She knocked, she really did, but this news was too great to waste time standing around waiting for a response, she was too excited. Anna pushed down on the door-handle and flung it open wide. "Elsa! Look what I— Oh."
Her sister sat slumped at her desk, cheek held and precariously balanced on her propped hand. Anna snickered at the way it pulled and squished her face. As cute as it was, though, she needed her awake. Like, now.
"Wake up, sleeyhead," she said. She touched Elsa's arm lightly, but she may as well have smacked her from the looks of how it had startled the queen.
"What?! What happened? What's wrong?" She leapt to her feet, one hand planted on the top of the desk, the other gripped her head to try to quell the sudden dizziness. "Oh, Anna. It's you." She felt for the chair behind her and carefully dropped back into it. "You scared me."
Anna opened her mouth to apologize, but never got the chance. Elsa had noticed her surprise. - "Why is there a giant bird on your shoulder?"
"Him?" Anna shrugged her shoulder nonchalantly and looked up at the large white cockatoo sitting there. "This is Crackers."
"Okay. But why is... Crackers... here?"
"Kristoff and I were looking around the shops today and as soon as I saw him I knew I had to have him. He's amazing, Elsa! Watch!" She took out some sort of little treat from her pocket and held it near his beak. "Who's a pretty bird?"
"Pretty bird!* Squawk. "Pretty bird!"
"Isn't he great!" Anna fed him one of the treats. "I'm going to teach him to say all sorts of things— Oh! Crackers, say 'Elsa's pretty.' Come on... 'Elsa's pretty,' then you can have another treat."
Her sister groaned. "Please don't."
Crackers screeched some more and flapped wildly. Anna tipped her head away to avoid being hit in the face, but laughed it off. "Heh. Birds. Gotta love'em." She reached up to pat Crackers and get him settled.
"Anna. He cannot stay here."
"What? Why not?"
"Birds are loud, and dirty. And," she gestured towards the bird, "they make a lot of noise."
"You said that one alrea—"
"And we are not bird people!"
"But, how do I know what kind of people I am, Els, I've never had a pet before. Except the pony. And the ducks, but they don't really count. Never anything that lived inside. I didn't understand what he meant at the time, but Papa only said that it wouldn't be fair to y—" she bit down on her lip - hard, and cleared her throat. "Nevermind."
Elsa took a deep breath and sighed. She knew why she had never had a pet, but had never considered that Anna would suffer for her shortcomings as well. "Fine."
"Really?! We can keep him?"
Elsa cringed. "Against my better judgement... yes, he can stay—" But before she could finish, she was pulled into a bone-crushing hug. "IF!" she managed to squeeze out.
Anna pulled back.
"If it doesn't cause any problems. I don't want him bothering the staff, or upsetting our visitors."
"Got it! He'll be an angel, Elsa, I swear. You won't even know he's here!"
"Elsa's pretty. Elsa's pretty." Squawk.
"Anna. Please. Take him somewhere else." The queen tried to rub away the tension in her tired eyes. "I've got to get some work done and that's all I've heard for three days. I can't concentrate"
"Sure. Okay. Sorry. I've been trying to teach him some other things, but what can I say, he's smart. You are pretty."
Squawk. "Elsa's pretty."
"Alright, alright. Sheesh."
"Your Majesty, I'm so sorry to disturb you, but we've had some complaints for the visiting dignitaries that they're having a hard time sleeping due to Princess Anna's bird..."
"Yes, thank you, Kai." Elsa sighed. "I had a feeling that's what this was about. I'll talk to her."
Ice creeped out from Elsa's splayed palms. It had been ten days. TEN DAYS of hearing that awful squawking and those repetitive lines, over and over and over... She'd tried to give it a chance, for Anna, but now she had had enough. She slammed her hands down on the dining table when the creature had begun screeching because Anna had tried to remove him from her shoulder. Because birds do not belong at the table.
"Take it back, Anna."
"That's... probably best."
Squawk. "Elsa's pretty."
"I'll just," Anna hopped up out of her seat. "I'll go now."
Anna hadn't found Elsa in her office when she returned home that afternoon. On the rare occasion she wasn't in there working, she could usually be found in her room curled up with a book and a cup of peppermint tea. Sure enough, when Anna knocked on the door she heard Elsa call from inside. "Come in."
She pushed it open and went in just as Elsa slid off the side of bed, book in hand. Nodding to the glass orb-like object in Anna's arms, she asked: "What's that?"
The redhead pushed the glass towards her. "I brought you something!"
"...Why is it a fish?"
Elsa pinched the bridge of her nose. "Why did you bring me a fish, Anna?"
"Oh! Right. Well, I brought back the bird, but then I saw this little guy and I thought: Elsa would love him! So..." She held out the bowl farther. "Ta da!"
When Elsa didn't immediately respond, Anna shuffled her feet, suddenly unsure if she'd made the wrong choice. "You do like him, right?"
Elsa bit her lip and set her book aside. "I... Of course," she forced a smile and took the bowl tentatively. "Thank you, Anna."
"I knew you would," she beamed. "And you're welcome." She turned and started heading back towards the hall, leaving her sister standing there with the bowl at arm's length.
"Wait! Anna! Where are you going?"
"Just out to the stables. I promised Kristoff I'd be right back."
"See ya later, Els!" And then she was gone.
"What am I supposed to do with it now?" She muttered to herself. Slowly, she brought the bowl in close to her chest, wrapped her arms around it and peered inside. "Hello, little guy."
