It had been the first time she ever felt the cold.
The storm raged like the one in her heart had for more than a decade. She was answering to her irresponsibility. It was the perfect punishment. She was fully willing to accept what came next.
'Elsa! You can't run from this!'
She didn't intend to do anything of the sort. She wasn't "running". She was relieving Arendelle of its devil. She had encased her home in a torturous winter, seizing its prosperity for the sake of her own selfishness. It was time to disappear for good. It was time to sever the final tie that kept her near in the first place.
'Just take care of my sister!'
It was all she asked. One final selfish request. Her sister; the one person that had always looked at her the exact same way no matter what. Her sister; the one who had loved her more than any other. Her sister; the owner of a smile that was Elsa's sun in her darkest moments. As long as her sister was safe, Elsa could do this. If it guaranteed a wonderful life for her sister, Elsa would vanish to the other side of the earth if necessary.
Hans' voice screamed through the blizzard. Who knew this man would be confronting Elsa in such a way after their initial meeting? Elsa still didn't like the individual, perhaps out of baseless jealousy, but her sister seemed taken enough, and he was all Elsa had in this moment of desperation. Yet, the words that followed stilled Elsa's blood, seizing her body's ability to function promptly.
'She returned from the mountain weak and cold. She said that you froze her heart.'
Elsa nearly fell on the spot, her knees becoming weak and her tears freezing as they filled her lids. She scraped at the icicles in aggravation, whimpering frustratingly.
Her sister…! Her one and only sister was in pain because of her? How could she ever find redemption? A frozen heart? That could only mean…!
'I tried to save her, but it was too late.'
'Her skin was ice.'
'Her hair turned white.'
No. No. No!
'Your sister is dead – because of you.'
It was the first time she ever felt the cold.
A glacier took hold of Elsa's soul and gripped it, forcing her to her knees with a rush of pain and surrender. A wave of power exploded from the ice queen's own heart, and it was as if time itself stopped. A clearing was made instantaneously, and Elsa shivered, clawing at her chest with her nails and breathing erratically.
She had killed…Anna?
A montage of images played before Elsa's mind; her sister's goofy mannerisms and quirky behaviour highlighted without reserve. Her smile, her voice, her laugh, her ridiculous impersonations and jokes. Her charming freckles and carrot-top head. Her gaping mouth when she slept. Her drool. Her nest of hair in the morning. Her appetite. Her unconscious charm.
Elsa sobbed, her body convulsing under the physical and emotional strain. She had hidden from her sister for so long, yet the day of her coronation, she thought maybe…somehow…someway…
But it was an impossibility now. It was over. The one reason and source of strength to push forward was…
Elsa heard the footsteps from behind her, but they didn't mean a thing. She couldn't move. The cold had her. She was shivering as the rest of her kingdom did. She was a failure. Her parents would be ashamed. Everything they had tried to prevent came to be and more.
Steel grinded against steel as a blade was drawn, but the sounds were distant at best. Elsa's world was white. She was the villain in her own reality. Despair nulled her senses. Nothing mattered. She couldn't move. She didn't want to move. This was precisely what needed to be.
The shattering sent a shockwave through Elsa's system, and she turned in time to see Hans' sword splintering into a multitude of pieces, the image of a frozen Anna taking seconds to process beyond all else. The realization that Anna had somehow returned only to become a statue of ice was the final blow, and Elsa could only stare at the determined, yet terrified, expression of her sister, her features perfectly transfixed in servitude to a new order of life.
Elsa shot up from her bed, gasping for air and holding her blankets tight to her body, her breaths cold and the room's temperature causing a faint mist of crystallization to begin in the corners. With practised focus, Elsa diminished the escalating freezing, doing so as naturally as someone would yawn and stretch upon awakening.
She was safe. Anna was safe. Arendelle was enjoying its first summer since the brutal winter Elsa had encased her own land in. All was well. This was Elsa's mantra when the nightmares occurred; which were altogether far too frequent still.
Elsa slowed her breathing until she couldn't hear herself anymore. She pushed a hand through her platinum-blonde hair and blinked away the sawdust.
As if sensing her anxiety, a number of snowgies stirred within a large tub on Elsa's elaborate dresser. They pitter-pattered about the room, stumbling into one another while making incoherent sounds that were universally deemed as adorable. Elsa welcomed the little beings into her palms, a number of them rolling around her and nudging her body with concern.
'I will be fine, little ones.' Elsa sighed calmly, steadying her nerves. Anna's sapphire-bejewelled image persisted in blips of fear, but Elsa mentally shook it away, knowing there were important matters to attend to starting today.
'Impressive timing, isn't it?' Elsa tried to giggle to her snowgies, but it came out as more of a cough.
'Queen Elsa? Your maids are prepared to assist you with your adorning today. The first interview will take place at noon, which only leaves us with three hours to get ready. You…are awake, aren't you?' A muffled but powerful voice inserted itself into the room.
A pain circulated through Elsa's veins, but she nodded to nobody in particular as she eased her snowgies out of her hands so that her slender legs could be swung out from under the dishevelled comforters.
'Oh. Very good. Please make haste, if possible. Even Princess Anna is up, if that is any indication of your…er…fatigue.'
Elsa patted her cheeks, a sprinkle of snow dust puffing at the touch. She needed to listen to her faithful attendant. He was only looking out for the kingdom and Elsa's best interest. Today would be a trying day, regardless, for today marked the beginning of a truly new chapter in Elsa's life:
She would now actively seek a worthy king to rule by her side for the sake of Arendelle.