I hope you guys enjoy this chapter... most of it I've had written for quite a while now. (This is partially what held up Let it Go... but hey, I was inspired. ;) lol) So, yeah... I hope you like it. It's quite long, for me anyway. Hopefully that's a good thing. ;) As always, please review if you can, I appreciate everything you guys say... it's always an incentive to keep going.
Thanks to Lady Tralala for being my sounding board, for this one especially. :)
Elsa shifted uncomfortably; her entire right side pressed against something hard and unyielding – save for her head which rested on something much softer. Her eyes fluttered open, barely needing any time to adjust as she took in the dim surroundings. Where am I? Stone, everywhere. At the far end there was a door that she assumed was locked. She pushed up with her elbow so she was sitting and noticed a familiar-styled window on the wall beside her.
All she could see was the bright white that shone through. Please, no. She had to get a closer look. She rushed to the window, only to have her arms yanked behind her, nearly pulling her shoulders out of their sockets. "Ugh!"
For the first time, she noticed that her hands had been confined… encased in large iron shackles that covered past her wrists. The ends were tethered to the floor by two heavy chains. Given her recent actions, this did not come as a surprise.
She stepped around the chains carefully, lifting her dress over, so that she could get closer to the window. The chains pulled on her hands, stretching her arms and she leaned back to get a better view.
Outside, the entire kingdom was covered with mounds of snow. "No… What have I done?" It's completely frozen.
The door creaked. Elsa turned around with a gasp as Prince Hans stepped inside and set down a lantern on a bench inside the entryway.
"Why did you bring me here?"She demanded, taking a few steps towards him.
Hans closed the distance between them and crossed his arms, the chill that hung in the air was evident in the visible breath that escaped when he spoke. "I couldn't just let them kill you."
"But I'm a danger to Arendelle." Elsa looked sadly at the iron gloves that confined her hands. "Get Anna."
"Anna has not returned."
What? If she's not here, then... She looked out the window again, the snow, the ice, Anna wouldn't survive out there for long on her own. A sinking feeling settled into her stomach.
"If you were just stop the winter, bring back summer… please."
She closed her eyes solemnly. You don't get it! She sighed, defeated. "Don't you see… I can't." Maybe if I could get further away… "You have to tell them to let me go."
"I will do what I can.."
And then he was gone, and she was alone. Again. But this time, unlike her years spent in her room, she was trapped. Chained up like an animal, locked in a cage. Deep down, she'd always known it was a possibility, but she had hoped it would never have to come to this. This room, these shackles. Her shackles. Afterall, they had been designed especially for her.
Elsa stopped by her parents' door as she typically did on her way to the library. With as little time as she got to spend with them, she just liked hearing their voices, even if it was just to overhear yet another 'Elsa and her powers' conversation. However, had she known the route this one was going to take, she would have kept walking.
"I thought you said this would get better?" Her mother accused, fear and frustration resonating in her voice.
"That's because I thought it would!" Her father half-shouted back in a matching tone. "But I have no way of knowing for sure. This is as foreign to me as it is to you."
"I know, I—I'm sorry," she said softly. "But, do you think she'll ever be able to control it?"
"The gloves seemed to be helping, but now I… I don't know."
Elsa absently fidgeted with the fingers on her gloves as she hovered by the door; today's pair were lavender, silky and snug.
"It's getting stronger with age."
"I've been thinking a lot lately, and I think…" he hesitated, clearly choosing his words carefully. "We need to be… prepared… should the situation ever arise…"
"Prepared? Prepared for what? What situation…?"
Yes. Elsa's attention piqued at this turn in the conversation. What situation? She pressed her ear tightly against the door.
"One thing I am sure of, is that Elsa being able to control her powers relies heavily on her mental capacity to be aware of them at all times. I can only assume it is very taxing on her and honestly… I don't believe she will be able to maintain that composure forever. The constant strain on the mind, the physical exhaustion from fighting against your own body; it would be too much to expect from anyone, let alone a child or young woman also under the stresses of assuming the throne. I just don't know if or when that wall she's built begins to crumble, what condition it may leave her in… if she'll even be in her right mind. And once that control is lost, she may not have the strength, mental or physical, to get it back. And that worries me because that would be very, very dangerous. For all of us."
"What are you saying?" Mama's voice was shaking now.
