Right Hand of The Queen
Elsa woke to the sound of someone moving about her chambers. She slowly opened her eyes to find Gerda replacing an untouched breakfast tray with some fruit and cheese.
"Ah Majesty, it is good to see you up," the older woman said when she noticed Elsa watching her.
"Gerda how many times must I ask you to call me Elsa when we are alone?" she said, voice still a bit hoarse.
"Forgive me Miss Elsa, sometimes this old mind forgets," she replied placing the unused tray on a nearby trolley.
Elsa flashed her a grateful smile and made to sit up. The movement caused her to press the heel of her hand against her forehead. Although not nearly as painful as last night, the pressure behind her eyes was still present.
"Drink this dear, it will help," Gerda said handing the queen a steaming cup of what appeared to be some sort of foul smelling, green liquid. Normally Elsa was opposed to drinking strange concoctions she had never seen before, but she trusted Gerda and knew the woman had a knack for unearthing odd remedies.
Hesitantly, Elsa brought the drink to her lips and shuddered at the bitter taste, recognizing it as the same tea Anna had given her earlier.
The handmaid laughed at the blonde's expression. "I know the taste can be off-putting but it really does wonders."
"Hmm, 'off-putting' is not the term I would use, but yes it does seem to get the job done," she said choking down another mouthful. "What is it?"
"Willow bark tea," Gerda replied as she began folding the mountain of blankets that had been kicked off the bed periodically during the night when Anna inevitably became too hot. "My mother taught me the recipe when I was a girl."
They sat in a comfortable silence for a few moments, Elsa drinking her tea and Gerda expertly folding each blanket into a perfect square.
"How does your head feel?" the older woman asked.
"Better," said Elsa with a contented sigh and putting the empty cup down.
Gerda suddenly became very serious. "Good, because I really need you to focus on what I am about to say," she said, stopping what she was doing and placing her gloved hands firmly on her hips. "Elsa you give me another scare like the one you gave me last night and I swear by all the saints and angels you will never see another sliver of chocolate enter this castle again. Royal title be damned."
Elsa's eyebrows shot up into her hairline. There were very few times she'd seen Gerda become stern, and even fewer times she'd been scolded by her. The queen knew that the threat was an empty one but she could see the genuine concern reflected in the older woman's eyes. She felt a pang of guilt; Elsa knew it couldn't have been easy for Gerda to hear the young queen's latest episode.
"I promise Gerda," she replied with a small smile.
"Good because between you and Princess Anna," she sighed and shook her head. "I honestly believe you two are trying to give me a heart attack."
Elsa chuckled softly at Gerda's words and slid her legs off the side of the bed. "Speaking of Anna, where has my sister wandered off to?" she asked gesturing to the empty bed and attempting to stand on shaky legs. It seemed that despite her head being clearer then is had been for weeks, her body was still in recovery. Her limbs felt like lead and jelly all at once, making every movement a tad… unsteady.
"She is in her study dear," Gerda said offering her arm to the queen in order to help guide Elsa to the seat of her vanity.
"She's where?" Elsa asked looking at the older woman incredulously.
"Her study," she answered as if it were perfectly normal for the princess to be spending time in a room that did not exist.
Seeing the confusion on Elsa's face, Gerda decided to stop her teasing. "Princess Anna had one of the unused rooms, - the one next door to your own study in fact - turned into a private workspace. Seems after yesterday's incident she is quite adamant on lightening your workload."
"She did?" Elsa said absolutely dumbfounded as she watched Gerda's reflection begin to comb out her long platinum waves through her looking glass.
"Oh yes, our little Anna's been quite the busy bee. She's already made arrangements to have new furniture brought in to replace what was destroyed, headed a meeting with Kai regarding the necessity of increasing staff, and has even begun delegating tasks to the current staff in order to prepare the palace for the celebration."
Elsa turned her head to look at the older woman in complete shock. "Anna? Princess Anna? My sister? That Anna?" She just couldn't wrap her mind around it. Gerda must be mistaken; the Anna she knew did not delegate and most certainly did not hold meetings.
Gerda's smile only grew that much wider. "Yes Miss Elsa, I must say we were all pleasantly surprised at the sudden change in our princess," she replied, eyes shining with pride.
