|Breaking the Ice|
|Date||March 18, 2015|
"Anna is a forgetful klutz and accidentally leaves her skates behind after a practise. Even though she's supposed to be meeting her friends for pizza, she can't help but be mesmerised by the pale—fantastic—girl figure skating alone on the ice.
Anna knew she was forgetful (and clumsy. And a klutz. And awkward. Not to mention strange, and loud, and talkative, and, well, yeah) but even she knew that said forgetfulness had reached new bounds when she found herself walking all the way back to her school's ice-rink because she'd forgotten her skates. As in, the ice skates that she had used barely an hour before in the last hockey game of the season. The ones that desperately needed sharpening because she'd lost her grip and slammed into Weselton's forward defender, losing the puck and thereby forfeiting a point that the Arendelle Wolves desperately needed to win. She'd also received a rather nasty bump to her shoulder, which was probably purple by now. It was a really nasty bump.
The same skates that had cost her a small fortune and over six months of babysitting and saving to get because her parents refused to buy her a new, more pricey pair when the second-hand ones they had picked up for her one year at a garage sale still fit fine (even though she kept getting lace-bite because the shoes themselves were breaking). They didn't have to spend that kind of money, which was fair enough, because, well... Anna sucked at skating.
As in, she was downright one of the worst people on the team.
Anna had survived in the hockey team by virtue of two factors: she could technically skate, and no one else wanted to join the team (probably because shitty people like her were on it).
Okay, she was being pretty hard on herself. It wasn't like she was a walker, or a wall-hugger or anything. She just didn't have very good hand-eye coordination, and usually the words 'Anna' and 'sharp things' were broken up by the phrase 'is not to hold or touch', with a bonus 'at any cost' at the end. She couldn't find it in her to disagree with them, either (not since the Great Hospitality Incident of freshman year). In all likelihood, Mr Kai was still traumatised (but really, people don't need the tops of their fingers, do they? It wasn't like she hurt herself. She was being safe! Where were the mesh gloves if they were so worried?!).
But, dwelling wasn't helping her current goal, and that was to go and collect her very pretty, very expensive skates (well, more expensive skates), put some arnica on her shoulder, which was beginning to twinge a bit, and then meet her best friend, Kristoff (nicknamed 'Iceman' for the way he carved up the rink), and Sven (who did all the heavy lifting of the game) at the local pizzeria to celebrate yet another dismal loss. The only thing to cheer the trio up was a double-stuffed crust with five types of cheese and chocolate M&Ms (decorated around the outside because Kristoff was fucking weird and didn't like chocolate on pizza or the crusts).
Upon entering the building, Anna was struck by just how chilly the whole place seemed to have become. It couldn't have been any more then twenty minutes since she was last here, and yet the temperature seemed to have dropped another ten degrees. The lights had been dimmed along the stands, and there was soft music wafting gently from the massive speakers at the other end of the hall.
Honestly, Anna had no idea the place could be so serene. It was sort of unnerving, if she were completely honest with herself. She was used to roaring crowds and the ref's whistle, not... wait, what sort of music is that? No lyrics and- oh wow.
Anna had just rounded the stand, intent on making her way to the locker room that was sequestered beneath the north-east seats below rows D-O (she knew because the Sigma Tau girls liked sitting there and they were loud).
Instead, her gaze was drawn to the rink where a single, solitary figure was skating. And Anna could only watch.
Anna didn't know anything about skating prettily. She was a hockey player. The nicer you skated the more likely you were going to have your front teeth knocked out. But, she understood enough to know that this figure—this girl—on the ice was nothing less than extraordinary.
With long sweeps, she effortlessly glided around the edge of the rink, platinum blonde hair pinned back in an elaborate bun—sort of... European-looking? It was far better than the buns Anna used to put her hair into for ballet (before they realised that ballet + clumsiness = not a good combo). The girl swapped between forward and backward skating, twisting and turning with her whole body. Anna wondered if she made up the routine on the spot. It was so... practised. So perfect.
She didn't follow the music. The music bent to her will, and it was... breathtaking.
Anna didn't notice when she slid into a seat, too enamoured with the girl to really think about it. Now that she was seated, she let her gaze take in more than just the strange—beautiful—sight of the girl—goddess—on the rink.