"I'm saying we have to be realistic. Please, keep an open mind." He took a deep breath before continuing. "I've talked to Pabbie… He has offered, if we ever needed, to look after Elsa. He understands magic far better than we do and he thinks she would do well with their guidance an–"
What! No! Outside the door, Elsa was horrified. Please, no. I don't want to leave! Thankfully, Mama was just as outraged by the idea. "NO! ...No. No, she's not going anywhere. We can't–I won't–do that to her. We're not sending her away… she's twelve years old! She's just a child!"
"I know," he soothed. Elsa could hear her mother's muffled cries, Papa must have been holding her now. Comforting her.
She wished someone were able to do that for her. The world around her was starting to spin, her legs wobbled beneath her. She grabbed ahold of the doorframe and slid down against it until she was safely on the floor. I'll try harder. I promise. I'll be good!
"But she won't always be a child. What do we do when she's bigger and I'm no longer a match for her? Will you have me hire more guards for the sole purpose of restraining my own daughter if it becomes necessary?"
"I don't care! She isn't going anywhere! I won't allow it!"
"I know this is hard. I do. I love Elsa with all my heart; I want nothing but the best for her. However, as much as I hope and pray that the future is kind to her and her powers will settle down… that she will be fully capable of accepting her role and be the best ruler that Arendelle has ever seen, I can't help but feel that we need to accept that that may not be how this plays out… I think we should have a plan. Just in case."
It was quiet a long time, before her mother's thoughts finally pierced the silence. "I carried her for nine months… spent thirty-two hours in labor. How did I not know? …What did I do wrong?"
"You know we have no idea why it happened. You mustn't blame yourself."
"I hate this!" Her mother hissed. "This is not the life we had planned for her. She deserves so much more and I—I don't know how to fix it. If she had been born blind, or deaf even… those at least we could learn to help her with. But this? This can't be helped. I'm her mother; I'm supposed to protect her… to kiss it and make it better and make the scary things go away… and I can't! …Why did this happen to us? Why did this choose my sweet Elsa? She's so unhappy and I can't even comfort her … I just—I just want to hold my daughter!"
"I know," her father agreed, sadness dripping from just those two little words. "I hate seeing how this has changed her. She's much too quiet and reserved… I feel like we're losing her. The sparkle in her eyes has just… disappeared."
"As has her smile," her mother sniffled. "I miss it so much… seeing her happy."
"Sometimes, I almost forget what it was like," he mused, "having her run around the halls with Anna, or snuggling on my lap by the fire after supper."
"We need to get our little girl back… We have to figure something out. But we cannot send her away."
"Believe me, that is the last thing I want." He sighed. "I just… I can't think of another way if—if this gets bad."
"This is her home. She belongs here. We will manage. Anna cou—" she stopped herself before saying the next thought aloud "…Anna could take over as heir. When she's old enough, we'll tell her about the magic, we'll make her understand. She loves Elsa. She'll keep her safe if anything were to ever happen to us."
"And what about Anna?"
"…What about Anna?"
"What if this power is uncontrollable? Who will keep her safe? We have two daughters… we have to consider what's best for each of them."
"Elsa would never hurt her."
"No, of course not… Not by choice. But we've seen the dangers this power can cause already. What if we haven't even seen a taste of all it can do? …Anna could have di—"
"I KNOW!" She snapped. A long pause, which seemed like hours to Elsa, and then, almost inaudibly, "we'll have to prepare a c—… a c-c-cell…" Elsa could hear the shuddering of her mother's sobs, "f-f… for her."
A cell?! A wave of terror swept over her, she couldn't move. They would lock me away?! "But I didn't mean to hurt Anna," she wanted to scream, "it was an accident! It won't happen again, I swear!"
"…I–I never wanted to imprison her," her father stated, taken aback by the suggestion. "I just thought… Well, wouldn't you rather her be free?"
"With the trolls?! No. No, I couldn't live knowing she's was out there, that we abandoned her. At least this way, she'd be close… She needs her family. And I need her here. It's bad enough she barely leaves that room. I already feel like I don't know her anymore. This curse has taken my baby from me. I can't lose her any more than I already have."
