When he touches her hands, she holds back a shudder.
His rough-hewn palms scrape against her smooth skin – pale, unblemished hands that have only ever-so-recently become exposed to the world once more.
Her skin there is so sensitive, the nerves jumping and very nearly screaming at the lightest, gentlest touch.
She reacts in such a way because of the gloves that she has almost always worn, yes, but also because this particular touch carries with it the weight of what is to come.
Grand Pabbie’s fingertips graze her own. His fingers wrap around hers, and she feels not just the abrasive texture of his hands but also the power that seems to draw her own out. His palms, lumpy and jagged, cup the backs of her hands, and she feels her magic being pulled; stretched out and then held, frozen – for once, motionless.
She doesn’t like the feeling, not at all.
His voice, like the rock-like skin she feels pressing up against her, is gravelly, rich and deep. It tells of age, of great power, of great weight and perhaps sadness. Of history. Of history made, centuries before, and of history, now, about to be created.
She tries desperately to quell the shaking of her hands in his. She knows he can feel it, and she is embarrassed. A Queen, and a powerful one at that, reduced to a child once again in his eyes, in his hands. The same child that stood at this very spot, fourteen years ago. She thought so much had changed since then.
She should have known better.
“Elsa,” Grand Pabbie repeats.
No ‘queen.’ It is not necessary. It is not her – for here, standing here, on this rock, surrounded by these people and trolls and the weight of what she is and what she, what her body has done – she is not ‘queen.’ She is just – just – Elsa.
No one else.
No one else could have done such a thing.
She meets his eyes this time. Though only briefly, shaking and scared as she is, she still considers it an accomplishment.
“You are certain this is the path you wish to take?” Grand Pabbie’s gaze is level, his voice even.
She feels her fingers quake harder in his grasp and tries to fight her burgeoning panic. Sucks in deep, shaky breaths, blinks the tears back out of her eyes that begin to form and fall. Her heart pounds in her chest. She’s never felt this heavy before, like her feet and legs can’t stand to support her weight. Yet at the same time she is light, so light, that the world is spinning around her and she could just drift away, into the air and never come back.
A different grip on her upper arm brings her back to reality. “Elsa.”
Despite the gravity of the situation, Anna’s voice is light, comforting. Soothing.
She doesn’t deserve it.
The hand on her arm is cold – freezing, even to her. It terrifies her.
She cannot turn around, cannot look to see her sister standing there next to her. To see her supporting her, loving her, even after what she has done.
Her heart catches in her throat and she chokes, breath stuttering.
“Yes,” she hisses, eyes squeezed shut so hard it hurts.
“You know what you must do, then.” His tone is patient, understanding, and she hates him for it.
She can barely speak because her heart is pounding in her throat and she cannot swallow, cannot breathe. But somehow she finds the words. She must.
“I, Elsa of Arendelle,” she starts. She feels the cold being drawn from her veins, feels the ice crackling under her skin in protest. “Hereby relinquish my magic, request that you purge it from my being-“ She stumbles over the last words as she feels her magic latch onto her spirit, like tiny arctic barbs digging into her soul.
“For what purpose?” Grand Pabbie prompts, his hands grasping hers more roughly than before. “You know well that I cannot do this for any such reason. I have told you, and your parents, as such, before.”
She no longer knows where she is, who she is, the pain and despair and confusion is so strong and all she can hear and see and feel. The roar of her magic fighting back swirls in her ears and screams in protest. It knows what is about to happen. It is fighting.
But she feels the icy grip of her sister, whose arms wrap around her shaking, shameful body, and knows what she must do if she is to be worthy of such unconditional love.
“Take away my magic,” she tries again, urging, pleading. “For love.”
She hears a scream, a guttural cry, as the ice is ripped from her body. She feels her very soul torn to pieces, feels like her heart has been rent to pieces.
Somewhere, in the back of her mind, she hears her sister calling her name, feels her stiff, icicle-like fingers stroke her forehead and dance over her shoulders. She thinks that scream might have been hers.
The pain is too much, the loss too much to bear.
The world goes black.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
The first time that Anna felt the pain – the sharp, biting burst of cold – she was alone.
It shot through her heart, quick as a flash of lightening, and was gone almost as quickly as it had come.
Anna shrugged, shook her head, and didn't think any more of it, rising from her bed to begin her day as usual.
The next time when it came, a few weeks later, Anna had joined Kristoff in feeding Sven and cleaning his stall.
A sharp gasp led Kristoff to whip around to search for the source of the sound- Anna, fist over her heart as she hunched over in pain, lost her grip on the carrot which rolled along the floor. She gulped in a breath to attempt to calm the fluttering of her heart and the lack of air.
"Anna!" Kristoff cried, his rough palm squeezing her arms. "What's wrong?"
But the pain had come and gone again, just like last time. So short-lived it wasn't even worth mentioning.
She tried to brush it off, bending to retrieve the fallen carrot and offering it to Sven once more. "Must've just pulled a muscle or something."
Kristoff glanced at her concernedly, but accepted her explanation and continued to sweep.
The third time the pain struck, Anna wasn't as lucky.
She was sitting in on a meeting with her sister and their council. Elsa was mid-sentence when the twinge lanced through Anna's chest, and she must have made some kind of strangulated noise because Elsa stopped immediately as all eyes turned to the Princess with concern.
"Anna?" Elsa asked delicately, her eyes wide with worry.
"Sorry, sorry, it's nothing," Anna protested, waving the room back to continue their meeting. She faked a raspy cough as she tried to catch her breath over her skipped heartbeats. "Just something in my throat."
Elsa held her gaze, eyes narrowed in suspicion for a moment before returning to the discussion at hand.
Anna tried to refocus on the meeting, but when she went to jot down some notes and noticed her fingertips were blue, she realized she wasn't all that able to concentrate any longer.
Her symptoms grew with startling intensity over the next few weeks.
Sporadic, sharp bursts of pain grew to become a near-constant ache in her chest. Besides the pain, her heart felt like it was trying to flutter away like a butterfly with broken wings, leaving Anna struggling to catch her breath when her heart skipped one beat, then two, and then three in quick succession.
Had it been just these symptoms alone, Anna would have called for a doctor. She felt something was….wrong, felt it deep in her bones like a set chill that just wouldn't leave.
But a doctor couldn't fix the symptoms she was experiencing. A doctor wouldn't know what to make of the warning signs that followed.
She began to experience frequent headaches- but not the normal, aching-behind-the-eyes ones that normally would come after too many glasses of wine with dinner. No – these were lancing streaks of ice-cold tendrils that snaked their way into her brain, prickled behind her eyes and threatened to puncture through her skull. Pain so sharp and biting it made her vision blur and lose her words.
