I'm posting this very nervously...
I don't know if anyone else will be entertained by this or not, Searlait and Lady Tralala and I thought it was a funny idea and this is just the way it wrote itself. Might not be 'funny' to anyone else, but it kind of amuses me and I've been told to publish, so here goes.
Let me know what you think! Please and thank you!
"Anna. I just—I've got a lot on my mind right now. Could we reschedule for tomorrow? Please?" She asks me.
Reschedule? In what normal world did sisters have to schedule time to drink a simple cup of tea together? Ah, but if only we lived in a normal world. Things like being royalty and living with the existence of magical powers weren't the typical norm of most people like they were for us.
"Elsa, you've been locked in this room all day—" Suddenly I see a flash of something cross her face. Indignation? Eep, yeah… I probably shouldn't have said it like that. "I mean, you've been in here—with the door closed… Ugh! You've been in here all day, Elsa. You need a break. It's eight o'clock, your shift is over. You need to come out and—"
Elsa holds up a hand. "A queen's work isn't limited to shifts, Anna."
"I know but…" I sigh and continue. "I haven't seen you all day. You weren't at breakfast or at—"
She had gone back to scratching notes on the document in front of her. "I ate," she tells me, fully focused on whatever it is she was writing.
"Yeah, but not with me! What time did you get down there? Six?!"
She doesn't move an inch, simply tilts her eyes up at me and raises her brows expectantly.
"You're putting too much stress on yourself. Elsa, please? Please just stop for tonight." I give her my best pout, poked out bottom lip and everything.
She leans back in her chair and just stares at me a few seconds before I see the corners of her lips turn up ever-so-slightly. "Fine," she says as she sits back up and drops the pen onto the desk. "But tomorrow…" her finger wiggles at me, "you get to go through all of this mail and sort it by—"
"Okay!" I cut in. I don't particularly want to spend my day inside – I'm over that – but if it means getting Elsa out of here for the night and getting to spend the day with her tomorrow, I decide that it's worth a few paper cuts. "I'll help." I go behind her desk and pull her arms eagerly, she flinches at first, like she always does, but she doesn't pull away. Once she's on her feet, I turn for the door, dragging her reluctantly behind me. "Come on, come on!"
"Where are we going?" I can hear the alarm in her voice as I yank her through the doorway and skip out into the hall.
"My room! Or yours! Whichever you prefer," I call over my shoulder.
"Um… okay. Mine, I—I guess?"
I whip around the corner, almost flinging my poor sister into the wall. "Oops. Sorry!" I flash her a 'you know you still love me' smile and drag her the rest of the way to her room, open the door and push her inside. "I'll be right back."
"Anna! What are you doing?" I hear her say as the door closes in her face. Maybe I shouldn't have done that… she is the queen and all, but…
"I'll be right back!" I tell her again before running off. "Stay in there!" I add. Then laugh at the irony of it because… well, because it's Elsa and I used to have to beg her to come out of that room. Not that it ever worked, but still.
The kitchen was empty, thankfully, not really feeling like explaining why I felt the need to grab every snack I could possibly find and stack them in my arms precariously. When I feel that I have a decent selection, I get a hand towel from the cabinet and hurry to leave, passing the wine cellar door on the way.
Heh. Smiling slightly, I take a few careful steps back and eye the door, wondering if Elsa had ever had a drink in her life. I put the snacks down on the closest countertop and went in. I – admittedly – have no experience with wines either, and realize I don't know the first thing about picking one out. There was red, and there was white… whatever difference that makes. White, I decide. It's Elsa's color.
After I restack my loot, I rush back to Elsa's room and tap her door with the toe of my shoe. "Elsa! Open up."
The door swings open and I note that Elsa's eyes are nearly bulging from their sockets. "Anna. What is all of this?"
I simply push past her and unload the goodies onto her bed. "Snacks!" I declare triumphantly as I stretch my arms out towards them in a very 'ta-da' gesture.
"Yes," she says, cautiously walking over to the bed. "I can see that."
"I just thought, well, I figured we could have a sleepover. Who knows when I'll be able to get you away from that desk again."
