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Breaking the Silence

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It was an early Monday morning in Arendelle. Fresh dew lay on every piece of grass, heavy fog drifted leisurely through the air, and smokestacks from dying fires puffed out of chimneys blending with the grey clouds blocking out the blue sky.

The castle was quiet and peaceful as the most energetic of its inhabitants, Anna, was still resting. Queen Elsa was enjoying a quiet breakfast before having to attend to her queenly duties, looking out over her kingdom through a grand window in the dining hall. Kristoff, unable to sleep any longer, found himself roaming the halls of the castle to appease his slight boredom and his curiosity. He hoped to maybe find a secret passage on his little adventure.

He found the castle to be rather quiet today. There was no Anna dragging him every which way telling him story after story. Nor were there people from neighboring kingdoms dancing in the ballroom or crowding the great hall talking about this and that. If he was honest he rather liked it. Not that he didn't like noise, he loved hearing Anna talk nonstop about the adventures she went on with the paintings that lined the walls of the castle. He also loved his family that seemed to burst with excitement and joy, playing games, and matching up lovers. All that and more were things Kristoff loved! But he also liked the quiet. It reminded him of the peaceful nights he'd spend with Sven watching the stars and making up random constellations, or the mornings where they would lie there awake listening to the birds chirp away, watching the morning sun filter through the trees before getting up to start work. yes, noise could be great, but so could silence.

Lost in his thoughts, Kristoff hadn't realized he had been walking towards the dungeons until he got there. He stood frozen in a daze, gazing over the cold stone corridor, lit only by a few torches and light that filtered through the windows in the cells. He was slightly shocked he hadn't realized where he was going. But it was short-lived as he shrugged his shoulders and turned to head back up the dungeon stairs.

Kristoff halted in his movement as a quiet noise reached his ears. He told himself it was just his mind playing tricks on him, that it was nothing to concern himself with. But a small voice in the back of his head told him to wait and listen. So he did. He stood tall and unmoving, like a statue, staring down the dimly lit corridor trying to find anything hidden in the shadows, ears straining to listen closely and find the noise once again.

The silence seemed to stretch on and on to Kristoff, nothing disturbing it, not even a mouse. Just as he was about to head back upstairs, chalking it up to a rat that had decided to make its home there, he heard it. He wasn't positive, but it sounded almost like a cough. But that shouldn't be right, Arendelle doesn't have, hasn't had prisoners in years.

There it was again! That was definitely a cough. Someone was down here, sick, possibly even dying. Kristoff knew Anna and Elsa well enough to know they would never be so cruel as let prisoners die in their dungeons. And seeing as there were no guards down there either, it was safe to assume they didn't know this person was down here. With all this in mind, Kristoff wandered through the dungeons, letting the cough guide him and glancing inside every cell just to make sure he didn't miss the person he was looking for.

Finally, he came to the last cell and peered in. The cell was bare. No cot, no blanket, not even hay to lay down on. There wasn't even a window to let light in, the whole room relying on the dungeon torches for light. There was nothing besides a bucket (its use was obvious) and a thin brunet man in tattered clothing, lying curled up in the furthest corner of the cell trying his best to stay warm as shivers and coughs racked his body. there's no way Elsa and Anna know about him. With that thought running through his head, he rushed to find the keys.

Casting a quick look around him, Kristoff found the key hanging on the wall just left of the door. As he opened the door he slowly crept in, not missing how the man was now protecting his face with his arms as if expecting to be hit. What happened to this guy? thought Kristoff. Who even locked him down here? Even though the distressed man couldn't see him, Kristoff tried to make his stance as non-threatening as possible, taking slow cautious steps forward.

"Hey man." the brunet flinched at the sound of his voice. "Hey, it's ok. I'm not here to hurt you." He crouched down as he reached the man, keeping his voice as calm as possible. "I'm gonna get you out of here but you need to stand up first. can you do that?"

Instead of listening to Kristoff, the man just curled tighter into himself, thin body shaking like a leaf in a storm. Kristoff figured that was probably from fear more than the cold. "Hey, hey. It's alright. I promise I won't hurt you. If you don't want to stand, that's fine, but can I at least see your face?"

He watched the brunet hopefully, praying that he could make some progress in getting the brunet out of the dark cell. After what felt like minutes, Kristoff hung his head, releasing a sigh as he tried to think of anything else that might get the man to move. Then he spotted movement from the corner of his eye. He looked up as pale arms slowly slid away to reveal fearful green eyes, short brown facial hair, and a familiar pale face.

Kristoff's eyes widened in shock at the face he was seeing in front of him. It was impossible. He should be back home sulking and... well being healthy. Not in the dungeons of Arendelle castle, starving to death and terrified.

With a quiet voice, the unexpected man's name fell off his lips.

"Hans?"