Skin Changer

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Anna took her time walking through the streets of Arendelle on her way to visit her best friend Kristoff, a royal guard trailing behind her at a respectful distance. There had been no point in staying in the castle, as Elsa would be meeting with advisors and local officials all day. Boring. Besides the last thing she needed were hours on end with nothing to do but stare at her sister. Blushing, Anna stopped at a stall that sold jewelry to distract herself from the memories of staring at the stunning beauty that was Queen Elsa.

"Princess Anna!" The boisterous stall owner put down the elaborate gold piece he was polishing. "Welcome to my humble stall, are you looking for anything in particular?"

Anna smiled. "No, just look-" A piece caught her eye. "Can I see that one please?" She pointed to a simple silver hair comb.

"That one Princess?" The short blonde man used long hook to grab the piece from the top row of the display. "I have much more beautiful pieces befitting your position." He said as he handed over the hair comb.

"No." A small smile graced her lips as she ran a finger of the three blue jewels embedded at the top. "Perfect. It matches Elsa's eyes."

The merchant did his best to suppress a smile. "You would know Princess. I will wrap this up for you. What is the occasion for the gift?" He was mentally going through the various boxes he had to wrap it in.

"Occasion?" Anna looked startled. "Oh. I guess I could... well, her birthday was last month. Solstice is still a few months away." She looked sadly at the perfect comb for her sister, the plan to give it to her tonight fizzling out.

"No reason is needed to give a gift to the one you love" he commented casually.

"Love?" Anna blushed. "I uh.. I don't love her." Her eyes widened as she realized what she said and panicked. "Wait, yes. She's my sister. Of-of course I love her. She's family. I love her. My sister. I love my sister. Family should-"

"Her Majesty will love anything you bestow upon her. I will wrap this." He turned quickly to hide his smile. Normally he would wrap such a simple comb in brown paper and tied with a string, but this one was special. Reaching under his table, the merchant pulled out a rosewood box. Inside was lined with blue velvet, outside a cherry wood inlay, each snowflake on the sides different and the large snowflake on top showed the true craftsmanship of its maker. This box belonged to a much more expensive piece, but considering what was going into the box, far less valuable than the simple silver hair comb with three blue sapphires. After tying a light blue ribbon around it, he turned back to the still blushing Princess.

Anna smiled widely at the box, it was perfect. After an argument over the price (the merchant wanted to give it to Anna but she insisted on paying for it), an agreement was made for a reasonable price, and the Princess and her guards were back on their way to Kristoffs. She never saw the grin the guards shared with the merchant as he scribbled some words down on a bit of paper before handing it to his errand boy.

Sitting at the table where he took his meals, Kristoff sipped a steaming hot coffee as he started to read the newest edition of his favorite paper. Sven was sleeping on the other side of the cabin, a rare day off in these last days of summer.

"Kristoff!" Anna bounced through the front door without knocking.

Startled, the blond man nearly choked on his coffee. It was luck that Sven woke up and immediately went to the bubbly red head for pettings and love, the distraction giving Kristoff the few seconds he needed to hide the paper in a nearby sack of carrots.

"Anna? I thought you were were going to accompany Elsa in her meetings today." The man walked over and gave his best friend a hug, leaning through the doorway to wave at the guards waiting down at the front gate. "I'll take her home guys!"

The two guards waved back with a nod, then turned around to head back to the castle. But not before stopping at The Snowflake Pub for the latest newspaper.

"I was going to, but after last week..." Anna blushed.

Her friend stifled a laugh, recalling the story she told about being so distracted at the last set of meetings she had later found that she had mistakenly volunteered to plan the next ball to be held that coming winter.

"Still want some help with the planning?"

"Oh gosh yes! I'd ask Elsa but I kinda want to show her I can do this, that she can depend on me." Anna sat down at an empty seat at the table. "Can I have some tea?"