At night, Anna shivered and trembled with cold – cold which no number of blankets, socks nor warming pans could touch. She piled on blankets and robes and thick woolen socks – layers and layers of them – yet she shook and shivered and trembled under the piles of fabric and couldn't help but dream of freezing when she finally would drift off to a fragmented sleep.
It was almost as if the cold were within her- an internal source, rather than an external one.
Her fingertips and ears took on a near-permanent tinge of blue. She took to wearing her hair differently to cover her ears and hid her hands in her skirts to avoid the discoloration being spotted. Her fingers went numb, and rubbing her hands together or cupping them around hot mugs of tea and chocolate only would give a temporary reprieve before the sickly hue returned once more.
So, no, a doctor couldn't help, she knew.
There was only one person - or perhaps being was a better term - who could help; one person who had done so not once, but twice before.
Fear gripped her heart almost as strongly as the cold. She is not afraid of these warning signs because they are unfamiliar. No – in fact, they are too familiar.
She has felt this all before. It's just….slower, now.
She has to get to the trolls. She will find her way to them, without anyone else knowing. She will sneak out at night, soon. She just has to plan. She needs time.
She hopes she has enough of it.
And Anna knows she cannot tell anyone, least of all Elsa.
Anna grows used to the hiding – it becomes part of her daily routine. Some powder on her ears, gloves when they can be explained away, an extra jacket and scarf and control of her breathing – all in a day's work, now.
She takes her lunch with Elsa and Kristoff in the dining room on a day with the sun shining through the windows. The warmth from the sun is heating up the room, yet Anna still represses the shivering she feels inside and spoons hot soup into her mouth, praying for its warmth to spread from her fingers to her toes.
Suddenly, a sharp flash of pain spikes through her heart once again, yet this time it is accompanied by an onslaught of cold so severe that Anna clenches her jaw to keep her teeth from chattering.
She's so preoccupied with what she's feeling that she very nearly misses the clattering of a spoon into a bowl of soup next to her and the tell-tale sign of crackling ice spreading across the tablecloth and freezing the water in their glasses.
"Anna!" Elsa's voice cries, raw and desperate. She lunges toward her sister, arms outstretched, before catching herself and stepping back, crouched and hunched into herself, hands twining.
Anna looks up in surprise. Elsa hasn't stepped back from her in months. And why is Kristoff looking at her with that stunned, scared expression?
No one says anything, but Kristoff hands Anna a wide serving spoon with a trembling hand. Anna is confused at first until she realizes that she can see her reflection in the spoon, though it's a bit distorted.
She takes a look and nearly drops the spoon.
Once again, her hair is streaked with white.
Elsa nearly doesn't come with them to the Valley of the Hidden Rock, at first.
She's hunched and trembling, just like she used to be all those months ago. Has it really only been a few months?
She cowers, backed up into the corner of the dining room, shaking like a leaf. Her eyes are wide, scared, like an animal hunted. The air grows cold.
"Did I….?" She whispers. Kristoff and Anna only know what words she speaks by reading her lips from afar. "How?!" The word comes out as a choked, desperate cry. She unclasps her hands to hold them out in front of her, looking at her palms in horror.
Kristoff remembers the rush last time to get Anna to the trolls. There might not be much time now, either, he startlingly realizes. His heart drops, and he grabs her hands. They are ice cold to the touch and he can feel the scrape of frost on hers against his own.
"How long?!" He asks her urgently.
Anna looks away ashamedly, pointedly avoiding Elsa's direction. "A couple wee-" she pauses, thinking. "-months, now."
Kristoff sighs, running a hand over his unruly hair and tries not to flinch when Elsa lets out a despairing, painful wail at Anna's response.
"We gotta get you back to the trolls." He grabs her arm and pulls her to the door. They both stop in the doorway, turning to look behind them. Elsa is still huddled in the corner, looking after them with frozen tear stains on her cheeks.
"C'mon, Elsa, let's go," Kristoff calls almost exasperatedly, his voice rough with tension. "There may not be much time."
Elsa flinches again at the reminder. "No." Her voice is raw and hoarse. "I – I shouldn't. Go without me. Bring her home safe again. Please."
"Elsa," Anna calls to her. "You know I need you there. You didn't do anything!" This isn't – it can't be your fault."
Elsa's gaze falls back to her hands. "How – how can it not be?"
Kristoff's mouth sets into a hard line. "I don't know," he admits. "But whatever it's from, we probably don't have much time to figure it out. Let's go."
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
Anna hung her head and waited for the others by the doorway.
“I’m sorry,” she uttered as Kristoff approached.
“You should be,” he shot back, voice thick with emotion. “You….for over a month?!” He ran his hand through his hair, subconsciously closed his hands into fists. “You know what this means for you, what could happen – and you didn’t tell us?!” His voice had risen in anger and panic, his stance becoming tense and stiff, almost threatening in his concern. Movement from the corner of his eyes made him turn, seeing Elsa crouch down against the wall and hug herself into a ball in response to the situation. He recognized the start of a panic attack – something he had now seen a couple of times but less and less frequently as time went on.
Kristoff sighed, seeing his anger would only make things worse – for everyone. “It doesn’t matter now,” he told Anna. “All that matters is that we get you the help you need.” He took slow, careful steps to approach Elsa, crouching down to her level on the floor.
“Elsa.” He reached out a hand to settle on her shoulder before thinking better of it in the current circumstances.
Elsa drew a rattling breath. “I can’t go with you. I can’t.” Her breathing came staggered and stuttering, high-pitched through her throat which felt like it was closing.
“We might need you there.” He tried to soften his words while what he wanted to do was shake her shoulders and smack her senseless for prolonging the time until they could get help for Anna.
“You – you don’t need me,” she spit out, struggling. Her chest was heaving and Kristoff found himself needing to tear his gaze away from watching the tears slide down her cheeks before freezing and catching the light. “No one does. Least of all Anna. All I ever do is hurt her.” She tried to brush the tears away but they stuck to her cheeks. “Just go. You’re wasting time.”
His frustration bubbled up to the surface and broke through. “No, you’re wasting time!” He grabbed her roughly by the shoulders, figuring even if he began to freeze he didn’t want to live without Anna, and they were already going to the trolls for help anyway. Elsa gasped and sputtered in surprise and Kristoff was struck by just how fragile she felt underneath his palms, like he could accidentally crush her if he could get past the feeling of rapid-onset frostbite under his skin.
She staggered as he pulled her up and couldn’t meet his gaze. “Don’t touch me,” she cringed. She waved a hand vaguely in Anna’s direction. “Look at her.”
Kristoff bit his tongue before answering. “You’re coming with us, Elsa,” he said, his tone brooking no room for argument. “None of us know what’s going on, and you especially need to be there to help figure this out.”