She was wearing a pale, almost ice-blue, leotard that seemed to shimmer beneath the far-too-bright lights. Even the harsh fluorescent couldn't really detract from the beauty of the set up, and Anna became aware of a strange feeling in her stomach. It wasn't love or anything so cliché, but it had taken root and given her a warm, fuzzy feeling. It took a while, but as the song changed to a sharp... violin?—it was sort of... Asian-y—Anna placed it.
It was pure awe.
The other girl hadn't noticed her as she flawlessly slid into a new routine. She skated around the perimeter again, gaining momentum. Anna leaned forward in her seat as the music crescendoed, building higher and higher as the girl kept moving, surging forward, arms flung out and a look of pure joy across her face as she twisted around, never losing speed and never losing direction. She was preparing to... jump?
Anna's heart was in her throat as the music reached its peak and the girl bent low at her knees, arms coming up to her chest as she looked ahead-
-and made eye contact.
Anna knew straight away that she had screwed up by staying and watching. The girl was in too far; she had already begun the jump. But, instead of what would have undoubtedly been a tear-inducing pirouette, the girl tripped forward and her skates failed to hit the ground and stay there. She fell in a heap onto her left side and slid towards the wall, coming to a stop with a thud that seemed even louder than it should have. The music hadn't ceased, and Anna hadn't moved.
Her first thought was, naturally, to run over to the girl and ask if she was okay. She didn't because she herself had landed on her shoulder before (albeit at a much slower speed) and had almost dislocated it from the angle. She doubted that the girl had done such a thing because there wasn't any pained crying, but the point still stood that no, she probably wasn't alright, and probably didn't want to see Anna.
But... there was still that warmth in her stomach from watching the girl perform. She had seemed so shocked at being watched.
The girl had disappeared behind the guard rails surrounding the ice, and Anna couldn't see her moving at all. There was a frustrated groan that carried through the building, and Anna noticed that the music was dimming. When the girl clambered to her feet, she was cradling her left arm, ice flakes sticking to her hair.
She didn't look at Anna, keeping her head purposely focussed away, and Anna got the impression that she was more than intruding. Despite what was probably a fairly terrible injury, the girl kept skating, though her actions were... subdued. She had a look of fierce concentration on her face—nothing like the joy that she exuded earlier in her routine. She was just... skating.
She wanted Anna to go away but didn't, what, have the courage to tell her? Couldn't be bothered? Anna let out a small sigh, tugging at a bright red braid before standing up. She could see the other girl watching her, even though the blonde's head was very obviously and purposely not looking.
Anna slowly made her way to the lockers, keeping her own gaze averted. She didn't want to annoy the blonde girl any more than necessary, but she had a feeling that she'd already screwed that up.
Which sucked because she looked really nice out there, and Anna wanted to apologise for throwing her off, maybe take her out for coffee (ooh, or hot chocolate!) because she looked nice in general, and Anna didn't just mean in the 'oh, lovely personality' way, either.
But, she was getting ahead of herself, and so after picking up her skates (which had been just where she left them next to Kristoff's deodorant) and thickly spreading the arnica over her shoulder (probably too late, but at least it covered her smelly BO), she made her way back to the rink.
The music was off, and Anna only noticed because she was purposely not looking in the direction of the rink. Of course, she was listening out for other sounds of the blonde, but she couldn't hear anything.
She breathed a sigh, partly of relief and partly from disappointment, just as she was rounding the turn to go to the foyer. And, because Anna was more than just a klutz and clumsy and socially awkward, she was also unlucky, she walked right into the blonde girl and managed to push over her willowy frame. And the girl fell onto her left side again, the skates she was carrying going flying.
Her hand automatically went up to cradle her shoulder, arm pulled tight against her body. She let out a subdued gasp that was just filled with pain and Anna had no idea what to do because she probably didn't want help at all.
So, when in doubt, she just... was herself.
