For most of history, interpretation was mainly done consecutively, with speakers and interpreters making pauses to allow each other to speak. But after the advent of radio technology, a new simultaneous interpretation system was developed in the wake of World War II. In the simultaneous mode, interpreters instantaneously translate a speaker’s words into a microphone while he speaks, without pauses. Those in the audience can choose the language in which they want to follow.
On the surface it all looks seamless, but behind the scenes, human interpreters work incessantly to ensure every idea gets across as intended. And that is no easy task.
It takes about two years of training for already fluent bilingual professionals to expand their vocabulary and master the skills necessary to become a conference interpreter. To get used to the unnatural task of speaking while they listen, students shadowspeakers and repeat their every word exactly as heard, in the same language. In time, they begin to paraphrase what is said, making stylistic adjustments as they go. At some point a second language is introduced. Practicing in this way creates new neural pathways in the interpreter’s brain and the constant effort of reformulation gradually becomes second nature.
Over time, and through much hard work, the interpreter masters a vast array of tricks to keep up with speed, deal with challenging terminology and handle a multitude of foreign accents. They may resort to acronyms to shorten long names, choose generic terms over specific, or refer to slides and other visual aids. They can even leave a term in the original language while they search for the most accurate equivalent.
Interpreters are also skilled at keeping aplomb in the face of chaos. Remember: they have no control over who is going to say what or how articulate the speaker will sound. A curve ball can be thrown at any time. Also, they often perform to thousands of people and in very intimidating settings, like the UN General Assembly. To keep their emotions in check, they carefully prepare for an assignment, building glossaries in advance, reading voraciously about the subject matter, and reviewing previous talks on the topic.
Finally, interpreters work in pairs. While one colleague is busy translating incoming speeches in real time, the other gives support by locating documents, looking up words and tracking down pertinent information. Because simultaneous interpretation requires intense concentration, every 30 minutes the pair switches roles. Success is heavily dependent on skillful collaboration.
Pang’s traveling companion, a baffling bird that loves to ruffle more than its own feathers. Doesn’t have much capability; instead beaming with overwhemling confidence and a narcissistic tendency. Firmly believes in the law that “main characters never die”, hence taking an arrogant approach to any possible situation. Shares similar traits with Pang, genuinely enjoys his style of cold humor. Likes to look for fun during spare moments, but his definition of entertainment usually wanders into dangerous waters, eventually bringing trouble upon himself. Occasionally breaks the 4th wall with his comments, however no one around has ever seemed to notice.
A boy that grew up in the Slums, the twin of Leah. Good natured and trusting towards others, with mature thinking beyond his age. Maintaining a childlike innocence, is easily excited when presented with something new. Often ridiculed as a crybaby, now determined to become mentally stronger, longing to be more like the tough Nigel. An aerial toy never leaves his side, which also serves as Lio’s best playmate when lonely.
The Kingdom Of The Sun’s princess, a gentle being with a compassionate heart of gold. Well educated in knowledge and social graces, thus earning the admiration of people. Being raised in a greenhouse environment lacking worldly experience, she is rather naive and unsuspecting of others. An idealist when handling affairs, often over simplifying matters of the state, leading to unsophisticated behavior and strategies. Attaches great importance to the relationships between people; during crucial moments she can be rather hesitant and unable to make decisions.
A noble daughter from Kingdom Of The Sun, ice queen with an air of class and snow white hair. Under the seemingly cold appearance lies a straightforward yet earnest personality, who loves to get to the bottom of things. Unaccustomed to the manipulating trickery of noble society, also unintending to become a political pawn, she chose to leave home and join the army. Was once the princess’ bodyguard, and still remains on good terms with the princess to this day. Currently takes position as Dylan’s adjutant in Sunshine Army, her superior also taking an idol stance in her eyes.
Previous Chief to the Kingdom Of The Sun’s Royal Army, a legendary hero who made his mark in history during the Borderland Battle. Steady and sensible attitude, a reliable and person worth of intergrate praise. Advocates peace, opting to solve conflict by words. Concludes that war is just a political extension and the last resort for foreign affairs, hence putting off violence until such methods are inevitable. Was handed responsibility over the princess’ wellbeing by the late King William, thus is on good terms with Angelia. To her, Dylan is not simply a teacher, but also a fatherly figure.
