"This is not easy." Anna flung herself backwards across Kristoff who was sleeping face down on his bed fully clothed, having not even bothered to remove his boots before drifting off.
"Wha?" Kristoff groaned. "How did you get in here? Go away." Exhausted after harvesting and delivering ice the past two days, all he wanted to do was stay perfectly still and sleep.
"I picked the lock." Anna wiggled, hoping the constant movement would wake up her friend. "Now get up, I need your help." An elbow accidentally hit her friend's head. "Oops, sorry."
"Picked the lock?" Kristoff elbowed her sleepily. "When did you learn to do that?"
Anna stiffened. Scrambling down, the redhead shifted uneasily.
"Anna?" Kristoff sat up, now fully awake, and stared at his friend. He hated when she was sad or upset, and right now she was obviously both.
"I..." Anna swallowed. "I learned a long time ago. I thought if... if I could just get into Elsa's room and talk to her or even leave a gift, we could be friends again." She wiped a lone tear that escaped. Wasted hours perfecting that skill, and still not being able to see her sister, had plagued her for years. "I could open every door in the castle, but not hers." Anna shrugged dejectedly. "Guess now we know why."
Kristoff stood and walked over to hug Anna. Before meeting the feisty redhead he had never been one for hugs, or friends for that matter. Now he had people that had fun with, besides Sven and the two sisters, and knew when it came to Anna, hugs were always best.
"What happened yesterday? You were ready to ask her this time!" Kristoff had visited after his last delivery that day to find his friend flitting about, straightening her already clean room. It took a rousing pep talk reminding her the importance of True Love (thank you, Grand Pabbie) to get Anna out of her funk and ready to try again. He chuckled, remembering Anna stomping around her room with resolve and repeating over and over she would get it right.
"I was!" Anna clenched her hands into fists in front of her seriously, looking ready to fight. "She was in the library so I marched right up to her and..." Sighing, she dropped her hands and sat on the bed crestfallen . "And grabbed a book right behind her then ran away. On the up side, I now know what plants and berries I can eat next time I get lost."
"What?" Kristoff's grin fell. "The date is tomorrow."
"I know." Anna scrunched her nose in annoyance. She was more than fairly certain that her sister would react positively to her invitation, but getting the words out was harder than she imagined it would be.
"You've got to ask her!"
"I know!" Anna stood up again, too agitated to sit still.
"Everyone has been so excited about it! It's all they've been talking about."
"Hey, with all the hints you were dropping, by the time you left 'The Blue Fish' it was all over the city. They've arranged to keep the area free from those other guys and are even cleaning up the square." He frowned thoughtfully. "In fact, they had to hold a drawing to see who would gets to help."
Anna's jaw dropped and her flailing movements intensified. "What?" she barely managed to squeaked out.
"They want this to be perfect for you two!" Kristoff grabbed Anna's shoulders and stared unwaveringly into her eyes. "You went to the North Mountain to find her, you fought off wolves and a giant snowman, turned into ice to protect her, and punched that jerk Hans right off the damn boat! You can do this!"
"That's right!" Anna nodded fiercely before marching out of Kristoff's home and back to the castle. It was going to happen this time for sure.
The ice man fell back into bed and was asleep again almost instantly.
Smiling, Elsa finally gave up trying to work and watched Anna's jerky movements on the far side of her office. She had seen the redhead come in just as she started making notes concerning the new trade agreement with Landren; her sister had taken one look at her and started pacing frantically while muttering to herself and waving her arms all around in wide arcing gestures. A year ago, before getting to know Anna again and her quirks, this would have worried Elsa greatly, believing something was wrong with her sister.
In fact, that was exactly what happened the first time she had seen her sister pace in this fashion. A week after she had thawed Arendelle and took up her duties as Queen, Elsa had found her sister in the portrait gallery doing the exact same thing she was now. Scared she had somehow upset Anna, she had fled the room and hidden herself in her study. Later that evening her sister had hesitantly come to her and asked if they could travel together to the ice palace. She hadn't made the connection then, or even the next time, but the fourth time after witnessing Anna's unique pacing then having Anna come up to her later to ask about something she was obviously nervous about, it clicked. Now the blonde knew she just had to calmly wait for her sister to seek her out.
Elsa covered her mouth with one hand to stifle a laugh as Anna nearly tripped over a small rug for the third time. Whatever Anna had to ask her must be important, it had never taken three days before. Yesterday in the library she had been certain the redhead was going say something but as she had done was walked away with that random book and Elsa's curiosity was piqued.
The sound of footsteps drawing closer broke the blonde out of musings and she sat up straighter in her overstuffed red velvet chair.
Anna walked right up to the ornate wooden desk covered with important files and papers, placed both hands on its dark polished surface, and leaned in close to her sister.
"Yes?" The blonde smiled encouragingly while doing her best to ignore the thought of how easy it would be to lean in and gently kiss those lips in front of her.
