It had been several months since the "Great Thaw" (or "Great Freeze", depending on whether or not one was talking to an optimist or a pessimist). By this time, everyone in the Kingdom of Arendelle had settled into their daily routines, and was very much comfortable and happy. Those words could not be truer for the Queen of Arendelle, playfully (and slightly seriously) nicknamed the "Snow Queen" because of her wondrous power over ice and snow. It took some time, especially after the "Eternal Winter" fiasco, to draw her out of her shell, but soon the people of her kingdom eventually saw the kind, loving, playful young woman who was their Queen.
No one in the Kingdom was happier to see this side of the Queen back than the Princess. Anna had spent thirteen years of her life trying to get her older sister back. She understood why Elsa had hidden away in hindsight – in order to protect her from her powers – but at the time, all Anna wanted was to play with her sister like they used to. Now that Elsa's confidence had returned, Anna could not wait to catch up on all they had missed together.
She knocked on the door of the study out of habit, using the rhythmic, playful knock she always used when she was younger to signify who it was. But she no longer had to wait for a response – Elsa's "open gate" policy extended to more than just the large double doors at the entrance to the castle. Anna reached for the handle and swung the door open.
"Hey Els– Oh, wow, it's cold in here," the Princess observed as her eyes landed on her sister.
Elsa was standing with her back to the door, looking out the large, triangular window down to the town below. However, she was not gazing on the village itself but rather up to the sky above. "Hmm? Oh, sorry," she replied vaguely, "I don't notice things like that."
She turned around slightly to see Anna already getting a fire started in the hearth. She sighed happily and rolled her eyes at her little sister. "There," Anna said as she dusted her hands off, "That should thaw this place out a bit. I guess Her Royal Majesty of Ice and Snow doesn't have to worry about the cold like us mortals do."
"Anna, we've been over this," Elsa replied with a grin, "I may have ice powers, but it doesn't make me immortal."
"Yeah, yeah…I get it," Anna laughed. She looked over her older sister for a moment before wondering, "So?"
"So, what's up?"
Elsa shifted her gaze back and forth slightly. "Nothing's up, Anna."
"Really? If nothing's up, then why were you staring forlornly out the window?"
Elsa smiled. "I'm the Snow Queen. I'm allowed to stare dramatically out the window if I want to," she answered, before turning her attention back up to the bright, blue sky.
"It's the storm, isn't it?"
Elsa released a heavy sigh. "It's getting closer. I know it doesn't look it now, but it will be here within two days, maximum. And it continues to grow in intensity."
Anna went over to join her sister at the window. She had been learning many new things about her sister, but one of the more awesome ones in her opinion was Elsa's ability to sense the weather. She only seemed to be affected by natural storms, though, since she had no idea she had caused a Kingdom-wide blizzard back in the summer.
This particular storm had been keeping the Queen on edge for weeks. Anna initially knew something was wrong when she noticed that a distinct look of dread had returned to her sister's face. It was only after enough prodding that she managed to get Elsa to admit something was wrong, and then another few days to get her to explain what it was. This storm was going to be the first big, non-magical winter storm of the year, even though it was only the middle of November. And as the time wore on, the more dire Elsa's weather forecasts were becoming.
"Elsa, there's no need to worry," Anna assured her gently, "Thanks to you and your amazing ability, we were able to warn everyone in the Kingdom about it weeks prior. Everyone has stalked up food and warm blankets, and we have plenty of shovels and brooms to clear away the snow. Everything will be ok."
"I hope so," Elsa muttered in response.
Anna poked her in the side. "I thought you promised me that you wouldn't be so depressing anymore," she teased.
Elsa cast her a playful glare as she rubbed the spot where Anna had jabbed her ribcage. "Sorry," she sighed, "It's weather phenomena like this that get my powers worked up, and when they're worked up…"
"You're a ball of stress?" Anna finished, "Elsa, you have to learn to relax – to let it go, remember?"
"I know, I know," Elsa groaned, "I'll just feel a lot better once this thing has passed." She pulled her eyes off the Kingdom and focused on her sister. "So, did you need something? Normally you spend the mornings sleeping."
Anna shrugged nonchalantly. "I wanted to see you this morning. I couldn't remember the last time we did anything fun together, so I just thought, 'Hey, I'll go see Elsa. Maybe she has some ideas.'"
The Queen smiled, but then it quickly disappeared. "Anna, I'd love to, but–"
"Let me guess? You're too busy," Anna replied bitterly.
"I know it's been a while, but there has been no break in royal affairs since my coronation," Elsa tried to explain as gently as she could, "Today alone I have four meetings, a visitation of a representative from a neighbouring kingdom, an inspection of the royal guard…again, and–"
"And countless documents for you to sign and seal," Anna finished again, more bitterness being added to her tone, "You know, it wouldn't hurt to take a day off once and a while."
"And then what, Anna?" Elsa demanded, "I'll have double the work load the following day! Then you'll never see me again!"
