Elsa cupped her gloved hands over her ears as she buried her head into the pillow she was clutching. The fifteen-year old heir to the throne of Arendelle sat huddled on the floor in the far corner of her dimly-lit bedroom. She had dragged the heavy quilt from her bed and was trying as much as possible to crawl away from the door on the other end of her dark room. Faint moonlight streamed in through the lone, triangular window, shadows casting what appeared to be an arrow that Elsa swore pointed towards the tall wooden door across from her. Outside, the wind howled in the darkness. There were no trees outside her window, but Elsa swore some of the shadows on the wall were flickering about.
More loud rapping emanating from outside her bedroom door made the terrified princess contort in the corner, wrapping the thick wool quilt around her even tighter, she was having trouble breathing. Tiny snowflake frost patterns were starting to form on the wall where the back of her head was pressed hard against it. The heavy, blue nightgown she was wearing was already frayed from years of rubbing against the very wall she was trying so desperately to burst through, as if the other rooms in the castle offered any respite from this recurring terror that was enveloping her.
The princess lifted her eyes from the pillow to sneak a glance towards the door. Light through the window in the corridor outside seemed to show some movement from the other side, faint shadows of what appeared to be the bottom of a pair of small shoes. There was knocking coming from the door again - 'tok tok totok'. And then the moment she dreaded the most. The singing.
"Elsa? Do you want to build a snowman?"
This was the fifth night this month that Elsa had heard her sister Anna's strangely dissonant voice through the thick, heavy wooden door that separated them from each other. For years after 'the incident', her younger sister would often knock on her door and repeat that very mantra day after day, week after week, month after month. Elsa would just sit on her side of the door, her back towards her sister, reluctantly debuffing her advances. She had sworn on her honor, on her life to never put her sister's life in danger again after 'that night'. So she would keep telling her younger sister to leave her be, no matter how much she pictured the look of pure bliss on Anna's face as they would slide down a snowdrift together as children. Eventually, Anna just stopped knocking.
But this time was different. The voice that permeated through the crack under the door sounded...oddly wrong. It still sounded like her sister, but something just wasn't right about it. When Anna used to wake Elsa up in the middle of the night, knocking on her door and asking to build a snowman again, her chest would constrict in pain. She would longingly stare through the window the following morning, at her sister playing alone outside in the castle courtyard, and simply let the sunlight dry the tears on her face.
The voice asking to build a snowman this night made the hair on Elsa's limbs rise on end. Through the thick blue wool of her evening dress, she could feel her goose bumps as they had been making themselves known the past few times that her sister knocked on her door. Images of Anna, falling to the ground all those years ago as one of Elsa's magic ice blasts coursed through her sister's head flashed in front of her eyes. It was an accident. She did something to her sister. Whatever was wrong with her sister now, she was to blame.
"Do you want to build a snowman?" The voice outside the door started singing, off-key and...wrong. It sounded like a perversion of that song Anna would sing through the door repeatedly all those years ago, before her sister finally gave up on her. It seemed like the voice of three different people, chanting mere milliseconds apart – not enough to be out of pace but dissonant enough to be slightly disturbing. The voice reverberated throughout the room.
"Come on let's go and play!" Huddled in the corner of her room, Elsa's eyes could make out an oddly-shaped shadow on the wall. Three round shapes, on top of each other. The topmost misshapen ovoid lump was the biggest, followed by the much rounder bottom one. She stared hard at the shadow before her eyes widened in recognition. Years ago, before 'the incident', she and Anna would often build a snowman when they played. He would always be the first thing to be built. Olaf, the snowman with the misshapen head who liked warm hugs. The looming shadow on the wall was reminiscent of old Olaf. Except just like Anna's voice, this Olaf seemed different. His head seemed a little more misshapen. The branches that were supposed to be his arms appeared to be covered in thorns, at least from what Elsa could discern from the shadows cast on the far wall across the window. Elsa's swore the shadow was growing bigger...the thing…she refused to accept it was Olaf…was moving closer. Towards the window. From the outside. Just then, a sudden thought made Elsa's eyes grow wide. Her room was on the second floor of the castle.
"I never see you anymore, come out the door, it's like you've gone away!" Anna's disjointed voice seeped into to the room again, this time emanating not from the door, but from the window outside. The snowflake scribbles on the wall behind Elsa grew larger and more chaotic as she drove her back into it. She barely heard the tearing sound of her pillowcase as her fingers gripped it hard. Her teeth were chattering. For the first time since her powers started to increase in intensity, she felt the icy chill of the wall freezing behind her. For the first time in forever, Elsa felt cold.
