A/N: Well... here it is. I worked all night to try to get it up before going to bed, so I hope it was worth it. :) I feel pretty good about most of it, although it may not be what you were expecting (maybe it is?), but either way, I hope you enjoy it. Please let me know what you think... it fuels the inspiration. ;)
Brittney, I hope it lives up to your expectations. :D
On! And to my wonderful Guest reviewer who commented about wanting a fic in Elsa's POV and mentioned how the shackles had been custom made for her... Check out my other story. I wrote all Elsa's movie scenes plus some originals in between, including an extended scene/flashback when she was in the dungeon, and I think it may be exactly what you're wanting. :D (Shameless self-promotion, I know, but when I read your review it actually sounded like it belonged with the other story, so I wanted to share it's existence with you.)
Gerda stepped out of the bedroom, closing the door behind her. The hallway was quiet, as it should be around 4AM. With the chaos from night relieved for the moment, all she wanted to do now was sleep. But the sun would be up soon and another day beginning; undoubtedly busy, as usual. And with no sleep and no idea what would happen once the royal family returned home, she had a feeling this was going to be a very trying day, to say the least. But never in her wildest dreams could she have prepared for what was about to unfold.
She settled down on the floor and tipped her head back against the door. Maybe a little nap would be okay, she thought, allowing her eyes to slip closed.
She'd barely begun to drift off when she was startled awake by the most bone-chilling terror-filled scream she'd ever heard.
Gerda was on her feet before she could even process what she'd heard. In the span of one breath's time, a million thoughts flooded her mind. 'Stooo…' Stop, maybe? Stop what? What made the scream end so abruptly? And what was that noise?
"Princess Elsa?!" she cried with alarm as she twisted the knob and stumbled into the room. Her attention immediately had drawn to the frost that coated… well, everything.
Everything except the small girl that lay sprawled on the ground beside the window seat where she looked to have fallen from.
Gerda gasped. "Oh…" she breathed, slipping slightly as she ran to her side. "Oh no. No! No no no no no no no… Not you too." She dropped to the floor, instinctively reaching for the child to pull her into her arms, but as soon as she laid eyes on her she pulled back with a shriek, not wanting to injure her further. She clapped her hands over her mouth, trying to hold back the cries that wanted to escape.
Elsa's hands were covered with frost, her palms encrusted with what looked like miniature icy mountains. But that wasn't what the woman was concerned about; after all, she had worked at the castle long before the Princess was even conceived and was fully aware of her gifts. No, what caught her attention and instantly made her ill, was the blood oozing from the girl's ears, staining her platinum blonde hair a disturbing shade of crimson.
"KAI!" She screeched as loud as she could manage. "KAI! Come quickly!"
Her hands flew to Elsa's chest, hoping and praying she would feel the thumping of her heart beneath them. She all but collapsed there herself when she felt the telltale signs of life. "Oh, thank heavens!"
"Gerda?!" She heard the man call from the hallway.
"In here!" She yelled. "Hurry!"
Kai came rushing into the room, his body moving faster than his feet and had to catch his balance as he skidded to a halt. "What is it? What's wrong?! I heard screaming—and then you called—"
"Princess Elsa… sh-she's hurt…" Gerda moved aside so he could see for himself.
"What happened?" He asked again, hurrying over and kneeling beside her. Then, carefully, he grasped Elsa's chin, tilting her head to the side ever-so-slightly.
"I—I don't know. She wouldn't sleep and she told me to go. S-so I sat just outside the door… I closed my eyes for a few minutes—and then she was screaming… I don't know wh—and I think she fell off…" She motioned towards the window. "What if she hit her head? What if something's seriously wrong?! She's alive, but… h-her ears—and the blood." Gerda's eyes overflowed with tears. "It was just a few minutes, Kai. I swear it! I was just so tired… It was only a little while and— "
"Shh, it's okay. Breathe." He instructed calmly. "It's not your fault."
