Heart of a Queen
Elsa felt so blessed to have the people of Arendelle welcome her back with open arms.
The revelation concerning love, that an act of true love could thaw a frozen heart, made her all the more determined to rule with selfless love and compassion. She had Hans and the Duke of Weselton sent back to their respective homelands at once. She'd rather not dwell on the treachery of their actions as she joined Arendelle in celebrating the return of summer.
To make up for the sudden leave during her coronation, Elsa greeted the commonfolk proper beyond the gates of the castle. She was nervous at first, but it quickly went away as she received their smiles, cheers and happy tidings.
"I think I've lost count," Elsa said.
"Of what?" Anna asked.
"Of how many times I've been told that I look just like our mother."
Anna, who accompanied her sister in greeting people, laughed at Elsa's remark. "But it's true. Maybe without your icy powers, your hair would be dark brown and you'd be the spitting image of-"
A sudden cry of delight cut her off as she accepted gifts from children, who were ushered by their parents to approach the princess.
"These flowers are so lovely!" Anna exclaimed. "Wow, you arranged them yourself? Thank you, sweetheart. Elsa and I will be sure to put these by the windows of our bedrooms."
Arendelle guards closely flanked the royal sisters to give them space from the pressing crowd. Elsa took her time greeting people and graciously accepting any gifts or best wishes they offered.
She just finished blessing the last child of a large family when she heard an urgent call. A woman's voice, by the sound of it. It rose above the hubbub of villagers.
"Your majesty! Queen Elsa!"
She turned her head round, trying to find who was calling her. The source of the voice soon came into view. Then her eyes lit with recognition. 'It's the young mother I saw in the courtyard. The one who asked me if I was all right...'
The woman shouldered through the crowd with as much politeness as she could muster. Elsa didn't fail to note the worry and distress in her eyes. Guards made to cut off her approach. Elsa raised her hand.
"At ease. Please let her through."
The guards stepped aside, and the woman bowed deeply before her. "Thank you very much, your majesty."
"No, thank you." Elsa tried to ease her with a warm smile. "I remember you from before the Great Freeze. Tell me, what is your name?"
The woman visibly relaxed at the queen's kindness. She even seemed to take great pleasure in Elsa remembering her and wanting to know her name. She curtsied.
"Sannah, if it pleases you, your majesty."
Elsa smiled. "It does. Where is your baby?"
Distress returned to Sannah's eyes. "He is at home, too sick and weak to be with me." Suddenly she looked nervous and on the verge of tears. "If you could, your majesty...if I may ask...I was wondering if you can help..."
Concern and a worried frown quickly replaced the queen's grin. "Of course I want to help. I'll do whatever I can."
Seeing Sannah so upset over her sick baby son moved Elsa. The queen placed a comforting hand on the older woman's shoulder. Something she'd never do when she had been consumed by fear of her powers.
"I'll follow you to your house, then. Taking the baby into the castle will be far too much trouble for both of you."
Relief flooded Sannah's round, homely face. "You are most considerate, my queen."
Elsa briefly drew Anna aside to quickly explain the situation. Anna nodded in understanding.
"Of course you can go, Elsa. I don't mind being with the crowd for a few more hours."
Sannah led the way to her house among the sprawling village. She looked quite flustered and apologetic as she welcomed the queen into her humble dwelling.
"Excuse the mess, your highness...my husband's away working, and I've been so busy taking care of little Allan..."
"Don't worry about it, Sannah."
Though an impeccably neat and tidy young woman herself, Elsa didn't think of looking down on Sannah for even a second. She could only sympathize with the older woman's plight. Sannah beckoned Elsa to follow her into a small room. The baby's room.
Elsa could hear his pained breathing. The infant stirred as Sannah gently lifted him from the wooden crib.
"Be still now, Allan," she shushed him. "Don't cry. Queen Elsa has come to see you."
Elsa's heart wrenched upon seeing the baby's face and arms peeping from the swaddled blanket. She didn't need to touch Allan to know he burned with fever. She remembered the baby being so bright and happy. Now he was red-faced and had his wet eyes scrunched shut with discomfort and pain. The baby must be cold and racked with chills despite the blanket and Sannah's arms...
A startling thought made Elsa stiffen with horror. "How long has Allan been sick?" she softly asked. "Was it because of the Great Freeze?" 'Because of me?'
Sannah sighed. "We did all we could to keep the house warm when the sudden storm came in. But the cold still got to him."
Elsa became visibly upset then. "It's my fault your baby is sick. Sannah, I'm so sorry..."
"Don't blame yourself, your majesty." There was only sympathy, not accusation as she looked at Elsa. "It was an accident. You were scared."
"That's right..." Elsa murmured. "You were the first to notice..." She eyed Sannah with determination. "Still, I am responsible for this. You didn't come to me demanding an apology. You wanted help. I'll undo what I started."
For a moment she admired Sannah for her resourcefulness. Elsa could use her powers of ice and snow to suppress the baby's fever. It might be just the only way, otherwise Sannah wouldn't have come to the queen herself. But to do that...
Elsa stared down at her hands with uncertainty. "Are you sure you want me to do this, Sannah? You'd trust me to lay my hands on your child...?"
Allan whimpered. His mother rocked him gently. "You have the power to bring summer back," she replied. "I believe you have the power to make my son healthy again." She gave Elsa a weary yet soft and reassuring smile. "There's nothing to be scared of, your majesty. I know you can do it."
She reminded Elsa of her own mother, with the way she tried to both comfort and encourage her. With a pang in her heart, she extended her arms to take the baby. Allan felt hot against Elsa's bare arms. Remembering the way Sannah had held him, the queen curled her arms into a firm, protective embrace. Allan shivered and snuggled closer against Elsa's chest. She felt nothing but compassion and pity for this sick infant. Fueled by her desire to make him well, Elsa let the coolness of her body gently channel through.
'Hopefully this will lower his fever...'
Sannah looked to Elsa with approval, and both women were silent for a while. Eventually Elsa sensed the baby's temperature decline, then settle to a normal level. Allan lost most of the redness in his soft face. She nearly trembled with relief.
'His fever's going away...soon it'll be all gone.'
The baby opened his wide eyes to stare up at the queen who held him.
"Hello," Elsa crooned. "Feeling better, now?"
Allan fidgeted and waved his arms. He opened his toothless mouth to let out a happy gurgle.
Sannah laughed. "His way of saying thank you."
"You're welcome," Elsa murmured. She rested her fingers on the baby's forehead to give him her blessing. Then she handed him back to his mother.
Sannah looked to Elsa with overwhelming joy. "A thousand thanks wouldn't be enough to express how grateful I am to you, your majesty. Thank you. Thank you so much..."
"It was the least I can do." Used to being feared, called a monster, and running away, Elsa felt grateful in return for this welcoming change. "I'm glad I could help, and that Allan is well again."
"I have no doubt now. You will be a good queen for Arendelle. And in time, perhaps a good mother."
Elsa flushed at her compliment. "You think so?"
"I know so. The future is bright for all of us. Arendelle is proud to be ruled by a Snow Queen with a warm heart."