A/N: Tumblr prompt: Elsa is afraid to hold Anna's new baby. This is my first time writing Elsa in any real way, so I hope I did her some measure of justice. And, uh, sorry for all of the fics. My Frozen obsession will abate sometime. Just, well, not today.
"Love Will Thaw"
The first time Elsa meets the baby, he's still red and rather wrinkly and she can't stop marveling at how very small he is.
Anna makes it a point to tell her just how very small he is not, and how he already had his father's broad shoulders and how much fun that had been during the delivery, and Kristoff had smiled at her and told her they were good ice harvester shoulders, to which Anna replied that very well, he could have the next one, and then they'd gone all dreamy-eyed at each other at the mention of the "next one" and retreated into their own little world, as they often did.
Which left Elsa standing awkwardly by the bassinet, staring down at the most assuredly very small baby.
"Hello, little one," she says quietly, one hand hovering over him for a moment before pulling it back, a pained frown on her face. The baby yawns and snuggles into its swaddling, staring up at her. His eyes are very, very blue, almost like hers, and there's a sudden stab at her heart as she thinks of him leading the life she had led…
He'll control it, she thinks, a bit desperately. We know how. We know…
Elsa clutches her hands to her chest, mutters some excuse to Anna and Kristoff, and hastily makes her way out of the room.
She doesn't see the baby again for two weeks.
The work of a queen is constant, and she buries herself in trade negotiations, civil petitions, various treaties. Anna or Kristoff will come by with the baby, but she's terse and closed-off, and they'll sigh and retreat, leave her to herself, not noticing the slight sheen of ice beneath her palms as she sits at her desk.
She can't stop the ever-present memory of a very small Anna lying in her arms, a streak of white appearing in her hair, her skin ice-cold to the touch.
She pictures the baby lying still, silent, frozen in her arms.
The next time Anna comes by her room, she's locked the door.
It's Kristoff who finally forces her hand, when he comes into her room with the baby, a retinue of servants, and a substantial haul of baby supplies.
"…what are you doing?" Elsa asks carefully as he instructs the nearest servant to set up the bassinet next to her desk.
"You're babysitting," Kristoff says matter-of-factly, cradling his son in one practiced arm. "That should be everything," he says to the servants. "Thanks."
Elsa stares at him, at the baby as the servants exit, and she narrows her eyes. "Kristoff," she says, and there's an edge in her voice she hopes he'll take as irritation rather than the fear it truly is, "I don't have time."
"Make time," he says, and she can tell that he's angry. "Look, Elsa…" He sighs. "I know that you're scared. But you're not going to hurt him."
"You don't know that!" she cries, starting as fingers of ice begin to snake down the walls. "See? It's just… it's too dangerous. For all of us."
Kristoff gently sets the baby down in the bassinet, tucking him into the blankets, and turns back to Elsa, a muscle in his jaw twitching. She notices for the first time the dark smudges beneath his eyes, how much more ragged than usual he looks.
"She needs you," he says bluntly, and Elsa's heart clenches painfully. "I know you think you're just protecting her and the baby, but she needs you. She cried for two days straight when you locked that door, and I don't care if you're her sister, Elsa. I don't let anyone make Anna cry."
The memories of Anna's plaintive voice on the other side of that same door as the years turned come rushing back, and Elsa drops her head into her hands, shoulders shaking with dry sobs. "I can't hurt her again," she weeps, and she's the queen, she's supposed to be strong, don't feel it, don't feel it, but she can't hurt Anna or Anna's baby, she just can't.
Kristoff hesitates for a moment before pulling her into a hug, and her eyes widen.
"It's going to be okay," he says, awkwardly patting her back. "You wouldn't hurt her anymore than I would. But she's starting to take it personally. She's gotten this idea that you don't even like the baby, and I told her that was ridiculous but neither of us has really slept and we just ended up fighting. Again." He sighs. "We really need a couple hours' rest, Elsa. Just a couple of hours. I promise it'll be okay." He gives her a brotherly squeeze before stepping away, eyes open and pleading.
Elsa twists her hands together. "Have you asked any of the servants to watch him?" she asks.
Kristoff gives her an inscrutable look. "Anna doesn't trust them with the baby," he says, and the words are heavy with meaning.
She trusts her.
Kristoff takes her hand and leads her against her hesitation to look into the bassinet. "He should just sleep," he says, reaching out to lightly touch his son's cheek. "Anna just fed him, and he's usually good for a nap afterwards."
Elsa leans over to look at the baby. He's still so very small, but a little bigger, just a little, and a part of her regrets that she hadn't taken the time to notice before. He's lost that red, scrunched-up look from when he was first born and looks soft and pale, with a spread of light downy-blond hair at the top of his head. He's snuggly in his blankets, sleepy with milk, and his eyes are half-closed as he stares at her, and she wonders what he sees.
Elsa starts as Kristoff leans in beside her and lifts the baby up from the bassinet, placing him carefully in her arms.
She stands, stock-still, terrified, as the baby wiggles in her awkward hold, and everything in her is panic and fear and…
He opens his eyes. Blinks at her once, twice. And smiles. Coos.
And she falls in love.
"Hello, little one," Elsa says, hesitating before leaning down to take one of his tiny hands, and he clasps her finger.
He smiles again, and she can't help it, she starts crying, because he's so beautiful and his eyes aren't hers, icy and fearful, but Anna's, warm and soft and so very loving.
She distantly hears someone else crying nearby and looks down at the baby, her nephew, then to Kristoff, before seeing Anna standing in the open doorway, clutching her hands to her mouth, teary-eyed with joy before she rushes to Elsa's side, wrapping her and her son into a tight embrace.
"He's beautiful," Elsa says, as Anna cries noisily into her sleeve and the baby tries to grab one of her braids.
"I missed you," Anna says, and Elsa gingerly turns the baby in her arms and holds Anna closer.
"I was afraid," she admits, and it seems so silly now, to be afraid of this warm, soft little baby, who's all love and gentleness and seems so well-behaved (she affectionately wonders how he got that with parents like his).
Kristoff appears at Anna's side, pressing a quick kiss to her temple. "I'll see you back at our room," he says, squeezing her hand and leaving them alone with a soft smile.
The baby is warm in her arms, so very warm, and Anna smiles at her as Elsa holds them both close.
Near the nursery, a spread of wildflowers begins to bloom.