I was only joking, but a pained look washes over her anyway. "I'm sorry, Anna. I really do try to make time for… for everything. But there's just so much." She crosses her arms over her stomach, gripping each forearm with the opposite hand. "I wish I knew how to manage things better; to prioritize and delegate. I'm just so used to handling everything on my own, it doesn't always occur to me that people can help. I'm learning though." The right side of her mouth perks up just a little higher than the left, revealing that mischievous little grin I remember from our childhood. "I got you to help me tomorrow, didn't I?"
"That you did, Sister. Very well played." I gather up my skirt and flop up onto her bed. "But I still win." I pat the bed beside me. "Come on."
Elsa gingerly lifts her own skirt, but being more snug than mine, it doesn't allow for much flexibility and I force myself to stifle a few giggles as I watch her trying to get up. A second or two later, she gives up. Her eyebrows knit together and her lips purse a little with frustration. "I'm going to go change," she declares as she marches away.
She disappears behind the dressing screen at the other end of the room, before emerging in the most beautiful nightgown I've ever seen. Just like her 'Snow Queen' dress, this was entirely her own creation. Two layers: the silky one that covered her body and the sheer lace-like layer that served as a robe and sparkled EVERYWHERE. Totally gorgeous.
My mouth hangs open as she walks towards me, her hair is loosely piled atop her head and I can just tell that she has no idea how amazingly beautiful she is. With her striking platinum blonde hair and that perfect complexion and her features that – though they were very similar to mine – were matured in such a way that I didn't think mine would ever look like that, even when I was forty. And then there's me, with my red hair and freckles and baby face that I never seemed to outgrow.
Before I have even fully processed the thought, I find myself reacting, which honestly, is nothing new. I hop off the bed and bound up to her, stopping a few feet in front of her. "I want one!"
She looks at me, completely puzzled. "One… what?"
"Um, hello? One of these!" I pick up the delicate sleeve that hung by her wrist. "I can't believe you can make this."
She bit on her bottom lip. I hadn't meant to make her self-conscious about it or anything, but making situations awkward is one of my specialties. "Oh, um… yeah," she finally says quietly. "It's really not that hard."
"Oh, Elsa, please. Please can you make one for me?" I throw my arms out to my sides, head back, eyes closed.
"Anna, I… I don't know…" but I hear her sigh and immediately I can feel a cool sensation tickling up my legs, my stomach, my shoulders and down my arms. I look down, taking in the ensemble that is identical to Elsa's. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I wonder what happened to the dress I'd been wearing, but I set that aside for later. Who cares about normal dresses when you can wear something this amazing?!
"So," she prompts. "What do you think?"
"I think it's the prettiest thing that I've ever worn. Or will ever wear."
I can't help but shiver just a little. And while I tried to hide it, I know that Elsa must've seen because she frowns at me. "Anna, it's too cold for you. You should go to your room to change."
"No! It's fine. I'm fine… really."
"It may melt."
The thought about the missing dress comes back to me now, more pressing than before. If it melts… "Do I still have my underwear on?!"
I guess that wasn't as reasonable a question as I thought it was, because Elsa snorts, (yes, I'm serious, Queen Elsa just snorted) and then laughs, louder than I've heard her laugh in a long, long time. She covers her mouth with her hand for a moment before she answers. "Yes. You still have your underwear."
"Well okay then. I'm good." I skip happily back to the bed and climb up, Elsa does the same, save for the skipping, this time having no trouble in the much more forgiving material.
We sit in silence for a moment, neither of us sure of what to do next. Eventually I lean up and grab an apple and a scone and offer them to her. She chooses the scone, so I polish the apple on the towel and am about to take a bite, when she interrupts. "Anna… What is that there under that towel? Is that… Did you bring up a bottle of wine?"