Kristoff nodded and walked over to the stove to heat up more water. Meanwhile, Sven decided to amble over to nuzzle the redhead, desiring more attention.

"Aww Sven, who's a good reindeer? Hmm?" Anna scratched affectionately. "Want a carrot?"

The reindeer wiggled happily at the word carrot.

Anna reached inside the bag of carrots but instead of a vegetable, she felt paper. Wondering what could be in the carrot sack, she pulled out the papers to read... and then a carrot for Sven. It wouldn't be nice to tease the happy reindeer.

"The Thaw Times?" An odd name for what appeared to be a newspaper. It was small and only three back to back printed pages. Anna thought there was only one newspaper in Arendelle called "The Public News" that held notices of any royal decree, announcements of all sorts, and any happenings (that tended to be old news by how quickly gossip spread in town).

"Hey Kristoff?" Anna called for her friend's attention. "Where did you get this?"

He looked over as he grabbed the tea tin and promptly dropped it when he saw what Anna was holding up.

"Nothing! No need to read that. It's from somewhere far, far away and has nothing to do with Arendelle!" Kristoff hurried over to take the paper away but Anna was too quick for him, she dodged his grab and moved so the table was between them.

"Nothing?" Anna smirked. "So it won't matter if I read it?" It was probably just a paper going on about ice, since it was his life, so she wasn't particularly interested in what the paper had to say, but the panicked look on her friend's face made her curious though.

"No really, Anna. It's a boring paper. Lots of stuff about... uhh... ice! And trees!" He made a grab for the newspaper across the table.

"Haha missed!" Anna backed up and started to read the first page out loud. "Queen Elsa and Princess Anna were spotted strolling Royal Gardens holding hands last week. Both looked happy and didn't notice our informant as both ladies were in deep conversation. This columnist will keep watching for developments between these two sisters and hope that..." Anna's trailed off as her eyes skipped ahead to see what was written. She looked up at her blond friend stunned.

"Uhh... I can explain?" Kristoff smiled weakly as the redhead started flipping through the pages.

"This whole paper is about Elsa and I?"

"It didn't start that way. After Elsa thawed out Arendelle, a few people loyal to the crown started the paper to show support for Elsa. Then it just kind of...changed into this."

"Wait... 'There is still time to place your bets on when their first kiss will happen'?" Anna's face matched her hair in color. "First kiss?" She squeaked. "But...wha...she...and I..."

"Whoa whoa, calm down." Kristoff finally made it over to a shaking Anna's side and wrapped her in a hug. "You know you can tell me anything right?" He had been waiting for this moment to be there for his best friend, he just didn't think it would be like this. Hearing her starting to sniffle broke his heart. The last thing he had ever wanted was to upset her.

"There are people who... want Elsa and I to..."

"To be happy. And if that is together romantically, then okay," Kristoff grinned.

They were silent for a while, Kristoff just hugging his friend as she calmed down, the sniffles slowly dissipating.

"Am I that obvious?" Anna pulled back and smiled weakly; she truly believed she was being discreet.

"Kinda. People started picking up on it at the Spring Ball..." He trailed off when Anna covered her eyes with both hands.

"Oh god, people heard that?" Three glasses of heavily spiked fruit punch had Anna wobbling all over the place. Elsa had figured out what happened fairly quickly but, obviously, not quickly enough. Anna had loudly proclaimed that her sister was the most beautiful woman in the kingdom and she would fight anyone who said differently.

"You were kind of loud. Did you really challenge the Duke of Landren to a duel for Elsa's hand?"

"He was flirting with her!" Anna started pacing back and forth, waving her arms around wildly. "Was I really supposed to just let him do that in front of me? That slimy little toad should have kept his comments to himself..." She paused mid-rant. "Um, I think I see your point." The redhead officially gave up. She was in love with her sister. It was strange... strange in that it felt perfect, somehow

"You really think I wouldn't notice that my best friend is in love? I should know, I grew up with love experts." Kristoff grinned.

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