"Gerda, we have a problem."
Gerda looked up from where she was polishing the bust of some remote Viking ancestor of the current ruling family of Arendelle.
"Excuse me, mum, I believe that the two princesses are YOUR problem." Gerda continued her task with a calm concentration.
"When the two princesses create enough havoc to cause yet another nanny and yet another tutor to seek employment elsewhere, I believe that creates a problem for BOTH of us," Queen Idunn replied, hands on her hips and her toe tapping.
Sighing at the truth of this statement, Gerda turned to her Queen and employer and asked, "What did Elsa do this time?"
"What makes you think it was Elsa?"
"Mum, although Anna is the more explicitly mischievous of the two girls, we both know that she is simply the pupil. Her older sister is the master of mischief here, and is working hard to build up the skills of the Princess Anna to match her own."
Idunn giggled in a most unqueenly way. Gerda was correct. Elsa, eight years old, was indeed the true instigator of the pair. Anna, at five, adored and worshiped her older sister and patterned her behavior after Elsa at every opportunity.
Unfortunately, Anna ignored the serene, proper behavior Elsa demonstrated when being the perfect little princess, preferring to imitate the little devil hiding behind that perfect demeanor.
Gerda suppressed a smile and continued, "Was it freezing nanny's … posterior … again?"
"No, I believe it was a combination of Anna engaging in a lengthy discussion of underwear and then snorting milk through her nose when Elsa made funny faces behind nanny's back. The snorted milk spraying all over nanny's dress, of course."
"Ah. And the tutor? More frozen tea?"
"This time, I believe it was Anna insisting that it could SO snow inside the castle." Idunn frowned as she explained. Kai and Gerda were the only two servants who knew about Elsa's magic ability to create ice and snow. Elsa was responsible enough to keep her snow and ice hidden from everyone except her family and the two trusted servants. But Anna –
"Yes, that would be troubling." Gerda knew why Idunn was frowning. "Anna is as yet too young to realize that Elsa's secret must remain protected from general knowledge for the time being," Gerda said. "What are you going to do?"
Idunn had walked over to the window to look down at the garden. The two sisters were playing together as they usually did just before dinner. She sighed. "I will speak very seriously about this to Elsa. She needs to understand that her influence over Anna could lead to … consequences if not directed properly."
Gerda nodded, then said, "And I will discuss milk snorting with Anna, and the cost of laundry when said milk winds up where it should not."
"Let us be about it, then, Gerda. Thank you for your help."
A brief curtsy from Gerda. "Your Majesty, I have been your faithful servant since before either girl was born. You know that I love them as though they were my own children."
They left to find the princesses and add to their knowledge of proper royal behavior. A forlorn hope in Anna's case, Gerda often thought. But the key to Anna's heart was Elsa, she was sure. Anna would listen to Elsa, once Idunn had explained why it was necessary.
Anna giggled as Elsa repeated the funny face she had used earlier to make Anna snort up her milk. She laughed so hard she was rolling on the ground (getting her dress dirty in the process … Anna was a dirt magnet) holding her sides. Elsa was too much a perfect little princess to roll in the dirt, but she loved watching her sister laugh. Anna's happiness was all that Elsa cared about.
"Elsa, may I please have some time with you?" Idunn's voice cut through the laughter.
"Uh,oh," Elsa thought. She recognized the nuances of her mother's tone of voice, no matter how subtle. This was her, "We need to discuss proper princess behavior, young lady!" tone of voice. Elsa immediately stood up, the picture of well-mannered attention.
Anna, of course, was oblivious, still too engaged in her mirth. She finally noticed Gerda looming over her, a stern expression on her face.
"Princess Anna, if I may interrupt, if you would be so kind as to accompany me to the laundry room?" Gerda's voice was calm, but firm.
"Okay!" Anna got to her feet and followed Gerda, leaving Elsa and Idunn behind although not without a little hand wave to say goodbye.
