, "So you're William…Elsa's told me a lot about you."
William grinned, "Really? All good things, I hope."
"Oh yes! She told me how kind and hospitable you were…even when everyone else wasn't quite as pleasant."
Elsa cleared her throat, "So what's wrong, William? Why did you tell my advisor that it was an urgent matter…and don't say it was because you wanted to see me again, because although it was sweet the first time, I would be very ticked if you tried that again at this hour."
William shyly smirked, "No, no…it's nothing like that. Although I am happy to see you again, that wasn't the reason for my visit, but I'm not saying that I wouldn't travel to see you more often because I would, you're so kind and beautiful-"
He stopped himself before he said anything else that would completely embarrass him or Elsa, as Anna giggled at his rambling, "Get in line buddy, I know that feeling too."
Elsa tried to cover up her smile, "William, why don't you start over and just go straight to the urgent matter."
William's face turned red, "Yes, Your Majesty. You see, when we first found out about the seriousness of the rebellion, the King and Queen came up with an escape plan in case of an attack on the castle. In the far end of the Sperca forest, was an abandoned cottage that would act as a safe house for them. My part of the plan was to eventually meet up with them at the cottage since I was the King's advisor, so three days after the attack I did exactly that."
Anna interrupted, "Why did you wait three days?"
"I took an extra long detour in case anyone was following me, but when I eventually got there the place was destroyed. I couldn't find the King or Queen until I did a perimeter sweep on the area and that's when I found Kendrick's body."
Elsa gasped and placed her hands over her mouth, "Kendrick is dead?!"
William solemnly nodded, "Yes, Your Majesty…"
"And what about Annaliese?!"
"I'm afraid Queen Annaliese has gone missing…I found no trace of her at all. I don't know if she was captured by the rebels or if she got away. I can't trust anyone in Sperca anymore because I don't know who's apart of the rebellion and who is not…I didn't know where else to go so I came here. You're the only person left that I know I can trust."
Elsa placed a gentle hand on his shoulder, "Don't worry William, you're safe here. You're welcome to stay in the castle with us, if you'd like."
William surprisingly looked back and forth between the two sisters, "Are you sure? Because I don't want to be a bother…"
Anna muttered under her breath, "Too late…"
Elsa elbowed her in the ribs, "It's no bother, you made me feel welcomed when I visited Sperca, and so let me return the favor. I'll show you to your room."
As they quietly walked down the corridors, William couldn't help but gawk at the palace, "This castle is absolutely beautiful…it's big, but not too big that it's to the point of seeming monstrous and overly intimidating. It authoritative, yet welcoming…I really like it."
Anna snorted, "Imagine how much better it will be when you can actually see it in daylight."
Elsa pinched Anna's side causing her to let out a little yelp, which in response made Elsa smile, "This is your room, breakfast is usually served at half past seven, but given the late hour you don't have to be there that early…I'll let the staff know to keep your food warm."
William graciously shook his head, "Please don't bother with the extra work, I'll be there on time…I'm indebted to your kindness and hospitality, Queen Elsa. Thank you."
Elsa warmly smiled, "Have a good nights rest and I'll see you at breakfast."
William bowed, "Goodnight Queen Elsa, goodnight Princess Anna."
Elsa politely bowed her head as Anna enthusiastically waved, "Night Will!"
Once Elsa and Anna turned the corner Anna grinned, "I like him!"
Elsa scoffed, "Like him? Anna, all you did was make snarky comments the entire time, by your behavior I would have thought otherwise."
Anna raised her hands in surrender, "In my defense, Kristoff and I bickered a lot when we first met too, and look where we are now."
Elsa smirked and raised an eyebrow at her sister, "Are you insinuating something, Anna?"
"What? No! Oh no, no, no…I mean sure he's handsome and extremely polite and well-mannered but he's not my type."
Elsa laughed, "You have a type?"
"Oh sure! Everyone has a type, Elsa"
"And what's yours exactly?"
Anna did a little leap, "Kristoff!"
Elsa lightheartedly rolled her eyes, "You are going to have to give me more than that."
Anna bit her lip, a habit she does when she's thinking, "Okay well…he has to be taller than me…"
"That's a given…"
"And have a muscular body with broad shoulders…"
"That's what most girls want…"
"Beautiful, kind eyes with a hint of mischief behind them…"
"What about personality?"
