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turn away and slam the door

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Let it go, let it go, and the power's coming faster now, stronger, blast after blast streaking from her fingers and becoming columns, spires and staircases, spiked chandeliers, and it's only hours later, hours after the joy in letting it all out, after the laughter has exhausted her and she's standing, chest heaving, in the glittering, cavernous ballroom, that she realises she's recreated her old home in ice exactly.

The glassy blues and brilliant whites, impossibly delicate columns and weaving bannisters, sugar-spun, open to the sky and sparkling with starlight - they couldn't make more of a contrast to the stuffy carpeted rooms, fussy wallpapers and heavy, dust-laden air that had been home. She had built up the walls and shored up the door and choked herself on it, locked in that room, but it stares at her here regardless - her eyes fall on to a corner of the staircase, and the memory freezes her. Soaring down the bannisters, then standing at the bottom to catch a much younger Anna in her arms, and Anna's momentum sending the both of them flying across the hall to clatter into several suits of armour: the recollection is so vivid as to be a sharp bass thump in her chest. And there, under the stairs, that's where the sofa would be where Anna had sat glued to her book for three solid days some winters back, reading paragraphs about handsome princes and dashing heroics to her though the door while she sat, surrounded by glittering white, balancing icicles over her fingertips.

Let it go, she thinks, straightens her back and blasts out another white wave, and another, and there are more chandeliers appearing and carved patterns on the walls, the decorations forming jagged razor spears slicing the air apart. Let it go, and she's looking away and waving a hand to smooth them out. The columns and the ceiling form into intricate and perfect fractals and they're beautiful, here, they're flawless. She has never been allowed to find beauty in this gift, never considered being able to simply play with it, and it's remarkable, and she's the only one who will ever see this and what's the point, now?

Anna will never see this. Anna had loved the swirls she had formed around herself, the symmetrical patterns that had spread out under her feet, no two the same. Elsa had been terrified initially, sitting on her hands and staying close to the fires: she had always been cautious, but it was Anna who had wrapped arms around her knees and begged and wheedled, big-eyed, wanting her to show off her magic. She had named it magic, asked for it again, bigger, as though it was something fun and pretty and not the curse that her parents whispered about when they thought she couldn't hear.

She'll be a better Queen, Elsa thinks. Anna would never dream of closing the castle doors and shutting out the people. She'd make friends with everyone, pile the castle heavy with flowers and hold balls all summer. This should have happened years ago, Elsa realises - her chest hurts to think of Anna lonely in the castle all these years and it's all her fault and let it go - she counts long shuddering breaths until the ache dies down, brushes the ice from her cheeks, and raises up more columns.

She adds sharper edges, till the icicles lining the ceiling edges are knives poised to drop, builds the place taller with sheer plate walls. She sends an avalanche to take down the snow shelves around it, so the castle stands stark and alone. It no longer resembles Arendelle Castle. She remembers the portraits and the heavy curtains there, the warm dark reds and greens and browns, the squashed cushions littering the floors around sofas Anna had somersaulted on. Dark wood tables had been messy with dolls and clothes years ago, then had grown thick with dust. She slices the outer walls even thinner, so the otherworldly shades of the Lights hanging over the earth can come though.

Pinks and greens, like no colours she's ever seen in the forests or even in the dresses of the women at the Ball, hang down from the sky and wash over her dress and her skin. Her skin - the breeze on her arms and shoulders for the first time since she can remember, and she holds up her hands, blue ice behind and all around them, as though she's never seen them before. Above the Lights, she can see deep crimson fading in to the dark of the sky, sprinkled with thousands of stars. She has never been this far north, never seen the stars out quite like this - their parents had always been careful to keep them close to town. She hopes Anna may find time in between ruling to come out and see these stars one day.

Anna will never see this. This beauty is only for her own eyes. Elsa sweeps deeper in to her castle, and closes the doors behind her.