Gerda sobbed harder. "Look at her, Kai. She's so pale… W-what do we do?"
He grimaced. "I… I don't know. I don't want to move her, not until the physician looks her over." He stood to leave. "I'll go fetch him," he said, taking in the condition of the room for the first time. "Will you be alright?"
She opened her mouth to answer, but just nodded instead.
"You should get a fire going." Kai took one last glance down at Elsa; then he quickly turned and dashed out the door. "I'll be back soon."
Gerda stroked the girl's hair lovingly. Please don't die, Princess. She leaned down to put a soft kiss on her forehead. Please don't die.
Kai was leading the royal physician up the stairs as the King and Queen entered the foyer; Anna snored peacefully, snuggled in her father's arms.
"What's going on?" The King demanded.
"There's been an accident, Majesties." Kai informed them, trying to remain as calm as possible.
The Queen's hands flew to her mouth, wide eyes peering over her fingertips.
"An accident? What's happened?" He looked from Kai to the doctor, both paused mid-staircase.
"It's the princess… " The servant began, but couldn't seem to find the right words, especially because he didn't actually know what had happened either. "I'm sorry, your Majesty. We're not entirely sure—that's why we've called for Dr. Pedersen."
"If I may, Sir...?" the doctor gestured up the stairs. "I understand it may be a matter of urgency."
"Yes. Yes, of course," the King nodded hastily towards the stairs. "Please."
"Karl," he turned to the guard closest to him. The man immediately stepped forward. "Please take Anna and put her in her bed."
"Yes, Sir." Karl replied as the little girl was placed in his arms.
Kai cleared his throat uncomfortably. "Princess Elsa is occupying the room at the moment, Majesty. May I suggest that Princess Anna rest in your quarters for the time being?"
"That will be fine. Thank you, Kai." He gave a curt nod to the guard, "Karl."The young man took that as his permission to leave and carefully carried Anna up the stairs while the others following quickly on his heels.
"What do you mean, 'they're gone'?!" The Queen asked hysterically. "I don't understand. How can they be gone?! How did this happen?!"
"I understand this is difficult to process, your Majesty. I'll try to explain the best I can." Dr. Pedersen said. "The eardrum is situated deep inside the ear canal. Sometimes with illness or trauma, the tissue can puncture or rupture. This type of injury can cause hearing loss, but it is possible that with time and healing, this loss can be restored." He took a deep breath before continuing. "My fear for your daughter is that the damage is too severe for the natural healing process to correct the problem." Another breath. "When I examined her, I had to remove a significant amount of ice from each of her ears. It went very deep, beyond the inner ear itself… So, when I said the eardrums were gone, I meant just that. They look to be completely destroyed. I… I am truly sorry," the man offered sincerely.
The Queen, however, hadn't caught the condolences, as she had zoned out at the doctor's discovery. ICE?! Her powers did this?
"I-I don't understand. Her powers have never hurt her before…?"
"It, uh…" he stammered. "It appears to be… self-inflicted, Majesty."
"You're saying she did this to herself?"
The doctor nodded grimly. "This was not merely a build-up of her ice clogging the canals. These were rather sharp and embedded quite deeply.
The stunned parents were at a loss for words.
"I was able to stop the bleeding, but there was nothing more I could do. Right now the ear canals are essentially like gaping holes, so you will have to be sure her ears are plugged before she bathes. They must remain clean and dry. She may also be susceptible to infection, so I'd like to start her on an antibiotic for now to prevent the situation from getting any worse." He handed the King a bottle that he'd withdrawn from his pocket. "The tissues should close up eventually, but I would be very shocked if any of her hearing is restored."
She felt like she'd been kicked in the gut. "And you're… you're sure she can't hear anything right now?"
"It's highly probable, Ma'am. Without an eardrum to properly function…"
The Queen all but collapsed in her husband's arms. She turned into his chest, clinging to the lapels of his coat as she saturating them with her tears.
