The Best of Intentions
Summary: Gerda and Kristoff have a discussion regarding his connection to two specific young ladies.
Disclaimer: I don't own either character involved in this, nor even the truth of the matter—that Gerda and Kai are a reference to the story, "The Snow Queen," by Hans Christian Andersen.
Fear pumping through his veins, the reindeer-friendly ice-harvester slipped and slid along the finely waxed floor, coming to a stop just barely out of sight of the hallway. He could hear the thundering of twenty or so feet, the shouts and calls of, "here, he's over here!" And then with a finally feeling of mounting horror at the creaking of an open door, he opted to duck into the door he had been planted against rather than face the growing hoard.
It looked like all the others, the dark burgundy and light forest green of the royal family's colors decorated simply with a flowering motif, and once he was inside, crouching before the keyhole, all that he cared about was that the blurred figures kept going and left him alone.
"Not that I mind visitors usually, but this really isn't the time."
The comment, spoken simply and kindly, left him whirling around. And as he was already mid-crouch, the move almost tumbled him to the ground, all thick feet and gangly limbs. Catching himself on the thick, braided rug he huffed his blonde hair out of his face to glance up and up and up…
Until he was left gaping at one of the palace's head's of staff—Gerda to be exact. She gazed down at him over the top of a heavy wooden desk, a small vase of cheerful flowers in one corner and a tidy pile of paperwork in the other, ready to be worked on. The ink and quill set, current piece of parchment in use, and small container of sand all indicated that she was hard at work conquering the stack—a task he had just interrupted.
Thankfully she'd always been kind to him, so despite his ungainly appearance a part of him softened and relaxed, breathing for the first time in over an hour.
"Sorry, um, I just. Ah," he breathed out a huff of self-deprecating laughter, "Sorry. I was just escaping a herd of tailors trying to stuff me into a peacock suit."
The corner of her mouth tilted higher up, "you mean that herd which I sicced on you in an effort at domesticating the wild man out of you?"
He had nothing to say at that, gaping some more, this time with cold trepidation dripping down into his gut. But she motioned him up regardless, gesturing that he take a seat.
"It's fine. I understand that they make for a rather daunting group, especially en masse. Although I do believe that they would be rather less determined if you were a little less skilled at escaping," the gentle tease was like a poke to his gut, making him laugh. In response he finally took the offered armchair, hoping that, if anything, the chair back would block any view of him from the door.
The minutes passed by, he in silent observation of the world outside her expansive window and she scratching away. It was almost…peaceful. Excluding the moments when he heard people rushing outside the room. But they never came in, apparently at her wish, and he found himself relaxing for the first time in days.
"Kristoff Bjorgman, you don't mind if I ask, but what is your special relationship with the Queen and Princess?"
The still broken, he found himself quite abruptly spluttering and coughing on his own air.
"Because while Anna seems fond of you, it has been pointed out to me as of late that you have more in common with Queen Elsa. And I would hate for both girls to be hurt due to any confusion on your part," she remarked on this matter calmly, continuing to work at her letter without looking up once.
He gulped in a breath before scooting forward to the edge of his seat, "look, um, Gerda. Ma'am, we're all just friends."
"All of you?"
"Elsa and I are friends," he corrected when she shot him a pointed glance, "she's great and all, and what she can do with ice is just fantastic, but we're just friends. Odd friends, at that. In fact, I think she likes Sven more than she likes me."
"Elsa is reserved, yes. I understand. In fact, if there's anyone who does, it would be myself," the head housekeeper remarked with slight sadness, "but there's no romantic feelings toward the Queen, then?"
"Glaciers, no! I don't want to be King!" he grimaced at the taste of the word, "and I'm pretty sure that—."
"That Elsa won't be romantically involved with anyone any time soon. You're right about that," she murmured, almost to herself, "unless, of course, one of those ambassadors of hers actually succeeds in his efforts."
He blinked, eyebrow jumping, "what?"
