Birthday chapter by Alan Nadeau III
Life in Arendelle these days went about the same as it had before, though the threat of Katina Romanov’s impending attacks on Arendelle and Northuldra loomed large. What Katina wanted of Arendelle, Anna couldn’t give, and now the Russian princess, even despite Grand Duke Sora’s attempt to talk the young Katina out of this, had led to her choosing war. Only time would tell as to when Katina’s attacks commenced, and all anyone could hope for was an absolute miracle to prevent it.
Despite this, the citizens of Arendelle were currently preparing for the Winter Solstice and season of frost. Today coincided with a special celebration: the birthday of Elsa. Normally, Anna would be in charge of coordinating the festivities, but this year, per his request, she’d passed on those duties to Sir Alan, as he wished to put together the best birthday that Elsa had ever enjoyed in her young life. Elsa meant everything to him, and he knew he’d be able to set up the perfect celebration for her.
The day before Elsa’s big one, Alan had made the final preparations with Anna outside Arendelle Castle. Alan admired all the work put in by the castle’s workers – the colourful banners, the lights, the waiting balloons, the confetti. As they walked along the bridge to the village, Anna looked to Alan and asked, “What do you think?”
Turning to her, Alan replied, “I love it. Everything has been put together to perfection, just as I had hoped. I know Elsa will love this, truthfully speaking.” He then hugged Anna, and said, “Thank you, Anna, for all of this.”
Anna smiled, returning Alan’s embrace. “You’re very welcome, Alan. Anything for my sister, and for a decent man to treat her right. I’m glad you’re here to do this with us.”
The front of the castle was lit up and transformed into a winter-themed spectacle, what would only be made better by natural snow. The streetlights and the bridge leading to the castle gates were dressed up and decked out for the occasion.
Elsa was back in the forest, talking with Yelena about the tribe’s defensive strategy and countermeasures against the Grand Duke Nykras, who’d been assigned by Katina to attack Northuldra. Even with her birthday the following day, she remained focused on the bigger picture. Still, her allies hadn’t forgotten to celebrate her 25th. Unbeknownst to her, Queen Colisa of Chatho, Mari of Vesterland, Rapunzel, Cassandra, and Eugene of Corona, had arrived in Arendelle to join the Arendellians in preparation for the next day. Even the Duke of Weselton and Hans of the Southern Isles, allies and Entente members that were once despised in Arendelle for some time (and were still looked upon with residual suspicion), were there.
Before tomorrow came round, Alan decided to pay Hans a visit. Knocking on Hans’s door in the inn of the Lonely Reindeer, Alan walked in after Hans let him in, and turned around to face him. “You wanted to see me?” Hans said.
“Yes,” Alan replied. “I’m sure Anna has already told you what she expects of you, your best behaviour and all that. I’m sure she told you how she feels about you, and what you can and can’t do, am I correct?”
Hans, raising an eyebrow, replied, “Yes, of course. I know my limits as she described,” he said flatly.
Alan nodded, then said, “Good, I’m glad. I just want you to know, though, that if you try anything, you’re going to have to go through me. You may have changed, and, I hope you have, but at the end of the day, I know Anna will defend Elsa, and I’ll defend both of them.”
Hans approached him, saying, “Is that so? Well, if you’re looking for a fight, don’t expect one. I don’t see you as having a reason to get involved with me either. That’s Anna’s job, in a way.”
Alan stood his ground with Hans, and replied, “Just keep this all in mind. You want to go to Elsa, you go through me. But I trust you don’t harbour such thoughts… anymore.”
Alan then left the room, shutting the door behind him.
The plan was to have Elsa arrive by the early evening tomorrow, and the air was electric with excitement amidst the foreign delegates as well as the local prominent Arendellians. All Alan could think about was finally surprising Elsa, with everyone there to welcome her.
There was much excitement in the air as the sun rose on the day of the Winter Solstice. Everything was set up as Alan planned, and he talked throughout the day with those he had invited. He’d even engaged in some soft diplomacy with the Corona delegation: Rapunzel had indicated openness to joining the Entente of Small Kingdoms, while Cassandra as more reserved and Eugene even keener than Rapunzel. He also caught a few childhood stories about Elsa from Colisa, who had known the sister-queens from a young age. “You’re doing a wonderful thing,” Colisa had praised, with Mari beside her, “and I know Elsa will appreciate your efforts.”
“Thanks so much,” said Alan humbly.
Eventually, the time came for Alan to send a note off to Elsa, with help from Gale the Wind Spirit, to tell her that it was time for her to come. It was all planned out to perfection, as Alan intended. In the Northuldra forest, Elsa had been talking with Yelena and Ryder and the other tribespeople, who had given her a mini-birthday celebration of their own around the campfire, She felt a change in the breeze around her. “Well, hi there, Gale,” Elsa said, smiling as the Wind Spirit made its presence known. The note was presented to Elsa, and she smiled. “I see you have something for me, thank you,” Elsa said kindly. She read the note, and smiled.
It's time, Elsa. We're ready for you. Happy Birthday.
“Go,” said Yelena, smiling. “We’re your family here, but Arendelle is also your heritage.”
“Woohoo! Say hello to Maren for me. She’s sure enjoying her job, thanks to you,” said Ryder, shooting his fist up.
Elsa called upon the Water Spirit, Nokk, and mounted the water horse, heading off for Arendelle, waving goodbye to the Northuldra for now. She couldn’t wait to celebrate her birthday with Anna and everyone else, though she didn’t know what was in store for her. She rode into Arendelle, to the cheers of the people as they stood outside their homes. They cheered her name, hailing her as an elder stateswoman and Queen Emerita. She waved to them graciously as she approached the bridge leading up to the castle. The gates, for now, were closed, with Alan standing at the bridge. Elsa dismounted Nokk, who then left, and approached him. Alan gave Elsa a hug, and smiled. “Hi Alan,” Elsa said. “Thanks for the note.”
