Chapter 1: Chapter One
The morning after her birthday Anna woke late. She'd been up half the night with Elsa, of course; although Elsa had mainly been sleeping, and Anna herself had been curled up in the chair by the bed, or after a while, asleep on top of the blankets on the other side of the bed. She'd been persuaded to go down to the party for a little while, and it had been fun! But she'd felt guilty and worried and after less than an hour she'd gone back upstairs.
At some point she vaguely remembered being carried back to her own bed. That must have been Kristoff. Yes, definitely Kristoff; she'd rested her head on his shoulder and made a vague protest, but he'd carried her away and into her room, and then someone had undressed her (that definitely HADN'T been Kristoff, more's the pity) and put her to bed. And now here she was.
She was starting to feel bad for Kristoff. She knew he'd spent all day helping set up her party, and most of it trying to protect her cake from the little snowmen that had been running around everywhere. She knew that last night he'd even had to trek all the way up the North Mountain with Sven and Olaf to to get all the little snowmen out of the way. Her initial worry over Elsa now past - it really was just a cold, and with some rest and care she'd be fine very soon - she was starting to get a little disgruntled about missing a big chunk of her first real birthday party.
There's always next year , she thought. But that was a whole year away! And it was only, oh, eleven in the morning on the day after her birthday. Eleven already! She should get up.
So Anna hauled herself out of bed, and rang for breakfast, and by the time the tray arrived she was dressed and brushing her hair. Her maid Birgitta, who brought the tray and made her bed, said that Queen Elsa was still in bed but looking a lot brighter and would probably be up later; but she had asked not to be disturbed for the present. So what did Anna do now?
Kristoff. She needed to talk to him. They'd only had a chance for a few snatched words since - well. She needed to talk to him and she needed to do it in private. There were so many things she wanted to say, and she wanted to hear what he had to say without interruptions. Now she just had to find him.
He wasn't in his room, but that was to be expected at this time of day. Kristoff always rose with the dawn; she hoped that he hadn't already headed back out of the city, if he had, she wouldn't be able to find him today. But if he wasn't inside (and it was a beautiful sunny day, surely anyone who had a choice wouldn't be inside) then that was the likeliest place for him to have gone.
She was wrong, though; the next place she checked was the stables, and there he was, brushing down Sven. His face lit up when he saw her, and then he looked a bit embarrassed. He coughed and greeted her. "Good morning. If it still is morning."
"Just about, I think. How are you?"
"I'm good. Didn't get enough sleep, but I'm good. You?"
"I got LOTS of sleep, this morning, anyway."
He smiled. "I'm glad. How's your sister?"
"I haven't seen her - a bit better, they said? But she doesn't want me, or anyone, and I wanted to find you, so. Here I am. I thought you'd be gone by now."
"No, not yet." He carried on brushing. Anna sat on an upturned box and watched him.
"So you don't have any plans for today?" Kristoff said after a minute.
"No. Well, if you're not busy, I thought we could..."
"We could what?"
"I don't know, go somewhere? Just the two of us? Talk about...some things."
"That sounds - good. Hang on, I have an idea."
"No, let me think about it."
She sat in silence and watched him. The day was so warm that he'd changed back into his shorter-sleeved shirt. She could have sat and watched him for hours.
"Okay," he said after a short while. "I'm going to sort some things out, okay? You stay here."
"In a stable? By myself?"
"I won't be long. Keep Sven company."
"But where are we going?"
"Just for a drive. But I need to get some things."
"Maybe. Stay here."
He was gone for maybe quarter of an hour. Anna talked to Sven, who was always happy to see her, and then wandered down to where the sled was stored. It was already on its summer wheelbase, and she found a rag and wiped down the seats neatly. It was then that Kristoff appeared, with a hamper.
"I knew it was a picnic!"
"It might not be. It might be anything." He heaved the hamper into the back of the sled. "It might be - puppies."
