*WARNING POSSIBLE TRIGGER* Mention of thoughts of suicide
*Night of the Great Thaw*
Elsa had to suppress a groan as she looked up the three flights of stairs that lead to the residency wing where the royal bedrooms were located. After finishing dinner, which became much more relaxed after her… confession, the four had decided it was time to turn in for the night.
Before they'd parted ways, the queen had a chat with Olaf about staying inside the castle grounds and away from the villagers. At first he was disappointed but once she explained it was only until the celebration, where she would introduce him properly, he became so happy that his hug threw her off-balance. The snowman then decided he wanted to keep Sven company and skipped off to the stables, but not before flashing the trio a toothy grin and waving his twig arm goodbye.
Elsa was exhausted, the last seventy-two hours had been an endless emotional hurricane. She was really looking forward to slipping beneath the covers of her bed and resting her tired eyes, but first she had to get there. And so, Elsa began the slow steady climb up the spiral staircase using the railing heavily for support, every muscle screaming at her in protest. Anna and Kristoff trailed after her, the princess relaying stories about how she would often slide down the banister to save time and occasionally pointed out a favourite painting.
Kristoff was only half listening to the redhead, he was too busy admiring how adorable she was. Smiling as she talk animatedly about anything and everything, limbs gesturing wildly as she spoke. Never had he seen a person make so many varied facial expressions in one sentence before. He found himself inexplicably drawn to her and it frightened him a little.
Due to his occupation the man had never really had a lot of human interaction, least of all with women. He has no idea how to act around them let alone one he had feelings for, a princess he had feelings for. Was he even allowed feel this way about Anna? She was royalty and he was just a common ice harvester.
This is going to be complicated.
"Kristoff are you even listening to me?" Anna asked, placing her hands on her hips. They had reached the second landing which housed the guest rooms.
"Huh? Yeah, you used to hide in the parlour," he said shaking the thoughts from his head.
"I said I used to slide in the parlour and I got very good at it thank you very much," she stated a little smugly. Anna then became very shy and bit her lip as she looked up at him. "Good night Kristoff, I'll see you in the morning right?" she said blushing.
"Uh sure, of course," he said rubbing his neck and turning a little red himself. His heart was beating so hard he thought it might burst from his chest. She actually wanted him to stay!
When the two simply stood there, each avoiding the other's gaze and blushing profusely, Elsa decided to step in. "Good evening, Kristoff. I hope you find everything to your liking. If you need anything please do not hesitate to ask," she said earnestly.
"Thank you, your Majesty," he said dropping his gazing and bowing.
"Come along Anna, let's not keep Mr. Bjorgman from his rest," Elsa said before turning back to the herculean task of making it to her bedroom in one piece.
Flashing him one last smile Anna waved to the mountain man before running to catch up with her sister.
All Kristoff could do was stare after her, a dreamy smile on his face and one hand raised in farewell. It wasn't until she vanished from sight that he was able to tear his eyes away and slowly make his way to the room set aside for him.
"Hmmm?" came the queen's sleepy reply, concealing a yawn as they stood in front of Anna's bedroom about to depart for the evening.
"Could I… I mean, would it be okay if… I um… I slept with you tonight? I don't want to be alone just yet…" She trailed off, embarrassed.
"Of course you can," she said gently, cupping one of Anna's cheeks in her hand. She had been secretly hoping Anna would ask to stay with her. The queen knew she would not be getting much sleep if the girl was not nearby to remind Elsa that she wasn't still locked in ice.
"It'll be a regular girl's night," Elsa said giving her a wink.
The princess' face lit up and clapped her hands squealing in delight.
"What's your favourite colour?" Anna asked popping another chocolate into her mouth and leaning against her sister's legs. The girls had changed into their night clothes and were now sitting on Elsa's bed eating her secret stash of sweets and asking each other questions. The girls discovered that they didn't really know each other very well and were determined to fix it.
"Violet. What about you?" she said resting against the headboard and playing with Anna's hair; braiding it before combing it out with her fingers.
"Hmm, I guess if I had to pick one I would say green, but I like all the colours," she answered, feeling her eye lids getting heavy. "Do you have any hobbies? I personally like sliding in my socks and dancing. Oh, and horseback riding!"
