Author's Note:Author's Note: I. Am. SO SORRY THIS TOOK SO LONG. GOSH. Ugh, I'm sorry, I've been so bogged by real life or just flat out distracted. If it makes any of you feel any better, Birger hasn't given me a moments peace since he was created, so... Anyways, here's the next chapter! This whopper's a lot larger than the others. See another Author's Note at the bottom for more of me rambling, hehehe. BTW, PLEASE DON'T BE AFRAID TO REVIEW. I don't bite, I swear! I just want to know what you think of my writing, if I need to improve, or just say "Omg! I luv this!" even that'll do! Just saying something and I'll be happy! Fact: Author's with feedback write more/better than those without.
Frost Dragons are not patient beings. Neither are Annas, for that matter. So when three days passed before Anna was free, both girl and beast were chomping at the bit. Course, Birger was grounded, his wounds not yet mended enough to allow for safe self-locomotion.
Anna, on the other hand, was merely forced to wait till she had free time. But come to find out her—and Elsa, actually—had forgotten about an upcoming ball. So time the princess would've preferred spending with the dragon in the mountains was instead spent brushing up on dances with Kristoff and taking stock of dresses for her to wear (Anna decided to discharge Kristoff of assisting her with this, figuring that nearly freezing to death earned him a reprieve).
"Why can't I skip this one?" Anna asked Elsa as they sat in the queen's study, said queen finishing up a small pile of papers. It was the day of the nigh on forgotten ball. Once Elsa was done, the two sisters were to prepare for the ball scheduled for that night. It was a business ball, thus only dignitaries were invited, and it wasn't open to the public.
"Because, Anna..." Elsa began, scribbling something down real quick on a letter before setting it aside and continuing, "This ball is important, and we both need to be there. There's business to be discussed, and it would look better to some countries if you were present as well."
"Trade, huh...?" Anna drawled, laying stretched across the sofa as usual. "Mmm...is that why you excused Kristoff from having to attend?"
"That is exactly why, yes." Elsa nodded, though hints of a smirk rose as she said, "Though I must say, he looked awfully relieved, and nigh on jubilant I'd say, when I informed him."
Anna giggled, "Well, the jubilance may have been cause I also let him off helping me pick a dress."
Anna heard Elsa give a small chuckle, and smirked in triumph. "Well then," the queen began, "That explains why he looked ready to jump in the air and click his heels."
She tried. Anna tried very hard not to imagine that. But the image came to mind regardless. Anna bust out laughing, and nearly fell off of the couch with the severity of her mirth. Elsa merely grinned, having the willpower not to imagine it, but still enjoying hearing Anna laugh. It was quite a nice thing to hear.
Elsa finally finished with the present batch of paperwork by the time Anna had giggled to a stop. The eldest had to help her younger up, though, as she was still weak from over exuberant laughing. On their way back to the residency wing, they pass a window with a clear view of the mountains. Out of the corner of her eye, Anna notices Elsa glance out the window and stare for a while, all without breaking stride. Once they'd passed the window, Elsa sighed lightly through her nose as she returned her gaze to before her.
There's only one thing she'd be looking at the mountains for right now...
Anna bit her lip before she said anything, "Do uh...well, um, I..." A tucked hair and a cleared throat. "...I assume you know why I was hoping to skip this ball?"
Another muffled sigh, and Anna catches Elsa rubbing her heart again, but differently this time.
"Yes Anna...I know."
The ball began a few hours later, and it itself wasn't so bad starting off. Sure, Anna had gone into it determined to not enjoy herself. But, even though the ball was mostly for business, the perky princess just could not help herself. She accepted many an offer to dance from handsome young nobles, all the while thinking about Kristoff (if the dance offered time for thoughts). While many were much better dancers than the inexperienced Bjorgman, the men normally failed horribly beyond.
Of course, there were a few gems, but most tried flirting despite the knowledge of Kristoff's courtship with her.
There was one particular prince she did like, though. As their dance coasted to a stop, and they bowed to one another, Anna looked at him with a bright smile. "Thank you for that nice dance, um...what was your name, again?" She gave a small shrug, "And here I'm usually so good with names."
