A River In Egypt
Why was it so obvious to Kristoff? Maybe it was because he was raised by love experts. Maybe it was just because he was such a smart guy. Maybe it was because he was very sensitive to other people's feelings.
Or maybe it was that he had a pair of eyes in his head. That work. Working eyes.
At least two of those reasons were definitely true.
It was cute to watch. For a while. But eventually, the total lack of progress started to get irritating. In a moment alone with Anna, he finally broached the subject.
"W-w-w-what?! Me, in love with Elsa?! Pssshhhht. That's crazy talk. You're crazy. Crazy Kristoff. You better go back to crazyland, where all the crazy people live, 'cause you're crazy."
"Saying crazy things without any proof like a crazy man. Crazy, crazy, crazy-"
"Anna!" He grabbed her face with both hands, smooshing her cheeks together.
"What?" Her voice was slightly distorted by the state of her face. He released her.
"I'm not crazy, and I do have proof."
"Okay, fine! Let's hear your crazy proof, Mr. Crazypants."
"An act of true love will thaw a frozen heart. Your act was to save Elsa's life. Elsa is your true love. There, see? Proof. Nice, simple, irrefutable."
"What? No! That's not…there's something wrong with your logic! Just gimme a minute."
"Fine." Kristoff crossed his arms in satisfaction, smirking at his flustered companion.
"Okay, hold on, it's coming to me…okay, I got it. It's not like there's only one type of love. True love doesn't have to be romantic love. Like the love of a mother for her child, that's still true love. Or between sisters, or…oh yeah, that's right! We're sisters! See? So it's just sisterly true love! Haha, I win, in your face! How's that, Mr. Doublecrazypants?"
"Oh, of course! Why didn't I think of that? Of course it's just sisterly love!" Kristoff smacked himself on the forehead theatrically.
"Well, as long as you know now." Anna patted him on the shoulder. "I'm glad that's all cleared up."
"Because sisters always stare at each other with hungry eyes for hours at a time."
"Hey! I do not stare, thank you very much! I'm very careful to always glance away frequently enough that it doesn't qualify as staring! I mean…oops."
"Or sigh their sister's name longingly when they think no one is around."
"Or find any and every excuse to touch their sister, and always for longer than strictly necessary."
"Now, hold on. That is not my fault, okay?" Anna was almost in tears. "None of that is my fault. We spent more than a decade apart. I couldn't even see her, let alone touch her. I'm just…just trying to make up for lost time. It doesn't mean anything. It really doesn't."
"Okay, I get it." Kristoff backed off in the face of her souring mood. "You just really, really love your sister."
As he left earshot, he continued under his breath, "In every way possible."
The conversation with Elsa went a little differently.
"What?! How did you-ahem." She forced a chuckle. "I mean, no. That's ridiculous. Anna is my sister, whom I love dearly, yes, but there is nothing else there. Whatever you think you're seeing is clearly your imagination."
"Uh huh." Kristoff said skeptically. "So, when you special order all that chocolate from Switzerland just for Anna, that's…"
"A perfectly natural, sisterly gift."
"Anytime you happen to be around her for more than a few seconds, you somehow always end up holding her hand."
"Sisterly bonding. Nothing untoward there."
"And that goofy smile on your face when you watch her eat?"
"Look, Kristoff." Elsa's composure did not waver. "You're barking up the wrong tree, here. Yes, I love my sister. Yes, I want to be as close to her as possible. Yes, I love seeing her happy. None of that should lead any sane person to the conclusion that I want some kind of sordid, physical relationship with her."
"You have an answer for everything, don't you." Kristoff said.
"Of course. Now, are we done here?"
"Elsa," Kristoff said in exasperation, "This is probably the clearest case I've ever seen of someone being in denial."
"That's ridiculous." Elsa scoffed. "I've never even been to Egypt."
"What is Egypt, and what does it have to do with anything?"
"Egypt," Elsa said slowly, "Is a country in Africa. But…how do you not know that? You just said I was in the Nile, the river for which Egypt is famous. Why would you say that if you don't even know what Egypt is?"
"Okay, wow, no. I did NOT say you were in 'the Nile'. I said you're in DENIAL! You know, denial? The state where you…deny things? Things that are true?"
"I've never heard of such a thing, but I am definitely not in it. I'm denying things that are NOT true, so clearly, I am not in this strange word that you made up." Kristoff watched Elsa walk away, her stiff back displaying her agitation to anyone who cared to look. He realized that his vocabulary was a little unusual, being raised by trolls and all, but he hadn't thought denial was such a little-used word.