"Elsa, let us discuss the issues inherent in staffing a royal castle," said Idunn, gesturing to lead her daughter to a small bench near the duck pond.
"Yes, mama." Elsa was bright; she (rightly) assumed that this meant the staff needed a new tutor and a new nanny. Her mother surprised her, however, when she took a quite different tack in the discussion.
"Elsa, you know that Anna looks to you as a role model," Idunn began, once they were seated.
"Yes, mama." It wasn't quite a question.
"She will need to be punished for her unseemly behavior, you know."
This dismayed Elsa. As the older one, she knew that it was her fault that Anna misbehaved. "And what will my punishment be, mama?"
"There will be no punishment for you," Idunn calmly replied.
"But … but that's not fair!" Elsa protested.
"Why is it not fair, Elsa? You didn't do anything." Idunn fought to keep her expression neutral.
Elsa was stymied. As far as her victims knew, Elsa had done nothing; it was all Anna. But Elsa knew better, and this turn of events hit her hard.
Idunn watched her daughter closely. Even at the age of eight, Elsa was good at presenting a calm, unruffled demeanor. But her mother could tell that the princess was conflicted about what to say. She let the girl struggle for a moment, then saw her come to a decision.
"Mama, it's all my fault. I was the one who egged Anna on and let her get into trouble. I should be punished, too."
"Yes, you should."
Elsa looked at her mother, puzzled at this agreement. "But … but you said I wouldn't be."
Idunn smiled gently and said, "Elsa, your punishment is to see Anna being disciplined, knowing that you are to blame."
The Queen reached out, and brought her oldest daughter into a hug. "Dearest one, you will be Queen some day. Your every word will be law. Anna loves you and would jump into the fjord from the highest tower of the castle if you said it was a good idea. In the future, your subjects will be similarly inclined to do whatever you command. Let this be the first lesson you learn about the power of being a monarch – the consequences of your words will fall on others, not on you."
Elsa leaned into her mother's warmth, thinking about what she had just said. "I understand, mama. I'm sorry."
Idunn kissed the top of her head. "I know, little one. I know you love Anna and would never hurt her. Just realize the influence you have on her, please? If you could teach her just a little of the PROPER royal behavior that you are so good at!"
She continued, "And, Elsa, you need to be very firm with her not to talk about your magic to anybody! It's not something to be ashamed of, but it is simpler for you to develop your skills without the constant attention of everyone in the castle and the wider kingdom. Kai and Gerda know, and that's fine. And eventually, as you grow older, we will gradually show your power to the whole kingdom, so that at your coronation it will be no more notable than the fact that your eyes are blue or that you like chocolate."
Elsa nodded, then said, "I'll talk to her about it, mama, and make sure we only play with it when no one can see."
"Good. Anna will listen to you more than she will to me." Idunn stood, then took Elsa's hand and started inside. "It's almost time for dinner, let's join Anna and your father, shall we?"
Later that night Anna and Elsa were playing in their room before bedtime. Elsa was trying to make up to Anna for the fact that only one of them had dessert with supper.
"Anna, I'm sorry I got you into trouble," Elsa began. But Anna brushed it off.
"Elsie, you know I have my secret stash of chocolate. One missing dessert won't kill me!" Anna waved her doll at Elsa to emphasize the fact she wasn't mad at her sister.
"I know, but this is serious, Anna, please listen to me. Mama and I talked, and it's important that you not talk about my magic to people who don't already know about it." Elsa's tone was unusually earnest, so much so that it got Anna's attention.
"How come you can do magic and I can't, Elsa?" They hadn't really talked about Elsa's magic before; it was just something amazing that made playtime so special.
"I don't know, Anna, I don't even know why I have it. But it sure would be simpler if you could do it, too." Elsa picked up her doll, then reached out so that it kissed Anna's doll. "But it doesn't matter. We're sisters, we'll be together forever, even after I'm Queen!"