"Ohhhh my God I am so, so sorry, I didn't see you there! Are you all right? Well, obviously you aren't-" shut up, Anna "-oh my God I'm not normally so... so ugh. I really honestly didn't mean to mess up your routine," don't remind her about that! "-or knock you over-" or that! "-I just couldn't help myself because I skate but it's awkward- not like, you're awkward. I'm awkward. You're gorgeous." annnd fuck you've done it. great job.
There was silence for a few moments as Anna mentally berated herself and the poor girl looked like she was having birthing pains with her face scrunched up but eyes focussed on Anna. And damn, she was even prettier close-up.
"Can I help you at all?" she asked after taking several calming breaths (for several different reasons). The girl shook her head and gingerly stood up.
"Thank you," she said stiffly, voice stilted and, oh, save me now she has an accent. Why couldn't she have been swooning when the girl wasn't in her personal space bubble? "I do not need help. I am just bruised."
She pushed passed Anna, moving towards the locker room, head bowed low. She stumbled for a moment, a brief pause, before she kept going. When Anna's eyes fell on the skates, she knew the girl had realised she had left them and she... didn't want to face Anna to retrieve them.
Biting her lip, Anna debated a moment on what she should do. Obviously, the girl would walk past this way and pick them up, and obviously, she didn't want anything to do with Anna...
... but, the girl thought, rather slyly in her opinion, the blonde hadn't actually said any of that. And, it wouldn't be fair on Anna to be hated without the other person even knowing who she hated (or, at least, that's what she told herself).
Grabbing the skates, Anna was immediately taken with the quality. White leather, laces, and with a snowflake insignia on the side, she immediately recognised the style as the 'one I will always want but never in a million years be able to afford'. A quick glance to the tongue of the boot only affirmed her suspicions; SP-Teri, custom-made. Lightweight and probably designed for the amazing spins and jumps that the girl had been doing earlier.
Anna couldn't, in good conscience, leave the boots there. She didn't even want to look at the blade because it would probably set off the 'envy' chemical in her head. If the boots themselves were of high quality, she could only imagine the blade that had been bought with it. And, that kind of quality was always something to covet. Even though the likelihood of someone walking into the building was minimal, there was still the chance. Anna wouldn't be responsible for the loss of the frankly perfect skates as well as the loss of mobility in the girl's left arm.
She refused to let her mind wander as she made her way back to the locker room. The girl was talking in a soft voice, but there was an edge to it, barely-concealed. That much was obvious, even though it was in another language.
"Jeg beklager, far. Jeg vil gjøre det bedre neste gang. Jeg kan ikke- nei, jeg forstår. Jeg bekla-"
The girl cut herself off—or was cut off—and Anna wondered if she had been seen (which was ridiculous because she hadn't even entered the locker room yet). There was a dull thud as the girl apparently slumped onto one of the benches, and Anna felt it was as good a time as any to enter. She was getting pretty sick of referring to her as 'the girl' all the time.
She walked into the room just as the blonde exhaled a light, "jævla helvete," before noticing Anna. "What are you doing here?" she questioned, voice loud but without the edge that Anna had heard earlier. "Go away."
Anna held out the skates as a temporary peace offering, ignoring the demand. "I really am sorry," she said as she put the skates on the floor. The girl hadn't moved to take them. "My name is Anna and I'm... usually only injuring myself. I have some stuff to help with the bruising!"
Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out the little tub of arnica, glancing up dolefully. "Please can I help?"
"I do not need your help," the other girl said, even as it was obvious that she totally did. She could barely move her arm! And she was still wearing that ridiculously tight, gorgeous leotard. Anna raised an eyebrow, and the girl slumped a little, obviously coming to the same conclusion.
"Just let me help and I'll take you out for a coffee or hot chocolate and we can forget this ever happened, okay?"
The girl huffed loudly and looked away, missing the way Anna grinned at the action, already knowing she had given in.
"Fine," was the reply that followed, and Anna couldn't help the way the smile overtook her entire face. The girl stood up and gestured to herself. "I cannot remove this on my own, and I do not want to have coffee with you," she said, face still a mask, though her eyes betrayed her uncertainty. When in doubt, be yourself, Anna.
So, naturally, being herself resulted in saying stupid things that made everything so much worse.