"I wouldn't get my hopes up."
"…Thank you." The King managed to say as he attempted to soothe his wife, rubbing his hands gently up and down her arms. "Can we see her now?"
"She's still resting, but yes, I think it would be best that you both are there when she wakes. It… it will most likely be very difficult for her. And for you." The man motioned them inside the room. "You should be prepared."
Her head was pounding, ears throbbing.
It hurts so bad.
The King and Queen leapt from the chairs they'd positioned by their daughter's bedside. The sound of soft, yet clearly pain-induced whimpers signaling that she was waking. Each parent took one of her hands in their own, watching her face closely, waiting for any sign that would tell them what they were so desperate to find out.
How much damage had the ice caused?
"Elsa?" The Queen crooned, being sure to stay out of sight for the time being, hoping that her voice alone would grab her attention. But her little girl only blinked groggily up at the bed canopy, not showing any sign that she was aware of her company.
"It's okay, sweetheart," the King said. "She's just waking. Maybe she's not alert enough yet."
"But we're holding her hands too and it's like she doesn't even notice," she frowned. "Could the ice have damaged them too?"
"No. Her hands are fine, your Majesty. It's just her ears that are the concern. But I have given her a large dose of pain medication," the physician explained from his position at the end of the bed. "Give her a minute to adjust." He tried to offer them a reassuring smile, but it didn't hide the sadness in his eyes. "I'll be just down the hall in the library if you need anything," he said, dismissing himself.
She nodded though, wanting to be as positive as she could. She remained still for a few minutes, before she couldn't take it any longer. She had to know. Although something deep down told her that she already knew the answer. The doctor had been fairly certain…
"Elsa, it's your Mama," she tried again, her voice thick with emotion. "…Elsa…"
Please, baby. Please, answer me. Turn your head, squeeze my hand. Anything! Just please be okay.
She leaned down a little closer. "C-can you hear me, darling?"
…Nooo... Why is this happening?! She turned her face away, biting down on her lip to muffle her cries.
"If… if she can't—" the King swallowed "it'll be all right."
She shot her husband a sideways glance, wanting to snap at him. Tell him, 'no, it would not be all right!' but when she looked at him, she only wanted to cry harder. There was no trace of his kingly mask evident on his face. Instead, she saw other things: concern, frustration, anger, fear, sadness… and she was sure her own no doubt mirrored his exactly.
In that moment, she knew. It's true. He'd sensed it just as she had, she could see that. And now, with no responses from Elsa to prove otherwise, despite their conversing, it was painfully obvious that their daughter wasn't able to hear them.
She hiccupped back a sob. "What do we do now?"
"We'll figure it out," he said, reaching across the bed and caressing her arm reassuringly.
She shook her head erratically, covering her mouth with her free hand. "This isn't right."
As if she didn't already have enough to deal with. On top of having powers… now she's deaf too?!
It wasn't fair.
And I can't even tell her what's happened. Her heart felt like it dropped into her stomach, the thought of Elsa having to figure this out on her own made her sick. She's going to be so scared.
Tears stung her eyes, threatening to fall. But fought them back, she had to be strong for Elsa, she didn't want her to see her cry.
"Elsa?" Her father tried one last time. This time, he shook her hand gently, finally getting her attention, although it startled her and she squeezed her hands on reflex and finding them full in their grips. She quickly tried to lift her head off the pillow to see who was there with her, but she hissed instantly, the movement obviously causing her pain.
She pulled her hands free and gripped her head, freezing as they met the bandages wrapped around it. Her eyes widened with alarm and she very gingerly moved her fingers along the fabric, stopping at her ears. She patted her hands against them, immediately becoming agitated. She banged against them harder, faster; cries intensifying and breathing quickening as panic took over.
The Queen stood there frozen, across from her husband, both helpless as she watched their baby girl try to make some sense of what was happening to her. Seeing Elsa's reaction to her new reality was by far the worst pain she'd ever felt, even far surpassing the day she'd brought the girl into the world.
