This vignette was written as a gift for a couple of very special friends and is meant to take place not long before the first movie and attempts to stay compliant with the tv show as well. Enjoy!

Poppy was enjoying herself a nice, long, midmorning skip through the village.
Sure, the place being deserted like it was was honestly kind of eerie and so was the fact that she was skipping through it all alone, but she had a good rhythm going and with no other distracting sounds around it was the perfect beat for humming along to.

Yeah, she thought as she hit the outskirts of her quieter than usual town, she knew if she hadn't taken the few dozen extra minutes that morning sending out the last of the last minute invitations for the beach party she and the Snack Pack had hatched last evening over their last minute dinner party she wouldn't be virtually the last troll to arrive for said party, but the thought of anyone missing out because she didn't want to be late? Well that would've been just plain mean.

Then, since she'd already known she was going to be missing the grand opening, she'd decided to spend a few extra minutes glittering up her hair and party outfit. That way she'd have a good excuse for her 'fashionably late' entrance. After all, the princess didn't want anyone getting the crazy idea in their heads that they were the reason she'd been the last troll there.

Besides, if their was gonna be a Best Dressed award, Poppy'd gladly take it off the MC's hands for her amazing getup! Yep, she was gonna knock everybody's socks off with this-

"Hope you and your friends included 'getting eaten' on your fun list for the day," came a voice that cut off both Poppy's humming and skipping on the same beat. Leaving her surprised as well as just a little... disturbed as she whipped her head back and forth, looking for where the strangely threatening greeting had come from.

"See? You didn't hear me coming and you weren't even projecting. Imagine what you wouldn't hear coming over the blasting beats of a troll style beach pop party?"

And Poppy nearly jumped out of her skin when something she hadn't seen coming poked her in the middle of her back. Spinning around in time to catch only a glimpse of a retreating wisp of dark hair out the corner of her eye.

"Heh, too slow, Princess," said that same elusive voice. One it'd taken until then for Poppy to realize she absolutely recognized.

"Branch, if this is your idea of a good time..." started the princess, scanning the relative gloom off to either side of her path as she lowered herself into a ready stance, "then I'm loving it! I'm calling it 'hide-and-scare tag' and we need to teach it to everybody!" She all but squealed in her enthusiasm, not sure she could remember the last time the grump had invited anyone to play with him.

There wasn't a chance of holding the next squeal back though when she finally spotted the troll shaped figure crouched in the shadow of a particularly stout toadstool.
"Tag! Haha, now it's my turn to hide and say creepy things!" She all but shouted when her hair strike wasn't tactically evaded the way she'd half expected it to be.

"You can hide if you like, but I didn't come here to play some stupid game," said a very serious Branch as he brought himself all the way out onto the path and into the light of a beautiful sunny day. Dark hues surprising Poppy, as they always did, with just how starkly they contrasted every other thing in her bright, colorful life.
"Listen, if you truly care about your subjects, call off the karaoke party. Send everyone home before it's too late."

"Wait, what?" Asked the pastel princess, hair cutting off its anticipatory clapping at the shocking words.

"You heard me: cancel the party. For the safety of the village," said a face more serious than most trolls would ever have reason to make in their entire lives.

"What are you talking about, Branch?" Asked a Poppy just about starting to worry. "What's going on? Wait, is there something wrong with the beach?! Is the water-"

"The water's fine: the temperature is perfect and the pH is where it should be for this time of year, though I am a little concerned about the rate of algae- Wait, no, this has nothing to do with the water," insisted the grey guy, pinching at the bridge of his nose before going on in a far more frustrated tone.
"How many times do I have to warn you before you get it through your pop filled skull? It's the Bergens . You let the Snack Pack lead the village in a sing-along of beach party proportions and you'll have a real problem on your hands."

"I don't get it, Branch, what makes you think the Bergens are even looking for us?" Poppy asked, brows knitted together as she tried to follow the other troll's logic.

"They wouldn't have to. Not with how loud, bright, and happy all these pointless, irresponsible celebrations you keep encouraging your people to throw always end up," explained the stormy face across from Poppy, dark hair practically vibrating with conviction.

"But why, Branch? Why do you think the Bergens are coming? Do you have any proof? Have you found any footprints or any other kind of actual evidence to back up these crazy ideas?" Asked the princess with the arms that couldn't decide whether they wanted to stick themselves in an indignant crossed formation or wave wildly about her head.

"No, I- I just know, okay? I might not know exactly when, why, or by what means, but they're coming, mark my words, and when they do: I'll be ready. I only hope you'll be smart enough to make sure your subjects are too."

"But why are you so convinced they're coming? What in the name of pop makes you so sure? I mean, have you ever even seen a Bergen, Branch?"

"What?" The grey one asked, suddenly looking a hair less sure than he had since he'd started their little argue-sation.

Poppy, realizing she'd somehow gained the conversational advantage, chose to press the issue. Hoping to finally make some headway against the troll who thought he had all the answers.
"Because unless you're actually a lot older than you look, we're about the same age, and the trolls our age were either toddlers or even younger when my dad led everyone to freedom and babies and toddlers aren't supposed to remember stuff," the princess argued. Quite logically, if she said so herself.

"Shows what you know," said the troll with the ultimately stubborn set to his jaw as he took what might have been an unconscious step backward.