"You know, I usually like to know the names of the girls I'm stripping," she said, still smiling. It dropped as soon as she realised exactly what she said, and she didn't even give the other girl a chance to do anything (honestly, Anna was expecting a slap of some kind) before backtracking.
Her eyes widened and her face paled and there was a sick feeling burbling at the pit of her stomach. "Oh my God, Anna, you impertinent windchime, you did not just say that."
The blank, wide-eyed look that the other girl was giving her was more than enough proof that yes, she did actually say that. Anna's jaw worked up and down as she tried to speak the words that obviously wouldn't come. Instead, she gestured helplessly to herself. The blonde heaved a sigh and turned around, letting Anna approach her without having an aneurysm, thankfully ignoring the frankly terrible pick-up line that she didn't mean to say. Fuck Kristoff and his 'dating tips'.
The red-head was immensely grateful as she pulled the leotard down as gently as she could. She noticed the other girl had her eyes shut and was biting the corner of her lip, but Anna had no idea if it was pain or embarrassment.
Because, well, it was true. She usually didn't strip girls without knowing their names. Obviously she should have just asked the girl what her name was because now they were playing the awkward game.
Anna was trying her hardest not to touch the girl's skin, but the outfit was tight. She noticed a light smattering of freckles across her shoulder blades and wondered why they looked so nice when her own freckles were so... not.
The girl inhaled, her body rising with the action, and Anna stiffened, realising that the right arm was free and the girl could get her injured arm out of its sleeve (probably less painfully than Anna could).
So, she backed away and turned around, clearing her throat. "So... what is your name?"
"I do not owe you anything," said the girl. Anna had to concede that no, she didn't, but still, it would have been nice. What followed was several minutes of awkward silence as Anna tried not to be hurt by the way the girl had snubbed her (knowing full-well that the girl had every right to do so) and the blonde finished getting dressed.
Pulling the little tub of arnica out of her pocket again, Anna placed it on the bench between them, deciding that she couldn't actually handle being in the room any longer, and why was she still there, anyway? The girl didn't want her to be and she wasn't actually doing anything.
"Here," she said, standing up. "For your shoulder. It should help with the bruising. I'll uh... you can keep it. I'll get some more later."
Without another word, she stood up, grabbing her skates on the way out the door.
Pulling her phone from her pocket, Anna had a number of missed calls and texts from Kristoff. He had given up waiting for her, and, noticing the time, Anna couldn't blame him. She had been at the rink of over an hour—holy heck, how long had she been watching the girl skate for? And she still didn't have a name.
So, she didn't have her arnica, made a beautiful girl hate her, and had missed out on chocolate pizza to boot. After losing to Weselton. It was time for Anna to give up on attempting to salvage her day and just accept that it sucked.
She didn't really want to go home. Not yet. Her parents would ask how her day went, and she really didn't want to think about it. She wanted a cup of hot chocolate and maybe an hour or so to wallow before even attempting to go home.
Sitting down on the front steps, she glanced at the clock. 5:37pm. She could either walk, the fading light probably lasting long enough to get to her favourite cafe, or she could catch a bus. That involved waiting and money, though, and she'd rather spend her precious cash on the chocolate rather than the transportation to get there.
And then her mind made the jump back to the strange blonde girl and the fact that Anna was going to invite her out for a coffee, maybe get to know her better whilst she attempted to apologise again.
And then maybe she could have been friends with the girl, perhaps more, eventually? Well... that was a pretty big 'perhaps', but if there was one thing Anna had learnt by watching her on the ice, it was that figure skating looked really... lonely.
Sure, hockey was rough and dangerous, but she was always surrounded by people—they were a team, her second family, almost. Alone on the ice, the girl looked regal. She looked like a queen, master of the rink... but she was still alone.
Closing her eyes, Anna leaned her head to the side, letting it rest on the wall. She was replaying the memories of the girl skating, this time without music. She truly did look like she loved it out there, but it was still lonely. If Anna fell, there was always someone to pick her up, dust her off, and give her a smile. And each time, it didn't hurt so much, whatever bruises or lacerations had formed.
When Anna opened her eyes she almost tumbled down the stairs in surprise because the girl was sitting right next to her.
She had appeared without a sound, and hadn't said anything at all.
