Chapter 3: Kisses
"So, tell me about your sister." Well, he couldn't just let them walk in silence the whole time. Plus, the sooner he could figure her out, the sooner they could part ways and he could go back to uncomplicated thoughts. He glanced down at her to gauge her reaction to the slightly intrusive question.
That locked away emotion in her eyes swam to the front, but she buried it and replaced it with something simpler. A sad smile planted itself on her face, and she absentmindedly placed a gloved hand on Sven's neck, almost seeking comfort in the warmth. She gazed down at the sparkling snow beneath her boots, incomplete memories floating to the surface of her mind.
"Well, she's the queen of Arndell now. She's very beautiful, and I'm very lucky to have her as an older sister." There was some hesitation in her voice now, as she spouted off the answer one would expect from a younger sister. But Kristoff wasn't buying it. There was something deeper to it than the simple answer she gave.
"Oh, come on. Everybody knows that she's the queen. I want to know about her, not of her. What's she like?" He just needed answers, he told himself. Just needed more puzzle pieces. She chewed on her lower lip and looked into the sky as if it could answer for her, before she closed her eyes and her smile grew.
"When we were children, we used to play together all the time. We shared the same room, and we would always play in the snow together. I was never closer to anybody than I was to her, and she always took care of and protected me.." She trailed off, as if there was more to it. Something happened between them. It was almost like she was telling a story, and not recalling pleasant memories. Like it was the only grasp she had on thoughts of a better day. Like they were a fairytale.
"What happened?" He was never the most delicate man, defaulting to simply being blunt in most cases, but for once he took the edge off his voice and softened it, only slightly. She finally looked up at him, turning her sad smile in his direction. She noticed. She wrung her gloved hands in front of her nervously as she continued.
"Well, I'm not sure. I mean, I'm sure it has something to do with her powers, but it's almost like the last memory I have has holes in it; it's a good memory, but doesn't feel right. One day, without a word, she suddenly moved out of my room and into her own and just stopped speaking to me. That was the day they closed the gates. That was the day I felt like I lost my sister, and my only friend. My parents focused on her more and more, and I was scarcely allowed to see her. Nobody was allowed in the palace unless they had permission to be. I would knock and knock on her door every day, but she just ignored me. She didn't even come out when I needed her most after our parents died." She stopped abruptly and straightened up, composing herself. Her mask of nonchalance slipped back on and she forced another smile.
"But it's alright now. I mean, I can guess why she was locked up now, and now when I see her again I can make things right again. I'll get her to stop the winter." She didn't say it, but Kristoff felt an unspoken second wish that she would have her only friend and sister back as well. He was slightly shocked. He wasn't sure what he had expected her to say, but he felt like this was a huge step in figuring her out. Sympathy didn't naturally come from him, in fact he was the first to point out the bad in people and didn't have a very optimistic outlook on humanity. But he almost felt like he understood her. She was lonely.
He would never admit to know what the feeling of being lonely was. He had Sven, and he had his family. He didn't need anybody else to let him down. He was fine with being alone; he was tough. But she very much craved companionship. He wondered if she even knew what she craved, or If she would make excuses. She just wanted to save Arndell. She had a duty to get her: she's family. She was her sister, it's only natural. Excuses rolled through his mind so naturally, he could pick up on them a mile away.
He watched her smile genuinely as gentle snowflakes fell once more. They came and went sporadically, but seemed to fill her with joy either way. She closed those deep eyes, and grinned as the snowflakes kissed her cheeks. Does the snow remind her of Elsa? Or of memories long ago: of a better day? She spread her arms out and spun around a couple of times, her head tilted up towards the sky. She seemed to lose herself, and it brought a smile she'd never see to his face. He crossed his arms and continued to study her.
She acts so nonchalantly, as if nothing affects her. Like nothing can hurt her. Why? It certainly isn't a healthy. People need to feel pain to grow in life. No, he could tell that she knew pain. The pain of being shut out, ignored. Maybe even the feeling of being unloved, he couldn't yet tell. She knew pain, and she certainly felt it. She chooses to hide it. Why?
She seems to regain her composure and looks forward in determination, continuing their journey. His smile dissipated as quickly as it came, partially because she didn't need to see him grow soft. He couldn't let her attach herself to him. He didn't need to fill her with false hopes; he would only leave her in the end. Normally he could care less about people's feeble feelings, but the thought of hurting her seemed cruel even to him. No, she already knew pain. She didn't need anymore.
She turned her fired up gaze upon him once more, meeting his own. Snowflakes clung to her eyelashes, drawing his attention further within. Yes, her eyes burned with resolve, but he still saw something within them and the conclusion that fell upon him was unsettling. He would need to continue to figure it out, and perhaps prove himself wrong.
Deep within her eyes, he saw emptiness, just waiting to be filled by somebody. Emptiness eating up her whole existence. Emptiness she was determined to fill.
"Well, hurry it up! We've got no time to lose!" He was ripped back into reality quickly, realizing he had accidentally halted his steps. Her new expression was one of amusement, before she turned away and began to walk once more. The last thing he caught a glimpse of was the new snowflakes kissing her cheeks, and melting as quickly as they had come.