For someone who always considered herself so logical and grounded, Elsa couldn't believe it had taken her this long to come to her senses. "This is a terrible idea."
Anna pushed her back down on the chair with practiced ease. "No escaping! The hair stylist is at work. Now sit still, I need to concentrate here."
"Anna, I'm not ready for this."
"Of course you are, silly. Sitting is your thing. You do it every day. See? You got it!"
"I meant—" Elsa winced as a blast of music erupted outside. "—the festival. Our parents closed the gates for a good reason."
"And don't we have a good reason to be opening them now? Okay! We're done!" Anna swept the braid over Elsa's shoulder and came around to the front, studying her handiwork. When she saw the snow in Elsa's lap and the furrow in her brow, Anna put her hands on her hips. "Elsa. You look like a grumpy cat about to be thrown in cold water."
"Water would be much preferred," Elsa muttered. She sighed and stopped twisting her fingers. "Why don't you go to the festival—"
Anna crossed her arms. "I'm not leaving without you, Elsa."
"—with… Olaf," Elsa finished lamely. Anna's narrowed eyes widened incredulously, and then she was guffawing all over. Elsa grimaced. "All right—that's an equally terrible idea. I'm just not sure that… Anna."
Her sister clutched her side and waved a hand, eyes swimming with laughter. "Sorry, sorry," she gasped. "I'll be serious… oh, my goodness. With Olaf." And she was off again. Elsa sighed in exasperation, even as a smile crept up on her lips. She touched the ends of her hair. When did Anna become so skilled at braiding?
Finally, Anna was calm enough to kneel down in front of her, wiping her eyes as she said, "Okay, seriously now. How are we feeling?"
Elsa almost responded with Fine. It was reflex, after all these years. But that was precisely what her sister had spent the past few weeks weeding out: reflexes. Elsa considered them coping mechanisms; Anna called them bad habits. Eventually, Elsa settled on, "Neurotic."
Anna grinned and scooped up a handful of snow from Elsa's lap. "You're so transparent. Don't worry, you worrywart. It's just one day—a super fun day to boot. Just wait and see. You'll be fine."
That was what Father had said, before he and Mother boarded the ship. Elsa felt another chill at her fingertips—but Anna was right there, beaming up at her, and it reminded her of the day Anna had cried in the office. The day Elsa realised she had to fill in the space their parents had left behind, and did so desperately with a dozen promises she'd never been able to say over the years.
Like going to the winter festival.
Elsa looked at her sister. "Are you sure you're warm enough?"
Anna glanced down her front. She looked twice her size beneath the sweaters and coats Gerda had squeezed her into. "Uh, I think so? Are you? You don't even have a scarf."
"The cold doesn't bother me."
"I thought so! I've never seen you—hey! Are you trying to change the topic?"
Elsa smiled meekly. "Aren't you calling me out to disguise that you're nervous, too?"
Anna opened her mouth—then stopped. She rubbed the back of her head sheepishly and just grinned. Elsa reached up to fix the knitted cap on Anna's head. Then she twirled her hand, carefully, and the snow gathered from her dress up to the palm of her hand. When it was gone, Elsa let out a breath she wasn't aware she'd been holding.
"You," Anna said, "are amazing. Have I told you that before?"
Elsa smiled back and stood. "Several times daily, yes. Where's Olaf?"
"Picking flowers for us. He loves birthdays. I told him to look for yellow ones, because Mama liked yellow, didn't she? Do yellow flowers grow in winter?"
Elsa led the way to the door. It stood tall and strong; her last guardian. Anna didn't even knock anymore, and Elsa found that she didn't mind that as much as she'd thought. "Let's find out," she replied, reaching for the handle.
Anna mused, "I wonder what's changed about the festival."
"You would know if you had gone last year. It was your present."
Anna threaded her arm through Elsa's. "But if I had," she said, "maybe we wouldn't be here today. And I'm really happy right now."
