Frozen characters © Disney. Story and settings ©2014 myself.
NOTE: Brief, fluffy Elsanna AU one-shot [WARNING: this does mean sistercest in this case]. Came to me in my sleep, actually - woke up with it on my mind and had to get it down as soon as possible. To be read while listening to "Edge Of Love" by Mindy Smith (or "One Moment More", which is slightly more cliché and therefore a bit much, but either one works).
Both suitcases were full. All my clothes, books, and everything I would need for the coming nine months were inside. My carry-on bag had a stack of magazines that would have put a doctor's waiting room to shame. I was as ready as I would ever be.
Old man Oaken would probably be driving up any second to take me to the bus stop, where one of said buses would take me to a plane, which would take me away from my homeland. Did I have my passport, all my papers? Harvard University was a long way from this time-forgotten corner of Ontario, but it was also a welcome distance. A lot could change in the better part of a year.
With my suitcases by the front door, I went back for the carry-on and took a last look around the room. Our little shelter from the universe. So many memories, good and bad... posters and old toys and things scattered around the dressers. Well, one of the dressers; the other was picked clean, most of its contents either in storage or in my bags. The crack in the window pane from that night I had tried to sneak back in after the winter dance. Everything was beautiful, and everything was ours. And I had to leave it all behind.
For the thousand time that week, I reminded myself things would be better off this way as I trailed a finger over the surface of one bedspread. Distance would put everything right the way nothing else could. My new life would give me new perspective - and hopefully my absence would do the same for everyone else.
Then I heard a series of thumps on the floor behind me. Eyes downcast, I turned to see the hallway runner bunched up against the closed washroom door, and two feet in flip-flops holding its rumpled folds there. I followed them up bare, freckle-strewn legs to a pair of cutoff shorts and a faded old Blue Jays shirt three sizes too large. Then I saw something I hadn't been expected to see in two trembling hands.
My heart went cold as the ice over the lake in January. No. She wasn't supposed to find it yet. Not until this afternoon when the mail carrier visited our house on his rounds. This was a complete disaster.
Forcing my eyes up to look into hers was impossible, but I tried... and got as far as her chin. Her mouth was hanging open, lush red lip moving slightly as if to speak but never getting there. Muscles in her throat twitched and pulsed. I looked at the letter again; she was on the last page. Several new creases criss-crossed its surface, as if she had begun crumpling it and then smoothed it back out.
Every last thing I put on it flashed through the forefront of my mind. How I never meant for it to happen. How long I had been in denial. How everything got so much worse after the accident, and a harsh clarity settled over me when they removed our father's life support and he flatlined. How those many hours of comforting each other had an unforeseen side effect that I never in my darkest dreams could have anticipated...
I went back to my neatly-made bed that I wouldn't be touching again for nearly a year and slung my carry-on over my shoulder. Oaken would be there any minute. If I could just get out-
Her hand clamped down on my upper arm as I tried to slide past her; I pulled gently, but her grip never gave. Figures. She always was the stronger of us. No amount of struggling could break that grip.
My eyes finally found hers, and saw they were wider than her mouth and bluer than I'd ever seen them - and I had seen them more than most ever would. Every inch of her sweet, heart-shaped face was pale as parchment, every freckle standing out in strong relief. The sounds of her labored breathing filled our end of the hallway as she waited for me to say anything, her grip unnecessarily tight on my arm.
What was there to say that I hadn't already said? I felt the defeated expression seep into my face as my head began to swim. This was all going very, very wrong. I spent so much time concealing this, worked so hard so we would have the benefit of three seasons between this moment and the one we next saw each other. And it all went to hell because she went and poked her nose in the mailbox a few hours too early. Part of me wondered why she had done it. Part of me didn't care; it made almost no difference when all was said and done. She knew, and she knew it right now instead of when I was hundreds of miles away.
A little hiccup - no, oh no. She was about to cry. There was no way I could handle that right now. She didn't cry, though. She just stared at me as if we had never met. Like she didn't know me, and it hurt, and I hated seeing that there. She knew me, and I knew her; we were family. That was the problem.
Maybe it would be alright. That could happen, couldn't it? I shrugged helplessly and she flinched at the sudden movement after such a long stretch of stillness. When my hand came within a whisper of touching her face, she backed into the bathroom door, gasping for breath as she released her hold, hands pressing flat backward and further crumpling my confessions. The envelope marked "Anna" fluttered to the floor.