Anna smiled and said, "I'll be your right hand! And then I can tell everyone about the wonderful magic my sister can do!"
"And our people will love me and you!" Elsa grinned back at Anna, glad that her sister didn't blame her for the missing dessert.
There was a quiet knock on the door, and Gerda's voice saying, "Time for bed, girls."
Fifteen years later …
Elsa opened the door to her sister's room softly, not wanting to wake her if she was asleep. Anna had given birth to a daughter a week ago; it had been a difficult delivery and she was still so very tired. But mother and daughter had come through it safely and the celebration in the kingdom was still going on.
Kristoff hadn't slept much since the birth – he insisted on doing everything he could for their newborn. About the only thing Anna HAD to do herself was nurse the baby. So when Elsa had approached him after dinner with an order that he was to sleep in Anna's old room that night, while she, Queen Elsa of Arendelle, took on diaper duty with her newborn niece, he didn't really argue. He could always argue after a good night's sleep.
The room was dimly lit with two small lamps. Elsa could see Anna as a lump under the blankets, and could hear her niece stirring and beginning to whimper in her cradle.
"That mean's she's hungry and it's time to eat," Anna mumbled. "Could you bring her to me, Kristoff?"
"Sure, honey," Elsa replied and went to the crib.
"Elsa, what are you doing here?" Anna sat up when she realized who had come in.
"I thought it was my turn to do a little bonding with my new niece. I'm allowed to give orders around here, even to the Prince Consort." Elsa lifted the baby carefully, then carried her over to the bed and handed her to Anna, who was already fumbling with the fastenings of her nightgown.
Once the baby was comfortably feeding, Elsa slid under the covers, and took Anna into her arms, cradling her and the baby in a warm hug. She could brush the baby's fine golden hair with one hand as Anna happily settled into Elsa's embrace.
"She's beautiful, Anna. Just like her mama and papa," Elsa murmured into Anna's ear.
"She's big, like her papa. I'm hoping the next one takes after me more."
Elsa chuckled, but she had been terrified during the labor and birth, as could be attested by several frozen walls and floors as she paced outside her sister's bedroom waiting for the midwives to finish their work. "Already planning on the next one?"
Anna nodded. "Yep, apparently we women have a built-in forgettery for the pain of childbirth. Kristoff and I figure four is about right. Heir, spare, spare, spare." She smiled as she repeated the old joke about royal families. Once she had been annoyed at being 'the spare', but that emotion had vanished when she and Elsa had reconciled after their long separation. She was perfectly content to be Elsa's heir, as long as Elsa lived to be 100.
"Since she is your heir, we will have to make sure she is properly trained, you and I," Elsa said, hugging Anna a little tighter.
Her sister nodded, "Everyone is going to expect a lot from her. They'll be saying that there are things a princess should and shouldn't do, like that whole underwear thing, and milk snorting, and … and … " Anna was remembering all the things the two of them had gotten into trouble for all those years ago.
"But you and me, we know better, don't we?" Elsa whispered. "She'll have both of us to teach her what a princess should be."
She was startled when Anna suddenly shrieked. "What, Anna, what's wrong?" Elsa began to sit up when Anna started laughing. "What is it, what's so funny?"
"She's my daughter, for sure, Elsa. She just snorted milk all over me." Anna chuckled as she dabbed at her nightgown, remembering how she had terrorized her own nanny with milk on so many occasions.
Elsa relaxed, then kissed her sister's hair. "Your daughter, indeed."
Neither of the two women had noticed the door was open a crack. Gerda had been about to knock and ask if she could help with the baby when she heard the conversation.
"And no princess ever had better role models than that little girl will have," Gerda thought to herself. She closed the door softly and left, knowing that the little princess was in the best possible hands. "Idunn, your daughters learned their lessons well."
I'm still alive, and I am actually working on "Dogs of War"! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this bit of sisterly fluff written for an event on tumblr.
Reviews are good.