"I suppose I have always enjoyed needlework and sketching. Geometry was my favourite subject in lessons and you already know that I do fair bit of reading."
"A fair bit?" she scoffed. "Elsa you have more books in here then I have freckles. I think it is safe to say that you do a lot more than a 'fair' bit of reading"
"Very funny," she said giving the princess' hair a playful tug. Suddenly a wicked smile spread across her face. "Your friend Kristoff is very handsome isn't he?" she teased, causing Anna to start choking. Laughing, Elsa started to pat the girl on the back to help dislodge the treat from her windpipe.
"What!? Yeah maybe, I guess. If you like that sorta thing," the red haired girl stammered cheeks burning.
"Well, he most certainly likes you. I caught him staring more than once during dinner," she said.
"You really think so?! I was worried I was just imagining things. Olaf seems to think that he loves me, but we all know what happened the last time I 'fell in love,'" she said using her fingers as quotations. "We've only known each other for three days! I definitely feel something for him but I don't what it is. How the heck do you know that you love someone!? I mean, I know I love you but that is different… ugh this is so frustrating!" she moaned burying her face in her hands.
"I wish I could give you some advice Anna, but I'm afraid I am not very well versed in matters of the heart. A crippling fear of being around people can have that effect on a person. The only men I have ever dealt with were quite a bit older than I am, although father did once try to persuade me to meet a few suitors." Elsa frowned as she recalled the one time she had ever really fought with her father. It wasn't that Elsa didn't want to find love, she was just so scared of hurting someone that the thought of allowing another person to be intimate with her like that had left the queen-to-be sick with fear.
"I'm sorry. I am not a very good big sister am I?" she sighed hugging her knees.
"Don't say that Elsa, you're a great sister! You practically gave that ambassador guy a heart attack because he was mean to me! Man the look on his face was priceless!" she said sitting up and smiling cheerfully.
Anna's grin was infectious as the queen grew one of own. "Thank you, but back to the subject of you and Kristoff. We will have to think of a way that he can court you without causing a scandal. It is generally not acceptable for a commoner to actively seek out the affections of a princess. However, I don't think it will be too difficult to raise his social status since he has done so much for the both of us, but to what I have no idea. Duke or Baron would probably be suspicious but maybe knighthood wouldn't raise too many questions," she pondered out loud.
"Haha! Sir Kristoff Bjorgman. I bet he would hate that," she giggled. Anna was ecstatic that her sister approved of Kristoff and that she was actively going out of her way to support their budding relationship.
At the same time she was lingering on what her sister had said about not knowing anything about relationships. The princess realized that she was just starting to scratch the surface of just how much the queen had given up the day she barricaded herself in this room.
"Hey, Elsa?" she said breaking the queen's train of thought. "Do you mind if I ask you some questions? You know, from when we were apart. There are still some things that I don't get. But it's okay if you don't want to answer them," Anna added quickly.
The question caught Elsa off guard, her past was still very raw and she wasn't sure if she was ready to share all the details quite yet. However, after a time she finally said, "Yes, I think I owe you that much at least."
"Okay well first, I get that your powers are effected by your emotions but there were a lot of times..." Anna paused, nervously playing with one of her braids. "When you stayed away even though everything was totally calm. I mean mama and papa just always told me you were sick," she said referring to all the times her parents had told her Elsa was sick in bed each time she asked why her sister couldn't play or why she absent during certain holidays. "But I assume that was a lie too."
"No, your right Anna. I wasn't ill. At least not in the conventional way. Although a lot of those situations weren't emotionally charged for you, it was different for me... its a little hard to explain. But that was also the excuse Mother and Father used when I'd had one of my… episodes," she said looking down.
Elsa nodded. "Remember when... when... I struck you with my powers?" Elsa twisted her hands together, the overwhelming guilt made her want to gag. "How they sort of just erupted from my body?"
"Every so often, usually when I was under a lot of stress, something would set me off and my powers would sort of... do that. Thinking back, it was probably from being suppressed for too long. Unfortunately, this meant that I couldn't be around anyone for hours… " Elsa said thinking about how her mother had tried to hold her the first time it happened and how the contact had burned her hands.
"Wow... does it hurt?"
