A/N: Another update in less than two weeks, what is this craziness?! ;P Serioiusly, though, this chapter came as a surprise to me, too. I got a review yesterday that got me thinking about something and I realized that I needed to do this before I could post the chapter I had planned to go next. So THANK YOU, LYANAH for the inspiration for this one. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, so I hope you guys like it.
Oh and a couple quick notes. Reminder that thoughts are italicized and signing and writing are in quoted italics. Also, the year progression means since the first part of the story, not from the scene just before... Hope that makes sense!
One Year Later
"Elsa. Darling. Your father and I have been thinking, and... Well, we think perhaps it's time that we tell Anna about the accident."
"No!" Elsa leapt from the chair at her desk and rushed to her parents. She grabbed each of their hands and shook her head frantically, her eyes begging, pleading. No, no, no. Please don't!
"Elsa," her father signed, then slipped his other hand free so he could go on. "it's been over a year now. You've adjusted so well. You're signing and have been able to restart your lessons. Everything is... almost like it was. Don't you think it's time to try assimilating back into your life? Leaving this room, eating meals with us, riding your pony—"
She gripped onto his arm again. Please stop! Didn't he know that she couldn't have those things? She wanted them, of course she did, more than anything, but she was where she was supposed to be. Away from Anna, where she wouldn't frighten her or make her sad, and most importantly, where she couldn't hurt her or anyone else. Out there, there were too many variables, too many things that could go wrong and make her lose control again. No, staying in her room was the safest option; she'd learn to be happy there.
Just thinking about leaving her room and Anna finding out her secret had her nerves on edge. She knew her heart was racing, she could feel the pounding in her chest.
When she noticed the ice spreading beneath her palms - seeping and spreading up the sleeves of her parents arms - she jerked her hands away and clutched them to her chest. She couldn't pull her eyes off the frozen patches of dress and jacket. I almost hurt them!
Her mouth opened and closed a few times before she looked down helplessly at her clasped hands. If only she could still sign and protect her parents from the dangers within her at the same time. Stepping backwards slowly, she signed an almost imperceptible "I'm sorry."
The king tried to close the distance, but for every step he took forward, Elsa took another back. "Elsa. It's okay. It was just a little frost. We're fine. Please, calm down. It's really all right."
But she didn't believe him. How could she? "It's not okay! Don't you see? I hurt Anna, I hurt myself and now I almost hurt you, too. I'm dangerous!" The small spark of ice that shot from her hand and made her jump, reminded her that she was supposed to be 'quiet'. She pulled her hands in close again and tucked them under her arms and proceeded to back away. She cried out when she'd bumped into the side of her bed unexpectedly. When she grasped ahold of the quilt for leverage, ice spread there, too and suddenly she was sobbing. Even with blurred vision, she saw her mother coming closer, despite the fact that right now was not a good time to have her fussing over her. Elsa couldn't let her, no matter how much she wanted to be held.
"Could you please leave?"
She stomped her foot, tears streaming down her flushed cheeks. "Go!"
And so, with much reluctance, they did.
Elsa ran to her desk, yanked open drawers until she'd found the little book she was looking for - she hadn't needed it for months. After scribbling down a quick few words, so ripped out the page and shoved it underneath her door.
"I'm not ready. And I don't know if I ever will be."
Four Years Later
"...and then he licked me right in the face!"
"Anna. Sweetheart, that's disgusting."
Anna giggled. "I know, Mama. But I wiped it off on my skirt," she stopped walking and tipped her check towards her mother. "Can I have a kiss?"
"Not until you've had a bath!" Idunn laughed and playfully pushed the child's face away. They continued walking through the gardens, swinging they clasped hands as Anna went on and on about her latest encounter with the castle's newest foal.
"I never knew horse tongues were so tickle-y!" She made a slurping sound and bounced on her toes excitedly. "I've got to tell Elsa!"
And then she remembered. Her face fell and her whole body slumped. "Not that she'll care," she muttered, kicking the dirt with the toe of her boot, " she never answers me."
Neither of them spoke. What more was there to say? Anna was right and there wasn't a thing Idunn could say that would make that fact any less painful.
Anna continued kicking at the ground. Rocks and chunks of grass skipped along the pathway. It wasn't like her daughter to be so quiet and the silence, along with the guilt of a kept secret, weighed so heavily on the queen that she would have swore that she had about six cloaks on if she hadn't known better.
After what felt like forever, but was probably only mere minutes, Anna's small voice came again. "Mama?"
"Why doesn't Elsa like me anymore?"
"Anna..." The queen wrapped her arm around her youngest daughter's shoulders and sat them down on a nearby bench. "We've told you. Your sister loves you very, very much. Elsa's just... Well... She's not the same." And while that was more than true, the queen added, "as you."
The nine year old's face scrunched in confusion. "How do you mean?"
She used to be able to hear and now she can't. She used to talk and now she doesn't. This is what Idunn wanted to say, but she didn't. Instead, she went with another truth.
"You know that God made each of us differently." Anna nodded and her mother continued. "You like playing outside and getting dirty. You're rambunctious and noisy." She smiled, but then looked away and squinted up at the sun. "And Elsa's... Not. She..." Idunn swallowed, trying to loosen the sudden tension in her throat. "She's quiet. She likes to stay in and read and is perfectly content being by herself."
