Author's Note: Sorry it has been awhile since I updated. I hope you like this chapter. It is longer than I anticipated, with a lot of reminiscing and some background on both girls. I promise the Elsanna is coming, but it won't be in this chapter... well not much anyway.

They rode for a long time in silence, nestled against one another gently, taking comfort in the contact and just listening to the sweet melody of the birds and the constant reassuring beat of the horse's hooves against the soft ground, each girl lost in her own thoughts.

Finally, Elsa broke the silence, "Anna?", she whispered softly.


"I've been thinking... you know what you said to me, about doing the magic..."

Anna nodded.

"I realize you told me you couldn't remember ever saying it to me in the past, but, Anna, that's so specific. I mean out of all the random things you could've said to me, you chose to say that."

"Well, yeah... I can't explain it, really. It just came to me, very naturally... like it was what I should say, what I was supposed to say, somehow. I know that doesn't make any sense but..."

"See, here's the thing, I think it does make sense, Anna. A lot of sense. I think maybe your conscious mind doesn't remember it but perhaps your subconscious mind does."

Anna looked up at her, her face lighting up as her brain connected the dots and she blinked in sudden comprehension. "Oh my God, Els, does that mean..?"

"That there could be hope?", Elsa ventured, eyes ablaze with optimism and a smile on her face so big that it nearly made her eyes squint shut. "Yes! I believe so!"

"Wow! You really think so?"

"I do! I mean, I know it's only a theory, but I am guessing that the longer time we spend together, the more likely your subconscious thoughts will filter their way through to your conscious ones."

"And I'll remember... everything!", Anna reasoned in disbelief, eyes dancing with utter delight.

Elsa nodded eagerly. "It won't all happen at once, of course. I don't think everything will come flooding back to you in one fell swoop or anything. And, we shouldn't force it. But I do think that the more we are together, especially while I'm using my powers, the more of these repressed memories will bubble up to the surface. At least that's what I'm hoping and praying will happen."

"So you'll just have to use your powers more often and..."

Before Anna could finish her sentence, Elsa had taken the hint, flexing her fingers in a small upward motion that resulted in five perfectly formed ice butterflies springing to life from each extended digit. Three blue ones and two white. They fluttered up in front of Anna's entranced face. The smallest blue one, which had emerged from Elsa's pinky finger, alit softly on the tip of Anna's nose and the feel if its cool feet on her skin made her giggle. Her eyes crossed as she watched it and that caused Elsa to start giggling herself.

"Flutterbys!, Elsa announced happily.

"Butterflies, Els!", Anna corrected.

"Ahhh, but that's not what you used to call them!", Elsa beamed.

Anna smiled stupidly back at her, her eyes still glued in fascination to the small creature perched on her nose. "His little feet tickle!"

"Her.", Elsa advised gently.

"Her little feet tickle.", Anna amended.

The insect moved her tiny, iridescent wings up and down, testing them out a bit, before flying up to join her siblings flittering around the fringe dangling from the overhanging roof of their hansom cab. Anna's heart was filled with joy at the experience and she couldn't stop grinning. "That was amazing, Els."

"It was nothing.", Elsa waved away the compliment.

"Are you kidding? It was magical. I can totally understand why I used to ask you to 'do the magic' when I was little."

Elsa looked quite pleased by Anna's words. "Well, thank you, little one. I don't think I tell you often enough how nice it is to be able to share my powers with someone who appreciates them and isn't afraid."

"Els, you know I was never afraid of you or what you could do. Not at the coronation, not when you froze Arendelle, not even when you created a giant snowman and had him escort Kristoff and me out of your place. Not ever."

"Not even when I froze your heart?", Elsa asked, glanced up at her with a pained look in her beautiful blue eyes.

"Oh Els, stop. I know you didn't mean to do that. You'd never hurt me. That was an accident. And I'll never blame you for it.", she told her softly, honest eyes gazing into Elsa's with sincerity.

Elsa inhaled a weary breath. "I'll always blame me for it.", she said quietly and looked away, but not before Anna noticed tears welling up in her eyes.

Anna reached over and turned her face back to hers. Elsa blinked and the tears slipped down her cheeks, flash freezing on them about halfway down.