Maybe. Elsa let the simple thought flow through her, down her arm and into the handle of the white door she had been so afraid to open. Maybe. Yet today was the first day of the winter festival, their birthday, and they were here, together on the same side of the door.
Elsa turned the handle. In the hallway, Kai and Gerda bowed, smiled, and waited. Music from town filled the high ceiling. Anna had started bouncing. Elsa breathed through her nose.
She was happy, too.
"Tell the guards to open up the gates."
The Sky Is Awake
IXX. So We Have To Play
She didn't want to be the one saying no to her sister, especially since she was witnessing something so… rare. But it was getting somewhat painful to watch.
"It's okay, Anna. Let's try an easier question…"
"No!" Anna chewed the end of her pen. "I will get this, just watch me. I'll show these numbers and triangles that Anna is not to be messed with, not at all… hah! I got it!" She bent over and scribbled furiously on the workbook, tongue sticking out in concentration.
She pushed the book over to Elsa, grinning. Her pen tapped eagerly like a puppy's tail.
Elsa looked warily down at her sister's answer—boxed, underlined and peppered with exclamation marks—and tried to hide a grimace.
Anna's pen fell flat as she threw herself over the desk with a groan. "I hate geometry!"
Smiling slightly, Elsa picked up the pen and started correcting Anna's work. After a while, she said, "I do, too."
"You're a terrible liar, sis," Anna grumbled into the table.
Only to you, Elsa thought. Anna doodled dejectedly on the table with a finger. She looked defeated now, but in a few more minutes she would spring back to life, spitting determination. Elsa had learned her sister simply did not give up on anything, and realised she was grateful. Because Anna could have stopped knocking on the door at any time, but she hadn't.
Elsa looked at her hand, contemplating. Then she put the pen down and, before she could change her mind, unfurled her fingers.
Anna shot up straight when a snowflake landed on the back of her neck. "Elsa?" she asked, alarmed, because Elsa had warned her so many times, if she ever lost control…
But she hadn't. Not this time. Elsa's brow knitted together.
A frosty dust blew over the table. The pages of Anna's workbook rustled and flipped. The pen rolled to the edge.
Elsa snapped her hand shut.
When the mist cleared, Anna let out a surprised laugh. There, on the surface of the wood, rising in icy ridges, was an exact replica of the diagram in the workbook.
Elsa felt like she had just held the moon in her hands.
Breathless and flushed, she turned to Anna—her little sister was looking at her like she was the most incredible person in the world, like Elsa didn't just have magic; she was magic.
And for the first time in forever, even for just a few moments, Elsa truly felt like it.
She had only meant to lay her head down for a few minutes, rest her eyes; let all the words and worldly issues settle somewhere other than the pulsing ache in her temple. Then she was dreaming of her parents, and it wasn't a terrible dream, for once. So she fell into it.
When Elsa blinked awake, the office was pitch black, and the ache had moved from her temple to her neck. The report sat unfinished, mid-sentence, beneath her.
Elsa shot her feet. How could she have slept the entire afternoon away? She had a meeting with the council, the winter crop situation to decide—why didn't anyone wake her—
She flung open the door.
Anna fell in with a yelp.
Olaf jumped up, scattering playing cards across the floor. "She's up! Good morning, sunshine! Did you have a nice nap? I bet you did."
"What… What are you two doing out here?"
Anna pushed herself up from a slope of snow, only to slip back down. "Well," she began. "It's a bit of a long story so let's tell it over dinner. I'm hungry; are you hungry? Ooft!"
Elsa caught Anna under the arms as her sister fell over the snow again. Then her mind jolted awake, spinning and churning. She looked down at Anna. "Did you…"
"No," her sister said immediately.
"For the entire afternoon…
"Not the entire afternoon. Gosh, that's just silly."
"You and Olaf…"
"No one saw me!" Olaf piped up. He picked up a corner of Anna's cloak and pulled it over his head. "See?"
Elsa's shoulders slumped. The snow dissolved, and Anna fell back against her knees. "You really shouldn't have," Elsa said softly.
