*Two weeks since the Great Thaw*
"Gah, my corneas!" the redhead moaned as the sun's light streaming through the large bay window hit her straight in the eyes. Anna slammed her lids shut and waited for her eyes to adjust to the bright light.
"Elsa, I think it's time to get up," she announced sleepily. When she received no response the girl rolled over to find her sister missing. "Hmm, she must already be awake," Anna said to herself frowning. Anna knew Elsa had barely gotten any sleep as since the accident, so it concerned her that the queen was rising early as well.
Sitting up and stretching, the princess sighed happily as she felt her spine pop and muscles relax. Hopping out of bed and quickly taming the wild rat's-nest she called hair, Anna decided to go and track down her sister.
"Probably in her room, as always." Anna had noticed that Elsa still tended to drift to her bedroom regularly throughout the day. Old habits die hard.
"Hey Elsa, what do you want to do today?" Anna called as she approached the large white door that guarded the interior of the queen's chambers. God how she hated that door. It always seemed to be glaring down at her, silent and mocking. "You don't have court, so I was hoping we could do something together if you don't have, like, a billion meetings or something." She continued to dream up all the things she wanted to do with her big sister as she reached for the door handle. "Maybe we could–"
Anna was abruptly cut off when the handle of the door did not budge.
That's odd. She promised she would keep her room unlocked from now on. What if she's… no, don't even go there. She wouldn't do that, she promised. Calm down, she is just changing that's all. Yeah she's changing.
"Elsa, can I come in?" she asked knocking shyly and looking up at that stupid door as her anxiety began to build.
Maybe she's not in there," Anna reasoned. But then she heard a very soft but distinct, thud.
"Elsa?" she tried again.
The princess was suddenly transported back thirteen years ago as she watched the sister she adored so much shut this very same door in her face for the first time. A wave of panic swept suddenly through her, this was becoming far too familiar; Anna on the outside, confused and pleading, Elsa on the inside, silent and indifferent.
"Elsa, please open the door, you're scaring me!" Her cries became more frantic as she pulled and jiggled the handle. Again, silence. "Answer me! Elsa, please I just got you back, don't shut me out of your life again!"
Hot, angry tears trailed twin paths down her cheeks as she pounded on the door over and over again.
"Elsa! Elsa! Open the door, Elsa! Elsa!"
It's not true! It can't be true!
Elsa had awoken long before the sun, feeling just as worn as she had the night before and found the room to be coated in a very fine dusting of snow. Sitting up in bed and sighing in frustration, Elsa waved the precipitation away.
Try as she might, the young queen could not escape the terrifying images that plagued her mind each time she closed her eyes. Elsa was no stranger to nightmares. In fact, after her visit to the trolls they became quite frequent. But these were different, they felt so real. The visions would often continue even when Elsa was awake and it was clear they were beginning to take their toll. She could feel her powers becoming more difficult to keep under heel as her mind and body became increasingly strained.
I don't know if it is a good idea for Anna and I to share beds anymore…
A soft snore caught her attention and she had to bite back the laugh that threatened to escape her lips. In her sleep, Anna had spread out to take up well over half the bed. Limbs were sticking out in all directions, hair was defying a number of physical laws and a wet spot near her mouth hinted at some possible drooling.
Moving as quietly as she could, the blonde slowly swung her legs off the side of the large bed, trying her best not to wake the sleeping princess. Shaking her head, Elsa placed a gentle kiss on her sister's forehead, causing the girl to hum contentedly in her sleep and snuggle deeper into the pillows. The queen smiled down at her fondly before padding silently over to the door and shutting it behind her with a soft click.
Going to her own bedroom, she dressed herself in a modest high collar gown; consisting of a violet bodice and skirt as well as a black, long-sleeved underdress. Then, weaving her hair back into the loose French braid she had become fond of – the tight buns she always wore in public tended to give her headaches - Elsa made her way to her study to get some work done before breakfast. But not before locking the door to her chambers so that Gerda would know it didn't require cleaning.