I unhinge my mouth from around the apple. "Um… yeah. I saw the cellar door and I thought, Elsa might want some wine to wind down and all, she had a long day. And then I thought, well I didn't know if you ever drank wine. I don't always get to be with you and there's been all that time when we weren't—you know—together and I just figured I would grab it just in case it was something you'd want, but then I didn't know what color to get. There were so many bottles in there.. red and white, so I grabbed one of the white, because well… it sounds silly now, but because you know, you're the Snow Queen and white is your color and it just seemed fitting. But I can go back down and get the red if you'd rather—"
"Anna." She puts her hand on my arm gently. "That was very thoughtful. Thank you." She says with a warm smile. "Only… I've actually never really had wine before; just a little champagne at the coronation. I wouldn't know the difference between red or white either."
"Well, only one way to find out." I tell her, very matter-of-fact. I pull the bottle out from under the pile and pop out the cork before passing it to her.
"Oh, just take it," I push it at her a little more.
She looks at the bottle and then to me and then back to the bottle, before gently taking it in her hands.
"Papa used to always have a glass of wine at the end of the night," I tell her. "He said it helped him relax after dealing with all the stress of ruling and everything." Elsa looked at the bottle in her hands uncertainly. "Seriously, Els… you need help." The look on her face tells me that I have, again, said the wrong thing. "I just mean…You're going through everything he went through, and even more because of your powers and—If it helps take your mind away from it all for even a little while, then it's worth a try, right?"
She lets out a breath and relaxes just a little. With a smirk and a swirl of a finger, a glass appears in front of her. She picks it up and fills it halfway and then sets the bottle on the bedside table before taking a sniff and a hesitate sip.
"It's actually…" she considers, swishing the liquid around the glass "…not bad." She takes another sip. "It's almost, warm."
"Warm is good." I say. And when she doesn't say anything, I decide a topic change might be in order. "Soooo…." (Although, actually coming up with one before I opened my mouth would have probably been a better idea.)
"So," she says. "How was your day?" She smiles politely.
"Oh, you know." I wave my hand absently. "Fine." Her eyes narrow suspiciously at my uncharacteristic lack of words, and I quickly avert my gaze. I'd rather not tell her about how I accidentally bumped into one of the servants earlier, knocking the stack of freshly cleaned dishes out of her hands and shattering them all over the floor. Or how I slipped off the top step and slid down about four stairs before I caught the rail and stopped myself. Or how my dress mysteriously ripped when I walked past the suit of armor even though I was totally minding my own business. Nope, she didn't need to hear about any of that. I don't want her worrying and assigning me a babysitter – or 'guardian' as she called it, to try to make it sound better – to follow me around, like she threatened last week when I knocked over a candle and almost set the dining room on fire.
When I dare look back, she's still staring. "Heh." I grin nervously.
She raises a brow, shakes her head and then finishes the last of her wine.
I think she bought it.
"What about you," I ask, hoping to deflect her attention away from me, "what did you do today?"
Elsa groans and reaches back for the wine and refills her glass, full this time. "I thought you wanted to take my mind off of work?"
"Oh. Yeah, you're right. I was uh… you know, just trying to make conversation."
She exhales and looks down at her hands, "I know. I'm sorry, Anna. It really has been a long day. I guess I'm just tired." She forces a smile and sips from her glass.
"It's okay. I understand." I mean, I think I do, but I probably don't, not really. I can't imagine my entire day, every day, being filled with meetings and dignitaries and documents to read and sign and people's lives to think about, to make sure they're provided for and protected. No, thank you. I would not want her job for anything. I used to think I did, when I was little and Papa and Mama made it all look so easy, or so it seemed, I was just too young to really understand. Now that Elsa and I are grown and I see what a good queen she truly makes. And seeing what she goes through and what she does on a daily basis, makes me glad that that wasn't my birthright. The heir and the spare; and for once, I'm happy about that.
"It's really not. This shouldn't feel so awkward all the time." She downs the remainder of the wine in her glass, sets it aside and hops off the bed. "Come on."
I do as she says, but now it's my turn to ask. "Where are we going?"
She goes to stand in the center of the room. "Here."
I'm sure she sees the puzzled expression on my face as I walk up to her, but she doesn't say anything. Instead she rolls her hands, one round the other, a perfect snowball appearing between them. She lifts her eyes to meet mine and I see that look… the pure joy she only gets when she uses her powers for something fun.