Pain bloomed in my chest where it hadn't been. Before, everything was strained, unsure. Now she was truly afraid. Afraid of me. This was all for the best.
My boots thumped hollowly against the now-naked hardwood as I passed through the sitting room and got to the front door, began moving my bags outside and onto the porch. For the best. Everything was the way it needed to be. She would understand why I had to leave in time, and why I waited until now to tell her all of this. And then she would see how much easier this would make our lives. If I stayed, if we had time to tease this out now, everything would fall to dust. A few days out from this unfortunate hiccup in my plans, she'd begin to come to grips with it, and move on. Seamlessly without me as an obstacle.
When I went back for the last suitcase, she was in the doorway. My eyes took in the curve of her hips, the flush in her cheeks, and I told them to behave themselves and focused them on the room beyond. When I went to push past her, she held fast, so I shoved her. She gave way easily enough, but caught my hands when I tried to pull the suitcase outside.
Sighing impatiently, I jerked again, pulling us out and onto the porch, but she didn't let go. When I finally dropped my hands and turned away, holding onto the porch railing as if it was the one trying to run away instead of me, I heard the suitcase fall over with a heavy thud.
Almost a minute passed. I stared at the sun rising over the neighbour's wheat fields, watched it spin gold where there had only been deep shadow. I was leaving home for more than a few days for the first time in my entire life, and this was how I was leaving? It wasn't right. Wasn't acceptable. She was supposed to hug me goodbye on this porch, and I was supposed to hug her back a lot less tightly than I wanted to and then get in Old Man Oaken's rusty old pickup and leave this town to its own devices until next year. Such a beautiful, perfect plan...
A tugging at my shoulder bag shook me from my stupor, and I turned to see Anna was opening it. I went to shove her hands away, but the potency of her glare stopped me. The flap was open, and she rifled through my magazines to one at the bottom of the stack: Cosmo's newest. She had given it to me the night before, said to save it for last when I ran out of other reading material. She practically threw it at me, then turned away and stalked to the opposite side of the stairs down onto the walkway, leaning her slight weight against the support pillar there.
All of this baffled me. What was she doing? She was so upset, that was clear, but none of her actions made the slightest bit of sense. Shrugging, I flipped the magazine over in my hands - and noticed it didn't feel right. Its weight was off, its proportions and balance. I read a lot of magazines, so I would know.
A letter. A letter in the center.
A tingling plagued my scalp as I read the words "Do not open til Xmas" on the envelope. December was too many months away. My fingernail slit it open, and my sweating palm retrieved the single, brief page.
Hopefully you're all settled into your dorm by now. How is it? Making new friends? Okay, fine, I'll cut to the chase. I know how you hate wasted time.
We've both been hurting a lot since we lost Mom and even more since Dad, and there's been a lot of other shit to deal with, but I don't want you to worry. I already know. You talk in your sleep. Remember when we were little and I used to write it all down, pretending it was poetry? I still hear your poems. Lately, I haven't been writing any of them down, though. I thought you might not want that kind of thing somewhere anybody could find.
It's taken me 'til now to make up my mind how I felt about the whole idea, and I'm still not really sure, but I couldn't let nine or ten months go by with this secret between us. You pulling away because you're afraid to tell me really hurts. You're doing it because you love me, I understand, but I don't think you understand how much I love you back. Enough to work through this, at the very least.
So next time you see me, we can talk about it now, okay? Just don't let this take away the only family I have left.
The page fluttered in a light breeze, swirled away from my limp fingers - I ran and leapt over the railing to save it. That could never be lost! Not ever! I went down hard on my knees in the soft earth as I plucked it from the air, panting from the sudden movement.
By the time I picked myself back up and turned to the porch, I saw Anna was pressed up against the railing, eyebrows almost up to her ginger bangs in surprise. I held up the letter with a shrug as I wiped the soles of my boots off on the grass, then climbed the steps again and sighed.
Tutting, she went into the living room and came back with a tissue. I had been expecting her to run off and not come back, and almost felt my face lighting up when she did. Flashing me an awkward half-smile, she squatted and brushed at the grass stains and dirt clinging to the knees of my jeans. Having her tend me like this, especially now that she knew... it didn't feel okay. I liked it, but it didn't feel okay.