"Oooh, ooh, ooh, I know this one! Hold on, gimme a second. It's…a person. No, a place! No, a thing! It's a thing, right? A…a river! Wait, is a river a place or a thing? It's a river place-thing in that one place! E…gent? EGYPT! HA, TAKE THAT, palace tutor who said I never remember any of my lessons! Whose…nameIcan'tseemtorecall but that's not the point! The point is that I'm right! Right? Kristoff?"
"You too?" Kristoff groaned. "I don't slur that badly, do I? How do you and Elsa both mishear me like that? I clearly said 'denial', not 'the Nile. I have never in my life pronounced 'the' as 'de'."
"Oh. What's denial then?"
So. Evidently, Anna had never heard of denial, either. Ironic, that the two people in the world most in denial didn't even know the word.
"It's a state of being. A state of being where you can't admit something is true, not even to yourself, and definitely not to other people. The state of being that you and Elsa are both in."
"Oh." Said Anna in a small voice. A pause, then she said curiously, "What is Elsa in denial about?"
Kristoff could have taken that moment to drive home the fact that Anna had just all but admitted that she was in denial, but his attention was on something far more unbelievable. "Seriously? You don't know?"
"Why would I ask you if I knew? Just tell me already!"
He sighed and dropped his head into his hands. "This dense pair of sisters, I swear."
"Kristofffffff!" Anna whined, shaking his shoulder. "Don't leave me hanging, here!"
"Anna. It's the same thing. You guys are in denial about the same thing. You're both in love with each other, and neither of you will admit it."
Anna went totally still. And silent, which was a minor miracle.
"Hello? Anna?" He waved a hand in front of her eyes. No reaction. He turned to Sven. "Sven, I think I broke Anna."
Anna finally reacted, with shrill laughter. "Oh, Kristoff! That was a really good joke. You got me! You got me good! But come on. Elsa, in love with me? Yeah, right! Like anyone with half a brain would believe that! I mean, me in love with Elsa is understandable, right? It's not true!" she hastened to add. "But…it would be understandable if it was, right? Cause she's, like, sooooooo gorgeous, and super smart, and sophisticated, and she's got those awesome ice powers, and she's always thinking of others, and her skin is so smooth and silky, and have you seen her leg when she wears those dresses with a slit? Someone needs to make a law against that! Oh, wait, Elsa's in charge, so I guess she wouldn't do that…what was I talking about again?"
"You were saying how Elsa's not in love with you." Kristoff filled in, bemused.
"Oh, right! So like, even though we're sisters and everything, I'm like the opposite of all that stuff. I'm plain, and clumsy, and not very smart, and definitely not attractive, and there's just no way she's attracted to me. She just loves me because I'm her sister."
"Anna. Who in the world told you you're not attractive?" Kristoff asked sternly.
"No one. I just figured it out. Cause no one has ever been attracted to me, so I must not be attractive, right? I mean, the one time I thought a guy was interested in me, it turned out he was just power-hungry, not Anna-hungry. Not exactly confidence-inspiring."
"Okay, three things. First, forget about Hans and anything he said or did with you. It doesn't count. Second, you ARE attractive. I'm a normal, average guy telling you this." He grabbed her shoulders and looked her in the eye. "Got it?"
"Okay." Anna agreed uncertainly.
"Good. And thirdly, it doesn't matter how attractive you are in general, anyway. Do you really think Elsa cares what most people think is attractive? All that matters is that ELSA thinks you're attractive. And she does. You should see the way she looks at you when she thinks no one is watching her."
"How is that?" Anna asked in mixture of skepticism and raging, overpowering hope.
"Like she's lost at sea, and you're a lifeboat. Like you're a piece of the most delicious chocolate in the world. Like…I don't know, I'm not a poet! I'm not good at describing things! Like she's in love, and you're the person she's in love with, okay?"
After a pause, Anna, much more subdued than before, said, "I still say you're crazy. Crazypants."
"And I still say you're in denial."
"But I'm not even wet!"
Kristoff grabbed his head in his hands. "AAAAAAAHHHH!"
Anna laughed mischievously and scampered off.
"Fine." Said Kristoff. "Let's say, for the sake of argument, that you're not in love with Anna."
"Yes, let's do that. Because I'm not." Elsa responded.
"Okay. That means you've got a huge problem on your hands."
Elsa blinked. "I don't follow you."
"Because Anna is totally, completely, hopelessly, head over heels in love with you."
Elsa's mouth worked soundlessly for a few moments. "She-she is not! Why would you say something like that?"
"No, no. Hear me out on this. You know how Anna gets more clumsy when she's nervous. Haven't you noticed how she's gotten like, ten times more clumsy around you lately? Now, I wonder why she would be nervous around her sister?"