"I forgive you, Elsa. For everything. For all of it." Anna leaned in and let her warm lips brush softly against her sister's cool forehead. Elsa let out a sigh and looked up into Anna's caring eyes. Something unexplainable passed between them in that moment. Anna wasn't even sure she understood it herself. But, she had an abrupt, nearly overwhelming urge to kiss her sister's lips and she could see what appeared to be the same urge darkening Elsa's eyes, too. It looked as if Elsa very much wanted Anna to kiss her. Anna had never seen Elsa look at her in that way before. And she had to admit, it excited her... alot. Then, she watched as Elsa forced it away and her eyes changed, lightened... they still looked quite emotional and extremely loving, but the fiery hunger Anna had just witnessed was gone, replaced by a more appropriate, wholly familial and sisterly expression. In fact, the look had vanished so completely that Anna found herself wondering if it had ever really been there in the first place… if she had just been imagining it all.

The next thing she knew, Elsa's cool fingers were reaching up to stroke her cheek tenderly. Anna leaned into the touch. "Thank you, honey.", Elsa breathed softly, she let her thumb swipe across the younger girl's cheek, whisking away a tear Anna didn't even realize she'd shed.

Anna pulled back and shook her head, blinking furiously to stave off any further waterworks. "So, as I was saying," she began, clearing the lump from her throat, "you'll be using your powers more often and we'll be sticking to each other like glue from here on out then, right?"

"I couldn't think of anything in the world I'd love better, little one!", Elsa answered happily, any evidence of her earlier lustful inclinations totally gone. "Although, every now and again, I do have to do that whole Sovereign Ruler of Arendelle bit, you understand.", she winked playfully.

And, suddenly, it didn't matter if Elsa felt the same way about Anna that Anna felt about her. All Anna cared about was the fact that she had her adorable big sister back again. She'd forgotten just how much fun Elsa could be. She wasn't the stuffy old fart that she had accused herself of being back in the kitchen earlier that morning. Not at all. And she never had been. It was just that most people never got to see the real Elsa. The silly, thoroughly upbeat young girl that Anna had spent so much time with as a small child. The Elsa everyone else saw was the one she presented to the public, to her royal subjects: the detached, aloof ruler… which was just Elsa emulating their father. Yes, Elsa was genteel and cultured, yes, she was well-spoken and elegant, just as a Queen should be, but she was also extremely clever, with a sharp, mischievous wit and a self-deprecating sense of humor that she would only reveal once she knew you extremely well. Once she trusted you unequivocally. Truly, Anna and their parents were really the only ones who ever actually knew the real Elsa. And, since their parents were long gone now, Anna considered herself privileged to be the only one with whom Elsa shared her true self so freely… just as she had when they were children. Anna was glad to know she still trusted her that much even after all those years of separation. Elsa's innate wit had never failed to charm and beguile Anna. And, Anna was overjoyed to see that all those years of seclusion had not dampened Elsa's inherent silliness in the least.

"Oh, pish posh", Anna said, in the most affected and snooty royal voice she could muster. "That tired old monarchy business again?", she sighed, rolling her eyes and shaking her head in feigned annoyance. "Well if you must insist, I suppose, sister dear."

"I'm afraid I simply must.", Elsa replied, mimicking and surpassing Anna's effete voice and condescending manner. "The populace can be so terribly restless when they don't have someone flouncing around wearing a crown."

"Well, so long as it's only on occasion, dear sister.", Anna giggled, unable to keep up the façade any longer.

"I promise..." Elsa replied, still in lofty queen mode.

But Anna had lost it and couldn't stop laughing "You know you're really good at that whole holier-than-thou, hoity toity thing, Els."

"You think?", Elsa asked, dropping the superior tone and attitude.

"Oh yeah, you should, like, maybe be queen or something.", Anna winked.

Elsa laughed easily. "Yeah. Or something!", she grinned.

"Oh Els, I love this.", Anna said cheerfully, "Us, kidding around like this. It's so nice. Just like old times. I love it so much."

"Me, too.", Elsa agreed with a contented sigh. "Remember when we used to drive Mama and Papa absolutely crazy putting on those silly voices? And Papa used to scold us and say—"

"-Cultured young ladies do not mock of their stations in life.", Anna finished for her, lowering her voice an octave and doing the best impression of their father that she could muster. "You are Princesses of the Realm!"
"Elsa," the Queen continued, doing her own quite passable impression of King Agdar. "you will be Queen one day! Your behavior is more representative of a commoner than that of royalty." Elsa chuckled to herself and shook her head as she returned to her normal speaking voice. "And, all I could think back then was that I wanted anything else in the world but to be Queen."