"But I miss her," the little girl pouted, "doesn't she miss me?"
"Of course she does, sweetheart." Idunn pulled her daughter in close and kissed her hair. "She loves being your big sister."
"I wish she'd just tell me that."
"I don't think she knows how."
Anna scoffed at the seemingly ridiculous answer. "Uh, with her mouth! Obviously."
Idunn couldn't help but laugh, but oh... If only. "Sometimes things aren't as easy as they seem."
Anna pondered that for a bit. Then, "if I wrote her a letter, do you think that'd be okay?"
"You know, I think that'd be very 'okay'."
Five Years Later
You can do it, Elsa, it's just the library. Grab the book, come right back. Simple! The princess worried at her bottom lip. Why did she have this gut feeling like something was bound to go wrong? Don't be stupid, it's a short walk and to the LIBRARY of all places, nothing can go wrong. Anna's at her riding lesson, the staff are having lunch... The timing is perfect. You can do this!
And she almost did, until she rounded a corner on her way back and almost ran right into Anna. Literally.
The girl was filthy, covered head to toe with mud and grass stains, her pigtails were nappy and adorned with leaves. And... She was crying. Elsa dropped her gaze and saw that Anna had her left arm cradled against her chest.
She wanted to reach out to inspect her sister's injury. She wanted to ask if she was okay, but she had a book in her hand and couldn't easily do either. Then she remembered that she shouldn't touch Anna, anyway. Now or ever. She also remembered that Anna didn't sign. Anna didn't even know Elsa was deaf.
She had to get back to her room. Now.
But Anna's mouth was moving and Elsa didn't know what to do. She couldn't just run away while her sister was mid-conversation, could she? Wouldn't that be rude? But then what about when she was finished and it was Elsa's turn to talk and she stood there with her mouth gaping like a fish? Also rude.
And then somehow her mother was there. Thankfully, she must have recognized the panic on her daughter's face. She touched Elsa's arm and when they'd made eye contact, she nodded and shooed her away with her eyes. The blonde didn't have to be told twice. She spared her little sister a parting glance and then took off running to her room. As she opened the door, she dared to peek back, hoping her mother would do the same. She did, and Elsa signed a quick message to her before darting inside and slamming the door.
"Tell her 'I'm sorry.'"
Seven Years Later
Happy Birthday, Elsa!
I can't believe you're 15! You're like, old enough to get married now if you wanted to. Not that I think you want to, but you know, I'm just saying you could, if you did. But you'd have to come out of your room and I don't think you want to do that.
I wish you came out today, though. It's your birthday and you can't have a nice birthday if you're all alone.
I really miss you, Elsa. So, so much. I know I tell you that all the time in my letters, but I really do. I'm super happy that you write me back sometimes, but it's not the same as getting to actually talk to you. I still don't know why you won't, either. Do you think you sound like a troll or something? Because I really doubt that you do. You're too pretty to have a troll voice. At least, you were when I saw you that last time. Not that you're not pretty now, I didn't meant that. I'm sure you're still pretty! Beautifuller, even. Wait, no, not 'fuller' fuller, just you know, more beautiful.
Anyway. I helped Gerda make you a cake today. It's chocolate. You do still like chocolate cake, right? I knew you wouldn't come out to blow out candles, so I kind of already had a piece. Sorry. It's really good, though, that's why I told you that. When we cut your piece out, I couldn't NOT try some! I hope you're not mad. Yours is out here whenever you want it. I even put a bowl over it to keep it from getting crusty. Or stepped on.
Your loving sister,
P.S. Please write back!
... ... ...
Thank you so much for the cake. It was delicious. (And yes, I most definitely still like chocolate cake! I adore any and all chocolate.) It was very thoughtful of you to cover it for me, it wasn't crusty OR stepped on when I got it and I enjoyed it very much. I'm glad that you got to have some, too. Why would I be mad?
I'm sorry that this is the best I can do and that I can't make you happy and talk with you or come out to see you. You deserve better.
For what it's worth, I miss you, too.
P.S. I'm not getting married anytime soon, or at all, if I have any say.
Ten Years Later
They came to her room to see her before their ship left for Corona.
"It's only two weeks."
"But..." Two weeks felt like an eternity to Elsa when two of the only four people she could communicate with were leaving her. "Do you have to go?"
Her father smiled placatingly. "You'll be fine, Elsa."
She pouted and shook her head stubbornly, but they didn't respond to her childish behavior. After all, she was eighteen now; she wasn't a baby and they weren't going to feed into letting her act like one. She would be in charge while they were gone. Exactly how that supposed to work, though, Elsa wasn't sure. Signing papers in her room, she supposed. She was told that Kai would attend the council meetings in their stead and there were advisors who would help make the small decisions, but if something big came up, the ultimate choice in the matter would be hers.
They kissed her and tried to hug her goodbye, but Elsa couldn't move. With new responsibilities suddenly thrust upon her, worries that her secrets would be exposed and the fear of being left as alone as she'd ever been, it felt like her tiny little world was collapsing.
She watched them go; reassuring smiles and waves, and then they were gone behind the white and blue snowflake door.
How am I going to make it for two whole weeks without anyone to talk to? Well, she did have Gerda and Kai, but they only had so much free time to spare for her, but Elsa supposed it would have to do. She sighed. At least it was only two weeks, she reasoned. It could be worse.