"And she did all of that today?" Then a thought struck her. "What time is it?" she asked, fearing the response.
"Almost noon Miss," Gerda answered.
My goodness I've almost slept the whole day away. Oh well, I suppose it could have been worse. Wait. Anna got all of that work done before midday?
Elsa was impressed; it seemed she had underestimated her sister. They had been apart for so long the queen often forgot that Anna wasn't a little girl anymore, but a woman grown.
"Gerda would you help me dress today? I'm not sure I'll be able to manage on my own," Elsa said as she rose from her seat, leaning heavily against her vanity.
"Of course dear."
Kristoff thought he had never seen anything so endearing in his life as he watched Anna from his seat. Her fingers were covered in black ink and she was hunched so close to a rather large piece of parchment that Kristoff wondered if her nose was covered in the same dark smudges. Her eyebrows were knit together in concentration and she had her tongue clenched firmly between her teeth as she worked, Anna was clearly a force to be reckoned with.
"Careful feisty-pants you might bite your tongue right off," Kristoff chuckled as he watched the girl frantically scribbling incoherent notes. "Ssshen hew thwoud havs to talkss slike sthis."
"Quiet you," she said not looking up. "Don't make me have the guards remove you from my royal presence," she added with the smallest hint of a smirk.
"My apologies your royal Highness. Please find it in your heart to forgive this lowly ice harvester, he often forgets his place," Kristoff responded, standing up and bowing low before her.
Finally pulling herself away from her writing and putting down her quill, Anna looked over at her goofball of a friend. "I suppose I could let it slide. Just don't let it happen again," she giggled. "Now what was it you needed to talk to me about?"
Kristoff then remembered what it was he had come here for, that is before he had been completely distracted by the overwhelming adorableness that was Anna. "Oh right. I'm going away for a bit," he said straightening up from his awkward bow.
Anna quickly rose from her seat and her face fell. "What? Why? Where are going? You said you were going to be here, I even put you on the guest list for the ball," she said, voice rising in pitch ever so slightly. Hurt that her friend didn't want to be a part of her celebration.
Seeing how upset the girl was becoming Kristoff quickly moved forward and took her small hands in his own. "No, no Anna. I am only leaving for a few days. I just have something to take care of back at my place." It wasn't exactly a lie but it wasn't the whole truth either. "I'll be back in time for the celebration, don't worry," he assured tucking a loose strand of copper hair back behind her ear.
The gentle touch sent a shiver down the girl's spine and soothed her almost instantly.
"Oh, okay," she said brightly, mood immediately shifting. "Wait, you have a house?" she asked incredulously.
Kristoff laughed. "Not exactly a house, more like a shack. Where did you think I lived?"
"I don't know, I guess I just always pictured you sleeping in an igloo or something," she replied with a shrug.
"You're ridiculous," he said, gazing at her affectionately.
"Says the guy who talks to and for his reindeer," she countered, a little breathlessly. The way he was looking at her was making it increasingly difficult to breath properly.
They became quiet for a few moments, holding hands and gazing at one another. Neither sure of how or if they should proceed. Eventually it was Kristoff who broke the reverie, clearing his throat.
"I better get going," he said lifting one of her hands brushing his lips against her knuckles. "I'll see you tomorrow."
"Y-yeah… tomorrow," Anna said, her breath hitching in her throat at the contact. His kiss had left her hand tingling and awoke butterflies in her stomach. "Bye."
"Bye," Kristoff said with a smile before turning to leave.
As Anna watched him go she cradled her hand to her chest, feeling a goofy grin spreading across her face. Sighing dreamily, the princess returned to her desk to resume her work.
Maybe I should have taken Gerda up on that offer to walk me down to see Anna. Elsa thought to herself as she very slowly made her way down the hallway, one hand firmly gripping the walking stick she'd fashioned out of ice in order to support her weight.
The sound of heavy footsteps caused Elsa to look up just as Kristoff rounded the corner.
"Good afternoon Kristoff," she greeted with a smile.
"Hello Queen Elsa, how are you feeling?" he asked, glancing at the cane with a small frown.
Elsa resisted the urge to roll her eyes at his refusal to simply call her by her birth name. Even though she had insisted it was alright as long as they weren't out in public, he just didn't yet seem comfortable with the idea.