Her breathing began to even out, panic fading into relief as someone else took charge of the situation for once. “Fine. But I’m not riding with you. Just – just stay away.” Her voice broke on the words and Kristoff merely nodded.
The ride to the Valley of the Hidden Rock was nearly silent – just the sounds of Sven’s hooves clip-clopping and Elsa’s disc of ice on which she stood gliding over the icy path she cast in front of her. Her path occasionally spread out farther to the sides than she intended, shards of ice and lumps of snow shooting out to the sides and encroaching upon Sven’s path ahead. The struggle increased as time went on and Kristoff recognized it as the fear overtaking her. Her facial expression spoke of her strain to fight her magic, brows knit tightly in concentration and lips twisted in a pained grimace.
Upon reaching their destination, Kristoff bounded off of Sven before helping Anna gently to the ground. He was relieved to note that Anna’s appearance hadn’t worsened during the journey, and though she felt chilled she didn’t feel close to the point of freezing like she once had months ago. He released a breath he hadn’t realized he had been holding. We still have time.
As the trolls rolled around the incomers and called for Grand Pabbie, Elsa hung back, a light wind tossing her hair and skirts as little snowflakes fluttered in the air. Anna turned back toward her sister.
“Elsa,” she called. Elsa whipped her head around, startled.
“I’m sorry,” Anna started. “I should’ve told you. I just didn’t – I didn’t want to worry you or upset you. -Elsa!” she cried out, as her sister took a few more steps back, wrapping her arms tightly around her stomach. “Elsa, please – please, I need you.”
“No.” Elsa’s voice came surprisingly strong to Anna, as far away as they were. “No, you don’t. Just stay away from me, Anna. I told you before and I’m telling you now. Stay. Away.”
“But the trolls will help! They can tell us what’s going on!”
“Anna, we know what’s going on – I hurt you with my magic before, and now I can’t even tell when I’m hurting you anymore!” Tears poured down her face and Anna felt more anguished over her sister’s emotions than the fact that she was slowly freezing once more. Elsa had finally broken free over feeling powerless over her own magic, from feeling like her body had betrayed her. And now that betrayal was back, and with vengeance.
The rough, gravelly voice behind Anna made her jump in surprise. Grand Pabbie stood by Anna’s knees and held out his hands to her. His gaze passed calmly yet concernedly over her form. “Princess, what happened?” His gaze flitted over to Elsa briefly, who still stood away from the group, shuddering.
Kristoff stepped in as Grand Pabbie took Anna’s hands in his own. He examined her ice-encrusted fingertips and reached up to touch her blue-tinged ears. “We don’t know, Grand Pabbie,” he told him. “Nothing happened, this time.”
“Hmmm, strange indeed.” Grand Pabbie gestured to Anna to lean down in front of him so he could hold a hand to her forehead. He closed his eyes. “Queen Elsa – do you know nothing of this, child?”
Elsa’s hands closed to fists tightly and she shook her head violently. “No!” She protested. “I don’t – I didn’t – I don’t know how I-” she broke off with a choking cry.
Grand Pabbie concentrated for a few moments with his hand on Anna’s head still. Finally, he pulled back, and Anna gasped at the release from his probing magic.
“Interesting,” he started, as the three turned to him in desperate anticipation. He turned to Elsa first. “Queen Elsa, you are correct – as you know, you did not strike the princess with your magic this time.”
Elsa quite literally sagged in relief, her limbs suddenly turning to jelly and breath escaping her. The question remained, though, and her gaze turned perplexed as she opened her mouth to ask-
“How, then?” Anna interrupted. “What’s going on?”
Elsa felt safer to approach and joined her sister and Kristoff, who was holding on to Anna’s arm tightly.
Grand Pabbie pondered for a moment, hand rubbing his chin. “How do I explain…” He turned to Bulda next to him and they joined hands. Both the crystals around their necks alit and Bulda’s eyes moved beneath her eyelids as she felt and saw what Grand Pabbie had gleaned from Anna with his magic.
“Aah, I see,” Bulda exclaimed. “Kristoff- do you remember, when you were a child, you ate my fireweed soup?”
“Uuhh, no, sorry,” Kristoff scratched his head and looked down at Bulda apologetically. “Why?”
“Well,” she started, “you ate it, and then perhaps a few weeks later you ate it again. But that time, after you ate it, your skin turned red and bumpy and your lips swelled and you were having trouble breathing – remember that?”
“Sounds like something I blocked out,” Kristoff responded, looking a bit startled. “I’m glad to know now not to eat any fireweed though. But – what does this have to do with anything?”
“An allergy,” Elsa breathed. Her eyes were wide with concern yet she wore a calculating expression. “Anna’s body is reacting to….me?”
“Precisely,” Grand Pabbie nodded. “Though more specifically, to your magic.”
“The princesses’ body has experienced harm from your magic twice now,” Bulda continued. “Now it senses the presence of your magic and is attempting to protect itself.”
“But just like an allergy, the body often creates the very problem it’s attempting to protect itself from.” Elsa twined her hands together. She was fluctuating between breathtaking relief that she hadn’t harmed Anna and crippling anxiety over the fact that she was still causing Anna harm even when she wasn’t doing anything.
“Wait, what?” Anna sounded a mix of worried and outraged. She narrowed her eyes. “So, what, if I leave Elsa, then I’ll be back to normal?”
“Correct, Princess,” Grand Pabbie nodded. “As long as you are away from your sister and her magic, you shall survive. However, your body’s reaction to the presence of her magic is causing you to slowly freeze to death once more. If you choose to stay, and allow your body to react to her magic…at this rate, I would imagine you have perhaps four to six more moons until your body succumbs to the ice.”
The air around the group turned frigid and a wind began to blow. Elsa was struck speechless – she had only recently gotten her sister back – her sister who was her whole world – and now, out of her control, she would either have to lose her for eternity – or, essentially, watch her die.
“Whoa, whoa hold on-” Kristoff waved his arms in the air, breaking up the stunned silence. “What’s ‘far away’ mean? A couple feet? Kilometers? What’re we talking, here?”
Grand Pabbie looked at the small group gathered solemnly. “Queen Elsa’s magic is extraordinarily powerful, with a great range. Even out here in the Valley we can feel her presence.” Elsa bit her lip and her skin turned an ashen grey at the words she knew would follow. “If the princess wishes to live….she cannot see her sister again.”
Anna staggered back like she had been struck in the chest, while Elsa’s knees gave way and she crumbled to her knees as gusts of snow and ice began to swirl.
“There must be another way!” Kristoff turned to Grand Pabbie, pleading.