Once again, Anna found her jaw working with no sound coming out (and she would argue to her grave that squeaking didn't count).
"H-hi me?" she asked after a few moments, eyes wide and roving over the other girl's face looking for any sign of... well, anything, really. How could she be so cold earlier and now greet her like- like this?
Unfortunately, by searching for something that she wasn't exactly sure she was searching for, Anna noticed other things. Things like the smattering of freckles over the blonde's nose or the way her piercing blue eyes weren't quite as sharp close up. Her hair was out of the bun and in a thick, messy braid slung over her shoulder. She wasn't looking at Anna, and there was a blatant blush tinting her cheeks.
"I... did not thank you," she began. "Nor did I apologise. So, thank you, and I am sorry."
And just when Anna thought the day couldn't get any more puzzling, this happens.
"Oh, uhh... you're... welcome? And uh, forgiven?" She couldn't help but make it sound like a question. The girl didn't seem to notice, and shook her head.
"I gave a terrible first impression and wish to start again," she said. Turning her body to face Anna (giving the red-head a very good look at her blue shirt with a snowman on it) (which was, frankly, absolutely adorable), she held out her hand. "I am Elsa."
It took Anna a few moments to realise that it was a handshake, and that the girl had actually given her name.
"Oh- oh! Oh, it's fine, really. Hi, Elsa, but we don't have to start again," she said, smiling. The girl had given her name! Elsa, Elsa oh God and it was a perfect name, too. Anna refused to let herself mess this up. "I mean, the first impression I got from you was on the rink and it was absolutely breathtaking I almost started crying-" wait, what?! "-so it's fine, honestly."
As Anna had been talking, Elsa had straightened up, and if possible, the blush became even more pronounced over her pale skin as she swallowed visibly.
Anna promptly covered her mouth with her hands, hoping that the action might prevent her from spilling something else, like just how much she wanted to run her hand through the thick, blonde tress- okay, and now she was thinking creepy thoughts.
"I am... really sorry. Sometimes my mouth doesn't know when to shut up and it refuses to listen to my head." Anna frowned at nothing, lowering her arms and crossing them. Why do I always have to freak out the pretty ones?
But, Elsa didn't seem freaked out at all. She actually seemed a little... flattered. Her mouth was open a little, the redness seeping into her ears, but it was her eyes that had Anna transfixed. She couldn't really explain why. They weren't sharp or piercing or cold or empty. They weren't even necessarily lonely. They were blue and had seemed sort of sad but now they weren't, and there was a question in them that Anna knew would remain unspoken but still deserving of an answer.
Do you really think so?
And so, in answer, Anna simply gave a smile. Maybe she could be friends with the girl—after all, her brain had already done pretty much everything in its power to mess this up for her. A simple question might actually be simple.
"Do you... do you think- well, I mean, would you like is probably better, but um, yeah... would you like to come and get a hot chocolate with me sometime? Today, maybe?"
There was another question dancing in Elsa's eyes, a why that had no place there, and a why me that shouldn't ever be thought—not by this girl who, after three stilted impressions, had already shown Anna that she was pretty much amazing (and Anna would deny vehemently that she was biased in that assumption).
But, instead of answering, Elsa stood up, grabbing her skates in one hand and making her way down the steps. Anna's heart had already begun the slow, painful descent down to her shoes, but before it could get past her belly-button, Elsa stopped and turned, one foot on the path and the other hovering on the bottom step.
"I will if you answer me one question," she said, biting her lip with a soft smile. "What is an 'impertinent windchime'?"
Anna's heart pulled itself back into place as a goofy smile slid onto her own face. She stood and picked up her own skates, stepping off towards her favourite little cafe with a gorgeous blonde woman who wanted to be her friend.
"Well, there's a story behind it. It all started in math class..."
Notes: I used general roller-skating slang because I rollerblade, not ice-skate. I'm also not allowed to play hockey (haemophiliac, yo) and so that's sort of guesswork, too. Inspired by an elsannaheadcanons prompt. Temperature is in celsius (10 degrees is actually a fair bit).
This was supposed to be sooo much shorter but Elsa was being an unsociable little bitch and wouldn't cooperate.