"Much better thank you. Just a little sore is all," she said. "I'm surprised you're still here actually, I thought you would left already."
"Oh, I was just heading out. I... uh… wanted to say goodbye to Anna first," he explained, running a hand through his hair.
The Queen felt a knowing smirk tugging at her lips. She would need to have a private conversation with the both of them regarding their budding relationship. Anna was still royalty after all and unfortunately that meant rules, and politics, and reputations to maintain.
"Of course. Thank you again for offering to do this for me Kristoff. Are you absolutely sure you don't wish me to ask someone else? I'm sure I could find someone to- "
"It's fine Majesty, honest. It gives me an excuse to check up on my cabin anyway," he assured. "I'll be back in two days at the latest. Hopefully, I'll be able to get it here without Anna seeing," he added, grinning.
"Yes that will be a challenge won't it?" she agreed.
Before she bid him farewell, Elsa asked the man to bring Olaf along with him, as the little snowman seemed bored being cooped up in the castle. He happily agreed - it seemed the snowman had bonded quite strongly to Sven - and she wished him a safe trip. Once he had disappeared from her sight the Queen returned to her task of reaching Anna's study before nightfall.
When she finally did make it to the room, she found her sister muttering over an array of formal documents as well as what appeared to be drawings of different types of sleds. Elsa stood in the doorway for a time catching her breath, content just to watch the girl work.
Elsa finally piped up when her legs began to tremble beneath her. "How are the celebration plans coming along princess?"
The red-haired girl lit up the second she saw her sister. "Elsa you're awake!" Her expression quickly morphed to that of concern when she caught sight of the walking stick. "Hey, should you even be out of bed?" she asked rushing to Elsa's side, taking her by the arm and leading her to a nearby lounge chair.
"The physician has assured me I will be fine as long as I stick to light work for today. Don't worry, I'm sure I'll be back to my old self by tomorrow," she said setting the walking stick aside and settling back into the soft cushions.
Anna however, did not look pleased by this answer. "Elsa you promised me you would take the day off. You're not seriously going back to work already, you can barely walk," she said.
"Anna," Elsa sighed. "You know as well as I that as queen I simply don't get the luxury of taking a day off, or at least not yet. My hold on the crown is still weak at best, and although most of our subjects seem to remember their love for our parents, those men at court are just waiting for an excuse to have me removed. I honestly believe the only reason they haven't done it already is because they are too afraid I might freeze them all if they tried," she chuckled darkly and flexing her hands unconsciously. "If they knew I was vulnerable, those vultures wouldn't hesitate to…" She paused and looked up at Anna, her face set in grim determination. "I won't give them the satisfaction."
Anna didn't know what to say. She knew Elsa wasn't getting along with the noblemen that made up her council but she hadn't realized it was this bad - no wonder she was so wound up yesterday. But how could they want to overthrow Elsa, couldn't they see how hard she was working? She was so good at it too, Elsa was born to rule, of that Anna was certain.
"Oh Elsa I'm sure that's not true. You're a great queen! Besides it not like they can just replace you with someone else, papa named you his heir" she said sitting down next to her sister.
"They may not have the power to remove me themselves but they could torment me until I stepped down. Evidently they are hoping I will hand the throne over to you," she said watching carefully for her sister's reaction. It wasn't what she expected.
The princess burst out laughing; so hard in fact that tears began to pour down her cheeks.
"I'm glad you find this so amusing," Elsa deadpanned.
"I'm sorry, but honesty Elsa you have to admit it's funny. Me, as queen? Are they insane? I'd have Arendelle in ruins by the end of the week." She wiped the tears from her eyes. "Although, I suppose it makes sense; you will actually know how to take command and I would just be the dim witted girl with no icy powers to scare them with," she laughed. "I guess they finally found a use for the spare after all."
Despite the summer heat the air turned cold as Elsa's body went ridged and her expression turned dark. "Who called you that," she asked her voice low and dangerous.