Albuquerque Police Department Buildings Smeared with Red Paint, Symbolizing Blood on Their Hands
“This is political expression. If you had a fancy art degree, like I do, you would realize that the red paint has symbolic significance. If you fought an insurgency in Iraq, like I have, you would know about asymmetrical warfare.
"The public that is aghast at the shooting of James Boyd recognizes that their voices are muted. They get two minutes of commentary at a City Council meeting. Some of the councilors listen. Some play on their phones. Some worry about what’s for dinner. Who has apologized to the public for not only the shooting but the release of a horrifying video thought to exonerate the shooting? Yes, the video was released by the police because when the Chief of Police saw that video he thought, "That’s a justifiable slaying and once I show this to the public they will stop scrutinizing this shooting.” Yet the rest of us, anyone with a stomach, want to vomit all over ourselves at what is revealed in that video.
“That is how out of touch APD is with the reality on the ground. And our civilian leadership, just like in Iraq, don’t have the moral backbone to ask the hard questions and make the hard choices. So. The public knows that their voices are muted. They know that their methods of expression must be asymmetrical in order to have any chance of being heard.
"I understood why Iraqi insurgents fighting a foreign occupation resorted to "illegitimate” tactics. They could not afford to go toe to toe with us. We had kevlar and unlimited rounds and years of training. They had an old Nissan and ammunition dating back to the Iran-Iraq War.
“I understand why red paint is plastered in broad angry strokes dripping down the sides of APD buildings. Blood is on our hands. You worry about taxpayer cost of political graffiti to a couple buildings? You are missing the picture, my friends. Look a little closer. There are corpses shuttered in that building that want out.”
“I don’t see why you think I shouldn’t be a part of this.”
Elsa sighed and turned to face her sister. Anna’s face was red, colored by anger. They’d been going over the same argument for hours and Elsa’s patience was paper thin.
“Anna, this matter does not concern you-,”
“Yes, Elsa, it does!” The sisters glared at each other, then Anna’s expression softened and she reached forward to put a hand on Elsa’s shoulder.
“We’re together, and always will be. This isn’t something you should have to decide on your own, Elsa. You said yourself the raids are getting more numerous and closer to the main city of Arendelle than ever before. Why not ask the other countries for assistance?”
“We cannot seem weak. Besides, it would probably do the citizens of Arendelle well to know that they can be protected from common thieves without resorting to foreign nations.”
Anna took her hand away. Neither sister was yielding, and it was draining. There was a tense silence, then Anna spoke.
“Should we decide in the morning?” Elsa’s eyes darkened.
“I’ll decide in the morning. You won’t even be awake until noon,” Elsa replied, half-joking, but the words stung Anna.
“You don’t really need me here at all, do you?” The accusation was soft spoken, but Elsa flinched as though she’d been slapped.
“No, it’s okay. I understand, I’m not a queen. Goodnight, Elsa.” Anna left the room, leaving Elsa heart broken, confused, and alone.
Anna walked slowly down the darkened hallways to her room. Why couldn’t Elsa understand? She just wanted to help. Elsa would go to bed late every night, exhausted, only to wake up at the crack of dawn and continue whichever royal duties she hadn’t finished the day before. Anna just wanted to take some of the burden, or if she couldn’t, help Elsa in any way she could.
But Elsa was so stubborn, refusing any and all assistance, wanting Anna to enjoy her freedom.
Anna wasn’t free, not without Elsa.
So later that night, she devised a plan. Elsa was going to realize she needed Anna whether she liked it or not.
The next day, Elsa was busier than she’d ever been before. Meeting with advisors, commissioning supplies, giving her opinion on little trivialities, signing documents of trade, and mountains and mountains of paper work. She’d retired to the library to work and only when a servant came in to light the candles did Elsa realize how late it was.
“Thank you ma’am,” she said, nodding courteously to the woman, “I’ll be done shortly. Would you mind sending for my sister? We have something to discuss.”
The woman nodded and retreated. Elsa shuffled the papers around on her desk, looking for one in particular. Finding it, she smoothed it out and reinked her feather. This document was currently unsigned, but it detailed an agreement between Arendelle and a few other nations to come to each others aid in times of strife. Though bandits could barely be called ‘strife’, it was still an important document and Elsa had decided to not sign it without consulting Anna. Her words had hurt her sister, and the blonde deeply regretted them. She hoped to make it up to her by including her in decisions that affected all of Arendelle, as was only right as part of the ruling family.