Anna tilted her head back and grinned. "Did you sleep well, though?"
Elsa looked between her sister and Olaf. Finally, she sighed, and smiled. "Yes. Yes, I did."
"Tada!" Anna cried.
Elsa freed her hand from Anna's and pressed it to her side as she tried to catch her breath. "You dragged me… across the castle," she clarified wheezily, "to show me your horse?"
"Chestnut isn't just any horse," Olaf corrected. "He's Chestnut. And he loves my nose. Who's a good little horsey? Oh! Look at him trying to eat my nose! Adorable."
Anna pulled Olaf away from snapping teeth. "Hey! Bad Chestnut. We talked about this; there are carrots and there's Olaf's nose. Don't be greedy." She rubbed the horse's snout and looked sheepishly over her shoulder at Elsa. "Don't worry, Chestnut is completely harmless. Although he is a bit of a scaredy-cat—he jumps at everything. Even ducklings. Can you believe that? Ducklings!"
Elsa wondered if Chestnut remembered that he had once been called Gulbrand, and the very first thing he had ever been afraid of was the chill on Elsa's hand. That felt so long ago; the Christmas she had given their parents' present to Anna.
Still, that did not explain why they were standing in the stables. "Anna, I have a lot of things to do."
"Uh huh. And this is next on your agenda, am I right?"
"It's a list of things you have to do," Olaf said helpfully.
Anna nodded. "Yup! If you check it, you'll see play with Anna scheduled for—yep, right about now. In bold."
Elsa did briefly consult her mental schedule. It was full. With so many mounting preparations for the coronation, Anna didn't fit into any part of her day, apart from mealtimes and the odd visit—
Elsa stopped and closed her eyes. Because she hadn't understood at all.
"Anna, you don't have to schedule yourself into my agenda. Ever."
Anna beamed back.
Elsa opened her eyes with a softened gaze. "So… Why are we really here?"
"Oh!" Anna clapped her hands and spread them. "Okay, okay, I've got it all planned out! It's the first day of spring and it's still a little bit cold but the grass is nice and soft—Chestnut's best playground. We can start off slow, maybe just do one round—or ten, if you're feeling confident—"
"Wait, wait," Elsa said, eyes widening. "What are you talking about?"
Anna blinked. "Teaching you how to ride Chestnut."
"Anna, no—I can't… I can't ride a horse."
"I know you can't," Anna said cheerfully. "That's why I'm teaching you."
Elsa opened and closed her mouth without a sound. Finally, she managed to ask, "Why?"
"Because I kind of, maybe, possibly crashed our bike into a suit of armour and never managed to fix it?"
Elsa arched an eyebrow.
"Yes?" Elsa prompted.
"Just tell her," Olaf stage-whispered to Anna. "Do you want me to tell her for you?"
"No!" Anna hissed back. Then she glanced back at Elsa, and pressed her face into Chestnut's long neck, as if embarrassed.
"Anna," Elsa said, surprised, because who was transparent now? "I won't laugh."
"That's not it," Anna mumbled.
"Then what is?"
Anna turned away from Chestnut, just enough to meet Elsa's gaze. Elsa smiled. Anna sighed and blurted, "You said you didn't like your first time on a horse and I thought that was really sad because horses are amazing and so are you. I just really, really want to teach you how to have fun again."
Elsa's smile faded.
I know where we have to go, Papa said, and he picked her up and ran to the stables, and Mama was right behind with Anna, but Anna—Anna wasn't moving—
"Y-You don't have to if you don't want to! I just thought…"
"Of everything," Elsa said quietly.
"… I did?"
Carefully, slowly, she reached out to touch Chestnut's neck. He flinched, jerking away from Anna's hand to stare at Elsa's, and Elsa winced, too. She pulled away—but Anna grabbed her wrist. "He's just shy," her sister said. "Let's introduce you guys again."
Anna guided her hand over Chestnut's snout. He eyed it with a caged look. Elsa worried about the cold creeping up to her skin.