"Then you shouldn't keep them shut up in a basket."
"Okay, maybe not puppies." He left for a second, then returned with a pile of blankets and put those in the sled as well. "Let me get Sven. You go out into the yard so I can move this about without worrying about hitting you. Go on, off with you."
"Is that how you talk to a princess?" she teased.
"Sounds like it, but then, I don’t know many. Go on, I'll be through in a minute."
She waited in the yard. It really was a glorious day, and for a guilty minute she felt glad that Elsa hadn't wanted to see her. Anna hoped she wouldn't get ill herself - if I do I'll go straight to bed , she told herself. I won't go jumping about worrying people. I'll go to bed and have everyone wait on me instead, ha.
True to his word, Kristoff wasn’t long. He had Sven hitched up and the sled pointing the right way, and he jumped down to hand her up to the seat. “Your highness,” he murmured as he took her hand, bowing as she sat.
“That’s better,” Anna said calmly, then when he climbed up and sat next to her she caught his eye and burst into giggles. He smiled at her, then turned back to what he was doing; the streets round the castle were busy and he had to keep tight control of Sven and the wagon. Once they were out of the city gates, the guards tipping their hats at them as they went past, he could relax and leave just one hand on the reins. Anna took the other and held it in her lap.
“At least the guards saw us,” Kristoff said. “I’m always a bit concerned that you never tell anyone where you’re going.”
“Oh, they could find me if they wanted to. They’ll know I’m with you.”
“And I’m still not sure why they let you go gallivanting all over the country without a chaperone.”
“Because it doesn’t seem to have occurred to anyone that I should have one, so don’t you dare even mention the word. Anyway, if I didn’t go gallivanting all over the country without a chaperone we never would have met in the first place.”
“Well, that’s true.”
He had taken the main road up into the mountains. At first they saw a fair amount of other traffic, coming and going from Arendelle, but after a while it got quieter and quieter. Soon it had been several minutes since they saw another wagon or horse and rider. It was then that Kristoff said, “Actually, I wanted to apologise to you.”
“To me? Why?”
“Because, I…” he hesitated, looking at the road ahead. “I put you on the spot. I embarrassed you, in front of everybody. I shouldn’t have done that, it should have been a - private moment.”
“Oh, that! I didn’t mind! It was wonderful!”
“Yes! I just felt bad because I didn’t get a chance to talk to you after, stuff happened and Elsa and, you know.”
“I know. Not your fault.”
“But that’s why I wanted to talk to you today. To make sure that you knew.” She pulled on his hand until he turned to face her, letting Sven keep on plodding along unimpeded. “That I love you too.”
“I knew,” he said quietly. “But thank you.”
She leant up to kiss him but the wagon jolted over a pothole and Kristoff hurriedly picked up both reins again. “Sorry - shall we find somewhere to stop? I know a good place, a bit further on.”
“Somewhere quiet,” Anna said. “A bit - private.”
“So we can talk .”
“Mm-hmm. A little bit further on, then.”
After another quarter of a mile he drove them off the main road and down a side track. It was bumpy but Anna never minded that. A bit further, and the track petered out altogether and they were driving straight through the forest; and then suddenly the trees ended, and they were at the edge of a small meadow, on the side of the mountain. A small stream flowed down one side, the clear water sparkling in the sun. Kristoff drove them over to a flat area to one side and helped Anna down. She explored a little while he unhitched Sven and made everything safe.
The meadow was full of flowers and grasses. Bees buzzed among the petals. After a few minutes she found an area where someone had made a fire, with the grass a little flattened down around it; sitting, she saw that it had a perfect view out over the valley.
“How did you find this place?” she said when Kristoff joined her. He shrugged.
“I like to explore. But I know this side of the mountain pretty well. I’ve never seen anyone else come through here, though. It’s as private as anywhere you’ll find up here.” He went back to the wagon and fetched the hamper and the blankets, laying them out neatly on the ground.