"I don't see you now!" Anna spat, "This is just like before, when you shut me out–" She froze when she caught a glance of her sister's face. "Oh my God, Elsa, I…I'm sorry, I didn't mean…"
Elsa's expression was filled with pain. There was anger there, too, but aside from the odd burst of irritability, the Queen had never angrily snapped at her sister. As far as the "fight or flight" instinct went, it seemed that the Princess had inherited the "fight" while the Queen had received the "flight". Anna could practically see the walls going up and the doors slamming shut around her sister to keep all emotion – with the exception of that damnable pain – from showing.
Elsa drew a deep breath, before muttering, "I think you should go."
"Elsa, please, I…I know you try to spend time with me. I should be grateful for–"
"I think you should go," Elsa repeated sternly. Anna flinched at the tone: it was her Queen voice – the voice void of emotion and empathy. It was reserved only for the times when her sister needed to be regal – to make known her true power and authority and to not be questioned by it. She never used it on her sister.
But there was another reason for Anna's sudden obedience, as she hesitantly made her way to the door. She knew Elsa loved her unconditionally, and that it hurt the Queen every minute she could not see her little sister. So when Elsa ordered her to leave, Anna understood that something was wrong. She had learned from last time not to push the issue, and instead opted to wait a few hours for the Snow Queen to "warm up" before returning to check on her.
"O…ok," she said quietly, "I'm sorry again, Elsa. I'll…I'll see you in a bit, ok?"
Elsa refused to move, and was staring down at the floor with her arms wrapped around herself. Anna slowly shut the door, and upon hearing the click of the door latching into place, Elsa snapped out of her mood. She managed three steps toward the exit before a knock from another door on the other side of the room caught her attention. "Your Majesty?" Kai called, "The council members have all been seated."
Elsa inwardly cursed and contemplated abandoning the meeting to go after her sister. But she knew she would never hear the end of it if she did, so she begrudgingly sighed and went off the start her long and dull day as Queen.
"I just don't understand it!" Anna sighed in exasperation as she flopped down dramatically in a pile of hay.
"Anna, you can't just expect your sister, the Queen, to drop everything whenever you have an idea to have fun," Kristoff told her as he packed his sled up with supplies.
"But she promised not to shut me out again!" Anna whined, "And she's doing just that!"
"She's busy. She's not shutting you out, she just has a lot of work to do," he reminded her gently.
Anna groaned. "You didn't hear her today!" she exclaimed.
"I'm sure it wasn't that bad…"
"She used her 'queen voice', Kristoff."
Kristoff froze. He knew what it was like to be on the receiving end of that voice, after Elsa had sat him down and made it clear that if he ever hurt her sister things would get…uncomfortable for him. He knew it was precautionary, as he understood neither sister would ever make the same mistake as they had made with a certain prince ever again. He found it endearing that Elsa was so overly protective of her younger sister – terrifying, but endearing.
"Ouch," was all he managed to say. Anna grumbled something inaudible as she sat up in annoyance. "So are you planning on sulking all day?" he asked her tentatively.
"I have nothing else to do," Anna said sadly.
Kristoff knew that tone from his girlfriend. "You're waiting for a chance to apologize, huh?" he asked knowingly.
"Yeah," Anna admitted, "I said something awful to her…that's why she snapped at me. Well, she didn't really snap, but, you know, used her 'queen voice' and scared me a little… Not that she wanted to scare me, but…" She trailed off when she realized she was rambling again.
Kristoff took a seat beside her in the hay. "You want to talk about it?"
"I may have brought up our past." Kristoff merely stared at her with a blank expression, forcing her to clarify, "You know, when she always stayed in her room and ignored me…"
A pained look crossed his face. He was learning things about the royal sisters all the time, but one thing he caught onto quickly was not to bring up that. "Oh, Anna," he groaned, "Why would you do that?"
"I…I don't know! I was angry, and I said something that made things worse. I…I even made it sound like she wanted to be trapped in her room…" Anna moaned and flopped back onto the hay and hid her face with her hands. "I'm a terrible sister."
"No, you're not. You just act without thinking," he assured her.
"I hate that about me," she grumbled, "I'd better go apologize. It's mid-afternoon, now. That's probably enough time for her to calm down."
Kristoff smiled. "Good luck, Feistypants," he told her, "I should probably get moving, too." He got up and began loading a few more things into the sled.
"You're seriously going up to the lake now? Even after Elsa's doom and gloom predictions about that storm?" she asked as she, too, rose to her feet and brushed the loose hay off her dress.
"Don't worry," he replied, "I had an extensive talk with your sister about it. She gave me a timeline to work off of, and if I leave today, I should be able to get to the lake where there's a cabin and stable for me and Sven to take shelter in before it hits."
Anna looked at all the gear he had loaded. "I don't understand why you can't just wait it out."
"I have to go. I'm almost out of stock, and if I wait until after, I won't be able to harvest ice until the roads are clear."
Anna sighed before wrapping her arms around him. "Ok, but be careful," she told him, "You'd better come back, or I'll…"
"Ok, ok," he laughed, "I promise I'll be back in a few days."
She hugged him again, tighter than before. After they broke apart, Anna began to leave. "Say 'bye' to Sven for me," she called as she left.
"Will do!" he answered, "And good luck with your sister."
"Thanks!" Anna flinched. 'I'm gonna need it.'