A knock on the door interrupted her train of thought.
“My Queen, Princess Anna is nowhere to be found.”
“What!?” Elsa tried not to yell, but she startled the servant nonetheless. She cleared her throat, panic clawing at her heart. “Where did you look? Her room? The kitchen?” The servant shook her head each time.
Shaking, Elsa managed a ‘thank you’ and dismissed the woman. Where could Anna be? Elsa left the library and hurried to Anna’s room, hoping to find some sort of clue to her sister’s where abouts. Several minutes of searching left her with no results, until…
The clue was so obvious Elsa had to resist grinding her palm into her face. As she had turned to leave, a little note came into view, attached to the back of Anna’s bedroom door. Elsa snatched it down and opened it roughly.
She read it once, then again, then again, just to make sure she was seeing what she thought she was. The penmanship was obviously Anna’s, but it looked as though she’d tried to write a cryptic message, multiple times, but had given up, writing near the very edge of the paper, “Going to Kristoff’s place, don’t come get me.”
Elsa balled up the paper and threw it to the ground, striding out of the room. She hailed the nearest servant and told him, “Ready my horse, I’m going out.” Anna, do you really think I wouldn’t come after you?
“B-But Ma’am, must you go now? There have been reports recently of the bandit group Blooded Hoof in the area surrounding the mountain path.” Elsa stopped in her tracks. A chill settled over her soul that had nothing to do with her powers.
“Sir, which path does Anna usually take to get to Kristoff’s house?”
There was silence. Please answer another route, please gods just let him say she goes another way,” Elsa silently begged.
In barely more than a whisper, the man said, “She goes the way of the main mountain path Milady.”
Elsa couldn’t hear her own breathing. Blood rushed in her ears, drowning out thought, as an icicle of fear stabbed itself through her heart.
“Milady…?” Elsa whirled around, fire burning in her eyes.
“Ready. My. Horse. I’m going after Anna.”
Anna was starting to regret her decision to leave. Night had fallen swifter than she’d anticipated, and now she was navigating in the dark. Her black and white horse Fri tossed his head nervously. Anna patted his neck.
“It’s alright Fri, we’ll make it to Kristoff’s. No prob-! Hey!” Fri had snapped his head forward, whipping the reins and catching Anna in the hand. The redhead sucked on her fingers, trying to numb the stinging sensation. Fri’s ears swiveled back and forth, the horse obviously unnerved by something.
“What is it Fri?” Silence.
A twig snapped.
Fri bucked wildly, throwing Anna on her back, breathe slamming out of her in one great burst. While she lay there, struggling to draw air, Anna heard muffled movement all around her. The world stopped spinning and she tried to get up, only to feel a crushing blow to her side that sent stars exploding in her vision.
“Hey, this un’s alive, and gasping like a fish heehee!” More voices answered the first. All sounded deep and masculine, and not a single one familiar. Anna’s heart dropped into her stomach.
“The horse took off, no catching ‘im. But it looked like a nice horse. You rich pretty lay-de?”
“‘Course she’s rich numbskull! Look a’dat dress!”
Faces hovered into view. Three men wearing animal skins and stinking of fire and meat, shoulders marked with a red hoofprint. All of them carried a sword at their hip, though the man furthest to the left also hefted an axe in his left hand.
Do something! Anna’s mind screamed at her, but her body was sluggish and unresponsive. One of the men noticed her moving again and chuckled darkly.
“This one’s got fight in ‘er! I like that. Put her to sleep Gale, we’ll deal with ‘er later.”
A sharp crack resounded in the quiet clearing. Anna’s head rolled to the side, a boot mark marring her otherwise peaceful face.