"Yeah, well, he knew better than to ever say that to me!", Anna laughed. "I was never Queen material, even back then!"

"Well, he probably just realized that chronic bedhead is a bad look for the Supreme Ruler.", Elsa said, a mischievous glint in her eye.

"Yeah," Anna nodded, "that or the fact that stepping in horse poop and tracking it through the castle on regular basis leaves a not so good impression."

"Oh yeah!", Elsa cried, eyes lighting up at the memory, "You got in so much trouble for that!"

"I don't know what that horse had against me.", Anna shook her head.

"It wasn't the horse, Anna!", Elsa reminded her. "You just never looked where you were going!"

Anna laughed. "Well, nothing has changed much.", she smiled.

"Remember when you kicked the Duke of Corona in the shins?!", Elsa said with a huge laugh. "Oh my heavens, I had to bite my tongue so hard not to completely lose my self-control on that one. It was hilarious!"

"How could I forget that!?", Anna rolled her eyes at the memory, "I was not allowed chocolate for a month!"

"It was only a week, Anna!", Elsa refreshed her memory.

"Well, I was five. It felt like a month.", the younger girl smiled, "Old geezer deserved to be kicked anyway. He reeked of sweat and livestock and he insisted on kissing the back of my hand… and his moustache was full of his dinner."

Elsa wrinkled her nose. "Ew!", she said and laughed. "But he was only trying to be polite and respectful of your title."

"Yeah, that's what Papa and Mama told me too, but he wasn't. He was just a disgusting, smelly, gross old man. And his whiskers were scratchy. And, I don't care if it was bad manners, I'd do it again today!"

"Would you now?", Elsa smiled.

"I so would! His lips felt like raw slimy liver against my skin!"

"Ewwww!", Elsa said again, making a face and shaking her head in disgust before laughing at Anna's detailed description.

"It was almost worth being denied chocolate."

Elsa's brows climbed to her hairline. "Was it, really?"

"I said 'almost'!", Anna winked.

"Well, he clearly made an impression on you!"

Anna nodded. "Clearly! And, not a good one. Ugh! Repulsive old geezer."

Elsa looked up in the air and smiled, remembering. "Gosh, it was so hard to control myself," she chuckled at the memory. "And then when I saw Mama!"

'What about Mama?"

"Oh she nearly lost it!"

"She did?", Anna was suddenly enthralled.

"Oh totally.", Elsa grinned, eyes sparkling with nostalgia. "She thought it was just as funny as I did, of not more so. And she did a way worse job of controlling herself than I did!"

Anna's face brightened. "Really?"

"Yes, I saw her eyes light up when you did it and before she could contain it, a huge, kinda goofy smile spread across her face. I remember thinking just how much her expression reminded me of one I'd seen you make. Most people used to always comment on how much I looked like our mother, but in that moment, when she was making that face, I could only see you."

"Really? I don't remember ever seeing Mama make a silly face like that."

"That's most likely because she was trying to be extra careful around you not to show it. Papa had probably warned her that it would set a bad example for a child who already made plenty of silly faces on her own to have her mother contribute to the repertoire.", Elsa smiled.

"Probably. You're right.", Anna grinned. "But it's nice to know my goofy faces came naturally. Thank you for telling me that."

"Welcome, of course, honey", Elsa nodded. "Anyway, I remember that Mama had to cover her mouth and bow her head and sort of step back behind Papa so no one would notice her reaction, including you!", she smiled. "Then, later on, I overheard them talking after they sent you to your room. Father was furious and humiliated. He wanted you to go without supper for a week."

Anna blinked. "No supper? That's a little harsh for a growing Princess. Even one who is a total screw up."

"You weren't a screw up, Anna," Elsa reassured softly, "I cornered the market on that one long before you were born."

"No, you-", but Elsa put a finger to Anna's lips, staying her tongue.

"Oh, I did. But let me finish the story. Father was adamant but Mother managed to convince him to just deny you chocolate for a week instead. Said that would teach you more of a lesson. So, as horrible a punishment as skipping chocolate for a week seemed to your five year old brain, if it hadn't have been for Mama, it could have been so much worse."