Settling down at her desk, Elsa began to rifle through the neatly stacked papers that littered its surface. There was so much to be done before the party and she had only a few shorts weeks to do it all in. Elsa knew it was going to be exhausting work but at least she knew it would it more than worth it; she wanted everything to be perfect for her little sister's celebration. The queen smiled as she pulled out the new writing quill Anna had given her and dove into the mountain of paperwork, eager to get most of it done before the princess woke up.
Elsa worked diligently for almost three full hours when she began to feel her eyes droop and wrist burn. Leaning against the back of her chair the queen rubbed the bridge of her nose with her thumb and forefinger, fighting the exhaustion that threatened to overwhelm her. She had just made up her mind to fetch a cup of tea when she heard loud banging and cries of her name coming from the royal bedchambers.
Elsa ran as fast as her legs would carry her, frost erupting from each step she took.
Did the Duke send someone to hurt her sister in an attempt to get back at the queen? Did he somehow escape the dungeons? More possible scenarios flashed through her mind, each more sinister than the last. It was enough to make her run that much faster toward her sister's voice.
The blonde stopped abruptly at the sight that met her as she rounded the corner. At the end of the hallway sat the crumpled form of Princess Anna, sobbing in front of Elsa's bedroom. The blonde almost fainted with relief when she saw the girl was unharmed. However, that didn't mean Anna wasn't in pain.
And it was what Elsa heard next that nearly broke her heart.
"Elsa, are you hurting yourself? I heard what you said in your sleep, you said you wanted to… that you tried to… Elsa, please don't," she sobbed. "I need my sister, don't leave me again! If it's because you are afraid you might hurt me… I promise I will leave you alone, I will do anything you want, just please don't die!"
Elsa couldn't move, couldn't think. Anna knew. She knew the one thing that the queen had hoped to take to her grave, even more so than the secret of her powers. No one was ever supposed to know about the terrible things Elsa had thought about during her darkest times. The times when she could no longer stand the fact that her very existence put everyone around her in mortal danger, especially those she loved most. But she was never able to bring herself to do it, she was too scared and the guilt of what it would do to her family would always stop her. Besides, she suspected that her ice would have prevented her even if she had attempted to go through with such a thing.
While the queen was lost in her own dark memories, Anna had nearly reached hysterics. She had picked herself up of the floor and had begun to slam her body repeatedly against the wood, seemingly determined to breakdown the door in order to get to Elsa.
Pain lanced through her arm and shoulder with each crash but she ignored it as her desperation numbed her senses. So much so that she didn't hear her sister's voice until the queen was all but screaming.
The princess whirled around to see the blonde racing toward her, frost trailing after her like a glittering train. When she reached the confused girl, Elsa began to thoroughly examine the arm that had only moments ago served as a makeshift battering ram.
"Are you hurt? Is anything broken?" she asked, her voice edged in worry as her shaking hands hovered over the limb. "Anna, do I need to call the physician? Anna, say something!" She took Anna's face in her hands, searching for any sign the girl could hear her.
"B- Bu- But you're in t- there," she stuttered jerking her thumb weakly behind her.
"Anna, what are you talking about? I've been in my study all morning."
Too many emotions were swirling inside the princess, so much so that she felt her body go numb. Her thoughts came slowly and her vision had narrowed so that all she could see was her sister's concerned face. Suddenly she began to shake violently, choking back sobs as the adrenaline rushing through her system started to wear off. It wasn't long after that she felt her knees give out beneath her.
"Anna!" Elsa cried, catching the girl before she fell and holding her close. Still being mindful of her potentially injured arm.
The younger woman began to cry in earnest now. Her body collapsed in on itself as she pressed her face into the queen's shoulder. She clung to her sister with an almost violent need, hands grabbing fistfuls of Elsa's gown as the sobs tore from her throat. Every fear, every doubt Anna had buried since Elsa had come back to her came rushing to the surface and she felt herself becoming lighter with each shuddering breath.