She carefully set the bowl on her beside table and watched as the shiny fish swim around for a few minutes. "You are kind of cute, aren't you?" She sat down with a sigh. "You should know, I've never had a fish before." Her hands twined together nervously in her lap. "I've never had any pet before, actually. I'm not the most..." She lowered her eyes. "Well, lets just say that it probably would not have been a good idea." She glanced up at her fish who was obliviously darting around happily in his water-filled home. How easily she could hurt him. —But no. Things were different now. "I'll take good care of you. I promise, you don't have to worry."
The little orange fish swam close to the glass, as close to Elsa as it could get. Its tiny lips opened and closed, opened and closed as it stared at her. "I like your bubbles," she told him. She leaned in closer, mimicking the movements. She felt silly, but what did it matter? No one was around to see, and they were having fun...
Maybe Anna was right. She did kind of love him.
"Good morning, Anna," Elsa smiled brightly. She sat down and hummed as she piled her plate full of rice pudding and fresh berries. "Mmm. I just love riskrem, don't you?" She spooned some raspberry sauce on top and grinned at Anna expectantly.
"Um. Yes?" She took a bite of her own. "But it's not even Christmas."
Elsa laughed, "I know. But I thought it sounded like a nice treat, so I asked Gerda to have it prepared for breakfast."
Anna shoveled in another mouthful and pressed a napkin against her overstuffed lips. "I fully support your decision."
"Anna. Manners, please."
With the slightly mischievous look in her eyes, Elsa took a heaping bite of her riskrem and tried to exaggerate a smile when a stunned Anna stared at her - mouth slightly agape, her tightly pursed lips kept everything safely inside.
"Very queenly," Anna teased, making Elsa snort. She quickly clamped her hand over her mouth and nose and turned away to compose herself so she could swallow her pudding.
"You're in a good mood this morning."
"Am I not usually?"
"Well, no... you are, I guess. You just seem extra chipper this morning?"
"Do I?" Elsa grinned. "I supposed I have had a nice morning."
"I only just woke up and threw on some clothes. Not enough time for it to be noticeably nice... How long have you been up?"
"Oh, just a few hours. Not too long. Bobler and I were playing peek-a-boo."
Anna's brows shot towards her hairline. "You named him?"
Elsa looked at her curiously. "Was I not supposed to?"
"Of course you are. Pets need names. I just wasn't sure if you even liked him."
"Oh, yes!" Elsa's eyes sparkled. "I like him very much. Thank you, Anna! - I'm not sure if I said that yesterday."
"You did. But I'm happy to hear that you're enjoying him."
"I am! I wasn't sure if I would, since I was never really around animals, but I'm having fun with him. - He really likes to hide in his castle, so when goes inside I'll get close to the glass, and he pops out! And when I talk to him, he comes to the surface and blows bubbles. It's adorable." She smiled. "I think he's the cutest fish I've ever seen."
"He is cute, but..."
"What? Is something wrong with him, is he okay?"
"No. I'm sure he's fine. It's just... Isn't he the only fish you've ever seen?"
Elsa sat up straighter - shoulders back, head high. "I've seen fish before."
Anna glared at her.
Anna nodded - just as she suspected.
"And... for dinner—Oh no! Anna!" she gasped. Her hands flew up over her mouth, blue eyes wide with alarm. "I have to stop eating fish!"
"No, you don—"
"What kind of fish-parent would I be if I didn't? That would be so cruel."
"It's not like you're going to eat Bobl—"
"I do quite enjoy lutefisk, though..."
"No more pickled herring..." She pouted.
The blonde whipped around to face her sister. "Did you say something?"
"You don't have to stop eating fish, Els, just don't eat your pet and it'll be fine."
"But what if—"
"He's a fish, Elsa. He won't know."
"I know, but..." she fidgeted with the fabric of her skirt, "could you eat a reindeer? One that wasn't Sven?"
"Uh... No. I—I guess not." Anna sighed. "Still. You love fish. And, well, in case you forgot: we're Norwegian, we eat a lot of fish."
Elsa chewed on her lip, debating. "I'll have to think about it some more."
"That's a good idea." Anna took the opportunity to change the subject - sort of. "So. Tell me more about your— about Bobler."
That's all it took. Elsa perked up and picked right back up where she left off. "He's so cute. When I told him it was time for eatsies - you should have seen how excited he got! He was wiggling all over!" She blinked a few times and Anna had yet to say anything, or move. "...What?"
"Did you... did you just say... 'eatsies'?"
"Umm." She turned her head away. "I... I should go. I've got to go back to check on him before I get to work. And..." she stood up and pushed her chair in. "Excuse me."
"Wait! I'm sorry." Anna jumped up and caught her hand, pulling her to a stop. "I didn't mean to embarrass you. I think it's really cute how much he means to you already."
Elsa shook her head. "I was being childish."
"Stop it. You're just happy, Elsa. As so what if you were, there's nothing wrong with that. I don't want you to ever feel like you can't be yourself around me, okay?
She hugged herself around her middle - still a little self-conscious, but she nodded. "Then... do you..." she looked away, but when she turned back it was clear that her excitement was building again. "Do you want to come see him? - Unless you have plans! Or if—"
Anna rolled her eyes, exasperated, but she was smiling, too. "Show me your fish, Elsa." She linked arms with her sister and led them toward's her room. "So... Bobler, huh?"
Elsa ducked her head sheepishly. "I like his bubbles."
In case it's not obvious enough, "Bobler" is Norwegian for "bubbles." ;)