No. No. No. No. Why won't you work? Elsa frantically banged on her ears. WORK!
But they refused to obey.
She could feel the rise and fall of her chest as she gasped for air; could feel the vibrations in her throat as she cried out in frustration. She knew she was doing these things, but she couldn't hear any of it.
And she couldn't see anything. Physically her eyes worked just fine, but her head hurt so bad when she tried to move it, she could barely look around or at anything more than the navy canopy that hung over her bed.
It was disorienting. And terrifying.
But she knew she wasn't alone, at least; someone had been holding her hands. She could feel their gentle touches as if they were trying to comfort her.
Her ears hurt so bad, sharp and pulsing. What happened to me? She tried to think, but the memories were so fuzzy. She remembered being upset and that she was tired… then she heard all those bad things…
She yanked the bandage off her head and brought it into her line of sight, staring horrified at the two bloodied spots that stained either side. I'm bleeding?!
Icy webs started crackling over the bandage before it had been pried from her hands, which she quickly moved back to her ears. This time they were pulled away by strong hands and placed down at her sides, held down with firm, but gentle pressure.
She couldn't hear, it was hard to see much around her, and now she couldn't move freely... Fresh tears welled up in Elsa's eyes, frustrations mounting as another restriction was added.
She just wanted her Mama.
"Maaa" she cried, hoping her voice was doing what she wanted. "Ma—"
Within seconds, her mother was laying there in the bed at her right side, pulling her into a tight embrace – the pressure on her hands lifted – she rolled to her side and curled into her, burying her face into her chest, craving the comfort of her mother's love.
She didn't know how long they'd stayed that way, but her mother held her tight as she sobbed until Elsa was the one to finally let go. When she looked up into her face, she saw that she had also been crying.
The Queen wiped the tears from her eyes, offering her daughter a weak smile as she wiped away hers as well. Then she planted a long kiss on her forehead before pulling back to look at her intently. "I love you." It had been spoken slowly enough for her to understand.
Elsa's face puckered. How she wished she could have heard that! If only this one last time. She closed her eyes, holding back the tears, not wanting to upset Mama any more.
I love you too, she thought, but simply replied with a small nod.
Her mother slowly sat up, tipping her head and offered Elsa her hands, silently asking her permission to help her sit up. She bit her lip, nodding nervously.
The sudden change made the throbbing intensify and she winced automatically. She clutched her head, took a few deep breaths and was surprised to find that after a minute or two, the pain began to ease.
Elsa carefully lifted her chin, looking around comfortably for the first time that morning. Standing off to the side, her father stood with a wary smile. She tried to match it, but for some reason, tears sprang to her eyes. He was there, sitting in front of her, instantly. He took her in his arms and kissed the top of her head.
When they broke the embrace, they all looked from one another awkwardly, none of them really knowing what to do.
Elsa brought her little hands up to her ears, tapping on them as she looked nervously from one parent to the other, questioning them with her eyes.
If the Queen's heart hadn't fully broken yet, that just about did it. She reached for her daughter's closest hand, kissing it, squeezing it lightly, before finally meeting her eyes and sadly shaking her head.
"No, baby." She couldn't help say aloud, more for her own benefit, needing to hear herself say it with her own mouth. "They're not going to get better."
Elsa's eyes watered, as did her own.
Her father got off the bed and went over to the desk, rummaging around until he found what he'd been looking for. He came back with a journal and a quill and ink. He sat back on the bed, opened up the book and gently placed it into her lap. She looked down at it, contemplating before awkwardly accepting the pen from his outstretched hand. taking a deep, steadying breath, she wrote her first words in this new form of communication.
There were only two words on the paper, but they were incredibly heartwrenching.
The King gave his wife's knee a comforting light squeeze in response to the shuddering breath she'd taken when she saw what was written on the page.
He gingerly slid the book from Elsa's lap and scratched a note inside.