The icicle of fear had moved from her heart to her stomach. The villagers said they’d seen Anna head into the woods near the mountain path, but after night had fallen, Elsa had been unsure how to find her sister. Everything looked the same, hadn’t she been here before, shapes move in and out of focus-
Stop! Elsa’s mind yelled at her. She yanked on Værge’s reins, pulling the horse to a halt. Breathing heavily, Elsa tried to calm down. Despite the heat of the summer night, Elsa’s breath fogged before her, evidence of her inner turmoil. Værge shifted nervously beneath her, and Elsa tried to soothe him, but he kept making little whinnying noises. Elsa leaned forward, only to realize it wasn’t Værge making the sound. Whipping her head around, Elsa tried to locate the source, her eyes finally landing on a blurry white form in the trees
Dismounting, Elsa made her way cautiously toward the creature.
A strangled cry ripped from her throat as she recognized Anna’s horse Fri. The animal’s eyes were wide with fear and it struggled uselessly against some sort of restraint. It’s reins were caught in the branches above and Elsa hastily disentangled them.
Free, the black and white horse galloped off, kicking up dust and leaving Elsa alone.
Panic tore at her chest. Where was Anna? Fri was a trained horse, it was not supposed to leave it’s owner’s side, even in extreme circumstances. Something had scared Fri, badly. Heart beating furiously, Elsa saw frost begin to form on the branches around her.
“Calm down, calm down,” she muttered to herself. Her gaze dropped to the ground and her brow furrowed. She was no tracker, but based on the considerable damage to the foliage, Elsa believed she could follow Fri’s path, maybe even back to Anna. Returning to her horse, she remounted and pointed him towards the trail.
“Let’s go Værge.”
She came upon the scene of the attack. Muddy prints and scuff marks were everywhere. Elsa had tied Værge to a tree, then continued to follow the marks deeper into the woods. She saw light between the trees and slowed her approach. While Anna would light a fire during the night, she didn’t wear size ten iron toed boots, so Elsa knew something was amiss.
The clearing was very small, barely forty feet in diameter. The fire rested in the center surrounded by logs and supplies. Two men sat by the fire, both grisly and well muscled with swords resting beside them. On their left shoulders was the mark of the Blooded Hoof, the very bandit gang Elsa had been debating asking for help to get rid of.
She silently cursed her own stubbornness. This wouldn’t have happened if she’d just let Anna convince her to reach out to other nations for support.
And then she spotted Anna.
She was lying on her side, cheek pressed to the ground. He eyes were closed and she breathed regularly, if a little hitched at the very end of each inhalation. Elsa breathed a sigh of relief. At least she appeared to be unharmed. Anna tossed a bit, removing her cheek from the ground, and Elsa bit her lip hard to keep from crying.
A large boot shaped bruise covered almost half of Anna’s face.
Fury rose in Elsa like a tidal wave. How dare they do this to Anna! The Ice Queen would teach them the true meaning of fear!
Bursting from cover, Elsa shot bolt after bolt of freezing snow and ice at the bandits. One was frozen before he could react, but the other was faster and dodged the first few blasts. The man tried to close the distance, but Elsa blocked him with a wall of ice. Spinning around it, Elsa shot him full in the chest, staggering him. She froze his feet to the ground, then inched her way up his legs and torso until he was encased in solid ice up to his neck.
Threats neutralized, Elsa kicked away their swords, then walked up to the man she’d just frozen.
“You are lucky to be alive,” she snarled. “If I find you in my lands again, not even hell will be far enough away to escape my wrath. Are we clear?” Elsa thrust her face into the man’s so their noses were nearly touching. Completely terrified, the bandit only babbled, tears running down his pockmarked face. Elsa decided that would have to do.
She ran to Anna. Her hands were bound behind her back so Elsa untied her and kneeled in front of her sister’s face.
“A-Anna?” Elsa choked, The girl did not respond. Elsa cupped Anna’s undamaged cheek. “Anna…”
The readhead groaned and Elsa felt a weight lift off her chest. Anna blinked, eyes unfocused. Elsa helped her sit up, but stopped when Anna hissed in pain, hands flying to her side.
“Anna what’s wrong?” Anna blinked again.
There was a figure before her. Her voice was soft and soothing, but Anna couldn’t remember who it was. Her blonde hair was twisted into a braid that fell over her shoulder and her diamond blue eyes were filled with worry. Anna’s vision swam again. When it refocused, there were two people. There was a man behind the person in front of her. Something glinted in his hand and he was clearly trying to be quiet. This other person was dangerous, Anna was certain, but she couldn’t seem to warn this girl, couldn’t make a sound. She locked eyes with the blonde haired woman, trying to make her understand, but it was too late.