"I was getting there…he has to be quick-witted, able to retort what I dish out, and funny because I love to laugh. He has to know exactly what to say to calm me down when I get overly excited. He has to be my best friend, someone I know I can trust and go to when things are hard…he's my rock, my protector, honest and true. He may be rough around the edges, but on the inside he's nothing but a kind-hearted, passionate, teddy bear."
Elsa happily sighed, "And that sounds exactly like Kristoff…but I wouldn't tell him about the 'teddy bear' part. It might ruin his tough guy image."
Anna giggled, "I'll save that for when I have to deflate his ego."
Elsa cautiously looked at Anna, "So what's my type?"
Anna bit her lip again, "Your type? Well I don't know exactly because I don't live in your head. But if I were to guess, I would say that you like a guy who is also taller than you, but he doesn't exactly tower over you, like Kristoff to me. You're all about the royal image, so he can't be exactly tough guy muscles, but more athletically lean and fit. You like a guy whose clean shaven, well dressed, not a hair out of place…a man who maintains his appearance. And he also has to have a nice butt…I feel like that's your 'thing'."
Elsa smirked, "A nice butt? That's my 'thing'?"
Anna giggled, "Yeah, I feel like that could be a deal-breaker for you. I'm all about the guns, but you're all about the buns."
Elsa burst out laughing and wiped her eyes, "Anna, sometimes you're too much for me…So what about personality?"
Anna pursed her lips, "Well, I think we're kind of similar when it comes to personality. You want a guy who you can have intelligent conversations with, someone with an opinion who isn't afraid to say what he thinks. He has to be well-mannered and familiar with the social graces, but behind closed doors, he knows how to fun and most importantly, he knows how to make you relax. He knows what makes you laugh, what makes you smile, and what calms you down. You want a guy that makes you feel safe, protected, loved…someone who you can confide in and trust."
Elsa sadly sighed, "…You just described Hans. You're so accurate that it's almost scary."
Anna held onto Elsa's arm, "Actually, I was going to say William since you know he's alive and stuff…" Anna cringed, "Sorry that didn't come out right, it sounded less insensitive in my head…"
Elsa patted Anna's arm, "I understand what you meant."
An awkward silence fell between them, until Anna pleadingly looked at her sister, "Can we keep him, Elsa? Pleeeese?"
Elsa couldn't help but laugh, "Anna, he's not a lost puppy. And I don't know what he would do here anyways…we don't have any job openings at the castle."
Once the sisters reached Anna's bedroom, Anna cautiously eyed Elsa, "Actually we do have one job opening…"
Elsa gave Anna a wary look, "Aha…no."
Anna let go of Elsa's arm, "Why not?"
"He's an advisor, not a servant."
Anna crossed her arms, "He used to be a servant; he had to work his way up from somewhere."
Elsa nervously bit her lip, "I don't think it's a good idea."
Anna's face softened, "Why, because you don't want him hanging around you so much? Because you're afraid that you might start to fall in love with him, similar to what happened with Hans?"
Elsa put on her professional face, "I just don't think he would want to work as a servant…that's a pretty big job downgrade from king's royal advisor."
Anna held Elsa's hands, "But he's not going to be just a servant; he's going to be your personal servant. There's a huge difference."
Elsa furrowed her brows, "I don't know, Anna-"
Anna squeezed her sister's hands, "Elsa? Just think about it…you don't need to feel pressured right now because only you and I have discussed it, so just let the idea float around in your head for a bit."
Elsa gave her sister a quick hug, "I'll think about it. Goodnight, Anna."
"Elsa, what about the party-"
Elsa opened Anna's door and led her inside, "I'll make time for you and me tomorrow so we can begin planning something."
Anna smiled and put her hand on the doorknob, "Thank Elsa, goodnight."
Once Anna closed her door, Elsa decided to go outside and take a quick late-night stroll through the gardens. As she leisurely walked beneath the light of the full moon, she found herself at her favorite place, the duck pond. As a little girl, Elsa would love to come down to the pond with her parents and Anna to just goof around with the ducklings during the spring or to go ice skating during the winter. In the summer, she and Anna would also occasionally go swimming in the pond to beat the summer heat, but most of the time Anna would ask Elsa to freeze the pond over so they could continue to ice skate together and later play in the snow. Everything was so perfect; Anna and Elsa played together all the time, her parents always made time for their daughters, there were no secrets, no fear of Elsa's powers…it was a much simpler time.