Once she was finished, she simply collapsed against my legs, huddling there. My heart skipped over a beat as I placed a gentle hand on the crown of her head, listened to the sniffle, then heard her taking deep breaths to compose herself. Then she shot to her feet, nose to nose with me.
She was so close; I could hear every breath, feel them against my skin. Her chest pressed against mine when she leaned in slightly, but she wasn't trying for anything intimate. Those eyes were fierce, they brooked no argument. We belonged in each other's lives forever, no matter what form that took.
A little whimper escaped my throat, and my mouth opened to apologize for everything going so horribly cockeyed, but she pressed her index finger to my lips. I looked at her, stunned, but then I remembered my own letter's contents and realised there was nothing more to say on the matter; I had been very thorough. Exhaustively.
As she pulled me into a warm hug, I knew she didn't love me back the way I loved her. Not yet, maybe not ever. But the mere fact that she didn't shut me out, didn't decide I was crazy and sick and wrong and not worth saving, did far more to assuage my guilt than anything like words - or even a kiss - could have. Even so, I cherished the heat of her body as I hugged back, the softness and supple strength of her back and shoulders. I felt her tense once, then relax against me again.
A car horn blared. Oaken was here. The man was cheerful enough and probably didn't mind, but it wouldn't be polite to keep him waiting when he cleared his morning schedule just to take me into town. We broke apart, wiping our eyes for tears that hadn't quite come down, and she pressed an affectionate hand into my neck with a smile as bleak as anything I'd ever seen. Nodding and sighing, I poked her in the end of the nose like I always used to, and she let out a little half-giggle. Then she helped me carry my bags into the truck bed.
As I made to open the passenger door, hastily stuffing her precious letter into my carry-on so it wouldn't get left behind, I saw her scramble into the back, thumping and making a racket. I shrugged at the grandfatherly old man, and his bristly mustache stretched with his amiable beam. He understood - at least as far as he needed to.
Nestling ourselves amongst the luggage, we stared up at the clouds as the pickup began to turn on the gravel and make its way toward the main road again. Anna curled against my body, and I tensed, but then she pinched my side and I forced myself to relax.
Several stops and starts at lights later, and she inched her way upward to press her mouth against my neck softly. That time I tensed and stayed tense. I felt her shuddering, and when she pushed up on one elbow to look into my eyes, a scared little rabbit, I bit my lip and shook my head. This was not what I wanted from her, not what I was asking. Not like this, so soon and without time for her to really process those unfiltered thoughts in the pages of a letter back in our cozy little one-story home.
Her lip quivered, but she squeezed her eyes shut and took a few deep, cleansing breaths. Her forearm pressed into my cleavage as she curled against me again, her nose and mouth warm on my collarbone. I felt her lips push out just enough to let me know it counted as a kiss, which she held for a very long while. The hand I trailed over one of her red braids looked predatory to my own eyes, but she merely smiled at the gesture and my ugly outlook on said gesture vanished. Shared nearness was all we needed.
All too soon, I was at the bus stop. Oaken had to get going, and Anna had no easy way back home so she had little choice but to go with him. We got my bags situated on the pavement and she held out her arms wide, and I ran into them, blubbering and gritting my teeth against the ache in my chest. She turned me just enough so that her back was to the truck and pushed her arms up so it hid our faces from the sides. After a few seconds, it began to get heated in the little tent she had formed and she let out a hiccup of a sob and brushed her lips against mine so briefly I thought I could have imagined it. Then she pulled back, flashing me the bleariest grin I'd ever seen and swiping at her face with the backs of her hands, waving with one when she had most of the moisture sorted.
For a long moment, I simply stood and gaped at her in awe. That easily, she had accepted my feelings - returned them, if only in part. How large a part? We couldn't know that until I came back next summer. Maybe we could keep in touch between now and that day. I waved back and turned my back on them, allowing my entire face to collapse into a sorrowful mess for the instant it took to move my bags further toward my bus.
I checked my ticket, got my bags loaded in the compartments underneath and was just about to step onto the stairs when I thought to look back. She hadn't even moved an inch. Oaken was checking his watch in a resigned sort of way. Seeing me turning, she waved again, then blew me showy kisses. My cheeks warmed but I reached out and caught her air-kisses, pressing them into my heart. That's where I'd keep them.
That's where I'd be keeping my Anna, come what may.
- The End -