She sat in the middle of her bed, feet hanging over the edge. She was feeling all too much. It wasn't fair what was being asked of her. How could she ignore a part of herself? How was she even supposed to do it?
The storm was raging inside of her. It was an accident what happened to Anna. They thought she had no control, but she did. And now, she was still being forced to give up a part of herself. It wasn't like she could just cut it out of herself? She didn't know how to do what they were asking.
"Elsa." Her father paced in front of her and then stopped, facing her. "You must stop this."
"I can't!" she whined, her voice higher in pitch as she held out her hands, exasperated.
"You must try," he responded, warning her.
"I am trying!" Elsa pouted, watching her father. "It's not fair that I can't play with Anna!"
"When you are able to conceal this magic, you can play with your sister," her father said. "Until then… We can't have any more accidents."
"There won't be." Elsa clasped her hands together, begging. "Please, can we just play? For a little bit?"
"Not yet," he replied, feeling a pang of pain at denying his older daughter.
"When?" she asked.
"When you've got control, Elsa."
"I do!" Elsa insisted. "It was an accident!"
"Do you mean for this, right now, Elsa? The snow?" He indicated the light flurries that danced around his head. They started as soon as he sat his daughter down for this talk.
Sighing softly, Elsa looked down at her bare feet under her nightgown. She shook her head. "No…"
"Then make it stop," he asked of her.
Taking in a breath and sitting up straighter, Elsa focused her energy, but she could not make the snow stop. Instead, it began snowing harder and wind whipped through the room. Her father shivered.
"Calm down," he told her, "and it will stop."
Staying on the bed, Elsa watched as her father left the room. She began to cry as the snow collected below her feet. There was a gentle knock at the door.
"Elsa?" Anna asked from the other side of the door. "Do you wanna build a snowman?" She waited a second before speaking again. "Elsa?"
"Go away." Elsa gave a wave of her hand and the snow on the floor rolled with a gust of wind, forming a ball. She waved her hand again.
"Elsa, please," Anna whined through the keyhole. "Why won't you come play?" There was a pause as she waited for an answer. "Are you sick?"
"Anna, go! Away!" Elsa shouted.
She continued rolling the snow with waves of her hands from the bed still. A gust of wind placed the rolled mounds on top of each other, forming a makeshift, lumpy, lopsided snowman right in front of the door.
"I just wanna build a snowman…" Anna said.
Elsa sighed and whispered, "So do I…"
Elsa was frustrated and nearly at her wit's end. It was hard work trying to conceal herself and control something she wasn't allowed to play with anymore.
"It's getting stronger and there's nothing I can do," she confided to her father. "Why can't I just show her and we go back to before? We'll be careful!"
"You can't promise me that," her father responded, trying to be gentle, but he was growing tired himself. He didn't understand why Elsa was having such trouble.
"I can promise that!" Elsa replied.
"Your powers keep getting stronger and I see you are losing more and more control over them," he told her, speaking the truth.
"I'm not losing control." Elsa knew he was right, but maybe if she had a little more freedom, she could get a better grasp on them.
"Elsa, everything you touch gets frosted in an instant," her father pointed out. "It's only your gloves that protects what's around you."
Sighing heavily, Elsa folded her arms over her chest. "Fine. Go away."
He watched as her expression soured. "Elsa…"
"Don't!" She was done speaking about this. She was tired. She gave a wave of her hand and snow rushed out from it, coating her father. "Oh no…" Snow began drifting down from the ceiling.
Her father's expression saddened. "Please, stop this…"
"I can't!" Elsa replied, exasperated. Didn't he understand she wouldn't be doing this if she could control it? She didn't want to be doing it. The snow came down faster.
"Elsa!" Her father grabbed her at the shoulders, holding her tightly and shaking her a little. "You've got to get control of yourself, don't you understand? Conceal, don't feel. Don't feel!"
"I'm trying!" The windows frosted and the floor was instantly glazed in ice.