She passes the ball to me and makes one for herself and then states that the first one to make a hit, wins. I toss mine back and forth in my hands, wishing I had my mittens, but not caring too much because I am so ready to play this game! Elsa's going down.
We count to ten to give ourselves a head start and we each run and hide, coincidentally both crouching on either side of her bed. Slowly, I peek over the edge and see the top of her blonde hair lowering back out of view. I wait there for a few seconds to see how long she'll wait before she tries it again. Suddenly she pops up, hand pulled back, ready to fire. Ohhh, she's quick! I drop back to the floor and crawl around the end of the bed, peering around the corner. I see Elsa perched on her toes, just as she's about to push herself up to steal another glance over the bed, I take my chance and toss my snowball at her side. Direct hit!
She whirls around in surprise and loses her balance, falling into the side of the bed. She laughs and leans her head back against the blanket. "Okay, that was good" she admits "you got me."
"And you with your ice powers." I tease.
"I know. I thought I had that one, hands down."
"Don't feel too bad. I've had a lot of practice." I explain. "Not with snowballs—just… hiding. I liked to practice sneaking around to see if I could go explore without anyone catching me. Not that anyone was ever looking for me, but it was fun to pretend that I had someone playing with me." Elsa's eyes slip shut and her jaw clenches. I did it again. "I'm sorry…" No wonder she avoids me, all I can seem to do is throw the past in her face.
"No… It's okay." She turns her head to me and hands me her snowball. "The truth hurts, right?"
"Elsa. I—I didn't mean it like that… It wasn't your fault."
"Maybe." A sad smile pulls at her lips.
"It doesn't matter." I grab her hand. "We're together now."
I feel her fingers grow even colder, a smooth icy layer builds between our touch. She immediately snatches her hand from my mine and attempts to disguise the pulling away with intent to pour herself another glass of wine. And I don't tell her I know any differently.
We sit in silence for a while, she sips at her wine, I play with the snowball; but overall, we're just content being near one another. I don't even know how long we've been sitting here, but after a while, I startle as I feel her head rest on my shoulder. "I love you, Anna."
"I love you too," I reply, leaning my head against hers.
Suddenly, she sits up and turns to me, squishing my cheeks between her palms and pulls our faces towards one another. She looks me dead in the eye and says, as serious as can be, "no, Anna. I really love you." She pecks a kiss on my forehead, giggles, and then pushes away. And this is when I'm sure the alcohol has begun to affect her.
She picks up the wine from the table and tries to pour more into her glass. But her hands are trembling and the sight unsettles me.
"Elsa." I reach over and take the bottle from her hand. "I think you've had enough for tonight."
"Wha—Nooo… Annaaaa," she whines, reaching for it. "But I like it."
"I can see that; which is why you aren't having anymore."
She sulks for a moment before she seems to forget what she's upset about and hops up onto the bed. "Jump with me!"
Excuse me? Elsa… jumping on a bed? This is different. But she didn't have to ask me twice.
We grasp each other's hands and bounce around for a minute or so before we're so winded and tired that we just collapse into a laughing heap.
"Anna?" A voice calls from behind the door.
I jump at the sound of my name, partially because I am not expecting it and also because I have no idea who would be looking for me at this hour. Whoever it is does NOT need to be here right now. Elsa would kill me, freeze-me-again-and-throw-me-in-the-fjord-KILL-me if I allowed anyone to see her this way. She probably wouldn't want me seeing her this way either, but it's a little late for that now.
"Anna? Are you in there?"
"Kristoff?!" I run over to the door and grab the knob before thinking better of it. Instead, I press myself against the door, wishing it was him. "I'm here."
"Anna," Elsa whispers (well, she thought she was whispering, it was actually rather loud), "Psssssssssssstttttttt, Aaaaaanna! Guess what."
"WHAT?" I ask with an exaggerated head roll in her direction, only 'mildly' annoyed by her interruption, to say the least. She doesn't appear to notice, or care, she just stares at me and grins—very unnaturally.
Okay… that's scary.