Anna felt her eyes starting to sting with tears. "Oh Elsa, she did that for me?"

Elsa nodded quietly. "She most certainly did."

"Oh, Els, I miss them so much!"

"I know, honey. Me, too. But we've got each other now," Elsa said, hugging her tighter, "finally."

"Yes, and about time, too!", Anna breathed, snuggling closer into her elder sister.

She looked up into Elsa's eyes and they were warm and filled with love. "This was such a good idea you had, Anna. Us getting away to ourselves for a while.", she said and the hand holding Anna's clasped it tighter. Then Elsa leaned over to give Anna a light peck on the cheek. "I love being with you like this, you know? Reconnecting. We've needed it for so, so long."

"We really have.", Anna bobbed her head in agreement, "You know, I could stay out here with you like this from now on, Els. Do we really have to go back to that stuffy old castle? Like, ever? "

"Wellllll, I suppose I could put Olaf in charge.", Elsa grinned playfully.

Anna chuckled. "Now that would be a sight to see. Warm hugs for everyone!", she smiled at the thought. "But, better than Marshmallow, I suppose."

"Hey now, don't judge! Mushy is an absolute sweetheart...", Elsa said, bumping Anna's arm playfully, "...once you get to know him."

"'Mushy'?", Anna was suddenly grinning ear to ear.

Elsa nodded. "I mean, yes, he does have a bit of a temper, especially when it comes to me. And yes, he can be a little over protective. But under normal circumstances he's a huge push over, just a like a big fluffy teddy bear... a teddy bear the size of a small house, it's true, but a teddy bear just the same."

"Marshmallow? A teddy bear?", Anna raised her brows.

"He is! And his name isn't 'Marshmallow'. That's just what Olaf started calling him. His name is 'Devon'."

At this, Anna cackled loudly. "Oh my God! Devon?", she giggled, nearly uncontrollably. "Devon?!"

"Yes," Elsa nodded, lifting her shoulders haughtily and sitting up straighter beside Anna, "What of it? Devon is a perfectly lovely name."

"For a gallant prince maybe!", Anna returned with a flippant smile.

"Devon is gallant, Anna!", Elsa snapped defensively, "He is extremely brave and I have no doubt that he would protect me with his very life should the circumstance arise. Can't get more gallant than that!"

"Oh Els, don't be offended!", Anna grinned at her sister's protectiveness. "I'm not making fun, I promise! It's just that the name 'Devon' doesn't really seem to fit a giant snowman."

"Maybe not, but I always wanted a son called 'Devon' and that... 'giant snowman' is the closest I'll probably ever get to one."

And Anna suddenly felt like an arrow had been shot through her heart, or more accurately, a whole quiver of them. "Oh Els, don't say that! You'll have kids one day. I'm sure of it!"

Elsa gave her a small smile. "I'm not. In fact, I seriously doubt it, honey. And even if I did find a husband, I doubt I could carry a child to full term with my condition. I do need to produce an heir somehow, though. I guess I could just name one. Elizabeth did that a while back in England when she didn't marry. Or, I suppose could adopt a child, but..."

"What do you mean 'name an heir' or 'adopt'? Don't be silly, Els. You'll meet someone and marry him and you'll have tons of kids of your own.", Anna said with enthusiasm.

Elsa exhaled tiredly. "Will I?"

"Of course, you will, Els! All kinds of little heirs running around the castle, playing with Olaf."

"Anna," the Queen sighed, "nature tends not to allow people like me to even exist, never mind reproduce."

"What are you talking about, Els? Mama carried you with no problem."

"Yes, she did, but when I was born, my skin was icy cold, Anna. The midwives thought it was a stillbirth. No one understood what I was. If it hadn't been for Mama realizing I was breathing, I would have been taken from the castle and left to the elements. Exposed. But, she stopped them, forbade them from touching me. From what I've been told, Papa thought I was an aberration, that I could be dangerous and he implored her to let them take me away. But Mama would have none of it. She insisted they keep me and raise me as best they could to be Queen one day. I would be dead, if it weren't for her, Anna. I would never have been given a chance. Sometimes I love her for that and sometimes I… I wish she'd listened to Papa."