Slipping slightly, her father released her. "You're not trying hard enough." He regained his balance.
"I don't know what else I can do!" Elsa responded, now growing angry. "I try not to think about it. I try not to feel, like you tell me. I have to stay locked away, and Anna gets to do whatever she pleases. I didn't ask for this."
"Elsa…" Her father stood straighter on the ice, completely balanced now that he had his footing. "I know you have the power within you to get control of this thing. It doesn't have to be a curse."
"But it is…" she replied.
"Try to calm down," he asked of her. "I'll come back later."
Elsa glared as her father slid across the ice to the door before leaving her bedroom. She closed her eyes, wishing her magic could be gone forever.
It wasn't often Elsa allowed herself to leave her bedroom. For the first two years after the accident, her parents constantly forbid it, except at meal times. Now, they allowed her to leave as long as she could absolutely promise there would be no cold accompanying her.
She mostly allowed herself to simply walk the halls outside of her bedroom to have a bit of a change in her daily routine. It wasn't long she let herself roam. She was always fearful she would run into Anna. That couldn't happen. Her parents wouldn't like it.
Freezing in place, Elsa stiffened before turning to face her sister. Anna was at the opposite end of the hallway, her hair in long braids, and a wide grin on her face. Elsa wrung her gloved hands together for a moment.
"Hi," she said.
"Hi!" Anna ran down the hall toward her older sister. "Do you wanna play? We can ride our bikes in the hall. We can race! Or jump on the couches. I pretend the floor is lava and you can't fall in. Or we can go outside. It snowed last night. We can build a snowman! Do you wanna?"
Elsa bit her lip a moment. She shouldn't do any of those things. But the thought of building a snowman with her sister… It had been one of her favorite things to do. And if they were outside, and her magic happened to come out a little, how would Anna know amongst the winter day?
"Sure," Elsa answered with a smile. "We can go outside."
Anna grabbed Elsa's gloved hand, and Elsa felt a sting of panic for a brief moment, but then a laugh escaped her lips as Anna let go and slid down the stair railing. Hesitating only briefly, Elsa then climbed onto the rail and slid down as well, feeling joyful for once. She was lonely all the time, but she really felt she had a grasp on her magic now. It took several years, but as long as her gloves were on, she had a good chance of keeping everything inside.
"Where are you girls going?"
Anna and Elsa came to a halt as their father, smiling, stepped into the room. He moved closer to them, and he studied Elsa for a moment.
"Outside!" Anna answered their father. "We're gonna build a snowman! And go sledding."
"You'd have to go outside the castle walls for sledding," he told them, the smile fading.
Anna frowned at his tone. "Well… can't we?"
Their father shifted his gaze from his youngest to his oldest. "Elsa…"
Anna looked between her father and her sister, confused. Why couldn't they go outside? She never got to play with Elsa, and now that Elsa finally agreed, they weren't allowed to go? Elsa's shoulders slumped.
"We better not go…" Elsa knew she shouldn't have agreed to play with Anna. What if something happened and she had to use her magic? Or what if her magic just happened while they played and it was something more than just a little snowfall? Just because she thought she had a grasp on her magic, it didn't mean she did. And if Anna found out about it, she could get hurt.
"But…" Anna shook her head, trying to think of a counter argument. "But…"
"Sorry." Elsa turned and headed back up the staircase.
Anna watched her for a moment before heading after her. "Elsa, hey! We don't have to go out! We don't have to build a snowman. We can stay inside. There's so much we can do inside."
"I can't," Elsa said as she hurried down the hallway.
"But why not?" Anna asked and ran down the hall after her.
"I just can't!" Elsa slammed her door and locked it. Immediately, frost rippled over the wood. Elsa stepped back away from the door. She didn't have control. "Conceal it. Don't feel it. Don't feel…" She shuddered and the frost turned to ice on the door. It spread even more.