The troll pondered, silently observing the mourning sisters who even in their deepest grief dared not to touch one another.
“There is – there is a way, but-”
“Anything.” The snow and wind stopped abruptly and Grand Pabbie actually had to look down to find the Queen of Arendelle on her knees, begging. “Anything,” she repeated harshly, tears cascading down her cheeks and freezing to twinkling droplets. Her gaze was fierce, eyes piercing blue. “Just tell me, and consider it done.”
Grand Pabbie waved his hands in the air and allowed his magic to create pictures of light in the sky. “Only with the power of love,” he began, painting two feminine figures above, “can I remove magic.” Anna gasped by his side at the light show above. He drew waves of magic being drawn out of both figures. The one on the left, as a result, turned from icy blue to blazing green and grew straighter, taller – fuller and healthier. The figure on the right, however, faded from an azure blue to an ashy grey, crouched and spasming in suffering and loss.
“Yes,” said the Queen without hesitation. She stood, once again confident, straight and tall. “Remove my magic.”
“Elsa, no!” Anna ran to her sister’s side to grab her, but Elsa recoiled from Anna’s icy fingers on her skin and grimaced when her eyes found the blue tinge of Anna’s ears and lips. “You can’t do that, Elsa!” Anna continued, despite her sister’s reaction. “Your magic is a part of you! What makes you you. You can’t take that away!”
“Anna,” Elsa shook her head in grim acceptance. “You don’t understand. You are the most important part of me. You are what brought me through all the darkest times – it is you that brings me the most happiness. You make me me. Without you – without you I am nothing, I have nothing.”
There was no question, no consideration. She returned to stand in front of Grand Pabbie.
Elsa stood tall and proud, looking more like a Queen than even at her coronation. She raised her chin, squared her shoulders and spoke, strong and clear.
“Do it. Remove my magic. Save my sister.”
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
“Take away my magic,” she tries again, urging, pleading. “For love.”
She hears a scream, a guttural cry, as the ice is ripped from her body. She feels her very soul torn to pieces, feels like her heart has been rent to pieces.
Somewhere, in the back of her mind, she hears her sister calling her name, feels her stiff, icicle-like fingers stroke her forehead and dance over her shoulders. She thinks that scream might have been hers.
The pain is too much, the loss too much to bear.
The world goes black.
There’s a ringing in her ears that won’t go away. It’s hard to decipher the words over the cacophony, but they sound urgent, desperate.
She’s being shaken, her neck whipping back and forth but it barely registers over the stinging sensation buzzing through her veins.
She must grimace and make some kind of gasping noise, because the shaking gets rougher and the voice is getting louder.
The burning sensation slowly fades, receding like the tide. Though she should be relieved, it feels….lacking, somehow. Empty.
She stirs, managing to come to a half-sit with her arm supporting her weight behind her, and looks up.
Her vision is swimming, but she makes out the shocked and startled expressions of the entourage in front of her.
Grand Pabbie’s rough features soften when he looks at her. His thick mossy eyebrows furrow and his lips press together.
Kristoff breathes out, drawing back a half-step in surprise. His eyes widen. “Whoa.”
It all comes back to her; a great overwhelming rush of remembrance and emotions, when her reeling gaze finally settles on her sister.
“Elsa,” Anna breathes, eyes wide. Her lip trembles, and she seems to gather herself through her distress before rushing to her sister.
Elsa is knocked back by the weight and force of Anna’s hug, barely catching them both from falling to the forest floor at the last second. She wraps her arms tightly around Anna’s waist, squeezing. “Are you alright?”
Anna startles at her words, remembering why they were here in the first place. She fans her hands out in front of her, noting the blue tinge to her fingertips that still remains.
The girls round suddenly on Grand Pabbie.
“It will go away with time,” he responds to their unanswered question, their worries clear as day in their scared and angry expressions. “You should be feeling the effects already, however.”
Elsa turns back to Anna and watches her sister still before taking a slow, deep breath that reaches all the way down to her toes.
Anna nods, grinning. “You’re right, I can feel the difference,” she agrees. She fingers the tips of her ears. “It’s easier to breathe, somehow.”
Elsa lets out a heaving sigh of relief and stands, gathering Anna into her arms once more.
“Thank heavens,” she breathes, stroking Anna’s hair and running palms over her sister’s arms. “I can’t lose you again.”
“You’ll never lose me,” Anna returns, snuggling into the space between Elsa’s chin and shoulder. “Even if we’re apart.”
“But we will never will be, now.” Elsa brings eager, elated eyes to Anna’s. “We can always be together now. Safely.”
Anna looks past her to tentatively reach out to pull Elsa’s braid over her shoulder.
“But Elsa,” she says, playing with the fringed locks at the end of the braid nervously, “I don’t want you to lose yourself.”
Elsa looks down to where Anna’s fingers play.
Her hair…..it’s brown.
Grand Pabbie confirms that it must have been her powers that caused the uniqueness of her appearance.
Elsa yearns for a mirror, but can’t help but feel relieved, almost excited, to see her new self. She had hated her hair, her appearance in general, ever since the accident when she was a child. The white-blonde of her hair, so distinctive, was just another thing that set her apart from the rest of normal society.
She had always felt like an outsider – from the townspeople of her kingdom, from those in high society, and, especially, from her family. With her parents gone, there was little family resemblance between herself and the parents she had lost. Only her mother’s high, rounded cheekbones and perhaps the shape of her father’s eyes.
And is her skin perhaps a shade darker now, even?
Anna grasps her hand firmly and Elsa squeezes it in response – she can do that, now, without even having to think about it, she reminds herself.
The thought is joyous at first, but suddenly seeds of doubt begin to swarm in her mind. She pushes them away, frustrated that she of course has a negative thought when everything has just been fixed with nothing short of a miracle.
“You’re beautiful.” Anna smiles as she speaks but there’s a sadness behind it that Elsa can’t quite place.
She tries to muster up the unbridled joy she felt moments earlier but comes up with a mix of relieved elation and uneasy apprehension.
“You’re beautifuller,” she responds, and Anna’s face lights up with a cheeky grin.
“Thank you, Grand Pabbie,” Elsa says, returning to face the group. She’s still feeling shaky and exhaustion is beginning to set in from the high emotions and her ordeal. “I can never repay you for saving my sister’s life. Again.”
Grand Pabbie frowns and nods. “Such love that you both share is a rare and pure thing,” he says. He reaches out to grab a hand from each of the girls. “Take care of each other,” he tells them.
“If I may offer some last words of caution,” he continues, and Elsa’s heart jumps to her throat. Her magic may have left her but she is dismayed to learn that her anxiety bordering on paranoia runs deeper.