"Elsa, don't say that.", Anna begged, her brows knitting together in concern and her eyes glassy with compassionate tears.

"But, it's true.", she sighed grimly. "However," she cleared her throat and tried to brighten a bit, "because of you, I'm thankful that she allowed me to survive."

Anna squeezed her sister's hand tighter.

"Anyway," Elsa continued, "picking up where I left off... most children who are born different, like I was, don't even make it as far as the birth process itself. The mother typically miscarries them in the first or second trimester, long before they are due. But, when someone like me is conceived, actually comes to term and survives being born, if she is a female, she is almost always born infertile."

"Oh.", Anna blinked, "As in not able to have a baby?"

"That's right.", Elsa nodded. "As in Nature is wise, honey. It doesn't allow another permutation to occur."

"Per Mew what?", Anna asked, trying to get her mouth around the word.

"Permutation. A variation in what is normal. In other words, a mistake, Anna.", she breathed, "And, Mother Nature always tries to correct her mistakes."

"You were not a mistake, Elsa!", Anna blurted immediately. "Don't even think that!"

"I appreciate that you feel that way, little one. I really do.", she smiled a weary, resigned smile. "But, it's okay. I know that I was. And I've accepted it. Actually, I was being rather kind. I'm sure some would go as far as to say that I was... I am an abomination."

Anna blinked at her in shock. "Elsa, you are not! Please stop talking like that!"

"I'm just being honest, honey. People fear what they don't understand and when people are afraid of something, they tend to say and believe incredibly hurtful things about it... whether or not they're true. They tend to persecute rather than try to understand or live in peace with it. Growing up in that room by myself was terrible, yes, but at least it sheltered me from some things, some... people in the world. Mama and Papa were even afraid of me to a degree which is why I was shut away in the first place. They never completely trusted me... my powers. If they'd let me practice them, things would've been a lot better. But because of their fear of my abilities and the unknown extent of what I could do, they caused irreparable damage to both of us. I did love them deeply, of course, but they were misguided."

"Sadly, I believe I would have to agree with you there. I loved them to pieces, but after I found out what happened, what they did to you... to us, I hated them a little bit too.", Anna looked away.

Elsa pulled her closer. "Try not to hate them, Anna.", she told her softly, "It's best to forgive them. They were good people and they thought they were doing the right thing. They were just acting from fear instead of love... which is what Grand Pabbie tried to warn them against but they misunderstood his advice and sort of twisted it and it caused harm to both of us."

Anna nodded, wanly. "You're right.", she sighed.

"And all of this is also why I will probably never find a husband in the first place... people's inherent fear of what they don't understand or haven't experienced. No man would ever have me.", Elsa admitted quietly.

"Um, now on that, I beg to differ, big sister.", Anna said, voice filled with absolute resolve. "Men fall at your feet wherever you go. They never even give me a second look if I'm with you."

Elsa sighed, regarding Anna with a kind expression that bespoke of experiences that Anna would never have or even comprehend. "Honey, this is just what we've been talking about.", she said and her voice sounded kind, almost motherly. "They're afraid of me. That's why they behave that way. You're not seeing it because you're not afraid of me and you've never been. You don't have any frame of reference for knowing what fear looks like because your mere presence doesn't instill it. Mine, however, sadly does. You've never felt the horrible emptiness that comes from seeing someone shrink away from you or look at you with eyes full of doubt and mistrust."

"The look that I see in their eyes isn't fear or doubt or mistrust, though, Els. It's lust."

Elsa shook her head gently. "It'so not lust, Anna."

"Els, no offense, but you have been holed up in your room for 13 years. You don't have a clue what lust looks like."

"And you do, baby sister?", she asked, placing emphasis in the word 'baby'.

"More than you!", Anna retorted, "I may be 3 years younger and I know you think I'm naive but I've had more experiences with people than you have. Even though I couldn't leave the castle grounds, I've interacted more."

"I have a window in my room, Anna. I was able to observe an amazing amount of 'life', which I couldn't actually live or participate in, through that pane of glass. I know about the crush the stable boy had on you. The way he couldn't take his eyes off the bounce of your chest when you were riding. The way he watched your backside swaying to and fro when you walked back to the castle after a ride. That was lust, Anna. Pure and simple. So, believe me, I know what it looks like. And, the way men look at me isn't with lust, honey, it's with dread."