Then the cold was gone, blown away by a warm, nickering breath on her palm.
"See?" Anna grinned. "He likes you."
"Do you believe in heaven?"
Elsa looked up from her tea, because that was an awfully random question, even for Olaf. "Are you asking for Anna again?"
"You're simply curious?"
Elsa thought about it. "Heaven is a nice idea. It gives hope."
Olaf hummed in agreement. "Do you think people in heaven still watch over us?"
"I wouldn't know, I'm afraid."
"Maybe they have special windows in the clouds where they can look down and find the people they care about."
At this, Elsa paused. Clouds. "I thought you weren't asking this for Anna," she said quietly.
"I'm not!" Olaf answered. He held up an important finger. "Anna asked me. So I made it into a tag game and asked you."
Elsa didn't say anything. Because she was just one year away from her coronation and Anna wasn't a child anymore… but once, a long time ago, Anna had knocked on her door with the kind of question Elsa hadn't known how to answer. But she'd had to say something, because if she didn't her little sister wouldn't understand that some senior staff members left for places they wouldn't return from, and that would hurt her.
So even though she knew she shouldn't, that eventually Papa and Mama would explain in their adult ways, Elsa had opened her door the slightest crack—
—and she told Anna about heaven above the clouds.
"Olaf? Do you stay with Anna when she sleeps?"
"Most of the time. Some nights I have a date with Chestnut or Joan. Why?"
"If she… If Anna ever has a bad dream, come to me. Please."
"Even if she doesn't, um, want me to?"
"Okay! Then what?"
Elsa didn't know if heaven existed, or if their parents were watching them. She couldn't control these things—she could not control many, many things. But if she could choose just one thing…
"I'll come to her."
The summer heat brought storms with it, and in the middle of reading and signing documents, Elsa found herself penning music on spare sheets.
She didn't play the piano during the storms, because Anna came to her now. No matter where Elsa was, or what she was doing; when the rain and thunder started, Anna would be there in minutes, hugging a cushion, wide-eyed and smiling meekly. She liked to sit on the floor by Elsa's feet, where she would either attempt to stack a house of cards, or doze off altogether.
Every time the sky growled, Anna would jerk and whisper, "Elsa?"
Elsa swallowed, because she was thinking of colossal tides and bad news, too. "What's wrong?"
Anna just shook her head and leaned into Elsa's side. "Just checking. Sorry."
Elsa closed her eyes and felt her sister's weight and warmth, and realised she was checking, too.
"Pretty please with marshmallows and chocolate syrup in your tea?"
"That would taste terrible."
"Pleeaasee? Take pity on your favourite sister?"
Amused, Elsa picked up her pen. "I suppose I might be able to request a more… experienced representative from Weselton. On account of discussing business."
Anna punched the air. "Yes! I love you, Elsa!"
"Wow," Olaf marvelled. "You really don't like Fredrik, do you?"
Anna shuddered. "Don't say his name. It makes my toes hurt." She leaned over Elsa's shoulder, studying the final guest list. "Are there any princes with last name Charming coming? Oh! Please tell me the Southern Isles representative is not He-Who-Shall-Also-Not-Be-Named…"
"Prince Gregory?" Elsa said innocently, just to hear Anna groan. "No, it appears he will be abroad with his fleet at that time. The Southern Isles is sending another prince."
"Oh, thank goodness." Anna slumped over the back of the chair, resting her chin on top of Elsa's head.
Sometimes, Elsa caught sight of her own reflection and stopped, wondering when exactly these things started happening. When did she start leaving her door open and let Anna meet her halfway?
"Say," Anna remarked. "I still think it's weird that coronation day isn't on your birthday. I mean, isn't that the whole point?"
"The climate will be more hospitable for visitors in summer."
"Oh, summer is the best season for everything," Olaf sighed happily. "Bees'll buzz…"
Elsa rolled up the finalised guest list and set it aside. She straightened a pile of books, searching for something to do; because there was always something, and she wasn't even queen yet. Elsa glanced up at her father's portrait, and started twirling the pen between her fingers.
