"Kristoff!" Anna called as she walked through the front door of his home, her guards waiting out by the front gate as usual. "Are those pins out?"
"You know, knocking is considered polite." The ice man was packing his gear to head out and gather orders before traveling to harvest the ice.
"Kristoff!" she stomped.
"Okay, okay. Geez," he grumbled. Turning, Kristoff grabbed something small off the table next to him and presented it to Anna. "These are the pins. We bought ours this morning."
Sven sauntered over to Anna, proudly showing off the shiny snowflake pin attached to the ribbon of the medallion he wore when out on official ice business.
The redhead examined both pins. They looked exactly like the ones she saw last night at the opera. Anna patted the reindeer on the head absently. Sven wasn't happy with that and nearly knocked her over trying to get her attention. Laughing, she hugged him.
"I saw these last night." She handed it back to her friend who promptly pinned it to his vest.
"Word got out that people were wearing those stupid disc pins," he explained, "so a few of us brought some of the finished ones over to sell. There are now two silver smiths working to make more." Kirstoff held up a small bag. "I'm selling them along with ice today."
"You are the best friend ever," Anna punched Kristoff in the shoulder.
"Ouch," complained the blond as he rubbed the area. "You're a lot stronger than you realize, runt."
Anna frowned and punched him again.
"Good afternoon, Princess Anna," a woman dressed in the latest fashion hurried around the counter and curtsied. "I am Mona Enstad and welcome to my shop."
"Good afternoon, Mistress Enstad. You have a beautiful place." Anna motioned around the room. Brightly colored silks and thick velvets hung from racks, matching ribbons in every width coiled tightly around spools lined one wall, dresses in various stages of completion hung on dress maker dummies scattered throughout the room.
"Please, Princess Anna, call me Mona."
"Mona, I need a new dress. Something..." Anna trailed off as she noticed the snowflake pin.
"Princess?" Mona asked encouragingly.
"What a beautiful pin. I've noticed them around Arendelle lately." Anna considered her next words carefully. Large portions of her planning relied on help from others. "I'm glad to see those ugly round pins weren't that popular."
"Many establishments would never hire a person who would wear such an... unsightly pin." Mona tilted her head thoughtfully, also being careful with her words. "Myself included."
Smiling, Anna started to walk around and admire the dresses for sale. "These are very beautiful."
"Thank you, Princess Anna. I designed most of them myself, those over by the hats are by my apprentice. She is showing great promise. Are you looking for something special?" The seamstress followed the young royal as she browsed the different fabrics.
"Yes, I am." Taking a deep breath, Anna steadied herself to take a leap of faith. "I am looking to wear a dress Elsa would find... um... fetching."
"Ah, I am sure I can make something our Queen will find... enchanting on you. Do you need a day or evening dress?
"E-e-evening." Faced with finally sharing her secret was harder than she first thought it would be. "It's for a special night I'm planning. A surprise."
"A special night?" Mona was finding it difficult keeping still in her excitement.
"Hopefully the first of many."
"What will Queen Elsa be wearing? On such an important night, I would hate for your outfits to not compliment each other."
"Oh, I guess one of her ice dresses." Anna hadn't thought about that.
"Marvelous! I will have some some sketches ready for you by tomorrow." Starting to mentally take stock of materials on hand, Mona grabbed her tape-measure. "When do you need this dress by?"
"How quickly can it be made?" Anna held up her arms as the seamstress started to measure.
"After you approve the design and I have everything, for you Princess, a day or two," she answered while noting down the measurements, knowing already that her other customers wouldn't mind their orders being a little late. Not for this.
"In four days?" It was very quick, Anna knew, but it was the first day for the next two weeks that they didn't have some visitor staying at the castle that would take up her sister's time.
"Come back this afternoon and I'll have a few drawings ready." There was no longer hiding the excitement of being asked to make the dress for such an occasion.
"Perfect, I'll be back later. I have another stop to make after this." Anna walked to the front door but paused before reaching it. Turning, she commented casually over her shoulder, "thank you for wearing that pin, everyone's support means so much." She saw a look of understanding on the seamstress' face as she left. Lunch sounded like an excellent idea at the moment, as it would give time for the gossip to spread.
"Eva!" Mona called to the back of the store. Quickly she pulled out a sheet of paper and wrote. "Takes this to Jon at The Snowflake Pub. And be fast about it, it's important." If the Princess was really going on a date with the Queen as it seemed, she was going to make sure the woman received help from everyone.
Some time after leaving the dress makers store, Anna relaxed on the stone ledge of a bubbling fountain, one of many dotted around the city, chewing on the last of an apple from her lunch. Unfamiliar with this part of the city, she waved over Arne, one of her guards for the day. She smiled at the snowflake pin both her guards were wearing.
"Where's a good place to eat here?" Anna asked.
"Braatan's stall is here most of time," Arne told her, confused. "Good prices, good food. Stay away from mead though, it's a little strong. I can go purchase something if you want?"
"Actually, I was thinking of someplace for later, nice enough for a," Anna bounced her knee nervously, "a date."
"A date, Princess?" Arne's eyes widened in alarm. Who was this person going on a date with the Princess? There had been no news in the paper of someone else spending time with Princess Anna. "The nicest place in town is 'The Royal Court.'"
"Too uptight and we always go there. I was thinking someplace new." Anna frowned thoughtfully. "Where would you take a date?"
"The Blue Fish," Arne replied quickly, catching on who this mystery date might be. He pointed to a small place to his right. Food about average, the setting romantic in the evening, but, most importantly, the guard knew that the owner and all the staff were supporters of the Princess and Queen.
