Anna and Colisa were taking a walk in the gardens of Arendelle Castle. Anna was quite sociable with anybody, but she just had a most intimate affinity with the queen of Chatho. Over the past couple of days they’d enjoyed a very happy mix of work and play, from visiting Vera’s candy store and Lola’s music shop to introducing Colisa to the merchants of the Commerce Chamber.
The cherry on top was, of course, giving a joint statement to reporters about Colisa’s defeat of Skau-Krogh’s privateers. It had been the first victory that Anna’s Entente of Small Nations had earned after Skau-Krogh drew first blood with a shelling of Weselton’s shores, forcing the duchy’s duke to flee to Arendelle to plot his next move. Colisa was modest about the fearsome reputation of her Ten Tigresses, the royal guard that had crushed Skau-Krogh’s men and scuttled their ship. From now on, Harrison, the man behind it all, would surely be less arrogant and more serious about Anna and her friends.
“So, now I deal with you as Arendelle’s queen, while Elsa has ascended to effective godhood,” joked Colisa, as Anna chortled. “It must have been truly awe-inspiring to see her in her full glory.” Colisa gave Anna’s arm a gentle poke, and the two women giggled. “You know… when she reigned, Elsa was shy about showing off. Once when you two visited me, she made a sculpture of Olaf but didn’t want me to see her magic. You tried to pass off that sculpture as your creation rather than Elsa’s! What now, Ice Master?”
Anna looked sheepish as she nodded. “She put me on the spot,” she confessed. “Not even Kristoff can make ice like Elsa can. And I’m pretty sure you just let my big fat fib slide for Elsa’s sake. You probably felt it, her reserve, her modesty. Your hearts are close to each other, after all.”
“Now I want to see the true Snow Queen, Anna. I know she’ll be so different, yet the same as when I knew her as a child.”
“Rest assured: she’ll come to Arendelle soon and you’ll be able to see her again. Her return to life was way more spectacular than my coronation,” replied Anna, holding onto Colisa’s hand.
“I actually enjoy the work of government more than the pageantry. Funny. When I was a princess, I used to dream of parades and white horses…” She fluttered her eyelashes. “Travelling around the world, and meeting handsome princes from all over. I did manage to do a bit of that, as Elsa’s emissary. But now I’m actually spending most of my hours in either my study or the parliament, and I love it. I love my work as queen and being with the powerful people around me.”
She looked up at Colisa, mock-horrified. “Do you think I’m getting older?”
“We all get older,” laughed Colisa, “but you’re becoming more mature and wise.”
They walked along the garden path and eventually came to a child who was playing near the shrubs. The little girl looked up, smiling. She wore a magenta blouse and looked a bit nervous, but greeted Anna and Colisa anyway. “Hello, Auntie,” she said, curtseying.
“Hey, Danny!” said Anna, waving at her and releasing Colisa. “This is the Princess Danielle I mentioned to you last night.”
“So this was the lovely little girl you said we’d be having tea with this afternoon,” said Colisa. “Hello, Your Highness. Anna tells me that Elsa adopted you. You’re very special, dear one. May I call you Danny, like Anna here?”
“Yes,” said Danny, still shy but her eyes trusting. She lifted her hand, conjuring into existence a cloud with snowflakes. “I’m an ice princess, too.”
Colisa’s brown eyes widened. “You truly are just like Elsa!”
The courtiers had set up a round teak table in the middle of the garden and draped a white tablecloth over it. The tea awaiting them was freshly boiled, and the bread, cake, and sandwiches on offer were of the finest quality. As they sat down and dug in together, Anna and Colisa took a break from discussing state affairs, instead conversing with Danny about life in Arendelle. “I really like it here. Mum and Auntie take care of me and accept me for who I am. That’s all I’ve wanted,” said Danny, holding an egg and lettuce sandwich.
“She’s learning to control her powers, but more importantly, she’s loved and treasured here, and has a safe home in Arendelle surrounded by friends,” said Anna, sipping some hot Ceylon tea. “Learning to accept herself, to love and be loved… it’s like I’m looking into my big sister’s eyes.”
“Perhaps there’s a thread of fate tugging Danny to Arendelle,” mused Colisa thoughtfully, sitting back in her elegant chair. “Just as you and Elsa are bound together by destiny, Anna, maybe there’s something bigger that has guided Danny to Arendelle, for her to not just find love and acceptance, but to be the best version of herself.”
Anna and Danny looked at each other. “That’s really wise, Colisa, and I believe that too. I’ve put my chop on the adoption papers, so Danny’s taken her first step as not just Elsa’s legal daughter, but a citizen of our kingdom,” said Anna. She smiled at Danny. “We have so much fun in the palace, and Danny often has excursions with Elsa and Kristoff beyond Arendelle, but she’s not just Elsa’s daughter, or my lovely niece. She’s her own person, and one day I know she’ll find herself, like Elsa did.” Anna brightened. “That reminds me of how I kind of discovered my knack for diplomacy, when the king of Vesterland said I had no sense of purpose or duty and was just desperately trying to be useful to Elsa!”
“We’ve all been there,” laughed Colisa, taking a scone and spreading some clotted cream over it. “Those dark nights when we wonder why we’re even here.”
“You had those feelings and thoughts as well?” asked Danny timidly, as Anna poured her some tea. “But you’re both so amazing, so smart and gentle and strong…”
“Why, thank you, Danny,” said Colisa, “but I think Anna will agree with me when I say that everyone’s personal journeys are fraught with difficulties. But embracing those difficulties helps both the good and bad to be a part of you, and you’ll be a stronger yet kinder young lady.”
They continued their garden gathering for two full hours, before Kai came to fetch Anna. There was work to be done. With the Royal Bank of Chatho’s line of credit to Bjorgman finalized, there were a whole slew of investments to review. Shops would be opened and warehouses built in various cities like Saint Petersburg and Colombo on the island of British Ceylon. Anna and Kristoff planned to redirect investment to all the signatories to the Entente of Small Nations, including Chatho, but since Skau-Krogh was investing heavily in said regions, the Princely House needed to be there too.
Anna’s fights were far from over, and she was glad that the Queen of Chatho, a fellow guardian of Arendelle, was there for her and her friends.