Suddenly, Anna exclaimed, "You're still left-handed!"
Elsa jumped. Her head knocked into Anna's chin and Anna disappeared from the back of her chair. "Ah—sorry, you surprised me—are you okay? Anna?"
Anna popped back up, unfazed. She pointed excitedly at Elsa's pen. "I thought you wrote with your right hand!"
Elsa blinked. "I-I do."
Anna shook her head. "When we were little, you did everything with your left hand. I remember—I tried to copy you."
At that moment, Elsa realised it was a mistake to think that she knew everything Anna had forgotten. They just remembered different things. And somewhere along the way, desperately holding on to the memories of that snowy night, of what she must not forget, Elsa had lost some others, too. Anna hadn't, though.
Slowly, she moved the pen to her other hand; she didn't spin it, because she knew it would clatter to the table. She'd tried. "Father brought in a tutor to help me adjust to my right hand. I just—slip… sometimes." It was embarrassing, now that she thought about it. Had she ever slipped up during a meeting with the council?
"Ambidextrous is so not slipping," Anna scoffed. Then she let out a happy sigh and rubbed Elsa's head, where they had collided. "I'm so glad," she said.
"If you're still left-handed, I can be your right hand."
This year, Elsa had only promised to attend the winter festival for one day. It was all she could afford and if she had any sense at all, she would keep to it.
Yet for some reason, on the morning of the second day, she'd dressed herself in outdoor winter attire to see Anna off. When Anna saw her, she grinned and said, "I told you so."
"Told me what?" The music was even merrier than it had ever been. As if the band knew to position themselves along the bridge, waiting and expecting. It was the last festival Elsa could spend as a princess.
Anna gave a deep laugh. "You, dear sister, are craving the thrill of the festival. One day is so not enough for you." She circled Elsa, rubbing her hands together with a mysterious gleam in her eye. "You've had but a taste of adventure… and now you want more!"
Elsa tried not to smile as Anna stroked an imaginary beard. "Stop it. I do not." She still had a coronation gown to try on and the painter's appointment to schedule, then another half-dozen matters that required the royal seal; but of course, she'd had to read them first, twice over, and she could only do that if Anna and Olaf gave her undisrupted peace for a while. Which they hadn't managed to do so far. "I'm sure you'll enjoy the day without me."
"Oh, I'm sure I will," Anna replied. Elsa arched an eyebrow.
The guards hurried to their stations as the gates prepared to open once more.
Anna whispered in Elsa's ear, "I'm going to have so much fun, because, you know, there'll be music and light and people."
A horn blasted overhead.
"Ice-sculpting contests," her sister hissed.
With a shuddering thud, the gates began to move. On the other side, the drums beat louder. This was where Elsa wished Anna a good day, reminded her to be careful, and returned to her office. Undisrupted peace.
"Chocolate strawberries. And I'm not bringing any back for you!"
It was no wonder Anna hadn't protested earlier, when Elsa had expected. Her sister was dangerously patient at times.
"… You wouldn't."
Grinning, Anna held out her hand.
"Come on, Elsa. Let's go and play!"
Elsa sighed. Then she smiled. Anna grabbed her hand and dragged her through the opening gates—and it was just a fleeting moment, so quick and quiet she wasn't sure it had actually happened. But she felt it; a gentle hand patting her head.
What do you need to remember today, Elsa? her mother's smiling voice asked.
Elsa blinked against the winter breeze. "Hold onto Anna," she whispered.
"What did you say?" Anna called over her shoulder.
Elsa looked up at the sky. It was lined with heavy clouds, but still bright and awake, and her smile widened. "I said, happy birthday, Anna."
She always heard Anna coming. Those skipping footfalls, that happy humming and the occasional yelps of surprise; Elsa always listened for them.
At this point, though, Elsa was sure she could hear everything.