Time seemed to slow as Anna watched the sword come down on Elsa’s unprotected back. The diamond blue eyes went wide with shock and pain. Elsa’s face fell, mouth formed in a silent ‘O’. She dropped to the ground without a sound.
“NO!” Anna screamed. Startled, the bandit spun back to Anna, having turned to deliver the final blow to Elsa. Anna hurled herself forward, catching the man across the knees and toppling him. There was a meaty thunk and the bandit was instantly still. Anna looked up and saw that his head had hit one of the logs by the fire, knocking him out cold.
Anna crawled off the man, gaze flying back to Elsa’s crumpled form. Blood spattered her sparkling blue dress and flowed freely from the wound on her back. A neat diagonal slash ran from Elsa’s left shoulder to just below her rib cage on the opposite side. The cut was mostly across bone, which was probably why Elsa was still alive. But being alive came at a price: crushing, mind-numbing pain.
The world was warped, silent. Mesmerized, Elsa watched a bead of blood darken a line of blonde hair and spill onto the grass.
She cannot process. Anything. Her back was on fire. Why does it hurt SO MUCH!? She coughs and pain rips through her, darkness swimming at the edge of her vision. Now there’s noise, so much noise and it takes Elsa a moment to realize it’s her, screaming and screaming in pure agony. Another voice joins in and Elsa clings to it, her last thread of sanity as the pain consumes her.
“Elsa! Elsa!” Anna doesn’t know what to do. The worst she’d ever injured herself was a sprained ankle or a paper cut. Never in her life had she thought she’d have to deal with this kind of injury, especially not alone. But Elsa was going to die if Anna didn’t do something.
She’d been wearing a cloak for riding which she now removed and threw over Elsa. The blonde clenched her teeth and whimpered pitifully. She felt a bit warmer now, but as the cloak had pressed into the wound there’d been an entirely fresh wave of burning pain and she’d nearly blacked out.
Anna talked out loud to herself, both for reassurance and desperation to keep her sister focused and alert.
“O-Okay Anna, what’s next? She’s warm now but… the blood…” The cloak became dark as the blood began to soak through. She had to make it stop! Anna hurried to Elsa’s front.
Sweat beaded on Elsa’s forehead and ran down her face and arms. Her eyes were unfocused but she stared straight ahead, teeth clenched, muscles bulging out of her neck. She’d stopped screaming, but Anna wasn’t altogether sure that was a good sign. Elsa wheezed lightly, sucking air in through her teeth before exhaling heavily.
Anna got down on her knees before Elsa, struck by the irony of the situation. Hadn’t their positions been reversed a mere minute ago? Tears pooled in her eyes as the redhead took Elsa’s cold hand and held it tightly.
“Elsa I’m so so sorry. This is all my fault, I shouldn’t have run away. Gods Elsa, don’t die… I’m sorry, I don’t know what to do-,”
“Queen Elsa! Princess Anna!”
Anna’s head shot up, stunned. The voice came again, quickly joined by others.
“Queen Elsa! Princess Anna! If you can hear us, call out!”
The guards from the castle! Of course! They would have followed Elsa.
The tears she’d been holding back spilled over and Anna sobbed, too grateful for words.
“We’re- We’re over here!” She yelled, not letting go of Elsa’s hand. After a few more cries, the guards found them. They were shocked to find both royals injured, but training took over and they assembled a makeshift stretcher from tree limbs and riding cloaks. As gently as possible, they laid Elsa on top of it. A soldier came up to Anna and helped her stand.
“Your Highness, forgive my prudence but please, what happened here?” Anna outlined all that she could remember, the man nodding thoughtfully. Anna gripped his forearm tightly.
“Is-,” she swallowed, unable to speak for a moment, “Is she going to be okay?” The guard’s face hardened and Anna’s heart nearly stopped.
“If we can get her to the castle, there will be a better chance,” he said gravely. “After that, only she can decide.” A smile broke over the man’s face, surprising Anna. “But if you ask my personal opinion Princess, I’d say she’s got more than a good chance. When she heard you’d gone missing, she outran her own honor guard just to find you. Took us nearly an hour to pick up her trail, and by that time the fight was already over.” The man surveyed the clearing, noting the frozen men and pointing out the bandit that Anna had knocked out.