He cleared his throat. "Very well… I'll see what can be done. Let's just hope we never have the need to…"
Elsa didn't hear the rest, but really, what did it matter? She couldn't listen any longer. She didn't blame them really, she couldn't. She would have done the same thing, she told herself. But it still hurt. She wanted to run, to go back to her room, to be anywhere else but in front of that door. But she couldn't, everything around her spun faster and faster, her ears were ringing and her vision dimmed—all except for the stars. She felt sick. She rolled onto her side and curled into a ball right there on the floor. Her body trembled as she fought to keep her cries silent. A thin layer of ice formed beneath her, but she didn't care. It was soothing against the side of her hot tear-streaked face that lay on the floor.
Were they still talking? She couldn't tell anymore. All she knew was that the blackness was beginning to swallow her up. She closed her eyes, willing it to come and take her away from this misery.
...Elsa… Elsa?... "ELSA!"
Someone was shaking her. "Elsa! …Elsa, please wake up!"
"Put her on the bed," she heard another voice say frantically. "Be careful on the ice!" Then she felt herself being lifted. Instinctively, her mind told her to break free, that nobody should be touching her. But she couldn't remember why, so she didn't struggle. She didn't know if she could even if she wanted to, her body was heavy—impossible to move, she couldn't even open her eyelids. No, she couldn't stop it, she decided, but it was okay… she kind of liked it. She barely remembered what that was like, having someone's arms wrapped around her. She felt safe in the grip of the strong arms that carried her to… Wait. Where was she?
When the movement stopped, she realized she was laying on something soft… warm, against her naturally cool skin.
"What's going on?" She heard the frantic voice ask. "What's happened to her? Is she alright? ..Is she breathing?"
"I—I don't know what happened. But yes, she is breathing."
She felt a shaky hand lightly brush the hair away from her face. "Elsa? Elsa, honey… it's your Mama. Please. Please open your eyes, baby."
"Elsa? Can you hear me?"
She felt a gentle squeeze around one of her hands.
Please don't do that.
"Wake up, sweetheart." Another little squeeze.
Don't touch me. Please. I don't want to hurt you.
Almost as if she'd said it aloud, her hand was quickly placed back onto the soft surface.
"What is it?"
"It's nothing," Papa said. And then, like he had changed his mind, he added, "The ice is coming through the glove."
Mama gently pressed her palms against Elsa's face. "Is she always this cold?"
"Please don't touch me." Elsa asked breathlessly.
"What did she say?" Papa asked, leaning closer. His voice was louder now. "Elsa? Tell us again. What did you say?"
She tried to open her eyes, but they barely fluttered. "Please…"
"Please what, darling?" Mama pressed. "What do you need? Papa and I are right here for you. Just open your eyes." She took the opportunity to place a kiss on her daughter's forehead.
Elsa tried again, this time she managed to keep them open for a second or two between blinks. The light in the room was too bright and made them water.
"Oh, baby, don't cry. It's okay," Mama said soothingly, she was gently combing her fingers through her hair again.
Elsa shook her head slowly. "I don't want to hurt you."
She opened her eyes fully now, Mama sat on her right side and Papa on the left. She was on their bed. They exchanged a concerned look and then both of their gazes fell back to Elsa's face. She was feeling more alert by the second, the traces of grogginess almost gone. She scurried back towards the headboard, her hands raised in front of her defensively. "Please. Please just stay there."
They looked at each other again, then simultaneously, they raised their hands as well, not in fear… but surrender.
"Okay… Okay, Elsa. Just stay calm. We won't come any closer. I promise." Papa slowly put his hands down, then Mama dropped hers as well. After a few more seconds, Elsa lowered hers into her lap.
"Elsa, honey…" Mama began. "Are you alright? How are you feeling? You gave your father and I quite a scare."
"I—I'm sorry. I—I didn't mean to frighten you… I'm okay now. Thank you." She looked down into her lap, once again fidgeting with the fingers of her gloves. "May I go now?"
"No…Elsa. I think we need to discuss what just happened before anyone goes anywhere," her father said. "If you're ill… Well, then we need to figure out what exactly is going on and who we can trust to come and help you."
"I'm not sick," she muttered.
"Then what is it? Why were you passed out outside our door?" He stopped for a second, finally connecting the dots. "…Oh…" he whispered. "Oh, Elsa… Were you out there the whole time? Did you… did you hear your mother and I discussing…" He couldn't finish.
Elsa slowly nodded her head, not meeting either of their eyes.
Her mother choked back a sob. "Elsa—I… I am so, so, sorry you heard that. You were not meant to know—"
"It's okay. It was my fault… I shouldn't have been eavesdropping."