Anna tried the doorknob, but it was cold to the touch, and wouldn't budge. She knocked. "Elsa, what did I do?"
"Nothing!" Elsa yelled, unable to calm herself. She thought she was getting better.
"Then why do you refuse to be around me!" Anna shouted back.
Elsa wanted to tell her everything. She wanted to tell her exactly why. That she had magic that had hurt Anna, that they had to be isolated because of her magic. That they couldn't be together in order to protect Anna. But she couldn't tell her that. And as the thoughts swirled in her head, a snow cloud swirled above until there was thick snow on the floor.
Using gusts of cold air, Elsa formed the snow, doing something familiar, something she shouldn't. She needed to suppress the magic, not use it. But whenever she felt like she might burst from keeping all of this buried inside her, she needed the release. And this calmed her.
"Elsa!" Anna banged on the door. "Answer me, please!"
Ignoring Anna, Elsa stared back at the snowman she formed in front herself. She moved closer to her creation and sat down beside it, staring at the door now. It was still coated in a thick ice.
"Elsa?" Anna knocked pathetically twice. "Okay…" She got the hint. "Bye."
Listening hard, Elsa could hear Anna move away. She drew in a breath and watched the door as it blurred when hot tears clouded her vision. The snow came down upon her faster.
"Do you wanna build a snowman… Anna…?" Elsa said very softly. She sighed and then a sob escaped. "So do I…"
Elsa had been pacing in her room for hours. The storm brewed inside her until it came oozing out. Everything in the room was coated in ice first. Then the snow started and it wouldn't stop. She was angry, she was upset. Her parents blamed her for the isolation, when they were the ones who encouraged the isolation in the first place. They believed it was the solution, but was it? Could there have been another way?
But now… Elsa could never go out. Her power was too strong and she could hurt someone. The townspeople would be frightened. She was a danger. She could potentially kill someone. Trying for years to suppress her power didn't work. She wished she could practice. She wished she could use it, to get control of it. But her father wanted her to ignore it, to get rid of it, to force herself to not use it.
She was rebelling. He could be wrong, couldn't he? Maybe she was supposed to use it. But if she used it, accidents would happen. However, she was already isolated, so what did it matter? The cold didn't hurt her, so what did it matter if she used it only around herself?
There was a strong knock at the door. Elsa stopped pacing and realized she had burrowed herself into a foot deep track in the snow. She looked toward the door as her father struggled to push it open.
"What is this?" he demanded to know as he stepped into the snow covering her bedroom floor.
"Are you angry?" she said, watching the expression on his face.
"What are you doing, Elsa?" he asked, snow landing in his hair. He shut the door.
"What else can I do?" Elsa replied, a faint smile crossing her lips.
"Conceal, don't feel," he spoke harshly.
"And what good is it doing?" She raised her voice.
He closed the distance between them. "You lost sight of your goal."
"What does it matter?" She started to pace again.
"Elsa." He grabbed hold of her, stopping her. "Listen to me. When you control this, our lives will change. Don't you remember the people? The music that filled the hall? When there's not a sight of frost in this home, we will gain our freedom. Don't you understand?"
"Of course I do, but if I can't control it, then why do I have to hide it?" she asked him.
"But you can control it!" he yelled. "You are choosing not to!"
Elsa shook her head. "I'm not—"
"Make this go away," he commanded, then released her and moved toward the door. "Get back on track. Be a good girl and try harder."
He was out the door before she could make a case for herself. Elsa sighed heavily and thrust herself down into a snow pile. Elsa thought she was lucky she didn't have some sort of magic fire power because she probably would have exploded the castle in flames a time or two in anger. But when she was angry, like now, it only caused the frost to freeze harder, the room to grow colder.
There was a knock on the door. She thought her mother would be coming to comfort her. That often occurred after spats with her father. But it was a different knock.
"Elsa?" It was Anna. "I heard shouting. Are you okay?"
