Featured banner art by Athena (@myrthena)
Warning: Mild swearing and graphic descriptions
Arendelle Castle was heavy with dread and tension as the Countess’s ebony, heeled boots clacked down its hallways.
Two generations had passed since the last Mundilfari family head paid the royal home a personal visit. The most recent visitor was the late Lord Mayer Mundilfari, Viola’s grandfather. He had arrogantly swaggered into the palace and effectively intimidated the royal couple, demanding that Agnarr divorce Iduna. Although Agnarr never heeded Mayer, the fact that the latter could get away with such a humiliating insult, with all its racist undertones, was testament to Clan Mundilfari’s chokehold over Arendellian affairs.
It was the witching hour, and history was repeating itself. Tonight, the granddaughter of Mayer met Agnarr’s daughter on the royals’ home turf.
She knocked on the grand and elegant door of the drawing room, and an attendant bowed and opened it. Sitting on a wooden chair with a tall back, in front of the warm fireplace and before a long table with a plate of cookies, a teapot, and two elegant teacups, was Anna in her more tomboyish getup, complete with patterned blazer and sash.
“It’s an unspoken rule that Arendelle’s royals don’t casually invite the Mundilfaris to the palace,” said Viola quietly.
“I know. But tonight is an important night,” said Anna. She gestured to the chair beside her. “Tea?”
“I’ll serve myself.” Viola glided over and sat down, looking pointedly at Anna as she poured herself a cup. “If you want me to back down from answering any challenge by your ally, the Chinese prince regent Yixin, don’t bother. He’s the one trying to puppeteer you, to maneuver you to destroy me so he can simply control Arendelle from his Forbidden City.” She licked her lips. “You and your friends should join me, so we can take him on.”
“Well, you got one thing right,” said Anna calmly. “When Yixin presented me with the emperor’s request to make a military move against you, I immediately thought that I couldn’t do it. I can’t attack my own citizen, even a Mundilfari, unless you march upon my palace. Or Northuldra.”
Anna grimaced as Viola smiled slyly. “My loyalty is to my citizens and subjects first… even you, Vi. Yet I can’t risk displeasing an ally as helpful and powerful as Yixin. He’s already been very patient with me, especially after the emperor freaked out at how you attacked the Southern Isles and Hans. The Chinese are terrified that you’ll do the same to them, in my name. In Arendelle’s name. And I can’t accept that either.”
“Yixin and I have put you in quite the bind,” said the Countess, smirking.
Anna’s grimace slowly relaxed, and then turned into a smile as well. Viola raised an eyebrow at that. “At first, I thought I was in a supremely difficult diplomatic position. But then I resolved to protect you while also ensuring you can never offend the Chinese again.”
Viola pursed her lips. Anna had something planned. “What are you playing at, my queen?”
“See this letter?” asked Anna, raising a piece of paper on the table and passing it to Viola. “I’m going to release it in all the Big Three papers tomorrow, and newspapers and gazettes from around the world will pick up on this too.” Viola’s crimson eyes ran over it. To her shock, it was in Chinese; she couldn’t read it.
Anna leaned back in her chair, feeling rather satisfied with Viola’s bewildered face. “The first line reads: ‘我, 安娜女王, 向大清帝國人民转达艾倫戴爾王國人民的诚挚问候和良好祝愿. Wo, Anna nuwang, xiang da qing diguo renmin zhuanda ai lun dai’er wangguo renmin de chengzhi wenhou he lianghao zhuyuan,'” she said casually.
Viola looked even more confused at Anna’s sudden switch from Arendellian to Chinese. “I have no idea what you just said.”
“That translates to: ‘I, Queen Anna, extend to the people of the Great Qing Empire heartfelt greetings and best wishes from the people of the Kingdom of Arendelle.'”
There were several more paragraphs below: Chinese characters all in Anna’s handwriting. “What is this?” asked Viola, not quite sure how to react.
“What’s so surprising?” said Anna. “You and I both know Latin and French, and I have a good friendship with Prince Regent Yixin. And that’s the point of this letter. I’m writing this for him and the emperor, telling them two things. First, with as much graciousness and humility as I can summon, I’ll let them know that I’m not going to be attacking you or marching troops on Keep Mundilfari.”
“So, that should disappoint them,” said Viola, putting the letter down. “And what’s the second point?”
“Probably another disappointment for them, perhaps even a nasty shock.” Anna stood up, walking to stand in front of the crackling fireplace. Silence rung through the drawing room for several moments as Viola stared up at her. Anna’s small shoulders moved as she took a deep breath, before turning around to face Viola.