"Never you mind," Gerda responded sweetly, smiling directly at him for the first time the entire conversation, "suffice to say that it takes some time for Elsa to trust anyone. And the only love she's ever felt has been that of familial love, due to circumstances. So finding a romantic attachment—a true romantic attachment—may take some time."
But then the side of her mouth tilted up, "on that note, perhaps you're right. It really is Anna which likes you best."
"W-what? I mean, I…why would you think that Anna, that she…?"
He wet his lips, swallowing harshly. When even that trailed off, his shoulders collapsed in like a house of cards.
The blonde rubbed at a stain on his pants, unable to come out even with the aid of earth magic, before finally muttering a quiet, "yeah. Anna…Anna's the one."
Her motherly expression, reminding him of Bulda, had him groaning, removing the hat from his head to run one large hand through his hair, "you know that I'm not really around people much, right?"
"I had heard," she remarked with a slight smile. If unaware at the first, the staff hadn't remained ignorant for long, as Anna and Elsa's 'special guest' quite literally had all the dinner manners of a troll.
"She," he swallowed a deep breath, wringing the hat in his hands before looking up, "she makes me believe in people. In that some of them are good," light brown eyes widening, the mountain man abruptly realized what he'd said, "I mean, which isn't to say that the people here aren't great—they're fantastic, you know? It's just, I've been burnt before, and they've all been swindlers and thieves and…you know what, I'm going to stop now."
His smile was self-deprecating.
She chuckled lightly, "but Anna is different."
"Yeah," he breathed.
She opened her mouth to explain Anna's…complicated upbringing, but the young man just kept talking.
"I…I don't even know how to describe her," he rubbed bashfully at the back of his neck, "she's…she's like a bright light in a dark room. And she just throws herself into things—sometimes literally."
The dark-haired woman nodded knowingly, eyebrows raised and an ironic little smile on her face as she remembered a bevy of different instances which fell into the description he'd just given. But she let him ramble on—it seemed like he needed the words to come out.
"I mean, have you seen her with the village children? It's like she's never seen them before," Gerda opted not to mention that that was a true enough statement, "and they just love her, because her innocence is just total. There was talk in the past about all the royals being stuc—uh, standoffish, but she just loves. Everyone."
"Even you?" Gerda prompted pointedly, signing the page with a flourish, "and does she love you?"
"Yeah, we're close, I would…" he sighed heavily, putting his head in his hands so that what came next was a muffled mumble, "I know that I'm her friend."
As Gerda kept watching him with thoughtful eyes a thought brought Kristoff up short, back upright and frown evident, trying to figure out her angle. It was something he'd learned at a young age—that people don't regularly 'chew the fat' unless they wanted something from you, especially when there were places to be and work to be done.
As the middle-aged woman began folding up her missive, applying wax and household seal, he finally got up the gumption to inquire, "why are you asking me all this…Ma'am?"
She sighed, and to the ice-harvester it sounded more than a little tired. Then she gave him her abrupt and undivided attention, "Mr. Bjorgman, are you aware of the circumstances behind my Ladies' growing up years?"
"I, uh, yeah. There was…" he swallowed, "I've got nothing. I don't really get out much."
His honesty brought forward a very short smile, "well…after the passing of the King and Queen, ever may they reign, and owing to Queen Elsa's…abilities…it was up to us, the staff, to continue parenting the two young Princesses to adulthood. Before that time, and with a very limited staff I feel," she paused and wet her lips, feeling discomfited her herself at this admission, "my husband Kai and I, we couldn't have children. In many ways myself, and others, feel a vicarious kind of parentage toward both Elsa and Anna."
"So," she continued more strongly, "as a mother of sorts, I would like to know what your intentions are."
He gulped at her, that being the last thing he'd expected (the first being a true "telling off"; that a hermit like him had no purpose hanging around their impressionable young royalty).
She continued despite his startled silence, "both Kai and I have noted that the girls…the young ladies are affectionate toward you. But there's been some recent hesitancy from Anna, as though she dare not get too close."
Yeah, he'd noticed that, too. After gifting Kristoff with his new sled and allowing him to kiss her Anna had abruptly backtracked. Skittering away from his touch and blushing profusely. Her clumsiness had increased, if that was even possible, and if they happened to bump into one another the likelihood of her breaking something had increased three-fold.