She debated her answer. What could she tell Anna? She'd never understand. Anna had the easy life. She had freedom. Well, not complete freedom, but she was a lot freer than Elsa, that was for sure. She also didn't have a crippling curse.
"I learned a new dance," Anna spoke from the other side of the door. "It's really fun. I can show you the moves. If you let me in…"
"No." Elsa said in a bored sort of tone.
Anna chewed her lip, thinking. "Nettie showed me an intricate braid for hair. Want me to teach it to you?"
"No." The word came out a little harder this time.
"You should come out of your room," Anna told her. "Stretch your legs. We can stroll the halls."
Sighing, Elsa shook her head slightly. "No."
Frustrated, Anna spoke a little harsher herself. "Elsa, let me cheer you up."
"No," Elsa responded yet again.
Anna dropped her forehead to the door, thinking. Why would Elsa never come out of her bedroom? What had happened to her? "Do you wanna build a snowman?"
"Anna…" Elsa warned, though the faintest of smiles twitched at her lips.
"So that's a no…?" Anna asked, lifting her head. Elsa wanted to respond, but couldn't. Anna knew she wasn't going to get another response. "Okay," she sighed. "Bye…"
Elsa moved to the door quickly, trudging through the snow. She grabbed the doorknob and turned it, but she didn't open the door. She paused and let out a shaky breath before releasing the doorknob. Carefully, she stepped away from the door and let herself sink down into the snowbank behind her.
There was no trace of cold in her bedroom. Shutting herself down, turning her thoughts off, she was able to not let it get out. If she remained stoic, and focused, she could keep it all in. Her father was proud. She was accomplishing her goal.
"We haven't had an incident in weeks, Elsa," her father told her.
"I know." Of course she knew. She counted the days. If she could just last a little longer, if she could keep herself in check, maybe she could go outside the castle for a day. She could go with Anna and they could do something fun for once. "I think it's getting better."
"If you keep this up, good things will come." he said.
"I know, Father." Elsa smiled and got into bed, settling down under the covers.
"Goodnight, Elsa." He kissed the top of her head.
He smiled down at her then left the room, closing the door behind himself. Elsa blew out the candle on the nightstand and drifted off to sleep. She dreamt that night of her childhood. She dreamt of snowbanks, and ice ponds, and of goofy snowmen with happy smiles. When she awoke the next morning, her room was coated in a thin blanket of snow.
"Mom, please don't go," Elsa begged in a hushed tone. Their bags were packed and they were on their way out the door. This was Elsa's last attempt at getting them to stay home. "You can't go. Who's going to watch over Anna? You know I can't do it."
"Anna is a very capable young lady," her mother responded with a gentle smile.
"I know," Elsa said, "but if you get held up somewhere and…"
"And everything will be just fine, Elsa." Her mother cupped Elsa's cheek lovingly. "You worry too much."
Glancing around to make sure she wouldn't be overheard, Elsa spoke low. "I think it's getting much better…"
"I believe so too, dear," her mother agreed.
"With a little more time on my own… I really think I can master it," Elsa said. "Then I don't have to be alone all the time. You can trust me."
"I do, Elsa," she told her, smiling softly.
"And I won't hurt anyone," Elsa promised.
Her mother gave a gentle stroke to Elsa's cheek with her thumb. "I know that you've never meant to."
Her father stepped out into the hall. "We must be going."
"I wish you wouldn't," Elsa told him.
He gave a warm smile. "We'll see you on our return."
Swallowing hard, Elsa nodded. "Bye."
She hugged both parents, feeling each of them shiver with her touch. She was letting out the cold, even though she was trying so hard not to let it out. Pretending she didn't notice their reactions, Elsa forced a smile and gave a slight wave as she watched them head toward the door.
"Wait!" Anna called as she ran for the stairs. She slid down the railing and went for her father first, throwing herself into his arms. "Last hugs!" She laughed and hugged her mother as well. "Safe travels!"