“Are you hungry?”
“I only just had breakfast before we came out.”
“Of course you did.”
“But you can eat if you want.”
“No, I’ll wait. Let me show you around.”
They walked around the little meadow, hand in hand. It really was lovely on this sunny June day. Sven had a drink from the stream and then relaxed in the shade of the trees. Anna sat on a rock to take off her boots and stockings, then paddled in the stream; the water was cool and refreshing on her toes. After a couple of minutes Kristoff took off his boots and socks as well and joined her. They walked along to where the stream disappeared, dropping down through the rocks, towards the river in the valley. He kissed her, then, standing on the mountainside; completely secluded, completely in view of the whole of Arendelle.
“I love you,” he said quietly when they parted.
“I know,” she said. “Everyone does.” He pulled a face.
“I love you too,” she said, more seriously. And pulled his head down to kiss her again.
They walked back to their picnic spot barefoot. Kristoff had left the hamper in the shade, and he opened it without letting Anna see inside. First he took out a flask and put it to cool in the stream. Then he made her a plate of cheese, ham, the sweet rolls that he knew were her favourite, strawberries and raspberries.
They ate. Everything was delicious, as it always was when eating outside. When they had finished, Kristoff fetched the flask from the stream and poured her a cup of wine.
“Do they know you brought this?”
“Yes, ‘they’ gave it to me. Gerda did. And there’s only enough for a cup each so I shouldn’t have to carry you home. She said happy birthday.”
“It’s not my birthday.”
“It sort of still is. And hang on.” He rummaged in the hamper again and produced two pieces of cake, the chocolate birthday cake from the day before. “Since neither of us actually got any, yesterday. I spent all day keeping that cake safe for you and then you didn’t even eat any.”
“Oh! Thank you! I wanted to, but…”
“I know. They’ve saved you plenty, anyway. Don’t drink that too quickly or you’ll get me in trouble.”
“Get Gerda in trouble.”
“I feel completely happy and at peace with the world,” Anna said drowsily ten minutes later, having finished her cake and her drink and laid down flat on her back. The sun was so warm, the sky was so blue, her boyfriend was washing the plates in the stream while she lay here. What, actually, could be better?
“Good,” Kristoff said, returning and repacking the hamper. “That’s what I was aiming for.” He sat next to her and smiled down at her.
“Do we have to go back?”
“Not for a bit.”
“Good. Come here.”
He hesitated, then laid down next to her and put out an arm so she could rest her head on his shoulder. She looked over at him and smiled. He smiled back, then a cloud passed briefly over his face.
“Nothing’s wrong. Everything is fine.” He reached out and stroked her hair back from her face.
“You looked sad.”
“I’m not sad, I - I’m just happy. And sometimes when I’m happy, I feel like - it can’t last.”
“You can’t think like that.”
“I know. I’m sorry. I’m happy.”
He was so close. Anna knew part of the reason she got away with going out with a man, without a chaperone, was that Elsa trusted Kristoff - trusted him, in this respect, more than she did Anna. He would kiss her and hold her but he never did anything more, never pushed for anything more. If she sat on his lap he would put one arm around her, but only loosely. Kisses only lasted a short while. She had never been lying down in his arms like this before.
And she understood why, and she didn't blame him; throughout their relationship, he was the one who would suffer most if there were any rumours of impropriety. He was the one who had to be careful. But they were alone, now; and they loved each other; and she was nineteen, which was almost as grown-up as it was possible to be; and it was almost a year since that first kiss. Surely it was time for a little bit more.
The bit of hair blew across her face again and she tried to blow it out of the way. As she'd hoped, he reached out and pushed it back, then left his hand gently cupping the side of her face. She leant up and kissed him, softly, on the lips. Nice.
Anna slid her own arm up and onto his chest. He was only wearing a linen shirt and she could feel the warmth of his skin, feel his heartbeat. She kissed him again, moving her hand further up to the back of his neck, tangling her fingers in his hair.