Alan smiled and replied, “How was the ride?”
“It was really good, as usual,” Elsa replied. She then looked around, a little surprised. She was characteristically humble and didn’t expect some large parade, but she’d prepared herself for something because of the note. “Where’s everyone else? Why are the gates closed?”
Alan just smiled, and put his arm out for her. “Well, allow me to show you, my love.” Elsa smiled back, acknowledging the gesture by linking her arm with his, and the pair walked towards the castle gates. Alan knocked, and then two guards opened the doors, to a great and massive cheer of, “Happy Birthday!” from Anna and the others. Elsa’s jaw almost dropped, mouthing a silent, “Oh, my!”
As Alan led Elsa in, she got a chance to survey the tables, decked with cakes and sweets and jelly. Balloons bouncing all over the place, with banners of her insignia flying high in the sky, as if she were back to being the queen for the day. Anna came over to give the awestruck Elsa a hug, and smiled. “Happy birthday, Sis,” Anna said, looking up at her, and there was little time for Elsa to react as Uncle Michael, Princess Danny, and Nahir also came to Elsa, greeting her.
“This is amazing. I… I’m stunned! You guys did all of this? For me?” cried Elsa, as Olaf and Kristoff ran to Elsa’s side to hug her too. She was stunned to be surrounded so quickly by those she cared about.
Anna nodded. “Well, this was all Alan’s idea, if I may be honest. He asked me to let him organize this year’s party, and I just might get him to organize every party from now on.”
Alan just smiled at Elsa, who turned to look at him. “Alan? You really made this all happen? Thank you. I wasn’t expecting this, I thought it’d be a small celebration, but… ”
Alan cut her off, saying, “Nothing is small with you, Elsa. You deserve the best, and only the best. I got Anna to let me coordinate this celebration for you. They helped me out. Heck, I even sent letters to our allies weeks in advance to invite them, and, I’m glad that they all came.” He winked. “Hans and the Duke were kind of last minute. But seriously, I couldn’t do this all without them, and I wouldn’t want this any other way. I love you Elsa, and I want to spend my life with you. I know things have been crazy, and Katina may be threatening our kingdom, but together, we will prevail. My hope is that Sora will step in, but we can’t bank on anything. We have to take this and do all that we can to protect our kingdom, our people, and our allies.”
Elsa was moved to tears of happiness. “Thank you Alan, thank you all,” she said, spreading her arms. Having greeted Anna and given Kristoff, her brother-in-law-to-be, another loving hug, she then quickly embraced the waiting Honeymaren, Colisa and Mari, before attending to greetings from Rapunzel, Cassandra, and Eugene.
“Here,” said Cassandra confidently, presenting a gleaming sword that glittered with precious jewels.
Eugene groaned. “I told you to find a different prezzie!” he hissed, gesticulating in embarrassment at an oblivious Cassandra, “didn’t you read the note? Elsa’s not queen anymore – and she has awesome spirit powers! Why would she need a sword?”
Rapunzel shuffled her bare feet, grinning awkwardly at Elsa and Anna. “Heh heh. Sorry. Cass insisted.”
“No apologies, please, Princess Rapunzel,” replied Elsa at once. “Anna, can you hang that blade in my room so it can be close to me whenever I visit?” Anna playfully saluted. Elsa was in such a good mood that she even managed to speak pleasantly to the Hans and the Duke, who wished her a happy birthday as well, but kept a respectful distance from her. Still, given what had passed between them years before, it was a considerable degree of reconciliation. It was hard for anyone to be mean-spirited today. Thanks to Alan’s efforts, the mood was celebratory and jovial, and the assembled allies and locals had little appetite for digging up old grudges or inflame potential tensions.
“This is truly a wonderful surprise, and I am happy to be able to enjoy my birthday with all of you. Thank you all for coming, I truly appreciate it,” she declared, turning to everyone. “I might have found a new home, but as Yelena told me, I haven’t lost this one, either. There are two homes in my heart, just as I’m only one of two sisters.”
She then wrapped her arms around Alan and kissed him lightly and fondly. Caught somewhat off-guard, a flattered and delighted Alan didn’t say no. They then went over to one of the tables, as Elsa got to cut the first slice of her birthday cake, before Kristoff and Eugene passed the other slices to the assembled partygoers.
Unbeknownst to them, someone was watching from afar, atop one of the mountains. It just so happened to be Sora, and she smiled to herself as she saw Arendelle’s leaders as well as their allies, all together to celebrate Elsa’s big day.
Her heart sank as she realized that Katina had placed her to lead the charge against the Snow Queen, Arendelle’s greatest and final line of defence. Anna, no doubt, would keep Elsa close to the kingdom, ready for a final battle between her and Katina’s best.
Sora thought back to the days when Katina had her own birthdays as a young child. When Katina boasted that she was going to take after the guardian angel, and be Russia’s kindest, gentlest ruler. How different things turned out to be, she marvelled sadly to herself. She personally didn’t want to resort to violence, but Katina’s unwillingness to listen even to her made Sora feel bad for Arendelle and its people. They didn’t deserve a war, and Sora saw much to agree with in Minister Michael’s secret note.
Her heart remained torn and uncertain as she unfurled her wings and rocketed into the evening sky back to Russia. The night went on with music and celebration, the castle too abuzz with dancing, drinks, and laughter in Elsa’s name to notice.
A celebration fit for the Fifth Spirit.