Wrapping her arms protectively around the girl and resting her head on the copper locks Elsa waited for Anna to cry herself out. She started rubbing small circles on Anna's back and combed her fingers through her hair, content to play the supportive big sister for once.
"Shhh... shhh... it's alright. I'm here, I'm here. I'll always be here," she whispered, rocking gently from side to side.
It was a long time before Anna calmed. She had stopped crying for the most part with just a small hiccup every now and again, but she had not for one second loosened her hold on the queen. When the blonde moved to pull away the girl held on that much tighter whimpering softly.
"Anna," she said gently. "I know you are upset but you need to let go so that we can talk. I am not going anywhere. Let's just find somewhere to sit okay?"
Slowly the girl nodded before turning herself so that she was more at Elsa's side and the queen draped a single arm across the princess' shoulders. Still not fully trusting that this was real, Anna kept both arms firmly clasped around her sister's waist. Walking was a little bit difficult but they were still able to slowly make their way to the nearby library.
When they entered the room, Elsa steered the redhead to a nearby couch and eased her down to the cushions. Anna reluctantly allowed her sister to slip out of her grasp, but it took all of Anna's remaining will power to swallow a cry of pain at the loss of contact.
Kneeling down in front of her Elsa placed a cool hand on the girl's cheek and spoke very softly, as though addressing a skittish animal. "I'm going to light a fire, okay? I'm afraid you might be in shock so I need to get you warm." The queen could see the tears building up again and Anna's bottom lip was trembling as she leaned into her sister's touch. "I'll be right back."
Elsa waited for Anna to indicate she understood before slowly rising to her feet and moving to the hearth to wake the sleeping embers. The princess' eyes followed Elsa's every movement.
Once the older woman was satisfied with height of the flames, Elsa turned back to her sister who was still shivering despite the rising temperature. Grabbing a blanket from one of the nearby chairs the queen wrapped it around herself before taking a seat next to Anna and lifting her arm.
The princess needed no invitation. She launched herself at the blonde, burrowing into her side as Elsa cocooned their two bodies in the heavy cloth.
Resting her head on her sister's shoulder the redhead felt herself begin to relax.
"I'm sorry, Anna."
Anna's head shot up to find Elsa could not meet her gaze. She was terribly confused as to why Elsa would need to apologize when it was Anna who freaked out for no reason.
"What for? Y- You didn't do anything wrong," she said softly. Voice cracking from lack of use.
"I am sorry you had to find out that way... find out at all." Elsa closed her eyes and she seemed to deflate a little.
"Elsa, it's okay I- " she started before the queen interrupted her.
"No," Elsa said firmly. "No Anna, it most certainly is not okay."
The woman suddenly became very serious as she took the younger girl's hands in her own, locking her startling blue eyes onto Anna's teal ones. "Firstly, and let me make this quite clear, I have no intention of leaving you that way. Not now, not ever. Those… thoughts came from a life long ago, a life without you in it. Do you understand?" she said her voice stern as she tightened her hold on the girl's hands.
Anna bowed her head, feeling ashamed that she could ever think that Elsa would do that to her. She opened her mouth to apologize but the queen seemed to read her mind and wasn't having any of it.
"Stop that right now," she said a little harsher than intended.
A little shocked by her sister's tone, Anna snapped her mouth shut and lifted her eyes once more, meeting Elsa's piercing gaze.
"Never apologize for the way you feel. Especially not to me."
The girl was about to argue but Elsa placed a finger on her lips, effectively silencing her.
"Let me finish," she said gently. "I've done you wrong, Anna. I pushed you away and kept you in the dark for a long time. It is completely understandable that you are not yet able to fully trust me and that is okay. I am more than willing to work very hard to build that trust again, and if that means letting you have Olaf trail me for the rest of my life so be it," she said, her face softening.