This time the kiss didn't end as it usually did. It kept on happening, and Anna found herself wriggling further up and slightly out of Kristoff's embrace so that she could press her lips more firmly to his. Then he surprised her completely by turning onto his side, drawing her against him with his arm, cupping the back of her head with his other hand.
With his chest pressed against hers she could feel the crystal that he wore around his neck on a string. It felt warmer than it should, even considering the heat of the sun and of their bodies.
It's just kissing, she told herself. He's kissed you so many times before, and held you so many times before - but this was different. She felt it all through her body, all the way down to her toes. There was a want that she couldn't understand, but somehow her body knew what to do, pressing against his and trying to wrap herself around him.
It wasn't until she lifted her leg and slung it over his hip that Kristoff pulled away from her. He was breathing hard and Anna realised that she was, too. He tried to put her away from him but she clung, her foot still hooked round his leg, her hand on his neck. "Anna," he said, and he sounded almost hoarse. She squirmed, squeezing her legs together, not even knowing why. This, this was what she wanted, and she hadn't known. Had he?
"Anna, we can't -" he stopped and then started again. "Anna, we mustn't."
"Mustn't what?" she replied. "We're just - kissing."
"You know what I mean. We mustn't take it any further."
Anna pouted and tried to pull him back to her, but he was stronger and held her in place, a hands-breadth away. "I should take you home," he said. He kissed her once more, gently, then he sat up.
The day was still warm but Anna felt suddenly cold where she could no longer feel his body heat. Tears pricked at her eyes. "You were right," she said petulantly. "I was happy before but it didn't last."
"Anna! Come on." He sounded exasperated. "You know this as well as I do. It's not that I don't want to - but -"
"You don't want to. You don't want to - ruin me. Like I'm a THING."
She knew she was being stupid and childish but she didn't care. Suddenly she was upset and bitter about the missed party yesterday, the missed opportunities this afternoon. She sat up and folded her arms. "It's been nearly a year, Kristoff. If not now, when?"
"When we're married."
His words shocked both of them. They gaped at each other. After a moment Anna found her voice.
"Are you asking?"
"I - I don't know."
Anna looked away, then at her hands. A little voice in her head reminded her that he was right, if they wanted to do - things like that - then they had to get married. He'd said when we're married, though. When. Not if.
Kristoff stood, and took a few steps away from her. She watched his back. Then suddenly he turned round and said "I mean, do you - will you? Not just because of that - but -"
"Or we can forget it. It's not important. I mean, it's not important today. Another time."
He nodded, thinking at first that she was agreeing that they would discuss it at a later date. Then he froze. "Yes? Yes you will?"
“Yes. Yes, I’ll marry you.”
He pulled her to his feet and into his arms. She buried her head in his chest; then she kissed him. “Let’s go back,” she said. “Let’s go back and tell everybody.”
“Okay.” He kissed her again. “Let me pack up.”
Anna sat and pulled her stockings and boots back on. Kristoff loaded the hamper and blankets into the sled, and hitched up Sven. They kept looking at each other and grinning.
“So, when?” Anna said once they were moving back down the mountain. “When do you want to get married?”
“I...hadn’t thought that far ahead. Spring, isn’t that when people get married?”
“It’s only just summer now. Solstice yesterday. So if we wait for the spring, that’s the equinox, that’s three-quarters of a year .”
“This summer is too soon.”
“Probably. But you can get married in the autumn and winter, you know.”
“But won’t you have guests and things to come? They can’t do that in winter.”
“I know, but….I don’t want to wait that long.” She snuggled up against his arm.
As they bumped through the forest back to the road, Kristoff said “Anna, I’ve been thinking.”
“Can we really just - tell everybody? Don’t I have to talk to your sister and officially ask for your hand and everything? I mean, I’ve got the impression she’ll say yes, but shouldn’t I do it properly?”
