Note: Credit/blame for the idea for the epilogue was inspired by Silencia del Umbrae
The letter changes everything and nothing at the same time.
An envelope arrived innocuously one Thursday morning bearing a crocus crest but Anna was too upset to read it, eyeing it angrily for days as she paced. Eighteen years with no word and suddenly her sister decides to send a letter. Its not fair for Elsa to intrude on her life all these years later, now that Anna's life is settled and wonderful. Once again everything is all on her terms and its selfish and detached, just like everything else about her. She hasn't changed one bit.
In a fit of frustration Anna finally grabs the letter, breaks the seal, and is ready to fire curses in the air when the words stop her cold and the edges of the world blacken.
"Your Royal Highness Princess Anna of Andalusia and Arendelle, is requested on behalf of her kingdom upon the passing of Her Royal Majesty Queen Elsa the First, by the Grace of God, of Arendelle, and Her other Realms and Territories."
She reads it three times.
There was a fire, they said.
All the arrangements are made hastily in a haze of disbelief and confusion because how could Elsa die and leave this all for her. Its a burden she never wanted, thrust upon her without her consent and Anna can't make sense of it because she was just a pawn who is now suddenly expected to be a queen. She has no idea how to be one and Anna's as lost she was the day her parents died. Anna hates that Elsa has even taken her outrage from her because its so much harder to be angry with someone who's dead.
Or maybe it makes it easier. She's not sure.
One person is buried but two different people died, both finally put to rest, but Anna only mourns the one she lost long ago, the one she's already been grieving for years.
She holds onto her anger because its all that's familiar while her life is uprooted. She hasn't been to Arendelle since she left and barely knows anything about it anymore, just broken memories and dead things. She's spent more of her life outside of Arendelle than in it, but she still cries when the mountaintops peek over the horizon and the spires of the castle towers come into view.
The royal quarters were rebuilt the same as before and though everything smells new, the ghosts of kings and queens past haunt this place and Anna shivers beneath the eerie silence of what's left of her family.
There's another letter inside her new chambers, but this one dates back almost ten years ago and starts with, "Dear Anna, I loved you the best way I knew how…"
Her hand shakes.
The letter falls, and understanding is cold, so much colder than Anna could have ever imagined. Colder than winter, colder than ice, colder than Elsa, who it turns out was never really cold at all.
This time there's no one to blame when she cries and her tears leave her hollow and aching. She cries for lives lost, for a life taken from her - from both of them - memories that she'll never have, memories that were robbed from her. Grieving for the sister stolen from her.
Though granted at a terrible cost, with knowledge finally comes a measure of peace.
The ghost of Elsa has always lingered, but now Anna does not mind. She draws strength from it and it comforts her, the way Elsa had always wanted to, the way Anna always needed, and now thoughts of her soothe instead of blister.
That night she tells her children a story about two little girls, of love and sacrifice and magic. A story about understanding and forgiveness. About coming home. A story about family.
Anna knew somewhere, Elsa is listening.