Elsa lifts a hand and a ball begins to form from the frost that wisps that are emanating from her palm. She looks at it, totally fascinated, like it's not always been a part of her and it's something she's never seen before. "Magic!"
Uh oh. Anticipating her next move, I quickly duck, just in time to miss the grapefruit-sized snowball that smashes into the door at about the height where my head had been.
"Anna?! Are you okay? What was that?" Kristoff jiggles the knob. "What's going on in there?"
"Um… nothing." I lie. "Everything's great!"
"Then are you going to open the door?" He asks. "I just got back and I wanted to see you… Do you want to go for a walk."
Yes! …But… "I'm a little… busy."
"Oh… I see. You know, if you don't want to see me, you can just say so."
"No! It's not like that!" I yank the door open and stick my head out. "HI." Oh my goodness, he's so pretty. Focus, Anna. "It's Elsa. She uh… she's not feeling too well."
A crash behind me draws Kristoff's attention over my head. Elsa stumbles up to me, leaning heavily on my shoulder. "I'm okay." She giggles in my ear then does that loud whisper thing again. "Don't worry. It was only the um… the uh…. those things." She flings her arm out, pointing, simultaneously sending a beam of ice that flies from her hand and smashes into the already knocked over fireplace poker rack, causing it to make noise once more as the frozen metal clangs around on the hearth.
Kristoff looks at her and then to me.
"Hello, Kristoff," she singsongs as she turns back into the room.
His mouth hangs open just a little before he asks. "Is she… is she drunk?!"
"Ugh, YES!" I sigh, both defeated and relieved, and open the door fully now and motion him inside with my head. "Hurry up, don't let Kai or Gerda or anyone see her. I'm already going to pay for it now that you know."
He looks perplexed, but steps inside anyway and I quickly swing the door shut. "I didn't know that Elsa drank… she doesn't seem the type."
"She doesn't, this was the first time." I gesture to my sister, now sprawled out in a pile of snow, singing something I can't quite make out, and making angels in the center of the room. "That's the problem." I flop down into the nearest chair. "She was working late and I was mad that I hadn't seen her all day, so I talked her into taking a break and spending time with me. I went to grab snacks and thought 'hey, maybe a little wine might be nice, she needs to relax… what's the harm?'" I glance over at her again and roll my eyes. "Never again."
"How much did she drink?"
"I don't even know, a glass or two… maybe a little more?"
"Hm. Well, if she's never had it before, it probably wouldn't take much anyway."
"Let it go… Let it goooo… I'm lying in a pile of sno-o-ow…." She warbles loudly.
I shake my head. Seriously, how did I let this happen? "Kristoff. What am I going to do?"
The way he's smiling makes me think he really is not understanding my predicament at all. "You can come for a walk with me." And I was right. He comes over and takes my hands, raising me off the seat and really looks at me for the first time tonight. "Wow, Anna… You look… wow…" His words were lost, clearly no match for my ice nightdress.
"You think so?" I ask, biting on my lip.
"…It's ice," he nods, then quickly shakes his head to clear it, "I mean, it's… nice. Y-you look very... Wow." Apparently he didn't shake it hard enough.
He's adorable when he's flustered though and I can't help but laugh. "You said that already. But, thank you."
He leads me gently towards the door, we are halfway there when I realize and pull back. "I—I can't, Kristoff. I want to… I really do." I glance out the window longingly but the frost on the sill keeps me grounded. "The moon looks beautiful tonight and a walk by the water would be, well, it'd be really great… But I can't leave her like this."
He looks over at Elsa, still lying on the floor, but now quiet and calm as she stares into the falling snow above her. "No. I guess not." He slips his hands out from mine. "Go. Be with her… I should probably go anyway."
"Okay," I agree sadly. "Besides, I think the chill in here is the only thing keeping my dress from melting off." I laugh awkwardly. "Maybe tomorrow?"
His face immediately flushes bright red; he turns to the door, trying to hide his embarrassment. "Um, yeah. Sure." His voice cracks and he clears his throat. "Tomorrow."
Elsa moans from her snowpile, she's pushing on the sides of her head with her palms.
"Kristoff?" He turns around and I motion towards her. "Before you go, would you mind… Can you help me get her into bed?"