The blanket felt scratchy on her skin; stiff, familiar—ice. Usually, she would thrust her hands into the gloves on her bedside table, get out of bed, and press herself against the window, as far as possible from the door and everyone else. The gloves were still there, tucked into the second drawer, but Elsa hadn't needed—wanted—them in a long time.
She was still listening for Anna.
Slowly, Elsa opened her eyes. Her gaze fell on the slit of light beneath her door; a sight she often fell asleep to. Ice crackled on the underside of her blanket. Elsa let out a controlled breath.
She sat up, glancing with pursed lips at the sharp snapping sounds her blanket made. The moon's light—or was it the awakening sun's?—fell upon her feet. It didn't reach the painting on the wall, but Elsa saw it clearly in her mind; not just the portrait, but her father himself, dangling from a ladder, awkwardly hammering the frame into the wall. He leaned back, looked over his shoulder, and smiled, One day, you will have to face our people, and Anna.
Snow broke from thin air. Elsa pushed a hand through her hair, reaching with the other for the drawer and gloves.
It's not a curse! her sister said. It's just magic.
Elsa blinked in the dark. Curse, powers or magic—it didn't matter, did it? It was still hers. And because it was hers, Elsa had always known when the chill beneath her skin was the calmest… It wasn't when they were covered by her father's gloves.
She crossed the room and opened the door. On her way down the hall, Elsa looked out the windows, catching glimpses of the town and fjord. At this hour, some of the dignitaries' ships may already be arriving at the pier, or even anchored, waiting for morning. The ceremony. Elsa walked faster.
When she reached Anna's door, she found it standing ajar. Elsa looked at it for a while. She raised her hand to knock—
—and missed the door entirely.
"Oh my God. You actually came—wait till Olaf hears! I mean, I knew you'd come. I sat and waited and you don't know how hard waiting is. I was going to go to your room but then I thought—what if she's actually sleeping and she's got eye bags on her first day as queen because of me? What if… oh, never mind—you're here!"
Anna beamed breathlessly at her. Elsa stared, lost, at her sister's messed hair and bright eyes. "I… I'm sorry?"
Anna's grin turned impish, then self-conscious, as she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "You couldn't fall asleep, right?"
It hit Elsa that she might not be the only one who stayed up listening for footsteps.
"You're right," she said. "Can I… come in?"
"I love how you make it sound like an actual question. Come on!" Anna grabbed Elsa's hand and pulled her into the room. "So I kind of made a blanket fort while I was waiting. What do you think?"
Elsa watched as Anna burrowed under the covers, popping up even more rustled. "It's a lot like the ones we made as kids," she answered.
"Uh huh!" Anna raised a corner of a blanket. "Coming in?"
"Actually, I think I'm—"
She met her sister's playful pout. Elsa shook her head, hid a smile, and took the corner.
It was just like the ones they used to make together, only they would be hard-pressed to find space for story books now. They weren't children anymore. Anna laughed as they jostled together, pulling blankets over each other's heads. "Shh," Elsa smiled, out of practice, even though there was no one that they could wake who would scold and sigh at them.
"Okay," Anna huffed when they were settled as best they could. She handed Elsa a pillow. "Talk—and you can't pretend you came for the fort."
Anna's pillow smelled of too many years gone by. Elsa lowered her chin onto the soft down, blinked straight ahead, at the desk they used to share. Quietly, she said, "I'm afraid. If I fall asleep, I'll wake up as queen. I won't be able to go back."
"Technically, you still need to go to the chapel."
Where she must hold the orb and sceptre before an audience of lords and royalty, with all of Arendelle in her hands.
Elsa exhaled. "I don't even know if I can do this, Anna."
"That's okay." Her sister bumped her shoulder. "I do. I know you can. You're Elsa."
"The heir. I know."
"Well, yes, that. But I meant… you know. Everything else. All of you."
Elsa turned her head. "'All of me'?"
Anna grinned, and shrugged. "You're Elsa," she said again, blissfully.