"Goodbye, dear," their mother said.
Both girls watched as their parents departed with a collection of staff. The doors shut and now they were alone. Elsa felt a fleeting panic. She wasn't allowed to be alone with Anna. She picked at the fabric of her gloves.
"Elsa?" Anna spoke soft, not wanting to spook her sister. "Do you want to go get some fresh air with me?"
Elsa was shaking her head before Anna even finished her question. "I can't."
She turned quickly and headed back up the stairs. Despite wearing the gloves, the handrail developed a light frost where her hand was placed. Once Elsa realized it, she moved up the stairs even faster, not hearing Anna as she called after her.
Elsa stepped carefully into the portrait room. Anna was already standing there, along with their guardian, the nurse, and two high officials from town. Joseph, their father's closest confidant, stepped forward as Elsa stood beside Anna. She swallowed hard. Something was wrong.
"Girls…" Joseph cleared his throat. "I have some… troubling news… Your parents…"
"What happened?" Anna asked when he didn't finish his words.
Joseph cleared his throat again. "There was a… terrible storm…"
Anna gasped, her eyes growing wide. "Are they okay…?"
"Are they…?" Anna couldn't finish her sentence. She couldn't say her worst fear aloud.
He nodded and Anna gasped again. She looked at their guardian, and the nurse, and by their expressions, she knew it really was true. Her parents were gone.
"No." Elsa spoke finally, her voice firm. She couldn't believe this. Her parents had to come home to her. They couldn't just leave her like this.
"I am so sorry," Joseph told them.
Tears were sliding down Anna's cheeks as she turned toward her sister, needing comfort. "Elsa…"
Lifting her hands, Elsa backed away from Anna. She could feel it happening, she could feel it in herself, in her bones, the coolness of the magic. She knew it was about to come rushing out of her. She ran.
She ran out of the room, up the stairs, down the hall, and thrust her bedroom door closed behind herself. She locked the door and sunk to the floor as the snow began to fall, landing like light kisses on her eyelashes and cheeks.
The funeral was several days later and Elsa did not attend. How could she? She'd blanket the entire ceremony in snow. She couldn't control her magic, especially when emotions were involved. Why couldn't she master it? Why couldn't she force herself not to feel? She thought she was getting better, but she wasn't. All of her hard work was ruined. Her parents left her. She was supposed to be able to cope with this before they left her completely. She had failed. She always failed.
"Don't feel it," she hissed at herself. She shivered, despite not being cold. The snow was endlessly falling around her. She would never be without it. It was her curse. "Don't feel." She waved her hand, letting the gusts of wind push the snow around. She'd focus sharply, shaping the snow, driven, and then she'd stop, condemning herself for using her magic.
There was a knock on the door that stopped her actions for the moment, that drew her out of her reverie.
"Elsa?" Anna's voice was soft, sad, on the other side of the door. "Please, I know you're in there. People are asking where you've been."
Elsa didn't care. She didn't care about anyone except Anna. But Anna had so many people there for her. Anna didn't need her, so Elsa didn't need to leave her bedroom. Besides, she'd chill any room she entered.
"They say have courage and I'm trying to…" Anna was still trying to reach her. "I'm right out here for you. Just let me in." Elsa shifted closer to the door, but she wouldn't be opening it. Anna fought against her tears. "We only have each other. It's just you and me. What are we gonna do?"
Elsa's eyes scanned the room as she let her head lean back against the door. She stared at the snow forms she had created of her parents, standing beside two snow children. Herself, and Anna, and between them was their favorite childhood snowman.
There was a blanket of snow on the forms that stared back at her. How many hours had she been sitting in here, with them? Elsa turned her gaze away from her snow family, wishing she had the courage to open the door to Anna.
"Do you wanna build a snowman?" Anna asked, her tears falling, as she pressed against the door.
Elsa dissolved into silent tears, pressing herself against her side of the door. "I do…"