That earned her a small smile, which she returned before bringing their foreheads together. "From now on, I will start each and every day reminding my wonderful little sister just how much I love her. And I will tell her that I won't ever willingly leave her side again, how does that sound?" she asked bringing the girl into a warm embrace.
"I think she would like that," Anna mumbled into the crook of Elsa's neck. Sighing as she felt all her worries fade away. "Hold on, I heard you in your room," she said leaning back, eyebrows knitting together in confusion.
"I left my window open, something probably just blew over," the blonde said with a shrug. "Now, let's take a look at that arm shall we?"
It was then that Anna started to become aware of the throbbing pain in her left shoulder. She hadn't felt anything up until now, but now that she had been made aware of it, it seemed to amplify tenfold.
The princess hissed in pain as she slowly removed her arm from the sleeve of her night gown while Elsa watched, her face etched in worry. Already a nasty blue and purple bruise was rapidly spreading across her shoulder, beginning midway up her upper arm and reaching the base of her neck.
"Oh Anna," Elsa whispered in horror, eyes filling with tears as she ghosted her fingertips over the darkening flesh.
"I'm fine Elsa, really. See... OWW!" she yelped after trying lift her arm up above her head. She only made it about half way when someone obviously decided to stab her in the shoulder with a branding iron.
"Anna! That's it I'm taking you to the physician," she said pulling the girl to her feet.
The princess couldn't help but smile as Elsa fretted over her; pacing around the room anxiously as the royal physician - a stern looking woman with spectacles that magnified her eyes to three times their normal size - examined her. The physician assured the queen that her highness would be fine but warned her that Anna had come very close to causing serious damage. Once she was done wrapping Anna's shoulder and placing her injured arm in a sling, she instructed the princess she was not to do any heavy lifting for at least a week.
"Wait, here let me get that for you," Elsa said jumping forward to open the door for her sister. The blonde had insisted on helping Anna dress, refusing to listen when the redhead argued she didn't need any help. Secretly, Anna was ecstatic at the attention she was receiving and loved having her big sister attending to her every whim instead of spending another day trapped behind a desk.
Once they had wrestled Anna into her gown, Elsa asked Gerda to bring their breakfast to her study so that they could go over some of the celebration plans together. Once their meal had been delivered the two royals sat together on the window seat, parchment fanned out between them as they attempted to sort everything out.
"We should do something for the children," Anna said through a mouthful of egg.
"Anna, please don't talk with your mouth full, you are supposed to be a lady remember?" Elsa scolded playfully, taking a sip of her tea.
In response, Anna simply opened her mouth wide for a few seconds. Giving her sister a lovely view of the massacred meal before slamming it shut with a smirk.
Elsa was so shocked that she couldn't help but burst into fits of hysterical laughter. "Oh my God, Anna, you are absolutely barbaric," she giggled, wiping tears from her eyes and placing her teacup back on the dining tray next to them.
"What? I'm pretty sure our etiquette tutor told me that was the proper way to eat," she replied with a shrug. "Anyways, back to the party. I was thinking that we could get some performers or something to come to Arendelle and do a show for the kids. What do you think?
The queen looked thoughtful for a minute, "I think it is a wonderful idea, I'm sure there must be some talented individuals out there. I will ask Kai to send someone out to hire a few," she said nodding and scribbled down some notes.
Anna smiled when she noticed Elsa was using the quill the she given her and tried not to let it show just how happy she was that Elsa thought her ideas were good. Hoping she was on a roll the princess tried to think of any other activities the royals could prepare for the upcoming celebration.
"Hmm?" she said not looking up from the parchment.
"When we were kids what games did we play, involving your powers I mean?" she asked shyly, she knew this was still a delicate subject for Elsa.
The blonde looked up and watched as the girl pushed a half-eaten sausage around her plate unable to meet the blonde's eye. "Why do you ask?" she said a little stiffly.