“Your Majesty.” He squeezes her fingers in his hand and she fights the urge to pull away. “Your magic is…was so strong, so much a part of you. That loss is not easy to accept. Proceed with caution and stay true to your love, for that is what will see you through.”
His words give life to the feelings of loss and sadness that she keeps trying to push farther and farther away. She struggles to banish them once more, trying desperately to ignore the fact that she is actually going to have to, at some point, face the facts: her life will never be the same.
Elsa’s head is swimming. She feels….funny, different, and can’t quite sort through all the emotions now running freely through her. Grand Pabbie’s words bounce around in her mind and she struggles to grasp their ambiguous meaning.
“Of course,” she nods, and releases her hand from his. She guides Anna and gestures to Kristoff to return back towards the castle.
“Oh! Your Majesty!”
The call from behind her makes her pull up short, sighing. She needs some sleep, some food, and some time to sort through the changes today has brought. She turns around.
Grand Pabbie holds out a looped cord of leather, tied off like a necklace, with a crystal dangling upon it.
“Take this with you,” he says, offering it to her. “Your magic cannot disappear, you see. It must be contained.”
The suspended crystal is white as snow, opaque in swirls and translucent in others. Something like blue smoke sparks and whirls inside, churning with an almost conscious intention.
Elsa slowly approaches, entranced by the sight of her confined magic. With every step the crystal swings closer to her, like static, propelled by the unseen force of the power raging inside.
She is held spellbound by the sight of it, barely in control of her body as if in a trance. She delicately reaches out a finger to touch, and the blue swirls inside dance and glow.
She makes contact.
‘Hi, I’m Olaf.’
‘This place…it’s beautiful.’
‘Oh Elsa they’re beautiful, but you know I don’t skate’
Soft, powdery snowballs burst behind her eyelids. Ice slithers through her veins, up her arms, down into her fingertips.
Longing. The intense, sharp ache of longing stings her skin and aches so, so deeply in her chest.
And the worst part is, now that it is gone – now that the pulse thrilling through her veins is nothing but blood, now that her skin is nothing but flesh and not a set of sensitive points of contact for her power to seize upon – she can’t even remember what it used to feel like, cannot describe it. It wasn’t something tangible, something to put into words. So now that she can no longer feel it, it’s just….
And what is she, without it? She feels empty, barren, purposeless. It was hard to breathe, sometimes, before. Like it all overtook her and she was nothing but a nameless, mindless vessel for the power. But now that she is just her- just Elsa - lacking, pointless – the void looms larger than it ever had before and she cannot tell if she’s lightheaded and seeing spots from the loss or from a lack of air in her lungs.
Warm hands on her cheeks bring her back.
This time, they feel different, though. She does not merely recognize that they are warm – she yearns for it. The warmth feels good. She wants more. She leans into Anna’s touch, breaking contact with the crystal.
Immediately she feels like she can breathe again – the swirling emotions, calling voices and oppressive pressure now gone that she is distanced from the crystal.
Anna removes her hands from Elsa’s cheeks, relieved to see that her sister seems to have broken out of her trance. “Are you alright?”
Elsa shakes her head to rid herself of the past moments, like a dog shaking off water. “I’m fine.” She takes Anna’s hands back and places them back on her cheeks, moaning softly in delight before sliding them down to her neck, her shoulders. “Mmmmm.”
“Elsa?” Anna doesn’t take her hands away but looks at her sister suspiciously. “What’s – what are you-”
Then she notices. Elsa is dressed in nothing more than her usual light day dress – thin fabric to keep out the heat; sheer, gossamer sleeves that do little more than cover skin for propriety’s sake. Elsa had eschewed heavy, weighted fabrics ever since The Great Thaw – but now, with winter just barely blossoming into spring, the quickly-approaching evening brings with it chill winds and temperatures dropping with the setting sun.
“Oh, Elsa,” Anna breathes. “You’re cold.”
Elsa doesn’t respond other than crossing her arms over her chest in a way that may have at one time been a protective mechanism but now is solely to keep in warmth. Her face flashed with something that Anna couldn’t quite catch – sadness? Fear? Anna removes her hands from Elsa’s delicate shoulders to rub warm palms over the skin of her sister’s unprotected arms.
Elsa gives Anna a grateful nod before responding to Grand Pabbie, who still holds the crystal out to her in the breezy air.
“I cannot take it with me. It….calls to me. I shouldn’t be around it, and neither should Anna.”
Grand Pabbie gives a gruff nod. “Very well. We shall store it here for you, for whenever you may need it once more.”
Elsa squints, her head tilting to the side with a questioning look. With her warm, chestnut hair the look is not as severe as it once was. “It will not be needed. My sister will always come first to me. You may….” she waves a hand vaguely to the distance, “discard it. What’s done is done.”
The three step away from the Valley of the Living Rock, eager to return to the castle and sleep. Hopefully the new day tomorrow will bring healing and stability.
“Ah, but magic such as this cannot be simply discarded.” The gravelly voice carries on the edges of the wind. “The events of today may be done, but we do not get to decide when magic is.”
“There they are!”
The shouts of the guards are heard as they approach the castle.
The guard captain rides barreling towards them, encouraging his horse to faster speeds despite the fact that the trio will be at the gates within minutes.
Elsa is squeezed tightly on Sven between Anna in front and Kristoff behind her – they had not anticipated the need for three riders on the way home, and Sven is panting with the effort, tongue lolling.
She’s barely ridden a horse since she was a child, let alone a reindeer – and the combination of the stress, exhaustion and confusion compounded with this painful bouncing is just about as much as she can possibly take. Not to mention the guaranteed bruising.
Kristoff brings Sven to a gradual stop right as the captain reaches them. His thick brows furrow as he gazes briefly at the unfamiliar brunette before addressing Anna.
“Princess, who is this? Where is -”
Elsa clears her throat, fighting back the mounting panic that is already beginning to rise from her stomach and make her hands tremble. They’re fisted in Anna’s cloak and she desperately hopes her sister can’t feel their quaking. “Captain.”
And so it begins.
The first moment of….the rest of my life.
The guard stills, pausing, to glance back at Elsa. He squints, before his eyes widen in shock and he offers a sharp bow of his head in her direction. “Your…your majesty?”
She gives a minute nod. “Indeed.” She continues speaking before he can bombard her with any more questions. She can’t take any more, not tonight.
But I have to. Tonight, tomorrow, and every other night after.
She pushes down the rising wave of nausea threatening to overtake her.
“Please, allow us to return home. Explanations will be given tomorrow, but until then we require some food and some much-needed rest.”
“Certainly, your Majesty. My apologies.” He turns to lead the three towards the castle gates.
