On the night of the queen of Arendelle’s return, her sister will not leave her side. And for once, Elsa is glad to allow it. There are duties she must take care of as queen, important matters that have snowballed since her leave, but they can wait till morning. She and Anna have thirteen years to catch up on.
They talk long into the night, well past a responsible queen’s bedtime. Elsa, despite herself, is nodding off mid-sentence, but even so she doesn’t want to say goodnight, not yet. Anna reluctantly stands and offers to walk her to her room.
Outside the queen’s quarters, Elsa rests her hand on the doorknob, considering. When she asks her sister if she’d like to stay in her room, just for tonight, Elsa is shocked to see tears rolling down Anna’s freckled face, her nose and cheeks flushed red as though stung by winter chill.
“Oh, don’t cry!” Elsa says, rushing to cup her little sister’s hands. “Shh, please, don’t,” she implores helplessly, wrapping her arms round the smaller girl. She has heard Anna cry through doors often enough. Seeing it in person is too much to bear.
“I’m sorry-“ Anna mutters, caught between a sob and a smile, “I just never thought you’d ask.”
The moon glows soft and blue, trickling inky shadows across the fine carpet. The room is still. No howling winds singing her to sleep, no creak and groan of icy foundation. Just her sister’s soft sighs beside her, and a comforting warmth Elsa had almost forgotten.
The queen is jarred awake by a grating sound, like a blunt ice saw sawing right beside her head. She jolts, and finds herself immobilized, something heavy pinning around her arms. Panic shoots through her veins, a rush of chilled adrenaline, and her eyes shoot open and it takes her a moment to realize where she is — in her own bed— with Anna unceremoniously draped over her, a snoring tangle of sheets. Elsa sighs and allows herself to relax, her tense muscles going limp with relief. Despite the pitter-patter of her heart rate slowing to a normal beat, the tingling prickle in her hands remains.
“Hrrmph,” Elsa grumbles, attempting to shift the awkward angle of Anna’s sleep-cuddles. Her sister is distinctively bulkier than she was as a five year old.
“Anna, you’re cutting off my circulation.”
Anna smacks her lips unconsciously and rolls off her enough for Elsa to squirm into a more comfortable and less squashed position. Elsa turns to look at her sister, who is still snuffling obliviously —probably dreaming, Elsa thinks, about princes or snowmen or eating a life-size gingerbread house— and Elsa feels something stir inside. An overwhelming wave of love for this girl that she had locked out of her life for so long, and the thought of getting to see her now whenever she wanted, learning who she had become, filling in all the empty holes of adventures and stories they never shared.
Anna’s eyes flutter open, she turns her head slowly and blinks sleepily. On seeing her older sister, her mouth tugs into a wide grin. “Morning.” As Elsa is about to reply, she’s cut off by Anna’s sudden burst of giggles.
“What?” she demands, wanting to be in on the joke.
“Your hair! It’s ridiculous!” Anna wheezes between her laughter. “I- I forgot it did that."
Elsa reaches up to touch it self-consciously. “You should look in a mirror, Princess Beehive!” she retorts back with a laugh. Combing her fingers through the mess, it immediately settles into a more presentable state. Her sister stares.
“How did you do that?” Anna asks, slack-jawed.
Elsa is taken aback. “What, fix my hair? Can’t you?”
Anna sits up in bed, and attempts the same motion, succeeding only in tangling her fingers in the matted tresses. “That’s not fair,” she pouts. “You can’t have magic hair powers too!” She reaches out to muss her sister’s hair again.
Elsa laughs, tosses her head slightly. Instead of frizzling out in a halo, Elsa’s platinum locks obediently fall into a pretty frame around her face.
“That’s so not fair!” Anna grumbles again. “You look sexy. I look like something a cat spat out.”
Warmth tickles across Elsa’s cheeks at the compliment. Nobody has ever called her that before. “Hey, don’t be jealous. You can do plenty of things I can’t.”
Anna snorts. “Oh yeah? Like what?” She stares at Elsa expectantly, and her older sister fidgets as her mind races to think of something.
“L-like… burping on cue,” Elsa offers finally.
Anna continues to pout, but then begins to laugh. To Elsa’s relief, she seems somehow mollified. “That’s right. I can burp the whole alphabet. I can’t believe you remember that.”
“Of course I do, I was always so envious!” Elsa grins back, and that stirring warmth inside her coils again.
Anna sucks in a breath, swallows, and in a toad-like voice burps out, “I love you,” and they both fall into hysterical, teary laughter, until their bellies were sore and their faces stream.