Elsa just shrugged. "Not so much anymore. They became easier to deal with over time and sometimes I could even stop them if I sensed it early enough."
Anna shivered at the thought of having to go through something like that. "Umm… ok when I asked Mama and Papa why they separated our rooms and why you didn't come out, they would always just say that you were busy learning how to be queen and need to be left alone to study. Was any of that true?"
"Yes and no. It didn't start out that way. You see, my more rigorous training didn't truly begin until I was twelve and even that was early. I needed something to distract me. Those first few years spent trying to learn how to control my magic were the hardest... Anything else?" she asked still not looking up.
"One more… why didn't you come to the funeral?"
The queen knew Anna was bound to ask her this question but it still made her wince. "I was going to, I wanted to… but I was still so weak from that day we found out that I knew I wouldn't be able to keep myself under control."
"That was like three weeks before the service!? What happened?" Anna asked eyebrows furrowed in a mixture of concern and confusion.
Elsa then reluctantly relayed how the news of their parent's death led to a rather severe episode. She couldn't remember portions but most of what she did remember was clear as day. Just barely making it to her chambers before the first wave hit, her body convulsing painfully as the ice ripped from her body. Screaming in anguish and pain until her throat was raw and lungs burned. Her insurmountable grief taking physical form as the blizzard raged in her bedroom. Deadly stalagmites springing up around her almost protectively as she lay curled up in the center of her room effectively destroying every last piece of furniture it housed.
Eventually, waking up to Gerda standing over her hours later, coaxing Elsa from unconsciousness with just her voice since she was still too cold to touch. How it had taken half an hour for the blonde to regain full cognitive function and another six to stop the blinding pain in her head. Her bedroom had been rendered inhabitable for almost a week, at the end of which she immediately returned. Elsa remembered thinking she would be able to make it to the funeral since she had not had any more episodes after that, believing that she was empty of magic for the time being; but of course, she was wrong.
When she was done all she could do was stare at her hands in shame, unable to cry. There was not a day that went by that she didn't feel guilty about not attending the service.
I should have been there; to say goodbye... for Anna.
Elsa was jolted from her grave musings when something slammed into her knocking the woman flat on her back and squeezing her painfully. "Anna, I can't breathe," she wheezed.
"I don't rightly care, I need to make up for all the times you needed this and I couldn't deliver," she mumbled into Elsa's platinum hair but softening her grip all the same.
"Thank you Anna, but could you maybe cling to me under the covers, I don't know about you but I am ready for some much deserved sleep," she said yawning.
"I guess I could get onboard with that idea," Anna replied momentarily releasing her big sister and crawling under the sheets beside her. The second Elsa's head hit the pillow the princess cuddled up next to her nuzzling her head directly below the queen's head in the crook of her neck, sighing happily.
Smiling down at her little sister Elsa closed her eyes, stroking the girl's hair as she began to sing a lullaby their mother used to sing to them when they were small.
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ra, hush now don't you cry.
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ra, a princess lullaby.
Over in Arendelle, many years ago,
My mother sang a song to me, in tones so sweet and low.
Just a simple little number, in her good old loving way,
And I'd give the world if she could sing, that song to me today.
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ra, hush now don't you cry.
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ra, a princess lullaby."
"I miss them," Anna said softly.
"Me too," she said giving the girl a gentle squeeze before resuming the melody but deciding to stick to the chorus until she felt Anna's breathing slow and body relax.
Where sleep came easily for Anna, it eluded Elsa despite how weary she was, slipping through her grasp like smoke. Images of the last few days flashing through her mind at random; from watching as the arrow raced toward her chest to looking down at the shackles that encased her hands. However, her mind would always return to one image in particular; Anna's frozen body, shielding Elsa from the sword that would have cleaved her head from her shoulders. To calm herself, Elsa chased away the disturbing visions by listening to Anna's heartbeat, eventually slipping into a fitful slumber.
All she could see was white. No matter which direction she turned all she could see were the angry snowflakes that whirled around her, but Elsa somehow knew she was on the fjord, caught in a furious blizzard that grabbed at her dress and hair with icy fingers. The wind howled cruel accusations at her as she spun frantically searching for anything other than white.