Upon entering the castle, Anna offers her arm to Elsa, who quickly loops her own arm through it. She’s not sure whether she’s more glad for the physical support, as she’s so goddamn tired she can barely put one foot in front of the other, or for the display of normalcy that she is so desperately clinging to right now.
Though Elsa keeps her eyes firmly planted on the ground in front of her, she cannot help but notice all the stares. The staff, the guards – everyone they pass stops and does a double take. Their gawking is somehow palpable.
She can keep her eyes down, try to shut out the world around her like she used to.
But she can’t turn off her hearing.
“Is that the Queen?”
“What happened to her?”
One whisper turns to two, then three, before the halls are buzzing with commotion. Or at least, so it seems. She pulls Anna closer to her, her elbow now pressing into her ribcage painfully but she doesn’t care- the pain is the distraction she needs right now.
“-some new magic?”
“I liked her better as a blonde.”
Elsa grits her teeth until her jaw screams in pain.
They’ve reached her door.
Anna’s eyes are brimming with tears as she gazes at her clearly-struggling sister. Elsa’s staring pointedly at the ground, her arms clasped around her torso like she used to do (and still does) when she’s nervous or stressed.
Anna reaches out and pulls Elsa’s chin up so that their eyes meet. Elsa’s eyes are swimming with so many thoughts and emotions that Anna is at a loss for what to say or do to comfort her sister. But she tries.
“Everything’s going to be okay. I promise. We’ll get through this – together. Just like we always do.”
Elsa nods, squeezing her eyes tight, though one tear leaks out past her lids to trickle down her cheek.
She can’t remember the last time a tear made it all the way down to her chin.
Has one ever?
“Anna,” she says, her voice fragile. “No matter what happens, no matter what people say – I will never wish I did differently. Nothing could ever matter more to me than you.” She looks up at last to lock eyes with Anna. “I would trade my life for you, Anna.”
“I know,” Anna says, solemn. She brushes the chestnut bangs out of Elsa’s eyes. “But you don’t have to make a decision like that. Now get some rest.” She pushes Elsa’s hair behind her ear and presses a light kiss to her forehead. “I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
The ice burns.
Climbing, reaching, it twists around her ankles, tendrils scaling her calves to twist around her hips. She struggles to move, to escape, but the ice won’t let her. It tangles like vines over her stomach, constricts her ribcage so she can no longer breathe and scales her chest over to her shoulders. It shoots up her neck and she feels her skin blistering from the shooting cold, the ice consuming her jaw.
Icy prickles over her lips - she can taste them on her tongue just before it, too, goes numb.
She thrashes. Desperate. She can feel it - this is the end.
So, so cold. This is true misery, true pain. What is cold, and ice, but death? It harbors no life, chokes out all semblance of living, of soul.
The ice runs through her nose, burning, and what little air she was able to gasp in before is gone.
It reaches the top of her head, and when it burrows into her eyes, her eyeballs searing in cold right into her brain and skull she feels herself jerk and judder and convulse, and she begs for the relief of death to finally take her.
She wakes with a gasp so harsh and gulping it burns her throat.
It takes her a moment to realize where she is, that she is not frozen - cocooned for eternity in a frigid shell of ice - but awake, and very much alive, in her bedroom.
Tears stream from her eyes, her skin prickling with the remnants of fear and limbs trembling violently.
The trembling is from her horror, yes, but also, she realizes…..from cold.
So this is cold.
It scares her, now, this foreign sensation, after living that dream.
The cold doesn’t give, anymore – now it only takes. It takes her joy, excitement, and pride, leaving only discomfort and pain. Fear.
Her legs are tangled in the sheets from her thrashing, and it takes her a moment to untangle herself before she can rise shakily from her bed, to hurriedly pull on her robe and her thickest pair of stockings.
Spring is on its way, but it needs perhaps a few more weeks before it’s strong enough to coax the crocuses to peek out from the soil and for the birds to begin chirping. At night temperatures still plummet, though she’s never had to give thought to it before.
Stepping quickly to the fireplace in her bedroom, she casts an uncertain gaze over the tools hung next to it – there’s a shovel, a poker, a brush, and what look like tongs – but if it weren’t for the daily cleaning of her room by the maids she’s sure they’d all be covered in a thick layer of dust for all the use they’ve gotten. She honestly can’t even remember the last time a flame had been lit here.
She tries and fails to hold back a fit of shivering as she searches for a box of matches. Finding it resting on the mantle, she pulls out a match and shakily pulls it across the rough side of the box.
Once, twice, three times, then four.
On the fifth try she manages to stop her trembling enough that the match lights, and she hesitantly touches it to a log.
It burns, smoldering, but no flame catches. Tendrils of smoke climb through the room. Elsa’s eyes water and she coughs. She tries to blow it out, but somehow that makes even more smoke pour from the log and she quickly jumps back, shivering from the cold and choking on the smoke.
She holds out a hand towards the fireplace, urging the log to freeze.
Tears prickle behind her eyes, and she tells herself they’re from the stinging of the smoke and not from the despair that’s beginning to well up in her chest again.
She pushes through her bedroom door, giving quite the fright to the two guards peacefully manning the entrance.
“Your Majesty!” The taller one startles before peeking into her room curiously. The whole bedroom already reeks of smoke and he almost reaches out to touch the Queen who is trying unsuccessfully to stifle a coughing fit into her arm. “What happened?”
The Queen manages to take a breath, eyes watering. “Send for a handmaiden. Please.”
The guard notes her shivering, the redness of her cheeks and eyes.
It is only perhaps a few minutes, though it feels like an hour, when the second guard returns with a girl who must be the handmaiden.
She’s a shockingly young thing, Elsa notes, and she’s never seen her face before. At least, not that she can remember. She’s never been very good with faces.
She wishes it were Gerda coming to help her. She can’t accept anyone else knowing how pitiful she is – so useless, so helpless that she can’t even light a fire. Pathetic. Elsa’s chest tightens in disappointment, before she reprimands herself for her foolishness. How can she be so selfish? Of course Gerda is asleep at this godforsaken hour. You’re not some stupid little girl pining for the comfort of her Nanny. Get over yourself.
But she’s lost so much of herself in such a short amount of time, and Elsa craves the gentle touch of something familiar and comforting.
The girl approaches Elsa before dropping into a deep, deep curtsey. “Your Majesty.” She huffs out a lungful of smoke, gazing at the bedroom curiously. “How can I serve you?” She eyes Elsa’s hair warily.
Elsa hesitates before stepping back into her room, gesturing for the girl to follow. She closes the door and bites her lip. Get it together. You’re the Queen. “I….” Her teeth bite into her lower lip so hard she breaks the skin. “I need help to light a fire,” she says to her feet.
“Certainly, your Majesty.”