“The Arendelle Royals are strong, Miss, not to be trifled with. Even death hesitates to tangle with you!” The guard laughed and Anna almost smiled.
The soldier took her elbow and guided her towards his horse. Anna winced as she walked, hand positioned protectively over her side, but waved off help, directing it towards Elsa instead. The both of them mounted and Anna watched as two guards took up the stretcher and carried Elsa. Anna wished she could walk with her, but the guard told her to let the soldiers do it, arguing that after her ordeal it would be best to get some rest. Anna wanted to protest, but as soon as he mentioned it, her eyelids felt heavy. She slumped forward in the saddle as sleep overtook her.
Anna was very very warm. Her eyes opened slowly. She was in her own room, in her own bed, under the covers. She sat up quickly, too quickly and had to wait a moment for the pain in her side to diminish. Looking down, she noticed strips of white cloth circling her stomach, and reaching up, found her face has been treated as well.
As comfortable as she was, Anna forced herself out of bed and got dressed. There was someone she needed to see.
Anna knocked her special knock, then twisted the latch and walked into her sister’s room. Elsa was lying on her stomach, arms crossed beneath her chin, propping her head up. Her back and chest were completely covered in bandages, from her shoulders to below where the covers began at her lower back.
Elsa turned her head at Anna’s entrance and smiled weakly.
“Hey,” she breathed.
“Hey,” Anna replied. There was an awkward silence. “H-How are you doing?”
“Well,” Elsa began, shifting a little. She grimaced as some pain flared up, but continued. “I can’t really move. The doctor said I’ll live but won’t be able to do anything normal for some time.” She sighed. “There’ll be so much paperwork…”
Anna took the chair from Elsa’s writing desk and placed it near the head of the bed. She sat down, suddenly nervous. Desperate for conversation, Anna spit out the first thing that came to mind.
“So… did you decide what to do with that foreign help document?” Elsa’s eyes shifted and Anna mentally kicked herself. Why on earth would she bring that up, the very thing that had gotten them to where they were now?
“I haven’t signed it yet.” Anna met Elsa’s eyes, surprised. “I didn’t want to sign it… not until you were there to put your name on it as well. You are an Arendelle royal after all, and your name belongs on it.”
Anna wasn’t sure how to respond, so she just nodded and looked at her lap. A little disappointed at her sister’s lack of enthusiasm, Elsa slowly extended her arm out towards Anna, biting her lip to keep from hissing as even that small movement came with needles of pain.
Anna met her halfway and they entwined their fingers together, needing each other’s touch. They were like that for a few minutes, just listening to the other breathing, not being able to express in words how grateful they were that the other was still alive.
Anna broke contact first.
“It’s my fault,” she said. Elsa picked her head up, wincing, and stared at her.
“Anna, how could you possibly think this is your fault?” She paused to gather breath but Anna interrupted, placing her hand back into her lap.
“I pushed you too hard, and when I didn’t like your decision, I ran away like a child.” She examined her fingers, watched the walls, anything to avoid looking at Elsa, especially her back. “If I hadn’t run away you… you wouldn’t have…,” she gestured vaguely at her sister, unable to finish. Elsa swallowed.
“I’m sorry Elsa,” the redhead whispered. She stood up suddenly, almost overbalancing the chair. “I-I’ll go now. Sorry to have bothered you.”
Speechless, Elsa watched Anna stride towards the door. She’s really leaving. No, no, she can’t leave! Elsa’s mind was frantic.
“Anna!” It was nearly a whine. Anna turned back, completely surprised. In her desperation, Elsa had forced herself up on an elbow. The pain was immense, and her breath hitched as it washed over her, but Anna was wrong, so wrong, and Elsa would not let her leave with that kind of guilt hanging over her.
“Anna,” she gasped, “If anyone is to blame, it’s me.” Anna opened her mouth to protest but Elsa plowed on. “I was the one who made you angry, and for what? Because I couldn’t make up my mind about some random piece of legislation?” Becoming exhausted, Elsa slowly lowered herself back onto her stomach, sweating lightly. Tears rolled down her cheeks and splashed onto her arms. “I’m so sorry Anna. I’m so stubborn. It’s not your fault Anna, don’t say that… please.” Panting, Elsa buried her face in her arms, not wanting Anna to see the shame in her eyes.