The young Frenchman chuckled, and Anna could've sworn she saw a twinkle in his eyes. Must be my imagination. He placed a hand over his heart and nodded, "It's quite alright, madam. My name is Nicholas, of Lille."
Anna was secretly taking amusement from his accent. She always loved how merely living somewhere else made your voice sound different. Hmm...wonder what Birger's voice sounds like...
Anna looked up, "Mmm? Oh, oh sorry! I just," She shook her head a little and chuckled nervously, tucking stray hairs behind her ear. "I'm sorry, just got a little lost in thought, I guess, hehe." Anna smiled sheepishly, ducking her head.
She heard Nicholas chuckle gently, though. "It is quite all right, madam. I see the men I wished to speak are available, I should be off."
Anna giggled, still a little meekly, and nodding, adding a curtsy for good measure. "That uh, that sounds good, okay. Thank you again for the wonderful dance, Nicholas."
A low bow, a charming smile upon the rise, and a curt nod. "It was my pleasure, madam. Tell your beau he is the luckiest man in all the land."
As Nicholas strolled off to where, indeed, some noblemen were conversing, Anna frowned. Tell your beau...what's a beau...? Why would he be the luckiest man in—OOH! Anna could not help but blush as she realized what the young nobleman had meant. Though as she thought about her beau, the reasons for the blush changed. When someone bumped into her, Anna rushed to apologize (it probably not coming out right) and scurried off the dance floor.
In her hurry, Anna accidentally bumped into someone, nearly sending both of them to the floor. "Oh! Oh, I am—I'm so sorry!" She stammered her apology out as she and the victim (in her mind) righted themselves. "I-I wasn't looking where I was going, I was in a rush and...I am so sorry, are you all right?"
The man she'd bumped into straightened and looked down at her. Mostly because he was so much taller. As Anna got a good look at him, she thought the man was taller than Kristoff. He was just as wide, too. But when Anna met his gaze, she fought to keep from shuddering. The man's eyes were grey and dark, with a pitch-black mane outlining his face, scruffy bangs hanging over his eyes. A nicely trimmed, but still pretty rugged beard hugged his squared jaw and lip. His clothing was as dark as his hair.
Overall, he had a pretty intimidating visage—one which surely startled Anna.
Somehow, his smile only worsened it. "It is no trouble at all, young lady." Despite the man's well-practiced effort at disguising his accent, Anna could easily pick it up, her own practice helping not the deep Russian accent stubbornly adhering to his voice.
He reached forward and dusted Anna off, probably to be courteous. Anna was far from flattered, and fought off another shudder. She continued this fight when he left his hands on her shoulders.
"Are you alright, girl? I am quite the rock for you to have hit, after all."
Anna made for a smile and chuckled. "Hehe, yeah, you surely are, but I am fine, really. I've ran into bigger, actually, so I barely felt it!"
The Russian man smiled again, and despite an expert show of warmth, Anna knew none of it was sincere. "That is very good to hear, coming from one who is used to being struck by girls as dainty as you. They don't come out quite as unscathed, however."
He removed his hands from her shoulders and bowed. "I need be off now, milady. Business to attend to, I am sure you know, mmm?"
Anna fought to keep a smile and nodded, "Yeah, I do, good luck to you!"
The man lifted one of her hands and lightly kissed it. His beard was coarse and uncomfortable on her skin, and while she fought yet again to keep from shaking, she also prayed this man did not have a lady of his own. Anna then watched as he promenaded off, his fierce gait adding more trepidation to her already offset mood.
Great, there went my good mood. God, he was scary...I pity whoever he's doing business with.
Meanwhile, Elsa had been dealing with different far-off visitors to their busy ball. While Anna got a nice, simple Frenchman, Elsa got hard-faced noble after another; all from multiple countries or kingdoms. The men clashed in a multitude of ways: from dress, to country, to accent, to—and worst of all—a clash of demands. Luckily, though not for her sanity, Elsa managed to keep her regal mask and queenly air in one piece.