The girl does….something to the smoldering log – Elsa misses it as she’s still obstinately looking at her feet in embarrassment.
The handmaid leaves the room briefly to give instructions to the guard outside. “The wood is too wet, your Majesty,” she explains. “It has been sitting for too long. Someone is bringing better wood now.”
They’re left awkwardly standing in her bedroom, waiting. Elsa grapples for something to say – anything to break the uncomfortable silence, as the serving girl won’t speak until she herself initiates conversation.
Elsa fingers the ends of her hair nervously- she’s let it loose for bed, and can’t stop staring in disbelief at the soft waves of brown below her shoulders. She’s decidedly not allowed herself to look in a mirror- she can’t take that, not yet, not after all that’s already happened tonight. But the handmaiden keeps sneaking glances at her, or more specifically, at her hair, and the question simply slips past her lips before she can hold it back:
“It’s quite different, isn’t it?”
The girl blushes as she realizes she’s been caught staring. She bobs her head quickly. “Yes, your Majesty.” She opens her mouth to say more but then clamps it shut just as quickly, her blush deepening.
Elsa’s curiosity gets the best of her. “Go on. What is it?”
“Why….why did you change it?” She looks down, embarrassed to have asked the Queen to explain herself.
Elsa’s breath catches and she hesitates, trying to find words to express her reasoning without revealing the total truth behind the change.
“Sometimes….sometimes we must give a part of ourselves for those we love.” She thinks of a story her mother once told her, when she was a moody teenager with much too much time on her hands and was pining for her sister. “The moon loved the sun so much he died every morning to let her breathe.”
The girl’s eyebrows quirk and she looks to want to ask for further clarification, but supposes that the Queen is allowed to speak nonsense so she shuts her mouth. Just then a boy comes with wood, and before she knows it Elsa is back in bed, trying and failing to sleep.
Despite the roaring fire beside her, she is helplessly, desperately cold.
The crackling wakes her up.
Snapping, popping, sizzling….she wakes with a start. The fire spits smoke and embers.
The smoke is so thick she can’t even see what’s surrounding it.
When she’s close enough, when the smoke is so thick and curling it coats her lungs and chokes her, she hears the frightened screams.
“Anna! Please, no, no – Anna!”
The voice is directly in front of her- coming from the flames.
It’s a pyre, she can see now.
And her sister, tied and restrained to a wooden post, screams her name as she struggles against the thick rope bindings.
A hint of charred, burning flesh reaches her nostrils and she gags.
“Elsa!” She screams back. “Freeze it! Cover it in snow!”
Elsa’s body sags against the wooden post. She grits her teeth in pain and Anna can see she’s trying to hold back a scream. The fire licks at her ankles now.
“I can’t. You took it away from me! I can’t do anything!”
Anna stumbles back, her eyes smarting and watering from both the memory and the pungent smoke that climbs higher and higher.
“I’m sorry!” She yells out to her sister. “It’s all my fault!”
Elsa screams as the blaze reaches her waist. The smell of charred flesh is growing stronger and Anna tries desperately to fight the roiling waves of her stomach.
“Look what you did to me!” Elsa yells at her, continuing to struggle to break free of her bindings. The fire climbs higher, the smoke growing thicker and smell growing stronger. “It’s all your fault!”
Anna falls to her knees, tears coursing down her face. She turns to vomit as the stench overtakes her, but when she looks back, there is nothing left on the pyre other than fluttering flames and falling ashes.
Anna bolts from her bed with a start. Her skin is prickled with goosebumps and her nightgown is absolutely soaked through with sweat.
It’s just a dream. It’s just a dream!
But, Anna knows – it is all her fault.
It’s always her fault.
She was a stupid, stupid child who disobeyed the simplest of instructions and led to Elsa’s seclusion all her life.
Now that Elsa finally was free – now that she had finally accepted herself, and had been accepted by most of those around her – now that freedom was taken from her again. By Anna.
All my fault. All my fault.
She remembers when Grand Pabbie pulled the magic from Elsa’s body trembling on the forest floor. It was ripped from her- the magic came out of her in coursing waves that rocked Elsa’s form with jerks and shudders. I caused her pain. All my fault.
She remembers seeing Elsa’s new appearance for the first time – the chestnut waves finally matched her eyebrows. Her sister, of course – but also a new girl, destined to become someone else entirely.
Elsa’s silence on the way back home was from exhaustion, surely, but also, Anna knew- from fear. Fear of what she had lost, fear of what was to come. Fear of not knowing herself, anymore.
Unfortunately, Anna knew herself all too well. It was always the same story.
All my fault.
Check out this beautiful image of Elsa reflecting on her loss of powers by the talented Eliimg: https://lelitachay.tumblr.com/image/184211001830
Chapter 6: Chapter 6
Her life is not her own; it never was, and never would be.
Such is the life of a Queen, of a ruler. She knew that. She should have known.
But somehow she forgot that fact, and it all comes back to her now, how her personal business is also the business of everyone in the entire kingdom.
Particularly, the business of her council. Or at least, they think it’s their business.
It nearly makes her want to retreat back to her bedroom for another thirteen years.
“You must get them back!”
“But the princess, Jon!”
“- leaves us open to attack-”
“-and we were not consulted!”
“Yes, precisely – that’s why you have advisors, Your Majesty!”
For the first time, without the ice responding to her anger under her skin, Elsa feels her blood begin to boil.
It used to be that when angered, the ice would skitter to the surface, sending prickling tendrils out to her skin, waiting to be released (or not waiting, sometimes). She used to have to focus to hold it all in, contain it inside of her.
Not this time.
Now, her forehead breaks out in a sweat. She feels flushed, damp, breathless. Angry.
Where there was once ice inside of her, now there is heat. Strong and raging, a roaring fire.
The last reprimand strikes a chord and she lets the fire out.
“Advisors?!” She bursts. It takes all of her willpower not to sputter and she tries to enunciate each word clearly and carefully. “Why would I require my advisors to tell me to save my sister’s life?”
The heat is spreading – across her cheeks, through her chest. It’s too hot in here. She can’t breathe.
“If my so-called advisors would have advised me to do anything else other than save Princess Anna, I suggest they leave right now and advise me no longer!”
The heat is too much. It’s too strong. She feels like she’s gasping for air.
Maybe she is. Anna, next to her, reaches out to take her hand. Elsa nearly pulls her hand away. Anna’s warm, her hand too warm. It’s too hot in here. She can’t breathe.
“Elsa is your Queen!” Anna exclaims. “She did what she had to. She shouldn’t have consulted anyone. She did what she had to so that we could stay together.” Her voice on the last sentence grows weak and guilty.
