I climbed off of my horse, tying the reigns to a low hanging tree branch.
"Let me see if I can find you something." I cooed to him, knowing full well that though it was summer, there would be an apple tree somewhere. If the apples weren't frozen on the inside, they were edible.
I clung to that as I scanned the trees, looking for red apples and a probably blue-with-frostbite-Elsa.
I trudged along, feeling the icy wind somehow full of ice shards that pinch at my cheeks and face. I wanted to turn around and run back to Arendelle but I couldn't.
When Elsa had left, she had been scared. I remembered it clearly. The way her delicate eyebrows lifted in surprise. The way her lips -stained with the purple mixture that reminded me of paint- formed a small o of horror as she turned away from me. The way she hurried out of the ballroom toward the gates. The way she had almost shouted at me.
"Give me back my glove!"
I hadn't known that the gloves had kept a secret. I hadn't know that Elsa was keeping a secret.
The wind blew harder at me, nearly making me wobble backwards. I blinked hard as my eyes watered and my ears seemed to hear Elsa calling my name.
I ignored the cries, focusing on Elsa, my older sister. I was doing this for her.
I turned the complete opposite direction, knowing I'd have a better chance being high up on a saddle than down on the ground, getting my ankles cold. I stopped shivering as I walked back to the horse. I'd be faster on a horse anyway.
I thought back to Elsa, to the way she had left the ballroom.
Why had she been so scared when she had gone? Why had her blue eyes filled with sadness and fright as she raced onto the lake? Why had she not looked back? If she had, would she have turned around?
I desperately hoped so. I hoped for her return, wanting it more than ever. My desire for the gates to open had nothing on this. I wanted Elsa home. I wanted her safe. The Duke sounded malicious when I had left. He had probably sent out hunting parties before I had even thought of following Elsa. They could be looking for her right now.
I started trotting awkwardly in the thick snow. I swallowed the lump in my throat that formed at the thought of seeing Elsa on the ground, her teal bodice dark with red, coloring the snow around her.
I felt my chest begin to heave as I thought of Elsa crying.
"No, please, don't!" The way she would raise her hand to protect herself. The way her voice would sound as she pleaded for mercy. The way she sounded when she asked for her glove back. . .
"Anna! Anna!" The wind shrieked.
I stumbled on something hard, a buried tree branch, and fell down, landing hard on my face. I curled up in a ball, my naked hands going to my ice cold face. The snow was cold, but very soft. Almost like satin.
I laid down on the snow, rolling onto my back to stare up at the falling snowflakes. I raised a hand up, catching a flake on my palm. I pulled my hand down to my face, evaluating my melting prey.
The snowflake was very intricate. The pattern was remarkable, and reminded me of the handcrafted acanthus carving on the mantle at home. I admired the snowflake, and watched it become a small puddle of water, the size of a raindrop, on my hand.
My blue eyes looked up again, at the light gray sky, and my hand fell to my side. I smiled as a snowflake landed on my nose.
It was cold outside, but I began to feel the chill less and less as the snowflakes fell from the sky. I thought of the snowman Elsa and I had made when we were children.
She had called him something that reminded me of the phrase, "Oh laugh!" I couldn't remember the snowman's name, but I did remember Elsa moving his stick arms and mumbling in a low voice,
"I like warm hugs!"
A warm hug sounded wonderful right now. I wasn't cold, not anymore, but I longed for another body against mine. Warm, strong arms around me, holding me tight as the snowflakes flew down to the ground in happy little dances.
I abruptly thought to Hans, and our early engagement. I wanted to believe that Elsa was right. I couldn't marry a man I had just met.
But Hans was different somehow. Maybe it was how intelligent his green eyes appeared, or the confident way he walked, or the way he sang,
"Love is an open door."
I didn't know what had made me like him so suddenly. Was it because he was the first man I had looked at when I left the castle? Or was it because of the way his auburn hair had glowed like fire in the watery sunlight that afternoon? What was it?
Maybe it was the way he looked at me, like I was a treat. Like I was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.
I hoped it was that.
My mind went quiet as I laid on the soft, satin-like snow. I was pleased when the wind began to quiet. Instead of shouting, the heavy gusts seemed to whisper.
"Anna. . . Anna. . ."
I blinked into the ballroom. I was standing in the middle of the room. I gazed around, puzzled, and then I was running out of the room, running to the docks.
"Wait!" I cried, and I suddenly knew what was happening. "Wait, no!"
The sky was alive with a thunder storm, roaring and tossing their ship. My parents wailed, clinging to each other on the boat that was becoming soaked with rain.
"Mother!" I screamed, wanting to swim after them. My feet stayed glued to the drenched wood of the dock. My clothes were wet but it didn't matter. "Father!"
They wailed, and I screamed when I saw the huge wave that would finish them.
The wave loomed over their ship, and then collapsed onto them, like a glass vase falling onto the floor.
I closed my eyes and squeezed them tight, hearing my parents' cry.
"I'm dreaming." I told myself fiercely. "It's a dream. You've had it before."
Nothing was changing. The sky still cracked with lightning and the rain grew cold as it pelted my skin.
"Wake up, Anna." I told myself. "You used to have it all the time. You couldn't change anything."
The wind now sounded like my parents.
"Wake up, Anna." I began to grab at my face, trying to pinch myself while my fingers were clumsy with panic. "Wake up, Anna."
My parents screamed at me, screamed for me to find safety.
"Anna, you have to go!" They cried.
I ignored them, my hands going back to my ears as I tried to block them out.
I swallowed hard. "You're dreaming. They're dead. This is a nightmare. Wake up." My sentences were slow and terse. I was panicking now. I wasn't waking up.
I stirred slowly, my eyes drifting open. All of a sudden, I was freezing.
I sat up, covered in a thick layer of snow. My hands were blue and I held them to my chest as I made sense of the world around me. My horse was still standing by the tree, his reigns tied to it. I couldn't tell how much time had passed.
The nightmare had sweat dewing on my face and I trembled, aware that I wasn't shivering now. I was too cold. It wasn't safe to be outside.
I had to get moving.
I climbed to my feet and back onto the saddle, looking at the trail behind me. I couldn't turn back.
It all made sense somehow. What if the wind was Elsa, calling for me?
I had to make her hear me, too.
I called for my sister, not for my parents. This wasn't a nightmare. This was real.
Elsa had ran away, afraid for her life. Maybe even afraid for me.
I shouted as loud as I could.