"I understand... we're scared too, but I cannot begin to imagine how frightening this must be for you. But everything will be okay, Elsa. We promise. We will figure this out together and do everything we can to make this easier for you."
He held it open for her to read, the tears rolled down her cheeks when she'd done so.
Elsa reached for the book with shaky hands.
"I'm sorry." She wrote and then slowly turned the book around for them to see. Her cheeks flushed a tinge of rosy pink and she covered her face with her hands.
The Queen's jaw dropped as she read the paper and quickly pulled Elsa's hands away. She tipped her chin up so she was sure she was paying attention, shook her head vigorously with a scowl. She hesitantly picked up the book, the quill shaking in her hand; not quite ready to take this first step in admitting that things were different now. But she put the pen to the paper…
"You have NOTHING to be sorry for! Do you understand?"
Elsa's only reply was her holding out her hands in front of her. She turned her palms up and then looked at her parents sadly.
Her Papa took the book next.
"We know. The doctor found the ice. It's okay. It wasn't your fault.
But… do you remember how it happened?"
She got a thoughtful look on her face before nearly jumping out of her skin. "UH!" She snatched up the book and quickly scrawled…
Her mother rested her hand on her shoulder, urging her to calm down. Then she smiled brightly and nodded her head, happy to share one bit of good news that came out of this horrible, horrible day.
She's going to be just fine.
Elsa's face lit up and she grinned happily.
Leave it to Anna to be the one that makes her smile. The Queen laughed to herself. The girls had always been close and the two were never happier than when they were together.
She took the pen and scratched onto the book, still in Elsa's lap.
"Do you want me to go get her?"
Elsa immediately panicked; she held up her palms towards her mother and began waving her hands frantically. her head shaking wildly from side to side.
"Okay. Okay." She grabbed her hands, staring her in the eye. "Okay."
Elsa took a deep breath before writing next.
"I don't want her to be scared."
She sighed as she took the note from her daughter. As much as she hated to admit it, Elsa was right. Anna was only five, she wouldn't understand that her sister couldn't hear her anymore. Or that she wouldn't talk to her anymore. And seeing her upset would only upset Elsa.
It's probably best for them to give each other a little space for a while; until Elsa's ready.
The King picked up the book and pointed to his last entry with curiosity.
Did she remember?
Elsa hesitantly took it from him and thought a moment before putting the nib to the paper.
"I was mad that I had to stay here by myself. And I was scared that I hurt Anna. My powers made my hands tickle and then the room got all frosty. Bad things were in my head, like that I killed Anna and you and Mama wouldn't love me anymore. I wanted them to stop. I remember covering my ears and screaming for it to stop.
That's all I remember."
She passed it to her father and looked down into her lap as he read, wringing her hands nervously.
The Queen read over his shoulder, disturbed by seeing what their daughter had been though, before meeting his own sad eyes. She grabbed the book.
"Elsa, I am so, so, so SORRY that this happened to you. I wish you didn't have to go through that alone.
Can you forgive us?"
Elsa's eyes widened as she read her mother's apology. When she looked up they were both staring at her with the saddest faces she thought she had ever seen.
She didn't know who started it, and it really didn't matter, but suddenly they were all wrapped in each other's arms and for the first time since this nightmare began, Elsa knew that her parents' love was unconditional.
The King and Queen startled from the embrace at the sound of a knock on the door, followed by it cracking open slightly with Gerda's head poking through.
She looked to Elsa first, trying her best to greet her with a smile. Then, averted her gaze before the tears could fall from her glassy eyes.
"Excuse me, Majesties. But Princess Anna is awake and won't calm down unless she sees one of you… I-I'm sorry for the interruption."
"It's okay, Gerda," the Queen assured. "Thank you, one of us will be there in just a moment."
When the door had clicked shut, the parents looked at one another; neither one sure who should go to Anna and who should stay with Elsa. And both realizing that this was the beginning to what was sure to be a very complicated situation.