Elsa sat down by the edge of the pond and looked at her reflection in the water; Come on, Elsa…what's wrong with you. I should at least offer him the job…I know that he's a hard-worker, a good man, and has years of previous experience. This should be an easy decision…so why am I having such a hard time deciding on whether or not to ask him? Is Anna right? Am I afraid that I might develop feelings for him? I mean, he's definitely handsome, and very sweet, always thinking of others before himself. Maybe I should just let him hang around the castle for a while so I can get a good idea of what it would be like if he were to work here, that way I would know whether or not things would work out.
Elsa dropped her head and sighed as a few strands of hair fell out of her quickly made bun. She looked back at her reflection in the water again, and let her mind drift to Hans;"I like your hair; you should wear it down more often."
"Your hair…I've never seen it down before. It's really pretty….makes you look younger, too."
"I am only twenty-one, I am still young."
"Yeah but you act like you're much, much older. And sometimes it shows on your face. You seem…tired a lot."
"I don't get much sleep anymore."
"I meant it as a compliment you know."
"What I said about your hair, it's really beautiful. I don't understand why you always have it in a bun."
"I don't always have it in a bun…I braid it once in a while."
"Yeah, you've only done it once and it's been a while since then, too."
"Being a queen requires me to look professional and presentable at all times.
Elsa unclipped her hair and let her long silver blonde locks fall over her shoulders; "Does this look okay?"
"You look beautiful, that dress looks absolutely stunning on you…But you put your hair back in a bun."
"I'm a queen again, remember? And as a queen, you should put on the best version of yourself when you go out into the world because that is a show of respect to the other people around you."
Elsa sighed and stood up, "Maybe I will start wearing my hair down once in a while; I can still dress it up to look professional without looking too much like a tightwad." She started making her way back to the castle, "Queen Annaliese wore her hair down and she still looked very professional…I wonder what happened to her, I hope she's safe."
Hans slowly opened his eyes and carefully stretched in his bed. He looked around the room and rubbed his eyes, still trying to comprehend the fact that he was actually dead not too long ago. He noticed a walking cane beside his bed and a note attached to it:
You may or may not remember that you were shot in the leg with one of the arrows; therefore your right leg might be weaker than your left. I've provided you a walking cane to help re-strengthen your leg and I suggest that you use it frequently for the first few days.
Hans propped himself up and swung his legs over the side of the bed. He examined his right leg and noticed the remaining scar tissue of the wound, "Yeah, I don't remember this one." He grabbed the cane and slowly stood, groaning with the pain from the other four wounds on his upper body, "But I definitely remember these." He stopped moving when he heard a strange noise coming from outside the back door. He slowly limped towards it and quietly opened the back door, revealing Annaliese hunched over a bucket that she was holding. Hans hobbled down the steps, "Annaliese, are you sick?"
Annaliese turned around to face him, "Oh, good morning, Hans…I, uh, wasn't feeling too well this morning so Eir gave me this bucket and then she went off into the forest to gather some ingredients to make another nausea remedy."
Hans sat down next to her and examined her disheveled hair and pale color, "Another? How long have you been sick?"
Annaliese gave him a meaningful look, "I know that look, Hans. Don't worry, it's nothing serious, I only seem to get it in the mornings anyway. I'm fine, really, it's probably just some sort of stomach illness."
Hans rubbed her back as she turned back towards the bucket and gagged with dry heaves, "That you only get in the mornings?" When she finished, Hans looked her in the eye, "Where is my brother?"
Annaliese gave him a tired smile, "He's safe, we have a cottage on the far end of the forest that's extremely isolated."
Hans nodded and began to mindlessly stroke her hair, "Annaliese, don't get mad but…I'm going to ask you a very personal question."
She leaned her head against his chest, "Okay…?"
Hans uneasily swallowed, "When, uh, was the last time that you and Kendrick…" He gestured with his hands, "ehem…you know."
Annaliese quickly sat up and looked appalled at his inappropriate question, "Hans! That is none of your business!"
Hans defensively put up his hands, "Okay then here's another question…have you recently missed a certain monthly gift from Mother Nature?"
She crossed her arms, "Hans, this question isn't much better than the last one."
He rolled his eyes, "Just answer at least one of them."
She annoyingly sighed, "Fine…less than a month ago and, yes, I seem to be a little late on my monthly gift."
Hans put his face in his hands, "That's what I thought…" He nervously ran a hand through his hair and looked his best friend in the eye, "Annaliese, I think you're, uh…"
Annaliese widened her eyes with fear, "I'm what, Hans?!"
He took her hands in his and gave her an encouraging smile, "…I think you're pregnant."