"Hi," Elsa coaxed, propping her chin on her closed fist, keeping her posture relaxed and inviting.
Anna abruptly turned around and fled the room hastily.
Elsa tilted her head in confusion as the study's door closed.
The blushing was new.
Anna was leaning back against the wall as she sat on the floor in a hallway hardly ever used in the normal day to day running of the castle when Kai found her. He was on his way to meet the Captain of the Royal Guard with permission granted from Queen Elsa to hold a celebration in the courtyard for a large group off duty guards. Apparently the clamor to be the ones that guarded the royal siblings and surrounding area on their date had been decided, not that the Queen knew that part.
"Oh!" The startled princess grinned sadly. "Hi, Kai."
He watched the redhead go back to staring at the floor in front of her morosely and wrapped her arms tighter around her legs. With a sigh, Kai lowered himself next to Anna on the floor, like he used to do when she was little and just like he used to do when her father, and himself for that matter, had been a young man. Joints popped a bit more and he was certain he pulled a muscle or two, but he was now sitting on the floor. Getting up should be interesting.
"What's wrong, Little Anna?"
Anna smiled. How many times Kai or her father had asked her that very question as they sat next to her, she couldn't begin to count.
"The date is planned for tomorrow."
"I haven't asked her yet."
Kai waited for Anna to continue.
"I've tried asking her but every time I try, I just... I can't seem to get the words out." Anna banged her head back against the wall a couple of times in frustration at herself. "I almost asked her today, but I ran away." She closed her eyes and sighed in defeat. It looked like there would be a lot of disappointed people tomorrow. "Guess I'm not as brave as I thought."
"Your father had the same problem when he was Prince." Kai chuckled at the memory. "He tried to ask to be your mother's escort to the Winter Ball a few times. Her family had arrived a week early from the kingdom of Drammen to celebrate a prosperous year for the two kingdoms."
"What did he do?" Anna had never heard this story and couldn't imagine her father being scared. Even when Elsa couldn't control her powe, she had learned from her sister that her father was never scared Elsa would hurt him and it had broken his heart to see his daughter frightened all the time.
"He went riding on Sun Drop - your Aunt used to name all his horses for him, then dressed in his official uniform for court."
Anna turned her head to look quizzically at him. "Why?"
"He felt his bravest when riding and confident in his uniform. It reminded him that he did have the courage to ask your mother to the Ball."
"Oh." Anna relaxed and she stretched out her legs, her expression thoughtful. "That makes sense... I guess."
"Go change into your practice clothes." He patted her knee. "I'll tell the Sword Master you'll be down soon. It will work." He leaned down and caught her eye. "I promise."
This time he was ready for her enthusiastic hug.
"Thanks!" Anna got up quickly and sprinted around the corner towards her bedroom. If it worked for her father, it should work for her, too.
Kai grunted, she was more like her father at that age than most realized. He began trying to, unsuccessfully, get off the floor.
"Sorry, Kai," Anna apologized as she hurried back. She grabbed his hands and pulled him up easily, then rushed off again.
How did that girl become so strong, Kai wondered, as he walked to find the Sword Master and the Captain of the Guard.
After a rigorous sword training session, Anna bathed and put on a clean practice outfit which consisted of a simple green long sleeved tunic and brown leather britches tucked into sturdy boots. Clean wet red hair was kept out of her face in a bun at the base of her head. Stretching her arms as she walked down the hall, Anna felt a satisfying pull of well worked muscles and decided that she needed to practice more regularly again. There were a few moves that should not have been so hard to perform.
Leaning against the doorway to her sister's room, she watched the blonde, dressed in a casual flowing purple dress, peering out the window while swaying to the lively music that could be heard drifting up from the courtyard.
"Why is there music playing?" Anna questioned after watching for a bit.
Elsa turned around clumsily, startled by her sister.
"Sorry," Anna grinned, not at all sorry. It wasn't often that she got to surprise her sister.
"I can tell." Elsa rolled her eyes at her sister's grin. "The guards are celebrating. Something about a contest and winners."
"Ah," Anna nodded, deciding to not tell her sister yet what the celebration was about. She had heard the guards talking about it as the Sword Master worked her relentlessly.
Finally taking in what the redhead was wearing, Elsa's eyes widened. Her imaginings from a few weeks ago held nothing to the real thing.
"Why are you wearing..." She trailed off weakly as her eyes traveled up and down the obviously toned body. How was she supposed to concentrate on anything while Anna was wearing that? The girl was distracting enough, but now...
"Oh," Anna peered down at herself. She forgot that Elsa had never seen her in these clothes. "It's what I wear when I practice my sword work."
"You know how to fight with a sword?" Elsa was surprised. While female swordsmen were not unheard of, the fact that her parents would allow her sister to take up the sword staggered her. The girl was exceedingly clumsy at times and Anna could be hurt severely.