"Well no one really, at least not directly. But I hear things and I'm not stupid Elsa, it's just the way things are. You're the heir and I'm the- "
"Don't," Elsa said holding up a hand. She couldn't take it anymore and started pacing around the room, ignoring the protests her body screamed at her. The queen was absolutely beside herself with fury at anyone and everyone who had put these absurd thoughts in her sister's head. It was a good thing Elsa had regained full control of her powers; otherwise there would be a lot more than just a small dip in temperature
Anna watched the blonde in stunned silence. Why was Elsa so upset, it wasn't that big of a deal, she had made her peace with it a long time ago.
"Anna how can you still think so little of yourself, after everything you've done for Arendelle? For me?"
The princess was taken aback by the anguish in her sister's voice. "I- I don't- I just… " she trailed off, eyes sinking to the floor.
She felt the warmth return to the room and a weight settle down beside her on the seat.
"Anna please look at me," Elsa said gently. Waiting for the redhead to meet her eyes before continuing. "I don't want to ever hear you refer to yourself in that way again. You are your own person Anna, being a princess doesn't change that," she said taking her sister's hands in her own. "Yes, unless I have children you are next in line for the throne, but you are so much more than that."
Elsa smiled and brushed a strand of hair away from her sister's face. "Let's see… you're smart, brave, loving, beautiful… Kristoff can attest to that," she added with a wink. "You always wrote me such lovely poems for my birthdays, you're a superb dancer, and you're so good with people Anna, everyone loves you. I just wish you did," she finished softly.
Anna knew the queen had a point, the girl had always struggled with her self-worth, but it wasn't without reason. She'd grown up always being compared to Elsa; her older sister tended to be better than her at everything. Elsa was the artist, Elsa was the scholar, Elsa was expected to do great things. Even when the queen-to-be wasn't around, Anna's tutors wouldn't hesitate to remind her.
Concentrate, your sister didn't have this much trouble with French. Your sister plays piano and the harp, stop complaining! Watch Elsa, you see how she does it, now try again.
Over the years, living in her older sister's shadow had slowly chipped away at the redhead's self-esteem. However, she could handle the harsh criticism of her teachers; it was Elsa's indifference that affected the young princess most.
Sighing Anna rested her head on the blonde's shoulder. She still wasn't convinced, but she appreciated what Elsa was trying to do. "Alright, I'll try to stop being so hard on myself."
Elsa gave the girl's shoulder a gentle squeeze. "That's good to hear. I can't have my Right Hand questioning herself can I?"
Anna pulled back from the queen and looked up at her questioningly. "Your Right Hand? What are you talking about?"
"Well, ever since the incident with the Ambassador, I have been attempting to devise a way in which no one can question your authority. So Kai and I went looking through council positions that have yet to be filled; first we thought princess consort would be best but that title is only involved when there is a tie through marriage. We then somewhat happened upon Right Hand, it is an old position and hasn't been used since our great grandfather's reign, but it seemed to fit," Elsa explained.
"Aside from myself, you will be the highest ranking member of my council and after hearing how well you have been doing today, I think you would be perfect for the job. Of course we would have to discuss what duties you would take over, but that would mostly depend on how much you wanted to be involved," Elsa said, tapping her chin thoughtfully. "There may be a few things I'd need to teach you and bring up to speed on, but I'm sure it will be no problem as you seem to be quite the natural at it," Elsa said smiling. "You would become Princess Anna of Arendelle, heir to the throne and Right Hand of the Queen… that is, if you want to," she added quickly.
Anna just stared up at her blankly, dumbfounded that her sister would trust her with something like this. No one had ever shown this much faith in the princess – not even her parents – yet Elsa seemed completely convinced she could not only handle the responsibility, but do it well. She had been searching for Elsa's approval all her life, now she had it and more, it was enough to bring tears to her eyes.
Maybe I am more than just the spare…
Elsa's expression turned to that of confused panic. "Anna? What's wrong? Don't cry, please don't cry," she pleaded.
"You really think I'd be good at it?"
The question came out so softly that Elsa had to strain to hear it.
Immediately the queen relaxed and smiled down at the younger girl, taking her face in her hands. "I know you will be."
"What do you mean you were attacked by wolves!" cried a now distraught looking Elsa.
"Oops, did I not tell you that?" Anna said, laughing nervously.
Elsa sighed and sank back against the cushions of her bed, rubbing her temples. "I think I would have remembered something like that."