Her eyes grew fixated on the shadows underneath the doorway and she held her breath, waiting for the next line. "We used to be best buddies, and now we're NOT!" The voice came not from the doorway where Anna was, nor from the window with the slowly approaching Olaf shadow. This time, the voice reached out to Elsa from underneath her bed, a few feet away to her right. The room was almost black now, whatever moonlight shone through the clouds and through the window was blocked by the figure that cast the shadow on the wall. The shadow slowly turned its head to the right, and Elsa felt the familiar sensation of something staring right at her. Something red caught Elsa's attention from beyond the keyhole in her door. It was a faint red dot, rapidly glowing in intensity. No, she realized. It was a glowing crimson pupil. She felt a gust of movement reach out towards her from underneath her bed. Elsa screamed.
Elsa came to feeling a gentle warmth around her body, as if she were enveloped in layers and layers of the thickest and finest wool in the kingdom. She found herself back on her bed, comfortably tucked in under the comfy sheets. The quilt that she was hiding behind was now spread on top of her, with her head nestled safely between her many pillows. Voices. She heard voices. Inside the room. She carefully opened her eyes into tiny slits, and made out the faint silhouettes of her parents standing by each other near her door. They were whispering in hushed tones, but loud enough that Elsa could hear.
"Her nightmares are getting worse. We have to do something," her mother whispered softly. She was looking in the direction of Elsa's bed with an expression on her face that hovered between sadness and pity.
"She keeps on asking for her sister. Elsa's...been through a lot. The poor girl is going through a lot. Her powers are getting stronger. And it's only going to get harder from here," her father responded. He turned to look at Elsa's presumably sleeping form with a similar look of pity and sorrow in his eyes.
"I-I can't take this anymore. She's our daughter and I love her, but...she...after what happened to Anna… " Her mother started sobbing, "after…what she did to our daughter…her sister...my baby…I still...haven't forgiven her." Her mother collapsed into her father's arms, trying to muffle her sobs as she buried her face deep in his chest.
Elsa shook her head as the reality of the situation dawned on her, as it had many times over the past few years before her memories started to muddle again, to make everything just a little bit better. A little bit more tolerable. A flash of ice magic flying through the air. The way her sister's head rolled limply as she landed on a snowdrift in the main ballroom. The feeling of cold, spreading throughout her sister's weakened body as it slowly hardened within her arms. Her eyes. Her sister's huge, pleading eyes staring up at her, begging her to build a snowman one last time as snowflakes formed from her irises.
"...Anna..." Elsa whispered to herself.
"You have to someday," her father helped her mother up, his hands grasping both her shoulders. He held her at arms' length and looked into her eyes. "Whatever happens, Elsa is all we have left now."
Her mother only sobbed in response, and her parents carefully opened the door and carefully slipped out, closing it behind them as silently as they could. As soon as she heard the door's lock click shut, the room immediately felt just a little bit colder, just a little bit smaller, just a little bit lonelier. She focused hard on her parents' footsteps as they echoed down the hall until they too were swallowed by the silence of the darkness.
Under the sheets, the sole remaining princess of Arendelle was shaking uncontrollably. Her lips trembled and she found it extremely hard to swallow. Tears streamed unchecked from her tightly-shut eyes straight into the sheets she gripped tightly against her face.
Elsa shook her head again and again and again, her fragile sanity desperately pushing back against the reality that was threatening to close in around her. Her sister Anna was still out there, running around in the halls in the castle. She was just playing around, talking to the paintings in the painting room, bouncing wildly on the furniture, riding their two-seater bike around the halls leaving dirt trails on the carpet that had always inconvenienced the servants.
The door across the carpeted hallway from her own still had a bed there, surrounded by pink walls with intricately floral designs, with equally pink floors punctuated by discarded clothing here and there. There was no crystalline statue lying on a small, elevated platform in the center. A solid, icy, translucent replica of a person that used to spread her love throughout the empty castle halls. A single, unyielding reminder of a person she used to love.
The faint moonlight cast soft shadows on the shivering, sobbing pile of sheets on the lone bed in the dark bedroom. The walls felt rather drab now that the wind had stopped its incessant rapping on the lone triangular window. Elsa noticed none of these as she now lay still, stretched out and almost catatonic on her bed.
The tears had long since dried on Elsa's cheeks or had soaked into her heavy sheets. Slowly, the hair on her arms stood on end. Something tickled that spot on the back of her neck. Shadows grew darker as clouds crossed in front of the waning moon outside. The familiar sound of wood scraping on carpet emanated from somewhere in the now-dimly lit room. A click. Elsa felt a familiar presence in the room.
From under the covers, somewhere near where her feet were nestled in the folds of the quilted blanket that covered her, was movement. There was something under the covers with her. From somewhere in the room echoed a familiar voice. Eyes shut and mouth in a terrified grimace, Elsa felt moist, cold breath slowly tickle her left ear. Whispering. Singing.
"I wish you would tell me why… ...do you want to build a snowman?"