Elsa gazed into her sister's eyes and saw their parents looking back at her. She closed her own eyes, squeezed her hands. Very lightly, very carefully, she let herself lean against Anna's arm. "I always thought that when I came of age… Mother and Father would be here to guide me."
Anna pressed back. "I still miss them," she murmured.
"Can I stand next to you during the coronation?"
"Well, maybe not right next to you because, you know, queen. But I'll be there. I'll take all your dances for you—if you don't want them—and when you put on that crown, I'll clap the loudest. For Mama and Papa, too."
Elsa stared at Anna's earnest expression, and felt the urge to laugh. So she did. "You don't have to ask. That was always your place, Anna. You're my sister."
Anna's smile filled the room. Elsa wondered how many she had at her disposal, if Anna ever tired of spending them on others. Most likely not. "Okay," Anna said. "So you're walking me down the aisle, right? When I meet my dashing prince?"
The sky was changing outside. Some ships would certainly be pulling in. The palace would begin to wake, bustling with final preparations. Anna's coronation dress stood in a corner. Anna, who had lived behind closed gates as well, and loved life so much she had spent an afternoon in her new dress, dancing with a bronze bust in the portrait room.
"That would depend," Elsa replied.
"On whether I deem him worthy."
"Of your presence? Gosh, Elsa, I didn't think—"
"Of you, silly."
Anna reached out and patted Elsa's pillow. "I know I don't always come up with good ideas, but I think you should try to sleep. Not that you wouldn't look amazing, even with eye bags. How is that fair?"
Suddenly, Elsa smiled.
Anna gave her a suspicious look, then narrowed her eyes. "Oh, I see how it is. You like your unfair beauty, don't you? I've seen through you, sis! All this time I… what are you doing?"
Elsa had sat up. "Are you tired?"
"Well, you'd have to define that. Do you mean, like, just-chased-a-cat tired, or…"
"Would you mind staying up with me?"
Anna blinked, mouth still open. Elsa smiled back and nodded towards the window. "The sky is awake," she said lightly.
With that, Anna shot up straight, dislodging blankets and pillows. It was a different sight. Her sister's hair hung long and loose now; the freckles on her cheek lightened; her eyes no longer quite so innocent and childish. Elsa knew she was just as different, just as changed.
She sat up and rubbed her hands together, feeling the breeze rise above her skin.
For so long, she had believed, so hard, that if she just stayed on one path, a good girl, all the answers would align themselves before her, paving a bridge for her to go back to the way everything used to be. A time when her mother and father would be waiting at the breakfast table each morning, and the only responsibility she had was the only one that mattered: the little girl who held her hand with all the trust in the world, asking over and over again—
"Do you want to build a snowman?"
Wake up, wake up, wake up!
For just one night, she wanted to go back.
The sky's awake.
And so were they.
A/N: I can't even begin to say how this - all this - makes me feel. It's just... aww man.
I don't think I've ever loved something this much.
I've been writing since I was nine or ten, but before The Sky Is Awake, I had never, ever finished a story of any sort. Fanfics started on a steamroll, surfed on high tide, then beached. Then I moved onto original stories, and novels beached just as tragically. I felt that with The Sky Is Awake at some point, too, the dying hype - but no way. How would I feel if I abandoned this? I don't know how it happened, but from the moment I wrote the first chapter, I knew this story was different.
If I were to look back in ten years' time and tried to see where my writing really, really came alive, I'm sure it would be right here, with Elsa and Anna and The Sky Is Awake. I have learned so much writing this story; editing and re-editing, saving that folder of scrapped work, waiting for the right moment, and just remembering what it's like to have so much fun writing you can't wait to wake up the next morning. This story taught me to love what I create, and that's something I'm going to take with me everywhere.
So thanks for taking this amazing journey with me. All your words and feedback has helped so much and carried us to the end of this story. Seriously guys, a tearful hug and cyber cookie for you all, because WE MADE IT! I'll still be on tumblr (themarshmallowattacks) if you ever want to pop over and say hi, stalk me, chat - I'll be around!
Thanks for everything, Disney!