Though it felt an eternity later, the stream of trade and business finally ebbed to the point of a break for the queen.
Elsa closed her eyes and sighed, her royal posture slipping only fractionally. She kneaded her temple with one hand to abate a headache, and raised the other. This was a sign for the nearby guards to fend off further attempts at discussions, to which they dutifully and solemnly attended.
Industry be damned, times like these...I am far from the proper mood, were I ever truly in it.
The world around Elsa did not care about her mood, though. For as she stood stock still, messaging her temples with her hands, her intermission was disturbed by the sounds of argument. Letting out a mournful sigh for her break, Elsa peered through her lashes at the party, searching for the source of the commotion. Before long, she spotted a young, dark-haired Frenchman and another young man—Italian but equally as dashing as the former—squaring off.
The crowd around them was gradually giving them space. They stared, pointed it out to others, all the while muttering. Evidently, a first blow had already been dealt, as the brown-haired Italian had an angry bruise growing on his cheek. The bared-teeth scowl didn't help to improve his ravaged visage, either. The Frenchman, however, held a straight face, and was as-of-yet unmarred.
Fully opening her eyes, Elsa focused on the encounter and listened closely.
"You bastard!" She heard the Italian mutter not-so-quietly (she was half across the room, after all). "What the hell was that for?!"
The Frenchman maintained his composure as he replied. "I was merely defending the lady's honor, sir. Yours is quite abominable; I did not want you bringing hers to the same level."
As he gestured towards the lady behind him, of whom he spoke, Elsa's eyes widened fractionally as she noticed it was none other than Anna. Her sister was standing directly behind the Frenchman, biting her lips as she held her hands to her chest. Anna's eyes kept going back and forth between the men at odds.
Elsa's eyes narrowed dangerously.
"Defending the lady's honor"...Anna's honor.
Without a second thought, Elsa descended from the dais she'd been on, and purposefully strode towards the encounter. The temperature surrounding her fell; and once partygoers felt it, they immediately gave her space, thus giving Elsa a clear shot to the scuffle. She came up behind the angry Italian, he too busy wallowing in his fury to feel the air around him grow cold.
Anna and the Frenchman defending her noticed, and their reactions amused Elsa greatly. While the young man merely widened his eyes, and looked the slightest bit afraid, Anna was quite the opposite. Beholding her elder sister's icy mask, and knowing full well what she was thinking, Anna pursed her lips and held a hand to her mouth, trying to keep from laughing. Once she'd succeeded in holding back her mirth, she got a smug smile, and whispered into the Frenchman's ear. Elsa couldn't hear what she said, but could see the young man's relief and following smile.
Not knowing the reason why, the Italian man growled at Anna and the Frenchman's reactions. "What're you imbecilli looking at?!"
"Those 'idiots' would be looking at me."
The Italian swung around, glare strong as he looked her up and down. Elsa's amusement grew as horror began to overtake the young man's expression. He made for a hasty bow, "Y-you're M-m-majesty! I, um, what're you doing here?"
The queen raised an eyebrow, "I live here. Better for me to ask what you are doing here. From what I can gather, you have offended a poor girl and been punished appropriately. Am I wrong?"
The young man floundered for a bit, looking back and forth between Elsa and the Frenchman, horror and anger waging war on his expression. "I, well, th-this," He paused, eyeing the people watching them before continuing. "...man, interrupted me. I was only flirting with the lady, I swear."
Elsa's expression did not change beyond a miniscule narrowing of her eyes—a motion lost on the Italian. "What is your name, young man?"
"Mmm, thank you, Adalberto." The queen transferred her gaze to Anna and the Frenchman, and gestured them to come closer. They complied, and once they'd approached, Elsa gave the Frenchman the same question.
A pleasant smile on his face that went unhindered by Adalberto's glare, the man answered. "My name is Nicholas, your majesty."
Elsa returned the smile, nodding her thanks before looking back at Adalberto, her mask returning. The look's return made the Italian balk. "So, Nicholas, is it true you interrupted Adalberto's attempt at flirting with this charming young lady?"