Elsa, in contrast, seemed only amused and bemused. Shaking her head and smiling when she thought that no one was looking, over paperwork, mostly, and around endless examples of perfect needlework and still life paintings in progress.
"I wanted to confirm that it was not due to any action on your part," that made his smile drop, until she continued, "of course, we all knew it was unlikely," just as quickly the smile was back, "it has been suggested that her recent actions are due, in part, to Prince Hans' betrayal. Along with Queen Elsa's admonition that Princess Anna not, 'not marry a man she just met.'"
He barked out a laugh at this, eliciting a blink, "sorry. It's just that I kind of said…um, never mind."
But the grin dropped as realization hit. She was trying to get to know him. So that he wasn't a man whom she had 'just met.'
"With that in mind, I, and the rest of the staff, have certain expectations for the man she is to marry. We are the only family they have—unconventional as we may be. And we don't deal with intruders lightly."
He had, in fact, noticed. Kristoff cleared his throat, recalling the distinctively fierce looks he'd faced the first time Anna hugged him in public.
"Thus in light of this information," her voice and eyes were steely, "do you intend on hurting either of my girls?"
"What? No!" he gasped out, getting to his feet and pacing slightly, "how could you even think that?"
"I can think a good many things, Mr. Bjorgman. After all, at first glance Prince Hans seemed like a nice young man," her lips twisted in anger, the first real negative emotion he'd seen.
"Look, I have every intention of keeping Anna and Elsa safe."
"And if keeping them safe involves removing yourself from the picture, should that event arise?" the head of staff asked hypothetically, but it was the one question which left him gasping for breath.
"I'd keep them safe…even if it's from me, okay?" he sighed, pulling his hair and staring into the ever-present fire flaring on the other side of the room, "I'd let her go. I mean, I've already done it once, so it shouldn't be," he took a deep, painful breath, "it shouldn't be that dif-diffi—that hard to-to do it again."
The hermit muttered the words, but his expression was crumbling, hands clenching the back of the chair he'd left.
Gerda said nothing for a moment, before raising herself up to stand beside him. With a startled realization Kristoff was made aware that the pointed, imposing woman was actually shorter than him by at least a handsbreadth.
And she was currently beaming up at him, "that's precisely what I wished to hear. Because any one of us would do the same—do whatever it took—to protect them. But!" she pointed out, nearly jabbing him in the eye, "I doubt that it will come to that. After all, it does seem as though Princess Anna is as interested in your presence as you are in hers."
"Whu—um, how? Do you know, I mean?"
Her smile was fond, "Anna is only unbalanced when she's uncertain of herself and nervous. Which is to say, she's always been clumsy," a huff of laughter followed that admission, "but she's developed quick reflexes, so everything tends to survive—give or take. The fact that she's breaking things again is a good sign, despite the damage. It means that she's paying attention to something other than her environment."
He gaped, jaw dropping and eyebrows leaping skyward. Which eventually morphed into a bemused smile as Gerda gave him one last parting glance.
"That, and she recently asked me if there were any rules against royalty courting common folk," she paused, "there aren't, by the way."
This appeared like a bolt out of the blue, let me tell you. XD As a few of you may be aware, I've recently gotten on a HP Neville Longbottom/Hannah Abbott kick. Yet this whole conversation popped up in a single sitting, started by the thought of:
"Sure, Kristoff loves ice, but just because he loves ice and thinks that Elsa's talents are fantastic, doesn't mean that she's the right girl for him." Similarly, just because I love art doesn't mean that I should marry another artist—talk about disaster in the making! D:
Then that bit spiraled into an entire conversation, and I just knew that I wanted it to be with Gerda, the original main character of Hans Christian Andersen's, "The Snow Queen." She's just…really good at getting things done and getting straight to the point. XD *laughs*
Plus it was really, really fun just making Kristoff all flustered and embarrassed. Good times. :3
Anyway, I hope that you enjoyed it all. :)