You put them all in danger Elsa, you are not fit to be a queen.
You are so weak, can't even control your own powers… pathetic.
You chased her away, your own sister, you really are a monster.
Conceal, don't feel! Control yourself stupid girl!
"SHUT UP!" she screamed pressing her hands to her ears. Once the voices quieted she went back to her previous task: escape. They were coming after her, whether that meant execution or imprisonment she didn't know. Either way it didn't matter, she had to keep moving, had to get as far away as possible. It felt as though she were running through water; her legs were heavy and it seemed as though she hadn't made any progress.
Then everything stood still. Snowflakes hung suspended in the air unable to finish their decent and the furious wind died away. That's when she saw it. A small light glowing in the distance. Elsa didn't know why but she suddenly found herself racing toward it like the Devil himself was at her heels. As she grew closer the light began to take shape. It was a beautiful woman dressed all in blue, one of her hands was stretched above her and she was staring blankly at nothing in particular. Elsa noticed something strange about the woman, her skin was the same colour as her clothes and she wasn't moving, almost as if she were…
"No! No! No! Anna! Please no! It can't be true! Please!" she screamed falling in a crumpled heap at her dead sister's feet, tears pouring down her cheeks.
"Elsa? Elsa, what have you done?" whispered a hauntingly familiar voice.
Whipping her head around Elsa felt a fleeting moment of pure joy before terror and confusion tore the air from her lungs. There, standing above her were the ghostly figures of her parents who looked down at their daughter with such disgust that Elsa flinched as though she'd been struck.
"I didn't mean to! Mama, Papa please believe me!" she cried, begging for forgiveness.
Her mother's once beautiful face morphed into a grotesque scowl of pure hatred. "You killed her! Your own sister, she is dead because of you!" her mother screeched, pointing an ethereal finger at Elsa accusingly.
"MURDERER! MURDERER!" they yelled together backing away slowly and bursting into a flurry of snowflakes that surrounded the whimpering blonde. Their voices only increased in volume as the storm raged around her.
"No! Please! I'm sorry, it was an accident!" she wailed, trying to drown out the chanting that filled her head.
"Elsa! Elsa, please wake up!" Anna sobbed shaking the queen violently as she thrashed in her sleep. The princess had been trying to wake her sister for the last ten minutes but no matter how hard she tried the girl was unable to put an end to Elsa's blood curdling screams. The room was becoming increasingly cold and frost had started to form on the windows.
"Anna!" the queen shrieked yet again and her skin became so frigid that Anna retracted her hands, hissing in pain.
"ELSA!" she shouted so loudly that she was certain the whole castle must have heard.
The queen's eyes sprang open, but they were still far away and unfocused. She seemed to be looking at Anna without actually seeing her. "Please, you have to kill me. End this torture," she begged. "Destroy me before I can hurt anyone else. I'm sorry I couldn't bring myself to do it before, I tried. I don't want to live without her, she was all I had left," she pleaded as tears streamed down her face. "Please."
All Anna could do was stare at her sister in horror. She thought about ending her life? That's why she wouldn't move when Hans came at her. I knew she could hear him… she wanted to die…
When Elsa's eyes finally came into focus she looked so panicked that Anna thought she was going to scream again, but when she opened her mouth no sound came out. This only seemed to frighten her more as her eyes widened and she began to hyperventilate.
"Elsa, it's okay I'm right here. It's not real, you need to calm down," she said as gently as she could, trying to be strong for the unravelling queen. However, the blonde didn't seem to hear her as she began to shake uncontrollably still attempting to force noise from her throat. Anna then tried the only thing she could think of and grabbed her sister, lying down with Elsa practically on top of her. Anna clenched her teeth against the bite of young woman's freezing cold flesh and wrapped her arms around Elsa's body holding her firmly in place.
At first the elder girl fought against her but Anna just tightened her grasp. Elsa was surprisingly strong for her size, but then again so was the princess. It took a long time for the young queen to regain full awareness of her surroundings. When she did, Elsa returned her sister's death grip trembling and weeping, completely undone.
Anna lay still, rubbing the woman's back and humming the lullaby Elsa had sung to her just a few hours ago. They remained that way until the queen had cried herself into a mercifully dreamless sleep.