"That still doesn't change what you heard." Papa reached out to her, she flinched away slightly, but he didn't pull back. He gently tipped her chin up so that they made eye contact. "Elsa. What we said… It doesn't change anything. Your mother and I love you very much and we want nothing but the very best for you. What we discussed were merely precautionary ideas. We would never follow through with them unless it was absolutely necessary. Do you understand? …We just don't know enough about your powers and what could happen…"
"I understand." She tried to think of something else to say, something that would make them feel better, something that would get her out of there and back into own room. "I just… I really don't want to live with the trolls." Elsa wrinkled her nose.
Papa smiled. "Okay… No trolls. We'll just have to find a solution that we all can live with." He patted her knee, startling her.
Ice spread from the toe of her shoe, which only upset her more by seeing her lack of control. It spread further until the entire top of the bed was covered. "Oh no! Your bed!" she shrieked. "I'm so sorry! I—I wasn't paying attention… and I—"
"Shh… It's okay, Elsa, it's nothing. We'll have the bedding changed. No harm done." Mama smiled, trying to make her feel better. Instead, she just felt worse.
Papa was right; they all needed to accept that this may not ever get any better. She buried her face in her hands. "…I think the cell is a good idea."
"…Elsa," her father began to protest.
"No!" She slammed her fist down onto the frozen coverlet, a snowflake shaped layer of ice appeared beneath it. It spread out over the previous smooth layer and climbed up the bedposts, encrusting everything in crackly ice. Elsa's eyes widened at what she'd just done. She wasn't even trying to do that, but it further solidified her stance on the matter. "Don't you see? I'm dangerous! Like you said, Papa… I can't fight it forever. I get distracted or tired and I… I mess everything up!"
"Elsa, we will come up with another way," her father stated firmly.
She shook her head. There was no other way. If she, even due to sheer exhaustion, allowed the powers to take over, where did that leave her? Would 'Elsa' be in there anymore? Could she regain control of her body? She wasn't sure. The more she thought about it, the more she liked the idea of having a secure place ready. Nobody else should ever be hurt again because of her. And Mama was right. A cell would hold up against a little cold and water. And, she would be at home, at least. Maybe even have the occasional visitors… not that she'd deserve them, but, a girl can dream.
Flurries of snow had begun to fall and settle around them. Mama rubbed her hands up and down her arms, but dropped them quickly when she saw that Elsa was watching.
"I'm really tired. Can I go to bed now?"
"Yes. I suppose you can," Papa sighed, all of a sudden looking as exhausted as she felt.
She quickly slid down off the bed and hurried to the door. She stopped at the threshold and turned back momentarily. "Goodnight."
"Goodnight, my love." Mama forced a smile, but it didn't hide the pain that Elsa knew she had caused her mother.
Papa nodded towards her. "Goodnight, Elsa."
She turned back slowly and waited until she had stepped out of sight before she took off running. The look on her mother's face, fresh in her mind… and the words that she'd spoken earlier when Elsa listened at the door, ran through her head.
Why did this happen? Why me?
Frozen tears stuck to her lashes, obstructing her view, but she kept running, tripping a few times along the way.
It's not fair! Am I that bad of a person that I deserve this life?!
She burst through the door and slammed it behind her, not caring now if anyone heard or not. They couldn't get to her anyway; a sea of jagged spikes consumed the ground between the door and her bed, where she'd thrown herself face-first into the pillows, the perfect place to release the tormented scream that followed.
Within seconds, the temperature in the room had dropped significantly; a welcome comfort that would numb the pain and eventually allow her to drift off to sleep, huddled beneath her blanket of snow.
Elsa looked down at the shackles, which were beginning to freeze over. Her breathing sped rapidly as the panic set in. I need to get out of here! Out the window, she saw the storm picking up. I need to find Anna. The frost from the restraints spread down onto the chains and quickly spread throughout the room. Ice coated the stones and the window like cobwebs. She pulled hard, trying to break free from their hold. She paused just long enough to hear the voices on the other side of the door.
Elsa struggled again the chains, grunting and pulling with all her might.
"It won't open!"
"It's frozen shut."
Finally, the shackles cracked open. The stone walls were crumbling all around, allowing her to escape through the opening where the window had just been.
She ran as fast as she could, disappearing into the blizzard, away from the castle. Towards Anna.