"Dad decided I need sword lessons to keep me occupied. I think he was tired of me knocking over...well, everything, with my running around," Anna commented as she walked over. Kai was right, she felt confident and the panic receded to a distant corner of her mind. She had made no plans beforehand this time, she would simply wait for the right moment.
"Did it work?" Elsa asked, her heart beating faster as the redhead approached. There was something provocative in the way Anna moved in her close fitting practice clothes and it was affecting Elsa in a very physical way. Her sister was close enough she could smell the scent of rose soap she used.
Anna shrugged with a grin. "I stopped crashing into the armor." Stopping next her sister, Anna also gazed out of the window to watch the dancing in the courtyard.
"Have you ever gotten hurt?"
"Bumps, bruises, a few strained muscles, but I've never stabbed myself if that's what you're asking," Anna laughed, practically feeling the eye roll from her sister. "I'm actually very good. Sword Master Vallen said he would recruit me on the spot to be a Royal Guard if I wasn't a princess."
"Please, just be careful. I don't' want to see you get hurt." Never again. The nightmares still came at night, of Anna frozen solid and, herself, powerless to help.
"As you wish, My Queen." Anna had to work very hard not to squeal and bounce around the room with delight at the pink that showed on her sister's face. From the corner of her eye, Anna could see her blushing sister turn to the window again. After listening to the music for a few minutes, she nudged Elsa with her shoulder.
"Yes?" The blonde focused her gaze on their reflection and her breathing hitched as their gazes met.
"I'm claiming your first dance at the Ball," Anna spoke, breaking the spell between them.
"You'll be waiting quite a while then," Elsa turned her attention back outside, missing the frown on her sister's face. "I don't dance, remember?"
"Please? Just one dance?" Anna begged, reaching for both of her sister's hands and turning Elsa around to face her. "For me?"
"I would," the blonde grimaced, removed her hands from Anna's, and nervously played with her fingers. "But I don't know how," she said, embarrassed.
"You never learned?" Anna was surprised. Her own tutors were adamant that she learn everything needed to properly entertain important guests in any situation. And she found it helped her keep track of her feet in her sword fighting.
"No," Elsa sighed. "It wasn't safe."
"It is now, so come on," the redhead pulled the blonde to the middle of the room as the music outside slowed to a waltz. "I'll lead."
"I don't think-"
"The Queen has to learn sometime." Anna wrapped her right arm around Elsa's back and held her other out at shoulder height. "Close your eyes. Listen to the music." She was silent for a few beats, then started to count the rhythm out loud. After a few missteps and demonstrating a tricky move, the two women started to dance. The music picked up speed again and so did they. Anna twirled Elsa around the bedroom floor and the two sisters laughed, enjoying the closeness as their bodies moved together.
"You're a natural!" Anna exclaimed as they, and the music, started to slow down again.
"I don't know about that," Elsa laughed, still mentally counting her steps but growing more confident with each smile and laugh from her sister.
"Does this mean I get your first dance?" Their gazes held.
"If that is what you'd like." First, last, and every dance between to be like this, in your arms. Elsa thought, wishing she was brave enough to say the words aloud but knowing she shouldn't.
Eyes locked, they stopped moving as the slow music continued on, breathing heavily from the fast dancing, their bodies so close they were touching from hip to chest.
"Go out with me tomorrow night?" Anna whispered sincerely, her gaze never wavering.
Elsa felt herself start to smile as hope swelled within her but then she closed her eyes and reined it in. The small pleasant flip in her stomach at the words turned into a horrible sinking feeling and tears filled to her eyes when she realized Anna could never mean it the way she wanted.
"O-of course." Her voice faltered as she stepped back from the intimate embrace. "What would-"
"Hey," Anna interrupted as took a step forward to close the gap between them again and brought her left hand up to her sister's cheek . She had seen the hope and love shine from Elsa's face at the question, the look had stolen her breath and sent her heart beating rapidly. It physically hurt to then watch that look die painfully.
"Hey," she tried again, willing Elsa to open her eyes and look at her.
Finally those sad icy blue eyes met her teal ones, Elsa tried to say something but no sound would come out.
"Will you go out on a date with me?"
Anna continued talking as she saw a spark of hope return to the blonde's eyes.
"A romantic date. Dressing up, going to a beautiful restaurant, maybe dance or a starlit walk, and a-" Anna swallowed hard, her cheeks feeling warm with the blush gracing her face. "A goodnight kiss."
There, she said it. Anna had officially asked her sister out on a date.
Elsa was stunned. Any thoughts that this would simply be a sisterly outing vanished and she stared, the pleasant flip in her stomach back, much stronger than before. It actually surprised Elsa that her weak knees where holding her up as hope once again rose to overwhelm her.
"Yes," came the soft, heartfelt, answer.