Note: Title is from the song by Ingrid Michaelson, in Elsa's pov
Anna hates that sometimes she thinks about her. It's been fifteen years and still Elsa exists only in the absence of things. Moments like walking through quiet corridors, listening to the tick tock of the Grandfather clock in the library, seeing the full moon.
The anniversary of their parents' deaths.
When her first child is born.
She married into a respectable royal family and though the first few years were overwhelming and strange (a new language, new customs, food, fashion, traditions, etc;) most of Anna never looked back. There wasn't much to look back on, anyway, just closed doors and empty corridors.
Not much of a life at all.
She'd missed Elsa, but it never got easier missing someone who didn't seem to exist anymore but lived instead as a hollow shell of someone she once knew, a girl who'd laughed and played and protected her.
It got too hard living with ghosts after her parents died. She'd hoped that maybe, just maybe, things might change. That whatever had happened, whatever kept her in that room, would be forgiven, buried at sea along with mama and papa. But as the days dragged on and hope evaporated, she started to wonder what kind of person didn't come to her own parents' funeral. What kind of person would let their sister stand between those massive, taciturn stones all by herself, facing the future cold and lonely and alone?
Maybe it wasn't a person at all.
Confusion and hurt stung her eyes for months that year, because the people she'd go to when she felt this way were gone and they were never coming back and it's just her and Elsa, but Elsa is never there, so it's really just her. Alone now like never before.
At that betrayal, Anna's hope and sorrow turned into anger. The following three years had proven her anger righteous as Elsa's silence continued. Not a single word passed her lips. Not a single glance at her coronation. Barely seen at all, her sister was a blue shadow, hesitating around corners and lingering in the breaths between words that were never said. Anna was made to love things, and with nowhere to go, it was souring inside of her, turning her bitter and resentful and she couldn't stand it anymore. She didn't want to end up like her.
The coronation was the first time the gates had been open since she was a child, the one day they'd be open for years to come, and they served a purpose for each sister: a crown for Elsa and a ring for Anna. Suitors were judged and screened throughout the events and Anna chose within the day.
She was married a few weeks later. Elsa didn't attend the wedding.
Anna clung to the promise and possibilities he carried, dreaming of going somewhere, anywhere. Someplace that was filled with people, open places, exciting, and all the things that Anna was but couldn't be, trapped in Arendelle.
It's warm year-round in Andalusia and there are no snowmen here. She prefers it that way because snow always makes her think of Elsa and she hates that her sister still has the power to make her feel so cold inside.
Other times it isn't as easy as hate and no matter how wonderful her life is now, part of her will always be lost and missing.
It rains in winter and Anna remembers seasons past; of her father's warm gaze and her mother's loving smile and the way Elsa would tickle Anna so hard she cried. Sometimes Anna thinks she made it all up, that she must have been mistaken, because how could anyone so bitterly cold and distant have ever been so loving and warm.
There are no winters in Andalusia but her daughter is blonde and the ghost of Elsa persists, just as haunting and mysterious as before, but with fewer answers.
Anna's determined not to let Elsa dominate her present the way she did the past and so she grits her teeth and burns new memories to sear over the old. It's a tired wound, but one she's still desperate to cauterize because sometimes Anna hemorrhages from the past and she's tired of bleeding.
Her love is no longer wasted and Anna pours everything into her life - her children, her husband, her position- so pressing and present in everything, and tries not to think about the part of her heart that's still held hostage in a far-off lonely land.
She tells the children she used to have a sister. It's not a lie, exactly. Just because the tense is confusing doesn't make it any less true.
She did, once.