Elsa awoke groggily, and not for the first time, she shivered, not from the cold - it never bothered her anyway - but the lonely feeling she got from the absence of Odd's presence beside her. She squeezed her eyes shut and held his pillow to her chest, breathing deeply as if trying to inhale him back into her life.
She moaned, and rolled over, staring blankly at the wall. The soft light suggested it was still early, but she was wide awake, her thoughts spinning out of control. The fact that she was taking her kingdom's soldiers to war in just a few short hours was an extremely distressing one, which constantly kept popping up, as well as nerves about the massive task before her. She still wasn't quite sure what to do - she'd decided the night before that she'd send her soldiers to Corona to help protect the kingdom, but that left the issue that she still needed to try to get to the Southern Isles.
She knew, deep down, that the only way to end this was to attack the 'heart' of the enemy, but that seemed easier said than done. She'd either need a massive crew to blow away the Southern Isles' defences, or such a small one that they could sneak into the kingdom unnoticed.
Both options had benefits and disadvantages. If she tried a massive ambush, there might be a way to destroy any resistance, but if most of her trained men were in Corona, things might not go well. Not to mention there would be a lot of casualties, which Elsa would hate to happen - unlike some rulers, she had a close connection with her people, and war was bad enough without the baggage of the dead. She'd always been so scared of hurting anyone, directly or indirectly, since she'd almost killed her sister as a child, and had frozen her a few years before.
If she went in a small group, she'd probably have more chance of getting into the Southern Isles without anyone getting hurt or killed, so long as they were completely undetected. If they were found out, however, there would be no hope of survival. The Southern Isles' soldiers would be able to destroy them up with a single gun shot, even, and then no one would survive, and the plan would be a total failure, as well as the whole crew being dead.
Elsa placed her head in her hands, and sat up, pushing her hair back out of her face, so that she could see. Looking over at the grandfather clock, she squinted in the warm red light of the room, and could just make out the hands pointing at five, twenty three.
Sighing, she pushed herself out of bed, and quickly got changed into one of her dresses, smoothing down the creases, stalling, trying to put off the inevitable time when she had to decide what, exactly, she had to do. She'd told her kingdom she was going to take the whole army to the Southern Isles, but over the night she'd developed doubts.
Slowly, she walked to her sister's bedroom, hoping to ask her and Kristoff about the predicament, but when she knocked, there was no answer. Groaning, she shook her head in frustration, and began to make her way outside, deciding a walk in the fresh, still morning air would do her over-worked mind some good.
Entering the courtyard, Elsa sighed as the chilly morning air hit her like a blast in the face, the cold air not bothering her and instead making her feel refreshed and, strangely, as if she'd been released from the cold grip of worry that had been settling upon her. The wind stole away her growing concerns, and, for just a moment, she felt free.
"Elsa!" Princess Anna's voice came floating across, riding on the breeze like a soft melody, but her sister's voice broke the Queen's heart, shattering it into thousands of smithereens. How could she leave her young sister behind to protect an entire kingdom with the threat of being attacked so close by? How could she give the poor girl such a crushing responsibility? It wasn't that she doubted her sister's choices, no matter how wacky they sometimes were.
She just didn't want to hurt her.
"Elsa! Come inside!" Anna called again, and though her voice was high pitched and happy, there was a tone of sadness sewn into the seams of the words. "Please?" Elsa sighed, the now pleading tone breaking her resolve, and she slowly began to make her way inside.
Anna smiled at her sister when she approached. "What are you doing up so early, Elsa?" She asked, then frowned. "Were you spying on me?" She raised her eyebrows, suspiciously, and the Queen nearly laughed.
"I just couldn't sleep. That's all." Elsa reassured, as she walked into the castle. "I'm nervous. I just don't know what to do."
Anna looked at her sister sadly. "Hey, tell you what. Come to the dining hall with me, and we'll talk this out." She paused. "Would you like Kristoff to come as well? He's out with Sven, but he might be some use."
Elsa's heart warmed at her sister's offer, and she nodded, following the girl in silence, as a small, weak smile tugged at the edges of her lips. Again, for a moment, she was able to forget about the choice she had to make, and the sense of having a weight lifted from her shoulders was a heavenly sensation indeed.
She watched as Anna nodded to a maid, who was standing in the doorway, and the girl quickly hurried off, looking rushed. This intrigued Elsa, and though she kept quiet, she was curious as to what was going on.
Entering the dining hall, the Queen sat down slowly, watching as her sister sat across from her, leaning down on the table, waiting for her to begin talking. Elsa took a breath, before beginning to explain her predicament to her sister. Anna, for once, listened intently, silently, listening respectfully and not even butting in once, amazingly. She murmured quietly a few times, showing her understanding.
"That is a difficult situation," She agreed, nodding, her face straight with grave seriousness, something which rarely ever crossed the Princess' face. Or rather, it was an expression which was rarely worn by her before everything that was going on. "I think you should just... you know, split it half and half. Take half of the soldiers with you to the Southern Isles, and the other half can go with the captain of the Army to Corona. I doubt they'd be any safer going there than going with you, so... It doesn't make much difference. As long as the men know how to fire a cannon and shoot, there's a good chance. We both know we have the best - or, at least, one of the best - navies in the world, so it's not like we are completely helpless either."
Elsa sighed, something she'd practically become an expert at recently, and looked at her sister with sorrowful eyes.
"I don't feel right leaving you here to look after Arendelle, Anna." She said, quietly. "With the army out of the way, I'm so scared other countries will just attack us."
Anna smiled softly, and though her grin was laced with sorrow still, it made Elsa's heart soar. "Don't worry about me, Sis. I'll take care of things. I'll train up some men, and I'll make sure Arendelle's protected the best I can." She paused, and her smile fell. "I'm more worried about you. I mean, going off to war... It's not exactly safe, is it? And you're pregnant, and I..."
Elsa leaned across the table and took her sister's hand, squeezing it softly. "Don't worry about me, Anna. And I know that's hypocritical, but still. I've got my magic, anyway, so I'm pretty well prepared."
Anna nodded, not looking convinced but at least not arguing any, as a knock sounded at the door, and Kristoff walked into the room, Sven in tow. Elsa glared at him, although it was more in jest than actual frustration; he simply pretended to ignore her, as he winked at Anna, and she smiled back, looking excited.
Elsa frowned, and hoped the pair weren't communicating silently about what she thought they were. She shuddered at the thought of the Fiery Princess with Kristoff. It wasn't that she didn't trust him, or anything, and the two were married - it was just that Anna was still Elsa's baby sister. Nothing would change that.
Elsa jumped as unexpected company came into the room, and she frowned as maid after maid swarmed around her, Anna and Kristoff, carrying platters of food which definitely seemed to be unsuited for breakfast. It wasn't until a large goose was laid down before her that she understood.
Looking at her sister, she noticed the ecstatic expression on her face, and she couldn't help but giggle slightly, even though her heart was still heavy. Anna had kept her promise from the night before.
They were having christmas dinner at five o'clock in the morning, for breakfast.