The two women had retired to Elsa's bedchamber early that evening at the insistence of both Anna and the royal physician, as both could see that Elsa needed rest. It had been an especially frustrating day for the young queen; although her mind was alert and focused, her body refused to obey her commands. She felt like an invalid.
Luckily for Elsa she'd only had one formal meeting with her small council scheduled that afternoon, but it had been a lengthy one. It had been difficult hiding her weakness from the critical gaze of the men who watched her every move, but with Anna's help she had managed it. The young queen was even able to make the short walk to her seat without the aid of her walking stick.
Her announcement of Anna as her Right Hand was received just as she had anticipated. The only members who did not look shocked or disapproving were Kai and surprisingly, the Arch Bishop who seemed to be rather pleased with the idea - he had always been close to the royal family. No one voiced their objection to the queen's decision however. Rumors of the woman's response to words spoken out against her sister had circulated quickly and no one was in any particular mood to test her further.
"Hey, you didn't tell me about those guys who tried to hurt you up on the mountain," Anna countered from her seat at the end of Elsa's bed. "I still can't believe the nerve of that Weasel guy! If I ever get a hold of him I'll- I'll just- grrrr," she said making some sort of animal imitation; bearing her teeth and curling her fingers to resemble claws. "You know?"
The topic of the attempted assassination at Elsa's ice palace had inevitably come up during the meeting and of course Anna had been furious, even the other council members had the decency to look mildly outraged. The princess had done a fairly good job of reining in her temper earlier but now that they were alone, she was free to voice her displeasure all she wanted.
Elsa giggled softly at her sister's antics. "Yes, I'm certain you would put him in his place. I'm just glad we actually came to an agreement on how to deal with him."
"Do you really think the Duke will eventually lower his prices so that Arendelle will resume trade with Weselton?" Anna asked absentmindedly playing with her Sven figurine.
"Lord Elrik," Arendelle's master of coin, "seemed to think so, but I'm not sure. On the one hand, the Duke is a very proud man and holds no love for me," she said, recalling their previous encounter and the way he looked at her. Like she were some sort of rabid animal that needed to be destroyed. "But on the other hand his province relies so heavily on our business that a complete severance would be a shattering blow… I suppose we will just have to wait and see."
"So, back to business," Elsa said sitting up and grabbing the stack of parchment sitting next to her on the bedside table. "Now that I know why we owe Kristoff a new sled, come help me pick one out," she said patting the space next to her.
"There were two that I really liked but I couldn't decide which one I liked best," Anna said, crawling up next to her sister and snuggling into her side.
After the Thaw it seemed as though Anna couldn't help but be as close to Elsa as physically possible. Whether it was linking arms while they walked together or lying as they were now; her head against Elsa's shoulder, one arm draped over the blonde's stomach as Elsa absentmindedly stroked her fingers through Anna's hair. The princess had to keep reminding herself that Elsa was here, that she was real. At first the girl worried it would be too much for Elsa, but so far her older sister seemed to crave the closeness they'd been denied for so long just as much as Anna did.
Elsa inspected the forms regarding the two sleds her sibling had indicted. "You have expensive taste when it comes to sleds," she remarked with laugh. "But I suppose it's the least we can do… after all he's done for us," she said tightening her hold on her sister ever so slightly. "I think I like this one, it has state-of-the-art rudders and a cup holder, very practical."
"Plus it comes with a matching harness for Sven," Anna added. "That settles it, that's the one. I'll ask Kai to send somebody to get one as soon as possible. I can't wait to see the look on his face," she said, giddy with the thought of how happy the new sled would make him.
"Oh, and speaking of Kristoff, do you want to tell him or shall I," Elsa asked leaning over to put the order forms away.
She had decided to appoint Kristoff as Arendelle's first ever Ice Master and Deliverer. He would be responsible for overseeing the sale and transport of her magical ice. It would give him a steady, well-paying job that would allow him to remain close to the royal family without causing any sort of scandal and served as a good stepping-stone to eventually allow Elsa to increase his status should he and Anna ever decide to marry.
"I'll tell him," Anna said stifling a yawn. "Oh and by the way, I owe him a new lute too," she said snuggling closer to her sister and closing her eyes.
Elsa grinned down at the girl and sighed. "Of course you do."