Elsa groans a little more, louder this time and mumbles something about spinning.
"Okay." He agrees, reluctantly, taking pity on me and my intoxicated sister.
I nod to him gratefully and then run over to the bed to fold back the covers. When I go to stand with him, he's crouched beside Elsa, reaching his arms out and then back again. He tries this a few times before he sees me watching him. "I don't know how to do this," he whispers.
"Just…" I make a scooping gesture with my arms, "pick her up." It can't be that difficult. She's so thin, she can't weigh very much.
"But…" He looked uncomfortable. "She's the queen! I don't want to… touch anything."
"Oh, don't be silly. What do you think she's going to do, have you arrested?" I laugh, but his eyes just get bigger and so I roll mine at him. "Look at her. It's not like she's going to know anyway," I add.
Elsa is staring in his direction, but her eyes are glassy and unfocused. "Probably not," he agrees. "But I will."
For the second time tonight, I use my exceptional pouting skills and succeed in getting what I want. He sighs and pushes one hand into the snow under her neck and lets her head rest on his arm, then does the same with the other to get under her knees and lifts her up out of the snow.
Watching them as he cradles her against his chest, I can't help but think back to when he carried me like that. Butterflies tickle my stomach at the thought of being in his arms again. Why does Elsa get to have all the fun?
But looking at her closer now, the way she's grimacing with every step he takes and how her arm falls and hangs limp because she must be feeling too awful to bother pulling it to herself. I can't be jealous – it doesn't seem like she's particularly enjoying herself, so I can't be mad at her – especially since it's sort of my fault we're all in this situation. But tomorrow, on that walk… Kristoff will be carrying me, I decide, even if I have to fake a leg injury or something.
As soon as he lays her down, she rolls to her side and curls into a fetal position; her eyes now squeezed tight. "…Anna…"
I rush around to the empty side of the bed and climb up and crawl over to her. "Shh..." I say as I brush the hair from her face; it's wet and cold and I catch myself wondering if it's because of the alcohol or the snow or if it's just something that happens to her because she's 'Elsa'. I don't like the knot that twists in my gut when I realize that I don't even know my sister well enough to know which of those options is true.
"I'm here," I say gently.
"I don't feel good," she whimpers.
"I know," I tell her. "I know you don't. I'm sorry."
Kristoff reaches over her to pass me the small trash can from beside Elsa's desk. "You're probably going to want that," he says quietly. I take it, not sure whether I'm grateful or grossed out, but I thank him anyway and he wishes me luck. He gives me a little wave as he leaves. "Tomorrow?"
"Tomorrow." I confirm, giving him the best smile I can manage right now.
He opens the door and returns the half-hearted gesture before slipping out and pulling it closed.
"Bye." I say softly.
I look down at Elsa, thankful that she doesn't seem to be in as much discomfort. Her face isn't scrunched and her breathing isn't as ragged. When I'm sure that she has passed out, I take the opportunity to straighten up her room the best I can. I clean the snacks off her bed and place them with the bottle of wine – well, what's left of it, anyway – over onto her desk. The fireplace poker set has thawed enough that I can stand it back up and place the tools back where they belong. The snow however, that I'm not sure what to do with, but I'm sure this is not the first winter to befall this bedroom, so I ignore it and hope everything will be okay.
"Anna…" she calls for me groggily. "I—I think I'm going to be sick."
Darn you, Kristoff. Why are you always right?
I hurry to her bedside and help her sit up as I settle in behind her. I put the trash can in her lap and keep the hair away from her face as she hunches over it. Her body shudders until the sickness passes, she leans into me weakly, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand before setting aside the can and scooting her head down into my lap.
"I'm sorry," she breathes, as she nestles into a comfortable position.
"It's okay." I tell her, as I rub light circles on her back and tuck stray pieces of hair behind her ear.
"Never bring me wine again."
"Nobody is to ever find out about this…" She grips an icy hand around my wrist.
"Of course!" I shriek.
She nods, seemingly satisfied. Until…
"Yes?" I ask nervously.
"You're going to want to grab that trash can."