Elsa felt her heart pounding in her throat as she looked down at the spirit of her sister. She backed away quickly, keeping her eyes on it, and Anna curiously didn't step over the threshold. She remained standing at the doorway, with a fixed stare at Elsa and an unnervingly wide smile.
It was the closest the princess had ever been to the wight, and she noticed details she had never paid attention to before. Anna's eyes were a chilling shade of ice-blue, not unlike Elsa's own, and lacked the warmth they'd held in life. Her skin was so deathly pale Elsa could almost count the veins underneath, and the white streak in her hair from that fateful night seemed to have widened and spread over her hair. Anna's dress was torn and caked with dirt, as were her fingers and nails.
Like she'd clawed her way out of her grave.
As Elsa watched, too afraid to move, Anna finally stepped into the room. Ice formed under her bare feet as she went.
"It's real warm out today," she said innocently. "I hate it. We should make it cold, Elsa." Anna cupped her hands and a few shards of ice and a burst of snow flew upward. "I can make things cold now, just like you."
"Don't," Elsa whispered. "Don't come near me."
Anna kept advancing. Almost sick with panic, Elsa forced herself to move. She was bigger than the wight, and faster, so she summoned up her meager courage and darted past Anna into the hall.
She ran as fast as she could down the hall, paying no attention to where she was going or what was happening on the way. The pattering of small feet behind her spurred her on and, without thinking, Elsa reached behind her and sent a spray of ice down the hall.
The footsteps halted and she ran further, into hallways Anna had rarely visited. Maybe she could get it lost and sneak back to her room and never open the door again. However, when Elsa rounded the corner and saw Anna standing just a few yards away, she choked back a scream and blasted a wall of ice separating her and the wight before turning and running in the direction she had come.
"Elsa!" the wight called after her, "Play with me!"
Elsa ran until her lungs burned, in and out of rooms and hallways and passages in-between, always haunted by the pattering of a child's bare feet on the wooden floor. Frost followed too, forming under her as she went, coating the carpets and walls. She didn't give any thought to where she went or what she did, and only stopped her flight when she suddenly crashed into someone tall and sturdy.
She looked up and felt her blood run cold. Her father stood before her, coming back from a council meeting no doubt. The king looked down at her, then behind her to the ice-coated hall. His face contorted from confusion to shock to anger.
"Elsa, what have you done?"
He grabbed her roughly by the arm, towing her down the hall without another word. Elsa looked behind her. Though she dared not say anything about it, she could see the wight peeking around the corner behind her, with those piercing blue eyes and a chilling smile.
The Queen stood and watched her husband pace around their room, muttering to himself and gesturing erratically. Occasionally he would turn to her as though he wanted to say something, but in the end he would shake his head slightly and go back to what he was doing. The Queen didn't appreciate being left out of his thought process; they were husband and wife, two monarchs in partnership, and most importantly they were both Elsa's parents.
Elsa was in her room, with the door locked. The king had only barely contained his rage at seeing the wintery halls, and he ordered their daughter to seclude herself, then servants to clean up the mess, after swearing them to silence.
He didn't pay her any attention, and turned sharply on his heel to begin pacing the other direction.
"Christian!" she snapped. "Shall I send for some of the help, or our daughter, if you'd like someone to ignore?"
King Christian's quiet ramblings ceased and he finally turned to face his wife. His hair was mussed from running his hands through it and his eyes were wild and stressed.
"What is it?" he asked irritably. "I'm trying to think, Tarja."
"And Lord knows where that has gotten us," Tarja answered. "Making decisions on your own has brought nothing trouble, and so I would hope that you would include me in the process if we want any hope at all."
Christian sighed heavily and rubbed his eyes. "I...apologize. What do we do?"
Her anger dissipating into worry, Tarja sunk down into a chair. "It's gotten worse. Ice all over the halls and she's still seeing that nightmare, even during the day. The staff are definitely going to ask questions about this, after today."
"Maybe we should limit them more. Get rid of a few and swear the remaining to absolute secrecy." He frowned, and hesitated before continuing, "And we should also think about what will happen if...her curse doesn't stop growing. It may be that Elsa will never get control of it, and is unfit to be queen after all."
"And what do you propose we do in that case?"