Anna's face had turned bright red. She didn't even hear the last sentence. When did this go from being about Elsa's glaring lack of self-confidence to Anna's less than stellar love life, or lack thereof? And, how could Elsa have seen all that just watching from her window? Anna hadn't even noticed any of that herself. If she didn't know better, she'd say that Elsa sounded... well, almost, kinda, sorta... jealous?!

Wait, what! That's impossible!

Although, Anna knew she didn't pay attention to a lot of things that she probably should have, which is most likely why what happened with Henrik ended up happening. Maybe it was even partially her fault, if she hadn't been so blind to the depth of his feelings, surely she wouldn't have led him on like she had, albeit unconsciously. She had been young, too... well, 15... and no boys had ever paid much attention to her. She had never even really cared that much for boys, honestly. They always seemed dirty in both body and mind, too sure of themselves, and flippant in the extreme. And they were physically strong and that kind of scared her, too, because even at a young age, after Elsa had been taken from her, she knew they could hurt her without her sister there to protect her. She had not remembered Elsa's ice powers but she had still somehow inherently known that Elsa could and would protect her, always, if she was able. She had been observant enough back then to at least realize that Henrik had liked her. And even though she didn't feel anything for him, she had to admit that it made her feel good to know that someone of the opposite sex found her attractive even if she never returned his affections. Once he had even tried to kiss her but she'd rebuffed him. He'd tried to do more than that and she'd slapped his face and run away in tears. It had been bad. But, then he seemed to have just vanished. She'd stayed away from the stables for over a week and when she returned, he was gone. Just gone. No one seemed to know where or why. She never found out exactly what happened to him. She probably could have, had she tried hard enough but she had honestly been glad he was gone. Knowing she wouldn't be forced to fend off any more unwanted advances, she found herself greatly relieved. But she wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad one.

"And I saw what happened under the cherry tree beside the barn that day.", Elsa went on softly and it dislodged Anna from her thoughts.

"You-you saw that?", Anna asked, feeling hot blood rush to her cheeks.

"Yes, I saw it. All of it.", her sister said quietly. "I'm sure you wondered what became of him afterwards as he just disappeared."

Anna nodded.

"I banished him from the Kingdom.", Elsa said and tried to smile. "So you would never have to worry about him troubling you again."

Whoa, harsh!

"Elsa?", the younger girl asked in disbelief. "You banished him?"

"Yes, much like I did to Hans.", Elsa cleared her throat and glanced away. "I- I banished him. And that's all you need to know.", she mumbled the last so quietly Anna almost missed it.

Well, that sounded ominous.

"Elsa… what aren't you telling me?"

"Nothing!", Elsa insisted, bristling slightly at the question. "I just- I banished him and that's that."

"That's that'?", Anna echoed.

"Yes.", Elsa answered, her tone carefully matter-of-fact and calm.

"And nothing more?"

"Nothing more.", the Queen repeated almost mechanically.

Anna gave her a sidelong glance filled with incredulity and it finally seemed to break through to her.

Elsa's solemn veneer cracked. "Oh, believe me, Anna, I wanted to do more than that," she confessed, "but I didn't. I was so angry I couldn't see straight. I had to control myself. I wanted to kill him for what he'd done to you."

"But, Els, it wasn't that bad."

"Not that bad!?", Elsa stared at her in shock.

"No, I mean, he didn't rape me or anything, he just… tried to cop a feel."

"I know very well what he did, Anna, and it was completely inappropriate!"

"Well, that may be but—"

"It was unseemly!" Elsa cut her off, "And it made me furious, utterly enraged. I lived my life vicariously through you back then. I always had. So, it actually felt as if it had happened to me. I, myself, felt violated. His behavior was beyond contempt. Low and crass and vulgar! A complete disgrace!"

Anna lowered her head, it felt like she was being berated. "He was just horny, Els.", she said in little more than a whisper.

But Elsa heard her.

"How dare you defend that... that puerile, sex-crazed plebeian, Anna!", she spat, eyes flashing her disapproval.

"He wasn't... any of that!", Anna countered even though she wasn't even sure what a couple of those things meant. "He was just young, Els. And I guess he wanted to show that he liked me."

"Well, there are countless other less lecherous ways of doing that!", her sister shot back.