“I’m creating a new position in my government, the highest office and second only to me. The position will be called that of Prime Minister, the first of its kind in our kingdom’s history. And I want the first holder of this great office to be you, Vampire Vi.”
Shocked red eyes met calm irises of aqua. Viola’s jaw was loose, and she felt herself breaking into a cold sweat. “Why… why me?” she asked, gobsmacked. “This is absurd. Arendelle has had an executive monarchy since its very foundation.”
“And it will stay that way. But you’ve opened my eyes to an unpleasant truth: we do have an executive monarchy, but who was in the background all this time, pulling the strings? You guys were.” Anna stared down at Vi, who suddenly felt smaller than usual. “You’ve enjoyed centuries of deferential privilege and unchecked power, acting as kingmakers to our royal family. It’s made every Mundilfari leader entitled to acting like they’re above the monarch. Hence you have Commander Hilde and your own private army. Keep Mundilfari and your holdings might as well be a shadow state alongside Arendelle.”
Anna smirked. “So I had this little thought: why don’t we formalize your political power and make it legitimate, part of the body politic? Surely you won’t object to serving your queen in the highest possible position, in the heart of my government? I’ll be taking a lot of flak from my own allies – you have many enemies – but I’ll be happy to defend my choice.”
“What if I refuse?” said Viola tersely, gripping her chair’s armrests tightly. Because by now she knew what Anna was aiming for: to accept this offer would mean that all her resources, including Hilde’s army and her own Runic Knights, would be subordinate to the state – to Anna. And Northuldra, all her other plans… busted.
“Well, I’ll tell the Big Three papers, including your own, that Viola Mundilfari refused the honour of serving as Arendelle’s very first Great Office of State. That, for inexplicable reasons, she refused to have the privilege of being elevated to a position of true political power, with direct favour from her sovereign.”
Anna put a finger to her chin. “Perhaps the whole kingdom, and even other countries like China, would be interested to find out those reasons… and to have Keep Mundilfari’s dark secrets to be exposed for the entire world to see.”
Viola stared at the ground, avoiding Anna’s infuriating gaze. She could almost feel that sickening smile of triumph on the queen’s face.
Losing Muspelheim and the Battle of the Fjord was nothing compared to being outmanoeuvred and cornered like this. Both young women knew it. Anna’s lips parted, her eyes glinting. “Oh, Vi. I think this is checkmate.”
Within two strides, Viola had risen and slammed Anna against the wall, snarling and baring her teeth, intimidating but impotent nevertheless as she realized that the queen had her truly trapped.
“You… you planned this all along!” she hissed, staring into Anna’s eyes.
“No,” whispered Anna, “but this is the only way to keep you safe from Yixin. We can’t beat him, even together, but I can protect you if you’re an official of the state.” Her eyes shone. “And it’s the only way you and can coexist without destroying each other, Vi.”
“You just want me under your thumb, Anna.”
“Well, kind of. I’m going to make you pay for nearly wrecking my foreign policy, and pushing us to the brink of war with multiple countries. Not to mention Northuldra and Elsa. So you’re stuck with me now. I keep my friends close, but I’m going to keep my archenemy closest to me of all.”
Viola grabbed Anna’s face with her smooth hands, roughly and unkindly. “You’re more of a conniving, calculating bitch than I thought,” she snickered darkly, her nails digging into Anna’s cheeks. “Well-played.”
“Vi, you’re hurting me,” breathed Anna nervously. Her breath was hot on Viola’s face. “I’m not here to hurt you. I’ve never been – ”
“As if I care!” snapped Viola, as she drew closer, planting a rough and hateful kiss on Anna’s lips. The queen seized up, briefly trying to break free, but Viola was too strong, and she could only mumble a muffled plea as they both shut their eyes tightly, their lips locked in an angry, passionate duel until Viola felt Anna’s legs weakening, her knees buckling.
Anna moaned helplessly, unable to stop herself thinking about how Viola’s kiss felt more like a wolf’s bite.
Eventually, the countess pulled away, brusquely pushing Anna’s limp form to the wall before stepping away.
“Let me get back to you about this,” she muttered quietly, staring wildly at nothing, unable to meet Anna’s languid stare. “I’m not saying I refuse, but there are forces at my end that I have to… deal with, somehow.”
Anna slowly rose, trembling. “Whatever’s binding you and Clan Mundilfari itself, I can help you be free from it. Please. You’re not alone.”
Viola stared at Anna. “Apparently not.”
“Hey, Vi. Don’t tell Kristoff,” whispered the queen, wiping their spittle from her mouth.
“Don’t mention that oaf in my presence,” muttered Viola, as she stormed towards the door on the other side of the room, grabbing her mantle and slamming the door shut.