Anna stifled a giggle, and though it dimmed, Nicholas' smile remained. "To an extent, your majesty, yes. I did indeed interrupt attempts at flirtation with this sweet lady." Nicholas paused, his smile fading as he continued, "But, the flirtations were not wholesome. I overheard the lady reject Adalberto, and he ignored her reasoning, forcing himself upon her. When he showed further signs of unrelenting, I felt obligated to assist in her defense."
The queen let out an "Hmm" before meeting gazes with her sister. "Are Nicholas' words true," A smirk, "miss?"
Anna returned her smirk, "Very much so, mmm, majesty." She curtsied, the smirk still strong as she rose. "As for 'poor' Adalberto's bruise, that was only due to his..."
The self-conscious pause brought Elsa's protectiveness to attention, and her own smirk faded. Nicholas came to Anna's rescue, though. "The lady had been insulted, as Adalberto here proceeded to insult and demean her. That, your majesty, is why I struck. I was merely preserving her honor."
Adalberto sneered, and forgot for a moment about Elsa's presence. "What 'honor' does one have when they are courting a lowly Ice Harvester who's more reindeer than man?"
Everyone—Anna, Nicholas, and the crowd—gasped or gaped in shock at Adalberto's bold insult. When the temperature took a severe dip, the crowd swiftly backed away. Even Nicholas retreated a step, though Anna held firm.
Adalberto attempted to move, but a cold hand on his shoulder sent him stock still. If the menace of the gesture wasn't enough, the fact he could feel the iciness of the queen's hand through the layers of his clothing surely did.
"Sir Adalberto...while all are entitled to their opinions, I must say, yours towards my sister's courtier is truly abysmal."
Adalberto's horror was grand and obvious at the queen's words. A ginger-haired princess courting an Ice Harvester...oh gods, how could he have not realized?! He stared at Anna, horror still evident, as he continued his stillness. She crossed her arms and returned his gaze, her expression smug to be sure. Anna raised an eyebrow, an unspoken reply Elsa easily read: Yes Adalberto, princess of Arendelle, and sister to the queen. Regretting our mean words now, aren't we, stupid-head?
Oh, how Elsa loved her sister.
A smug look of her own growing, the queen patted Adalberto's shoulder as she spoke. "You are dismissed from the event, Adalberto. I shall be expecting your written apology to Anna upon your return to Italy, mmm?"
Adalberto nodded vigorously. "Y-y-yes, your majesty! I shall gather paper and pen the moment I arrive! Th-thank you f-f-for your generosity!"
Watching his coattails flee her ballroom was one of the best thing Elsa had seen yet. As the crowd dispersed, many smiling from the show, Elsa looked over at Anna, a small, slightly-concerned frown on her face, and a raised eyebrow. A question: Are you alright? While the smile was contained, the twinkle in Anna's eyes betrayed her immense gratitude.
A cleared throat from Nicholas caught Elsa's attention, and she turned to face him. He had a small smile on his face as he bowed upon her turn. "Your majesty, I would like to express my thanks for your assist. While I am sure the situation was within my grasp, I know better than to turn down assistance." He looked up from his bow, flashing a debonair smile, "Especially from one such as you, milady Snow Queen."
While still bearing a pleasant expression, Elsa raised an eyebrow. "I guess I shouldn't be surprised the word has gotten to France and beyond."
Nicholas chuckled as he rose. "Indeed, though it helps France and other countries had dignitaries here during the, shall we say...event? Though I assure you, he never said a word."
Elsa nodded, "I believe he didn't. But word is as easy to spread as fire."
Nicholas chuckled again, "Indeed, your majesty. Now, if you marvelous ladies shall excuse me." Elsa and Anna both nodded, the latter throwing out a quick thanks before Nicholas' departure—a thanks he modestly accepted.
After he walked off, seemingly to partake in other conversations, Elsa let out a sigh and lightly massaged her temple.
"Are...you tired?" Came Anna's meek inquiry.