Anna nodded. "I know but most of the time, he was a complete gentleman to-"

"Gentleman!", Elsa barked, eyebrows climbing to her hairline. "You can't be serious! Gentlemen know how to treat ladies. And, he was no gentleman, Anna. Far from it! His actions showed a blatant lack of respect for you as a woman and for the crown, in general! Both of which are reprehensible and totally inexcusable. Especially considering your station... and his! As Sovereign Ruler, I would've been justified to do a lot more than just boot him out of the Kingdom for what he did to you. And let's just put it this way, he's very lucky that I managed to control my temper that day.", she said and Anna noticed that her left hand had balled itself into a fist and that a light frosting of ice was covering her fingers. "I mean, really! How dare a common stable boy assault a princess of the realm! How dare he assault a completely innocent young girl and the person I loved most in the whole world!"

Anna looked down at her lap. "I'm not defending him, Els. But all he did was grab my breast.", she said softly. "It wasn't quite as bad as all that. Certainly not 'an assault'."

"It was, Anna!", her older sister cried in desperation. "He took advantage of you! Of your kindness. He...", she searched for the words, "he needlessly trespassed upon your person in an unnecessarily sexual manner."

At this, Anna nearly lost it. She raised her brows in amusement. She couldn't control the small smile that formed on her lips at Elsa's overly fancy wording. "Oh, is that what he did?", she asked, trying to contain the very inappropriate fit of giggles that was trying to bubble it's way up from her stomach at Elsa's continued ire. "You know, if this whole Queen thing doesn't work out, you should really look into being a barrister, Els. You have the vocabulary for it.", she smiled, making an attempt to diffuse some of Elsa's intensity with humor.

But it didn't work.

"It's no laughing matter.", Elsa snapped, giving her a withering stare. "He groped you, Anna. And he made you cry. I saw how distraught what he did made you."

"Elsa," Anna began, forcing herself to be serious and speak calmly, "I appreciate your concern, I honestly do. But, he didn't hurt me. What he did just scared me mostly and that's why I reacted the way I did."

Anna remembered all too well how his hand had felt on her breast. Even though it had only touched her for a split second, she remembered all the feelings that had sailed through her as a result of that little squeeze he'd given it. The awakening it had spurred within her, that is what had scared her, more than the actual touch itself. She hadn't been attracted to him at all, but when he'd touched her, her body had reacted. Elsa was right about one thing, she was innocent sexually. She'd never been touched in a sexual fashion in her life before and although it had scared her, the feelings... the cascade of tingles followed by the ensuing throbbing ache between her thighs..., had also excited her. And she remembered wondering what it would have felt like for Elsa to do that to her. She had fled the barn and ran to the castle in tears. Rushing up the stairs to her room, locking the door and flopping down on the bed to cry her eyes out. And, when she'd finished crying, she'd let one hand reach down to caress the breast that Henrik had fondled and allowed the other one slip down between her legs. She'd stroked herself and imagined her hand was Elsa's. Elsa's hand, Elsa's fingers, Elsa's lips, Elsa's... tongue. Until she...

"I realize that," Elsa's words thankfully jarred her out of her sudden inappropriate train of thought, "but if he'd actually hurt you, I... I don't know what I'd have done. I wouldn't have been responsible for my actions. I probably would have had him meet an untimely fate on the road somewhere or better yet had him lynched in the town square for high treason and let him hang there rotting, until the crows pecked out his eyes and the vultures stripped his bones clean."

Her voice sounded different than Anna had ever heard it. Hard and full of cold unyielding wrath. Almost malevolent. And, her eyes were like two burning embers of impassioned rage.

Okay, that was scary. Who was THAT? It certainly wasn't her sweet, completely non-violent sister, Elsa.

Anna stared back at her, unblinking, completely taken aback by this dark side of her sister which Anna had never even known existed until this very moment. Elsa had never shown it to her before. And, for the first time in Anna's life, Elsa had frightened her... more than she cared to admit... with the utter violence of her thoughts. Now she found herself wondering just what it was that Elsa had actually done to Henrik. She knew Elsa was holding something back… some very dark, very scary something… but she also knew better than to ask her about it. Especially right now.

"Well," Anna swallowed hard, trying not to show how much her sister's words had shaken her, "that escalated quickly."