"Rrrr," Poppy growled, smacking a frustrated hand to her face as she gave the village downer a firmer look. Patience running thin at the faint strain of party music she could hear starting up from a distinctly beach direction.
"What is your obsession with those monsters? It's been decades since the great escape, Branch. Why can't you just admit that we're safe out here?"

"Because, princess, once you've seen something that evil... you can't un-see it."

Eyebrows furrowed in renewed concern, Poppy scrutinized the face of her one not-quite friend in the whole world and did her best to parse the meaning behind the vague words.
"So you have seen a Bergen?"

"It doesn't matter. All that matters is that nowhere is safe; nowhere has enough natural defenses or enough resources or is hard enough to find to keep this many trolls safe," Branch insisted as he took another and then another slow, cautious step back and away from the princess wishing he'd give an answer she could actually work with for once in his entire life.

"Branch, has anything ever, in all the years we've been here, attacked the village?" She asked, once again trying reason in her argument.

The 'are you kidding me' look he gave her was answer enough.

"Fine, has anything other than the occasional herd of trollberry loving spiders attacked the village?" She amended.

"You'd know if you ever checked the traps," he said as his backing away got half his body back under the shade of that same stout mushroom he'd surprise tagged her from.

"You mean the ones we have to keep removing because they keep catching trolls? No one wants to be hung upside down from their ankle just because they felt like going on a picnic, Branch," insisted the princess with a disapproving shake of her head.

"Yeah, well if anyone bothered reading the maps I circulate before I install new defenses, that wouldn't be a problem," the troll insisted as he backed the rest of himself under the fungus's cap and into the waiting gloom.

"You can't expect people to want to read all that stuff," Poppy insisted, remembering quite easily the last one she'd had delivered to her pod. "They're boring and don't sparkle or make noise and don't invite you to a party. Instead they tell you where you're not allowed to go this week and I don't think anybody's given those things a serious look in years."

"And that's why they keep getting caught in-"

"In the traps you won't stop ruining their plans with," Poppy finished, wishing the troll would come back out into the light so the two of them could have a proper conversation.

"In the traps that are the only things keeping you from a bi-weekly village emergency," corrected the troll whose eyes Poppy could just barely make out in the deepest depths of the murkiness he'd retreated to.

"What is your deal? Why can't you just be happy that we're happy?" She asked, squinting to not lose sight of her intellectual adversary. Shading her eyes from the cheery sun when that didn't help.

"My 'deal' is that I don't want to see anybody die a completely preventable, stupid, death!" Insisted the figure Poppy could once again just make out the outline of.

"Branch, I don't know how to make it any clearer to you than I already have: No one is dying. No Bergens are coming. Nobody is getting eaten. We're allowed to be happy. You're allowed to be happy."
The way the perpetually unhappy troll flinched, you'd think Poppy'd smacked him. Leaving the princess wondering what about what she'd said could possibly have warranted such a reaction.

"Shows what you know," said the strangely shaken figure shrouded in the exact darkest part of the mushroom's shadow. Before closing his ever so slightly reflective eyes and... whipping himself behind the fungus's trunk. Like he was trying to hide-and-sneak away without a goodbye hug.

"Branch? Branch?!" The princess demanded, running forward to better search the nearby shrubbery and low forest growth for her one and only not-friend in the whole world.
"Uh, that troll really knows how to kill my buzz," she grumbled to herself as she gave up the search for a lost cause.
After all, there wasn't a troll among them was ever able to find that guy when he really didn't want to be found. Wearing leaves for a shirt and always sticking to the grayest shadows possible? He practically became a branch. Outside the village, anyway.

Wishing she'd either gotten some answers she could actually understand for once, or maybe not bothered trying to get them that day in the first place, Poppy turned on a heel and made for the place she could hear the Snack Pack had already started up the karaoke part of their rad picnic slash beach party, doing her best to put the unpleasant conversation behind her.

By the time her toes touched sand, the princess was happy to say she'd stopped chewing her lip over the doom and gloom meeting. And if she asked DJ Suki to pretty please keep the post sing-along music just quiet enough for outside-voice conversation, it had nothing to do with all that negativity the downer under the mushroom had tried to ruin her day with. No, it was only because she'd seen so many trolls trying and —more often than not— failing to speak to each other over the bopping beats. No other reason at all.

Yep, when the time came for the village to get into formation for the sunset dance-athon, she'd completely pushed the interaction from her mind. That was why she decidedly wasn't checking the beach party's far shore for imaginary, hulking, hidden silhouettes with gargantuan, leering, glowing yellow eyes.

It was also why, hours after the MC had indeed awarded her the honorary title of Best Dressed, as she laid herself down for her full night of post party beauty sleep, the happily exhausted princess admitted to herself that she needed to have another conversation with her least sociable subject.
After all, who knew? Maybe this time, with a little luck and a whole, heaping spoonful of patience, she'd be able to glean just a pinch of method from the sullen troll's supposed madness.

Hi there and Happy Holidays! This is my first ever Trolls fanfic so I hope Branch and Poppy felt like themselves!
I tried to keep the feeling consistent as possible with both the first movie as well as with the Netflix series, The Beat Goes On. Hopefully a pleasant balance was struck!

I have a second chapter in the works that would focus on Branch and his side of things, so please feel free to let me know whether that sounds interesting! :D
Hope you enjoyed and, again, Happy Holidays!