"Somewhat," Elsa replied with a small grin. "Though I think it is more of a mental exhaustion than a physical one."
"Ah, well, I guess that's not weird then. Ya know, you being queen and all, hehe."
Elsa nodded, "Quite."
An awkward silence began to stretch between the two sisters. Despite it being a good few months since the Great Thaw, they hadn't spent nearly as much time together as they had wanted. Elsa had been far too held up by repairing or forming bonds with other countries. Sure some countries she didn't bother with, but most needed reassurances as to Arendelle's potential.
Anna had spent her time repairing different bonds: theirs with the townspeople. Of course, there was also the...'bond' with Kristoff she was exploring too. Still, the times the sisters managed to scrounge to spend time together were too few for their wishes.
The estranged silence continued till a guard tentatively approached them. "Erm, majesty? Pardon me if I am intruding."
Elsa dismissed his inhibitions with a wave. "It's quite alright, yes?"
The guard took a calming breath and continued, "Majesty, according to our schedule the party is about over. Shall I give the order to begin the closing of the ball?"
The queen looked up at a window, and noted the long-since darkened sky. The ball had gone by fast once the business talks had ended. Elsa sighed discretely and suppressed a relieved smile. Anna made no such attempts, her sigh was so great, she slumped from it. The queen eyed her before turning back to the guard.
"Yes, I believe it is late enough to warrant the party's end. You may dismiss the party."
With a nod and a bow, the guard left to start the dismissing with his comrades. Elsa started walking back to the dais from which she'd spoken with people earlier, but Anna was following her. "The party is over, Anna, why are you following me?"
Anna merely skipped after her and said, "I was kind of hoping to talk to you about, you know, our new friend from afar?"
The queen sighed as they came to a stop on the dais. Once she was sure there wasn't anyone close enough to hear, Elsa side-eyed her sister and spoke softly. "Wouldn't it be wiser to speak elsewhere? Maybe in one of our rooms where we have actual privacy? Why bring him up now, here?"
Anna biting her lip before she ducked her head and kicked at the floor. "Well, I, um..." She paused and looked out at the still-emptying ballroom. Elsa followed her gaze to spot a menacing Russian man eye the guards before departing. The queen's eyes narrowed, in both caution and confusion, the latter remaining as she looked back at Anna.
"Who was that man, do you know him?"
Anna shook her head. She was still watching him, her previously worried demeanor switched out with a wary one. "Nuh-uh, but I ran into him...uh, kind of, literally, when I'd finished a dance. He didn't really do or say anything wrong, but...I don't know, I just don't like him."
Anna bit her lip and tucked a hair away. "Is that bad?"
Elsa looked back at where the man had disappeared, a guarded mask on her face. The man had already left, but even without a proper meeting, he'd left an impression on the queen. A shadow stalking the grounds is the last thing I need.
"You worry he might be a danger to Arendelle...and possibly to," A rub over her heart, "...to him."
Anna looked over to her sister, and before long, Elsa met her gaze. They held it for a while; an unspoken exchange passing smoothly, as if in defiance to the previous awkward silence.
"Dawn." The sisters whispered in unison.
Author's Note: Dun dun dun! What have we here? A seemingly dangerous Russian man visiting their ball? Hehehehe, oh hello Afanasay, what're the odds of meeting you here? Well, regardless of our dear Russian's plans, I feel I should explain the sudden inflation in word count. See, I've felt inadvertantly challenged to increase my chapters' lengths by two realiations: 1) One of my favorite Frozen Authors is writing this Frozen Fiction that, I swear, is a book it's so awesomely huge, and yeah, it's practically daring me. 2) When I first wrote a drabble (see Frozen Depictions), I was greatly disturbed to realize some of my chapters were the size of one shots, and I'm not sorry, but I can't let that stand. Nor shall I. ...but in my defense, it'll give you guys more content, so who cares!? hehehe
Wait a minute...I don't think I made any references in this chapter beyond the "dun dun dun" just then. How odd...WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME!? Unless of course you guys find something unintentional. Go ahead! EASTER EGG HUNT!