Her humor had the intended effect, at last. Elsa laughed. "I'm sorry to go all Empress Caligula on you there.", she smiled and, that fast, Anna knew she had her sister back. "I shouldn't have said all that. Sometimes I scare my own self with all the things that run through my brain. But, the point I was trying to make was that I'm just fiercely protective when it comes to you, honey. I don't want to see you hurt."

"And I'm flattered, really. I mean, 'Devon' has nothing on you in the protection department, big sister. Just remind me never to grope your boob!", she said and Elsa went absolutely white for a few seconds before her whole body suddenly flushed bright, brilliant red. And, for a minute, Anna was worried she was going to find herself swinging from a brand new choker made of hemp in the town square tomorrow. But then a huge smile spread across her sister's lovely face. The giggle started deep down inside her and when it emerged, it was probably the single largest guffaw Anna had ever had the privilege of hearing tumble from her sister's mouth in her whole life.

And Anna relaxed. "Oh Els, I know I've said this about 80 million times, but I'm so glad we're finally here for each other again. So we can talk through things. I love you so much and I'm so very glad you're my sister."

Abruptly, Elsa's eyes went glassy. "You are? Even after that whole intense Empress Caligula thing that just happened?", she asked, attempting to smile.

"Yes," Anna nodded. "Even after that. Proved that you were human. We all have scary thoughts, Els… granted most of them aren't quite that insanely unhinged, but..."

"Oh, I'm 'insanely unhinged' now, am I?", Elsa blinked, putting her hand over her heart, feigning insult, "Gee, thanks!"

"Kidding!", Anna reassured. "You know I'm kidding!"

"Yes, I do.", Elsa agreed. "But I really shouldn't have said that. It did sound pretty depraved, even for me."

"Not for you, Els!", Anna disagreed promptly, "You're the least depraved person I know, honestly. That's why it shocked me so much that you would say something like that."

"Oh Anna, you'd be surprised the things that go through my mind sometimes…", she shook her head, "that used to go through my mind a lot. Being with you helps keep those thoughts at bay, though. I am sometimes surprised that I'm not a lot crazier than I am… being shut away for all those years."

"Oh, I so agree. I mean, well, there was that whole freezing the Kingdom thing but that was so minor.", Anna winked.

At this, Elsa's eyes lit up and she laughed. "Shut your trap, little sister!", she smiled and bumped Anna's shoulder playfully. "Or I may have to freeze it shut, seeing as how I'm so 'insanely unhinged' and all."

"Sorry!", Anna said, holding up her hands in surrender. "I'm sorry!", she grinned.

Just at that moment, they went over a bump in the road and the picnic basket jostled, the utensils inside clattered together and Anna felt her stomach growl. Time had slipped away from them and Anna realized they must've been riding for hours. By the sun's position in the sky, it had to be after twelve.

"Hey," Anna asked, "are you getting hungry?"

"I'm starving!", Elsa admitted. "Breakfast just didn't stick to my ribs this morning."

"After the way you wolfed it down, I'm not surprised!", Anna teased.

"Well, I'm sorry if my unladylike dining habits this morning offended your delicate sensibilities, dear sister. I'm sure it must've had something to do with how 'insanely unhinged' I am, don't you agree?", she winked.

"You're never going to let me forget that, are you?", Anna shook her head.

Elsa grinned from ear to ear. "Nope! Not on your life.", she said, "Besides, my haste this morning was just because I was trying to hurry so I could spend time with you, you know."

Anna laughed. "I know, I know. You're forgiven."

"Good!", Elsa said. "Now, if I remember the topographical maps from the castle correctly, there should be a small lake just around the bend up here.", she gestured ahead and to the right.

"Oh that sounds perfect. My belly is starting to growl."

"Mine, too!", Elsa admitted. "Let's find a nice spot for lunch, what do you say?"

"Yes, please, your Majesty!", Anna nodded vigorously. "And, the sooner the better!"

Author's Note: Thanks for sticking with this one, it went in several different directions that I hadn't anticipated when I started it and it also turned out much longer than I expected. Stay tuned to find out what exactly happened between Elsa and the stable boy, Henrik, as well as the Elsanna. Thanks again, so much for reading, as always. And, if you're enjoying it, please jot down encouraging words in the way of a review.