"Well, I was just thinking that it might be good if people could watch you use your powers. And since you told me that I really loved seeing you do magic when I was little - I still do by the way - that maybe you could do that same kind of stuff for the kids or maybe even the adults. Just 'cause I want everyone to love them just as much as I do," she answered, watching Elsa out of the corner of her eye.
"Thank you," Elsa said earnestly. "As for our childhood games I suppose some of your favourites were building snowmen of course, sledding in the ballroom, seeing who could slide the furthest … oh and you loved it when I made you little ice figurines," she replied with a small smile as she recalled the happy memories.
"Figurines?" she asked curiously tilting her head to one side. "Show me, show me!"
Laughing, Elsa cupped her hands together and Anna watched in fascination as a soft white light emanated from between her fingers. When the queen slowly pulled her hands apart the princess felt her jaw go slack as she looked down at the miniature Sven that had materialized in Elsa's palm.
"Can I?" she asked.
When the blonde nodded Anna very carefully picked up the tiny replica with her one usable hand and brought it close to her face for a better look. The details were breathtaking; she could make out the individual hairs of his coat, even the tiny whiskers on the reindeer's nose.
It was perfect.
"Oh Elsa," she breathed. "How? It's- It's amazing!" the girl looked up at her sister in absolute awe.
"I'm glad you like it," Elsa replied smiling and shook her head when the girl tried to hand it back to her. "No no, you keep it."
"Really? Thanks! Wait until I show Kristoff. He is going to freak out when I do, I bet he cries," she giggled as she thought about how he would react if she gave it to him. And then it hit her. "That's it!" she cried suddenly, causing the older women across from her to jump. "You can make these for the children! Oh my goodness this is perfect, it will show everyone how awesome your powers are and it will be a great activity for the kids. When did I become such a genius!?" she shouted gesturing wildly, almost dropping the tiny Sven before looking over at Elsa expectantly.
To her surprise the woman did not look as excited as she did, hugging her arms around her torso - Anna had learned early on was a sign the queen was feeling anxious – and staring at the floor.
"Hey, what's wrong?"
"Nothing, it's just… I'm not sure I am ready for that kind of… exposure," she said hugging herself a little tighter and keeping her eyes downcast.
"I know you still aren't really used to being outside the castle yet but you can't say inside forever right? I think it will be good for you and besides, you did great during the public address. Come on, I'll be right there with you," she said bending over a little so she could force the blonde to look at her as she gave Elsa a reassuring smile.
Elsa visibly relaxed at her sisters words but couldn't help but still be a little nervous. It wasn't so much the idea of being around people – although that did still spark some anxiety - it was more the thought of publicly using her magic.
"You really think that people would enjoy seeing my powers up close?" she asked softly looking down at her hands.
"Absolutely! I mean how could they not? They just need to see all the amazing things you can do with it, like making Olaf or your ice palace…" the princess trailed off. She had a faraway look in her eyes and Elsa could see the cogs slowly turning in the young woman's mind. "Hold on to your crown Elsa, because your sister is about to blow you away with the amount of genius she possesses," she announced, practically trembling with barely contained excitement.
Elsa gave a very unladylike snort to which the princess threw her a glare. "I'm sorry, please continue with your blowing away," Elsa said, raising her hands in front of her.
"Alrighty here we go, what if, now stay with me, we were to let people go up and visit your ice palace? Before you say anything, I know it is like private and stuff but listen, it is the most beautiful thing you- no, anyone has ever made, like ever. If people saw that, there is no way they would ever think your powers could be bad, no way, no sir, definitely not," Anna said nodding her head firmly and crossing her arms, at least as much as one could with an arm trapped in a sling.
"You know, it's funny... I had that very same idea," Elsa chuckled.
Anna felt her jaw go slack for a second time. She had been convinced her sister would be completely against the idea.
Our mental synchronization… yep we are definitely related.