Warm, delicate fingers pressed gently on her arm and Elsa raised her head. Anna’s eyes brim with tears and one escapes, leaving a wet trail over her freckled cheek.
“So-,” Anna sniffs then smiles weakly, “I guess it’s no ones fault.” Elsa smiles back, marveling at her younger sister’s way of taking away her guilt instead of the other way around as originally intended. “I guess you’re right.”
A knock at the door ruined the moment.
“Your Majesty I-, Oh! Princess Anna! Good to see you up and about!” The female servant bowed politely. “You’ll have to excuse us though Princess, I have to change Her Majesty’s dressings and… well it’s not the sort of thing for a young lady such as yourself to see.”
Elsa hid a smirk behind her hand as she saw Anna’s face go from astonishment to indignation in less than a second. Despite this, Anna’s tone was curt.
“Actually, it would please me most to stay, ma’am. And maybe I could learn some things about first aid, seeing as I knew nothing and probably should have when the injury occurred.” The woman was understandably flustered so Elsa helped her out with a swift nod, indicating that Anna could stay.
The woman began to undo the wrappings but Elsa asked her to wait a moment, beckoning Anna closer.
“Anna… don’t look at it.”
“Elsa it’s not like-,”
“Please…,” Elsa breathed, squeezing Anna’s hand. Anna was silent for a beat.
Anna kept her hand entwined with Elsa’s as the woman redressed the wound. Since she’d promised not to look at the wound itself, Anna watched the woman’s arms carefully, noting when to be gentle and when to tug and make the binding tight and where to tuck everything in. When Elsa whimpered in pain Anna would squeeze her hand and run fingers through her hair, talking softly about nothing.
After that day, Anna refused to let anyone else take care of Elsa. She’d sleep on the floor in Elsa’s room so that every morning she could personally re-bandage Elsa’s wound, taking great care not to look at the injury as Elsa continued to adamantly refuse she do so. Anna would order soup and other warm meals from the kitchen, then help Elsa eat them. While this wasn’t completely necessary –after all Elsa could use her arms, mostly– it did make the blonde’s life a little easier.
Truth be told, Elsa was secretly glad Anna wouldn’t let anyone else attend to her. It just proved to her that Anna didn’t blame herself and that there were no hard feelings from either girl. Sometimes it wasn’t all that great. Anna was a clumsy girl, occasionally spilling food on the bed or having it dribble down Elsa’s chin. One time Anna even flopped down on the bed, but the movement of the mattress made the muscles in Elsa’s back spasm. Intense pain broke out all over, making Elsa cry out. Anna had apologized profusely, but Elsa hadn’t been able to do much except nod and grit her teeth.
Elsa’s favorite part was that as time went on and her back got better Anna was able to move from sleeping on the floor (which Anna complained about every day but refused to move from Elsa’s side) to Elsa’s bed.
Anna would sleep quietly next to her and wake up with her nose buried in Elsa’s hair. Most nights were quiet and peaceful and the sisters would sleep with their hands clasped together, seeing as hugs were a little out of the question. But Anna would wake up other nights to the sound of Elsa’s soft crying. The pain would be so overwhelming but Elsa would be so afraid of waking Anna that she’d try to hide it and be as quiet as possible. Anna knew this and would gently kiss each individual tear away then kiss Elsa’s forehead without saying a word. Elsa would eventually lapse back into sleep but Anna would stay awake and hum lullabies, rubbing Elsa’s hand whenever her brow creased with pain.
Eventually Elsa could get up and walk and after a time it was as though the wound never occurred, the only evidence being a hairline scar that was easily missed. Elsa had once teased Anna that she’d never be able to wear backless dresses again, but stopped when the redhead had burst into tears. Despite not needing to anymore, the sisters continued to sleep together. Anna would still wake up with her nose buried in Elsa’s hair and Elsa would feel her sister’s hot breath on her head and just feel so loved. And if Elsa ever had a nightmare and cried quietly in the night, Anna would do as she always had and kiss her sister’s tears away until she’d calmed down enough to tell her what happened.
They were never apart and shared everything together. Decisions were never made without the other. Everything had Elsa’s flowing script and Anna’s splotchy print, usually running together to make little snowflake and flower doodles on the edges.