Elsa spluttered. "There could be lots of reasons! Maybe she's planning a surprise-"
"Or maybe she broke something important and doesn't want to tell me-"
"She didn't. Recently."
"Or-or maybe," Elsa's tone and eyes dropped. "Maybe she's afraid of my ice powers-"
"OKAY, I'm gonna stop you right there. NO. No, she's not. Don't even go there. She acts like that when she's NERVOUS, not afraid. She faces her fears head on, you know that."
"Well…there are still countless other reasons it could be. No need to jump to conclusions."
"And are there countless reasons she's always openly staring at any exposed skin you happen to show? Which I notice you've been doing more often around her, coincidentally. Or just your face, when you're dressed more modestly. Don't even try to tell me you haven't noticed. She's not subtle."
"Um," Elsa pinked. "There could be other reasons for that." Kristoff just looked at her. "What? There could be! Just because I can't think of any right now, doesn't mean they don't exist!"
He shook his head. "Wow. Just…wow. Fine. It's your life. If you want to live in denial instead of being deliriously happy with your mutual love, that's up to you. I'll just be over here, watching the train wreck of you two trying to act like 'normal sisters'."
"We don't act like normal sisters, we ARE normal sisters!" Elsa shouted at his retreating back.
Elsa sat on a bench in the middle of the palace gardens, staring into nothing, not really aware of the beautiful surroundings. She was, however, acutely aware of Anna, approaching and sitting next to her, close, but not touching.
They sat in silence for a while, broken (of course) by Anna. "Hey."
"Sooooo," Anna began. Each girl had her face meticulously turned away from her sister. "Kristoff's been saying some weeeeeeiiirrd stuff lately."
Elsa swallowed. "Yeah."
"He thinks," She gave a little laugh. "He thinks we're in luuuv. Isn't that crazy?"
"Crazy." Elsa agreed hoarsely.
"I mean, me in love with you is kind of believable, like I told him. You're smart, and beautiful, and talented. Anyone would fall in love with you! But you in love with me? That's insanity, is what that is."
"Uh, no, Anna. I think you've got that backward. You saved me from myself, when no one else could. You literally gave your life for me, like a hero prince from a story book. I think it's normal to fall in love with someone like that. But all I've ever done all our lives is hurt you and push you away. You in love with me is what would be insane."
"But that's over with now." Anna scooted a little closer to Elsa, still not looking at her. "We're close now. As close as when we were kids. As close as any sisters. Closer!"
"Yes." Elsa scooted a bit closer as well. "Because of you. You restored our relationship. Now we can love each other like real sisters again. That's what has Kristoff so confused. We DO love each other, more than anyone else, because we're sisters."
"You say it was all because of me, but you never stopped loving me, even when we were separated. In fact, you only stayed away from me because you were trying to protect me, because you love me. I know, Elsa. This normal, sisterly love relationship we have is because of both of us."
Elsa couldn't speak. She just nodded. The backs of their shoulders were now touching, and Anna could feel the movement.
"And," Anna continued. Her hand crept into Elsa's. Their fingers intertwined. "If I want to hold your hand like this, that's just a normal, sisterly thing to do."
"Yes." Elsa whispered, her heart thumping in her chest.
"And if I want to lay my head on your shoulder," Anna's body followed her words. "That's normal, too."
"Yes." Said Elsa, even more quietly.
"And if I want to crawl into your lap," Anna moved ever so slowly, finding a new seat on her sister's thighs, her arms going around Elsa's neck, her head resting on Elsa's chest. "That's just because we're sisters."
"….Right." Elsa found her own arms involuntarily circling her sister.
"And a sisterly peck on the cheek every once in a while is okay, right?" Anna tilted her head upward, but the kiss on Elsa's cheek was not nearly short enough to be considered a peck, and its soft, sensual nature would make it very difficult to label it sisterly.
"Anna," Elsa croaked.
"And," Again moving with excruciating slowness, Anna repositioned herself to be straddling her sister. They were now looking each other eye to eye, able to see in detail exactly what the other was feeling that moment. "It's totally understandable if, when going for a sisterly peck on the cheek, I should happen to miss…" Anna tilted her head forward, one torturous inch at a time, until finally, finally, her lips met Elsa's. Neither mouth remained closed for more than a split second. Neither tongue remained in the head from which it originated.
It was at this point that Kristoff decided that he probably shouldn't see anything that followed. Besides, it was evident to the eye, if not the ear, that his input was no longer necessary. He sneaked away from his hiding spot to give his two good friends their privacy. He was amused and exasperated that they had gotten so far, and, by all indications, were about to proceed even further, while still remaining in complete denial, to themselves and to each other. Still, at least they were getting there.
"It really isn't just a river in Egypt.