Christian buried his face in his hands. "I don't know. I don't know! How did we get stuck with this? We've been law-abiding, God-fearing people. What have we done to be cursed with this? Look what's become of our lives!"
"Self-pity isn't going to get us anywhere. We're not the ones with the curse, Elsa is, and as her parents it's our job to support her and try to help her through this."
Queen Tarja crossed her arms and stared at the mess that was her husband. He used to be a kind, collected man, loving to his children and wife. After the accident (Tarja refused to refer to it as anything else) he'd grown distant and stern. Christian had been very close to Anna, she knew, and the child's death had hit him particularly hard. The effects of it were taking their toll on him even now, four years later. Tarja dearly wished to put the past behind them, to love and cherish the happy memories with Anna and reconnect with Elsa, who was growing more detached and unsettled by the day. Despite their dangerous nature, the queen didn't really believe Elsa's powers were evil. Misguided, perhaps, but not given in punishment.
She wanted to help Elsa. She wanted her family back. Christian, however, found it difficult to even look at his eldest daughter some days. It was driving Tarja mad, especially after he'd acted towards Elsa today. The princess would likely be punished-as would any child who made a mess in the castle halls!-but lashing out at her for something she couldn't yet control wouldn't solve the problem. Elsa's issues were founded on fear, Tarja figured, and treating them with fear and anger itself wouldn't stifle them, only cause them to grow.
"We must have done something," Christian muttered. It was as though he hadn't heard a word she said. "If the Lord had nothing to do with it...perhaps something from the old stories. This isn't natural, it's wicked, like fairy tale magic."
"Determining the cause won't help anything either," Tarja said.
"What will you have me do?" You want to be involved, you give me something." He jumped up and resumed his pacing. "I am loathe to return to the trolls, not after what little help they gave us last time. Still... They knew quite a bit about the magic. Maybe they gave it to her?"
"I'm more inclined to believe fairies came down from the North Mountain in a deliberate attempt to wreck havoc on our family," his wife declared. "The trolls have always been peaceful. What reason would they have for this?"
"Fairies," the king repeated, his eyes gleaming. Tarja wondered if he'd gone quite mad. He choked out a high-pitched laugh. "Perhaps that's it. We have a changeling daughter, and the real one was stolen away in the night, leaving us with this...this..."
Witch. Monster. Abomination. Murderer. Christian didn't say any of those things, but Tarja could see them forming on his lips. Hot fury coursed through her and she strode up to her husband and slapped him across the face. He stumbled back, one hand on his reddening cheek.
"How dare you," Tarja spat, her voice a near whisper. "How dare you even suggest that the girl tormented in her room is anything less than a human, with real emotions and fears. She's scared, Christian, as am I, and if she were anything less than our child and Anna's sister-"
"Do not bring her into this-"
"I hear her too!" Tarja yelled. "I see you thinking Elsa's deluded and insane, having nightmares about her sister and being convinced she can hear her running around talking to her, but so do I! I'm just as haunted! I wish every day, with all my heart, that Anna wasn't dead! But all the wishing in the world isn't going to bring her back. What's done is done, and all we can do is keep moving forward."
Christian stared with the eyes of a dead man. "It was her fault. Elsa's. She killed my little girl. I hear her screaming every night in my sleep."
He truly did blame Elsa, then. Tarja saw there wasn't anything she could do to change that. He was convinced of her guilt.
She gathered herself. "Be that as it may, the fact remains that nothing will change, as I said. We need to focus on the now. Elsa's power is getting stronger. If it could cause the death of a small child without control when she was young, what could happen now? Or when she's older? We're lucky all she did today was freeze the halls. What do we do?"
The king didn't answer. He collapsed back in his seat and stared blankly at his hands.
"What do we do?" Tarja demanded.
There was a long, tense pause.
"I...have an idea." Christian swallowed. "But you won't like it."
(Yeah yeah I know the king and queen technically have names but they're complicated and I can't find the tumblr post right now so we're going to stick with Christian and the name of the former lead singer of my favorite Finnish metal band because shut up that's why.)
Anyway yeah if the quality of this chapter seems disproportionate to the amount of time it took me to write it, that's because it is. On another note, can I ask everyone how they came across this story? I'm curious. Thanks! After this chapter we can get to the good stuff. I'm slowly but surely making my way towards the main plot of the movie.