"Thank you, Arne." Anna stood to walk over to the small restaurant, her guards trailing behind. Seating was provided inside and outside on a small patio, unlit lanterns hung from ropes strung over the outside seating which was roped off from the main square. Busy admiring the beautiful setting, Anna never noticed the guards whispering to each other or the young boy in a blue cap who ran up to them, talking with excited gestures and then running off again.
"Princess Anna!" A tall redheaded woman hurried out from behind the bar in the back. "I'm Ingrid Dalen, owner of 'The Blue Fish.' How may I serve you?"
"Can I reserve a table on the patio? For dinner?" As Anna looked around, it seemed most of the patrons and all of the staff had a snowflake pin. They were multiplying like rabbits.
"Oh. Um... no. Four days from now?"
"Of course. Is there something special you require for this dinner?" Ingrid pulled out a small bit of paper and pencil to take notes.
"Maybe flowers at the table and music? Something romantic." Anna shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot as she noticed more and more eyes turned her way.
"Mr. Botner," called the tall woman.
A tall willowy man stood from his meal and walked over.
"Anette?" Ingrid waved over a chubby brunette woman who had been practicing her flute at a corner table that was covered in sheet music.
"Princess Anna, Mr. Botner runs the flower shop close by. His shop makes the most delightful arrangements. And Anette plays here on the nights she isn't serving."
"Can you make the arrangements Miss Dalen? I do have to get going. I will send a messenger over to get the details and with payment." Anna would have loved to stay and talked with them herself, but after years of isolation, being the center of attention in small crowded rooms still made her nervous. While it was getting easier, the stress of planning the date was too much.
"Of course, Princess." They all bowed and curtsied respectfully.
After the departure of the Princess, the small boy in the blue cap from earlier hurried up to the small group still inside the restaurant.
"Miss Dalen! Miss Dalen!" He hopped excitedly from foot to foot. "Arne wanted me to tell you that he believes the dinner the Princess is planning is a date for her and the Queen! It's happening! They're going to get their "Happily Ever After!'"
"Shh! Don't shout. What did Arne say exactly?" Ingrid demanded as the rest of the group held their breath in anticipation.
"Arne said that the Princess wanted a nice place to eat for a date. She said that the 'Royal Court' is where they always go and wanted someplace new." The boy could no longer contain himself and danced around happily. "True love! True love!"
"Mr. Botner! Mr. Botner!" shouted Jonas, a young angular man with blonde hair came rushing through the door.
"Jonas! Who is minding the flower shop?" Mr. Botner reprimanded.
"Word just came from 'The Snowflake Pub.'" Jonas breathed heavily from his sprint a few streets away. "Mrs. Mona Enstad had a visit from the Princess this morning for a special dress. A date with the Queen."
Anette gasped, clutching her flute to her body. "It's true! Oh, there's so much to do-"
"There's more. Mrs. Enstad is positive that Princess Anna knows about the pins and what they mean."
They were all silent, even patrons seated at their meals and those who had come over to find out what all the fuss was about.
"Boy," Ingrid called.
The child stopped mid jig.
"Run as fast as you can to 'The Snowflake Pub.' Tell Jon all that's happened here and that he needs to call a meeting."
He nodded before darting off with cries of 'true love' and 'happily ever after' on his lips.
"Ladies and gentleman," Ingrid began. "I think it's time for us to help."
Enthusiastic whispers filled the air.
"But what if we're wrong?" Anette spoke up worriedly. "What if we we're just seeing what we want to?"
The room went silent again for several long moments.
"But what if we're right?" A man from a nearby table challenged as he stood. "Can we really risk not helping?"
Everyone looked at one another and the pins worn on collars, shoulders, breast pockets, anywhere that would be visible.
"If we're going to help make this perfect, we'd better get to work," Ingrid declared. The room buzzed with excitement once more.
Knowing that Elsa was currently elsewhere, Anna marched into her sister's study, her back straight and her expression somber; she was prepared for battle. One that she would win. It had been a long day, but the place for the date was set and the dress designed approved. Now for one last thing. Anna marched up to the large wooden desk.
"Mr. Sandvik, you are to clear the Queen's evening schedule in four days time."
"Perfect!" Kai smiled. "Elsa doesn't have any pressing meetings that day that can't be rescheduled. I will clear the next day as well, Ambassador Flom can greet our visitors that morning."
"Wait, what?" Anna was confused. This was far from the reaction she had been expecting.
Kai didn't respond, he merely smiled as he tapped his lapel.
Anna's teal eyes widen in shock at the sight of shiny silver snowflake pin.
"But... what? Do you know what...? The pin?" Anna stammered, flailing her arms around. "You? What? Huh?"
"Anna, do you really think I am unaware what these pins, or the round wooden ones, stand for? Or I don't know that every week Kristoff brings you a copy of 'The Thaw Times'?"
"You do?" came the weak reply as she wrung her hands together.
Kai walked over and placed a comforting hand on the young Princess' shoulder. "It is my duty to ensure the Queen is well informed on matters of the Kingdom. Of course I would know about this. And before you ask, no. Elsa has no clue about 'The Thaw Times' or the pins. This is one thing I believe she needs to learn from someone else."
"But last time we talked-"
"I needed to know if you could stand up to someone who challenged you," the man interrupted. "Not everyone is going to support a relationship between you and Elsa. Are you ready to face that when it happens?"
"Yes," Anna answered, determined.
"Splendid. Now I must get going, I have work to do and I'm sure you do, too." Walking back to the desk and busily rearranging the papers he needed, Kai did not notice Anna walk over.
"Thanks, Kai!" Anna nearly tackled the man in a big hug, sending his papers scattering all over the floor. "You're the best!" With that last exclamation, she bounced happily out of the office.
"A little decorum, Princess," Kai reprimanded to an empty room. Then he sighed, knowing it was a lost cause.
Now, Anna realized as she walked down the hall to her room, the only thing left was to actually ask Elsa out on a date.