Elsa thought the talks were going to go fast, just a few details to comb over and be done with it. But every idea was shot down by the emperor. Apparently every other nation was just looking for an excuse to pick sides.
As the days started turning into weeks and weeks into months, she spent her time either trying to convince the emperor to agree on anything, or spending time with James.
James was a difficult topic for Elsa. On the one hand, Elsa didn’t want to give James anymore stress. He acted like he was in control, strong enough to be helpful. But somehow Elsa knew he was confused and frustrated that he couldn’t remember who he was besides his name. But on the other hand, he was so easy to talk to that she couldn’t help but get close to him. She even tried to teach him a few tricks with her magic, but all he could do was move the snow around, not make any.
Every so often, when the group conversations died down, everyone would get quiet and gaze off; not paying any attention, just relaxing. Elsa would catch herself just staring at James as he looked off into space. She just couldn’t get over the oddness of his green eyes and his blonde hair, which she had only seen a few times before and hadn’t particularly liked. But for some reason, Elsa thought James pulled it off amazingly.
Elsa was pretty sure she would stare at him for minutes at a time. Then she would catch herself, what are you doing Elsa? What if he sees you and thinks you’re weird?! She would scold herself. And to make it worse, Anna saw her a few times, she didn’t do anything though, just smile and look away.
Elsa was thinking about the last time when that happened, when the emperor finally suggested an idea. It was the third meeting of the month, and Elsa had been getting irritated with him.
“Elsa, it has been quite a while since we started these discussions,” He said, “And now I think I’ve finally thought of a solution”
Elsa leaned forward attentively. She was decently excited to hear anything that he wouldn’t immediately shoot down.
“Given the circumstances, there is only one thing that will work to protect your kingdom,” he said. The emperor got down on one knee, and Elsa’s heart froze over. “To protect your kingdom, you will have to be my bride.”
Elsa had no clue what to do. And her body didn’t seem to respond to anything. So he took her stunned face as acceptance, he took one of the many rings off his chubby finger and jammed it onto her finger. He ignored the fact that she still wasn’t comfortable with physical contact, pulled her up, out of the room, down the hall, and right into the library. This was where everyone, including James, was gathered around with mugs of hot chocolate and some interesting books.
Elsa’s heart almost shattered when she saw the confused look on James’ face when he saw them. The emperor was giving the announcement, that she and he would be married. But she wasn’t paying attention to him, or anything he was already planning for both of them. She couldn’t see past James’ sad green eyes, and how they seemed to grow darker. The confidence and cheerfulness that he had seemed to radiate during their time together seemed to melt and fade away.
The emperor left, probably making arrangements that wouldn’t be discussed. Elsa sat down on a comfortable chair, trying to understand what had just happened. It’s not like there was anything between you two. She reasoned with herself, but of course she just had to argue, but there could have been!
She hung her head, avoiding everyone’s gazes. She was too conflicted to even cry. It was as if her body just locked itself up, forcing her feelings down the way she had for thirteen years.
She felt a small hand on her left shoulder, Anna was trying to comfort her, but all Elsa wanted to do was pull away and hide in her room. She had been trying to resist those urges since the accident but she was about to get up and go to her room, but then a hand rested on her other shoulder. It was bigger and firmer than Anna’s, and where it touched her skin a warm feeling went into her arm and warmed up her bones. It was as if a cold that she had never been aware of had suddenly been removed by a simple touch.
If Kristoff could do this just by a single touch, Elsa could totally understand why Anna liked him so much. She looked up, only to see Kristoff sitting in the chair across from her, that made more sense; he was never quite comfortable with touching Elsa, she was pretty sure that he was afraid of her, which made her sad. But whose hand was on her shoulder?
She looked up and was even more surprised than she was when the Emperor forced a marriage on her. There was James, blonde hair playfully messed up and green eyes full of concern. There he was, consoling her in whatever way he could.
“Elsa, are you okay?” Anna asked.
“I….I don’t know. This is what I’m supposed to do; I’m supposed to find a king to marry so the kingdom is protected. But, I just can’t see myself and him together.” Elsa replied. She got up, gently pushing off the hands on her shoulders, and started to pace around the room.
“There’s got to be a way out of this, I just can’t think of anything.”
“If there is, should we try?” Elsa asked, “With the Emperor here, maybe the Southern Isles and Weseltown won’t attack us.”
“Are you kidding?” James cut it, “both of them are attacking because they want power and money. The emperor being here just makes it a more profitable place to take. If anything, they’ll probably attack sooner.”
“So, what are we supposed to do then?” Kristoff asked. Nobody spoke up. Elsa knew there was no way she was getting out of this marriage, and there was no obvious way to avoid an attack.
“What if we tried appeasing them? Trading with them?” Anna suggested.
“It’s not about trade anymore, they’d still attack.” James said, sipping his hot chocolate, trying to be calm and collected. “The only thing left to do is to either move the entire town, or get ready for a fight, a big fight.”
“We don’t have and army, just the guards. And you saw how well they handled a small attack group.” Elsa said.
An advisor walked in at this point. “Your majesties, the Emperor has requested that you two join him for dinner, immediately.”
“Tell him we’ll be there in a minute.” Elsa said, she turned towards the boys, “We’ll continue this later, just carry on.” And with that Elsa and Anna left the two boys in the library.