Elsa’s hand is growing warmer and wetter beneath hers and her sister pulls her hand away. Anna looks at her with worry. Elsa’s cheeks are flushed pink and the color is spreading across her face and chest.
They’re right, Elsa thinks, trying to calm her breathing and focus on the discussion at hand. She didn’t consider matters pertaining to the kingdom when she had Grand Pabbie remove her powers. Didn’t even think about Arendelle.
Just Anna. Only Anna. As it should be.
She wouldn’t change a thing, she knows. But it’s hard , and it hurts, to be reminded that once again she has inconvenienced her people, perhaps even placed them in danger.
Councilor Aren’s voice rings in her ears. “We’ll need to send out more spies. This occurrence may leave Arendelle open to attack, now that the Queen is…vulnerable.”
Vulnerable. That’s what she is now. That’s what Arendelle is now, without her magic to protect it. Her mind races as quickly as her heart. What if another kingdom came to invade? Her navy was small, untested. They hadn’t really, truly fought in decades. She needed them to recruit. Practice, grow stronger. They didn’t have enough people, enough weapons. Did they have enough steel? Enough blacksmiths, swordsmiths? She’d have to look into that, increase the apprenticeships and incentives. She couldn’t remember which areas were most defensible and which were the most vulnerable. Make a note to study the geography and battle plans. Talk to some generals, some captains. Devise a new training plan. And yes, like Aren said – find spies, and oh! and-
“Your Majesty.” A sharp reprimand breaks her out of her twisting, coiling thoughts. “We need your utmost attention on this matter.”
Elsa chokes on her next breath. She wants to scream. As if she hadn’t been paying attention. As if the ramifications of her actions hadn’t been snaking through her mind for hours, taking away her sleep, her appetite, her recently-acquired version of calm. She hadn’t thought about anything else, couldn’t think about anything else, ever since the ice had left her being and she felt lost and devoid and lacking.
Her mind is swimming, her hands shaking, and she just can’t do this anymore. The panic has now set in.
Before, with her powers, she could focus on those during a panic attack. She had to, had no other choice. She would ignore her lack of oxygen, her trembling limbs, her aching chest and instead pay attention to the call of the ice – trying to hold it in, keep it back, contained.
But now? Now she has no alternative. There is no ice raging to be free from under her skin anymore. There is only panic, panting, shaking, and loss of control.
How does she feel less in control without her magic than with?
Just fear that she is not enough. That she is nothing without her magic.
“Excuse me.” She bites out, stumbling out of her chair and nearly falling into the door and out into the corridor. She prays that Anna senses her need for isolation and doesn’t follow.
She finds herself in the garden, just a few steps away from the conference room. She stumbles to her knees in the green grass, not even caring that her skirts will sport stains or that her heels will be caked with mud.
She plants her hands down to the ground, breath heaving. Her hands tremble in the grass and she digs her fingers into the soil to ground them and stop their shaking. The earth is soft and cool. So soothing. Her shoulders stop their trembling.
She closes her eyes, breathes in the earthy richness of the soil and the bright bitter notes of grass. Some sweetness to her left, perhaps a rosebush or another flower. Her breathing begins to even out and she notes the tight knot in her chest and stomach.
Another whiff. It tickles her nose and she scrunches it, focusing on her surroundings and not the slowly-loosening knot. Flies buzzing, the brief, sharp caw of a bird. She can feel there’s now dirt underneath her fingernails and wonders how she will get it out before her handmaid sees it.
Her body loosens and she can breathe once more. She opens her eyes.
There is grass, and earth, and bushes and flowers and trees. No ice, no snow, despite her running emotions and desperate panic. The world is still here, the nature untouched. How she feels now – it doesn’t matter. Nothing else will feel her emotions except her. They are safe.
Everything is safe.
She cries out a note of blissful disbelief. What a gift!
No matter what she does, what she feels – there will never be ice again. The grass will stay green, the roses will keep their pink soft petals. The air will stay warm and bright and people will stay safe.
It brings such a thrill humming through her veins that she can barely remember how upset she was a few minutes ago.
Who cares what they think? You have not left your people at risk by losing your magic. You have kept them safe.
“I heard a witch cursed her and took away her powers.”
“Wouldn’t that be un-cursing her, then?
“C’mon, witches? Really? I was told she got really sick and lost them. That’s why she wasn’t seen for a while.”
“What? That’s so boring!”
What was really boring, Kristoff thought, was hearing these crack-job theories. Over and over and over again, day after day, he heard discussions and arguments over why their Queen was suddenly brunette and powerless.
It was getting draining. He just wanted to tell them all the truth just to shut them up. But he couldn’t. Not his place, and besides, he didn’t want to be spilling such sensitive secrets and put the girls in danger.
But not only was it getting tiring, it was stressful. Depressing. The whole castle was depressing. It was quiet and empty. No more laughter in the halls, no more chatting in the rooms. It was all Anna talked about anymore. She felt guilty – beyond guilty that she was the cause of this drastic change in her sister’s life.
The Queen…Elsa didn’t know how to take it all; how to process it. She tried to explain to him once that she felt lacking. Empty. Without her powers to focus on controlling, her attention moved to her anxiety instead. She grew even more quiet and withdrawn in response to the way everyone stared at her and passed around rumors. She was depressed.
“What do I have to offer now?” She once tried to explain to him when he confronted her. “I can’t protect my people. I haven’t married to form an alliance. I haven’t extended the royal line with children. I’m a failure – and that’s all I’ll ever be.”
Despite Kristoff’s fervent protests, he couldn’t convince her otherwise.
Anna, racked with guilt, instead grew angry. Not only did she feel like it was her fault that Elsa gave up a major part of her identity, she couldn’t comfort her sister – or at least she didn’t have as strong as an effect on her as she would have hoped. Despite Elsa’s constant claims that Anna was her everything and she’d give up her powers a thousand times over for her, Anna had hoped that she could break Elsa out of her chain of depression and anxiety. But nothing could.
“Don’t you talk about her like that!” She’d yell to villagers she heard gossiping about the Queen. “You don’t know half of what she went through and why!”
She grew snippy and impatient with him, then feel even more guilty about it later. “All I do is hurt people,” she’d claim, despite his protests.
He couldn’t do anything. And neither could she. Neither could any of them.
At least, not without the pendant.
The pendant, which rested locked up in a box to which only Elsa had the key.
It sat, so he was told, in the dusty closet of the late king and queen. A place where no one ever walked, or cleaned, or touched. A place no one would ever lay eyes on it.
No one, that is, except for the Queen, who visited when the longing inside of her grew so deep and gnawing, only to be relieved by the cool, smooth touch of the crystal against her ever-so-ordinary skin.
But she never went any further with it than a simple touch, no matter how it called to her.