You'll be fine, Elsa.
I won't, Papa. Not without you.
It'll be just two weeks, darling.
Mama, don't go. Don't go! I promise I'll be good. I'll control my magic this time. Please.
Their backs faced her, and Elsa reached out. Her fingers grazed the soft folds of Papa's shirt before pinching onto one. Yes, this time she'd stop them. So close. So close–
Her eyes flew open. The wind howled and whipped her hair. Her heels crunched on grass. The valley was blanketed by low-lying fog, and above her was an empty, grey sky.
"Elsa, what's wrong?"
The snow queen reached out to her side. Anna's fingers closed around hers, so tightly that it hurt, as if fearing she would slip away. Dreams didn't hurt. Dreams didn't have warm fingers.
"I'm fine." Elsa forced a smile for the one person in the world who shared her loss. Anna's lips pressed into a thin line, and their eyes met. Time passed. Ten seconds. Twenty seconds. When it became clear her sister had nothing more to say, Elsa squeezed and let go, shuffling towards the twin graves before them.
The stone marker loomed over her. The craftsmanship on it was remarkable; what was once rough mountain rock had been polished smooth as river pebble. Yet, it stayed porous enough that dew and time would paint its surface with a mosaic of moss, just as its owner would've liked.
A worthy tribute, if only it wasn't empty.
Elsa touched the etched crocus with a finger before tracing down to the Futhark runes.
'Here lies Queen Idunn'
The words blurred before her. The queen was no longer here to hold her, to love her, or to listen. But Elsa whispered all the same. Even without looking, she knew Anna mirrored her by the other grave.
"Mama, do you remember that Stein's bakery down by the clock tower? Anna and I went yesterday. She said their custard tarts were your favourite. I can see why." Elsa chuckled under her breath. "They really were the best. We bought two whole boxes back. You should've seen how many Sven and Olaf ate! You–" She rested her head on the cold stone. "You should have."
I could tell you all the stories in the world. Of my coronation, of Anna helping me conquer my fears, of how Arendelle accepted me at last. I just wish you'd hear even one. Elsa closed her eyes. If the stone heard her, it gave no indication.
Just one, was that too much to ask?
A sniffle made her glance behind. Past the pain, her heart swelled with pride at the sight of a dozen lowered heads. Kristoff, Gerda, Kai, Sven, Eirik and the ministers showed up always; such was their loyalty to her parents, so beloved a pair of monarchs they were.
Anna and she switched places. Now standing before Papa's resting place, her eyes fixed on the runes.
'Here lies King Agdar'
The knife stabbed deeper. It felt like yesterday when she heard the shouts echoing through the walls late at night. When even the gloves were no barrier to her ice, she saw for the first time in her life, her father, her brave and noble Papa, crying. He took the blame of her magic unto himself. And so he died full of regrets, not being able to see his daughters reunited, or his beloved kingdom flourish.
A glimmer of blue crept across the stone. She clenched her fist, and the frost cleared into the air.
"I haven't touched Mama and you since twelve." She caressed the cool surface of the stone. "And now I never will." Her hand clutched her chest as she gasped.
A queen must retain composure no matter what. Conceal, don't feel.
"I–I want to do what you taught me. To live not for myself, but for our kingdom. But how can I ever make it up to Anna? I love her, Papa. I love her so much. But I only made her suffer." Elsa fought it, but her shoulders heaved on their own accord, and the fire in her eyes couldn't be quenched.
"Why couldn't we have understood that love was the key? If there were others like me, we'd have known what to do about my powers. Why was I the only one with magic? Why?"
Tender hands wrapped around her shoulders. Elsa tore her gaze away from the stone, meeting her sister's glistening eyes.
Conceal, don't feel. "Anna, I–"
The younger girl took her in a crushing hug, as if to extinguish her pain by force of will. Anywhere else, Elsa wouldn't have allowed it. As rulers, they had to mask any weakness. To the world, she had to be the all-powerful snow queen, and Anna, the fearless princess.
But here, they were just two girls yearning for their parents. She buried her face in Anna's neck and let the grief take over.
I don't deserve you.