“Of course she’ll say yes, she likes you, if she didn’t she’d have said something before now, but…” Anna sighed. “You’re right. You should ask her first. Before we make an announcement, anyway.”
“It’s okay. I’ll do it straight away - except,” he remembered, “she’s not well. I won’t be able to speak to her today.”
“No, you won’t, most likely. I’ll see her, though, so I could say something?”
“I think I should ask.”
“Well - I’ll tell her you need to speak to her about something important .”
The journey down the mountain was not as easy as the journey up it. They were barely onto the main road before a rabbit running across the road made Sven jump and lurch to the side, then something went crack and the sled slipped almost completely off the wagon base. Anna grabbed Kristoff’s arm so hard he nearly let go of the reins, not that they were much use with the sled pointing sideways and nearly on the ground.
Once she was sure they had stopped moving, Anna jumped down and ran round to calm Sven. Kristoff climbed round and tried to see what had happened. “Are you alright?” he called over.
“I'm fine,” she replied, stroking Sven's nose. “Is it bad?”
“No, it can be fixed - I'm not sure if I can do it here, though.” He sighed. “I can't see properly until I get the sled off, and while I could probably do that, if I can't fix it here I'll never get it back up again and home. Not that I can get it home like it is now.” His jaw ached with the effort of not swearing in front of the princess.
“So I'll go and get help,” Anna said. “You stay here with the sled, I'll ride Sven home and bring some men back with some tools and things.”
Kristoff sighed. “Okay,” he said. “Let me unhitch him and get the sled all the way down, first, so I can see what the problem is. I'll need him to pull it, too. Then we'll wait for you.”
Chapter 2: Chapter Two
It was nearly an hour later when Anna left Sven in the stables, with a firm injunction to stay where he was. She was glad the time of year meant the day was long and there was plenty of daylight remaining, though she didn’t anticipate this taking long. She’d find someone to round up a wheelwright or a carpenter or something, and some tools and bits of wood or whatever they needed, and everything would be sorted out as quick as could be.
But that was when it got strange.
Every person she spoke to - a groom, a gardener, a guard - listened politely, then looked vaguely puzzled, then shook themselves, almost, and walked off. If she followed them she would have to explain over from the beginning, and received the same response.
She tried and tried, but to no avail, and time was ticking on. At a loss, Anna sat on a low wall in the courtyard and looked around her. Maybe she could just find a toolbox or something and go back herself. How hard could it be?
“Your Highness! There you are.” It was her maid, Birgitta.
“Here I am. Birgitta, I have the strangest problem -”
“- your sister is up, if you’d like to go and see her.”
“Yes - I would - but first -”
Birgitta walked away, into the castle. Anna trotted after her, and when she caught her up she ran over her story again. “So, you see, I just need to find someone who knows how to fix wagons, there must be someone around, and they could come with me and Sven and it wouldn’t take long -”
“Here we are!” Birgitta said cheerfully. “Don’t worry, ma’am, I’m sure we’ll get it sorted out.”
Elsa was dressed and sitting at her writing desk. “Anna,” she said, and smiled. “I’ve had a reply from Prince Jens. They hope to be here in around two weeks.”
“That’s nice,” Anna said, wondering who Prince Jens was. “But I have a problem and no one will help me, perhaps you can.”
“Her Highness is concerned about her friend,” Birgitta said. She still sounded a little puzzled. “She went out driving with a friend, and their carriage broke on the road, so she’s returned to seek help.”
“Not a carriage,” Anna said, exasperated. “The wagon, you know, the sled sits on the wagon? And Kristoff stayed with it. He’s waiting for me. Not too far out of town, but no one will come with me to help him -”
“Kristoff? Anna, you’re not telling me you went out driving with a man?”
“What? Yes, of course.”
“What? You never minded before! You know he’d never - or at least -” she bit her tongue before she could give too much away.
Elsa still looked scandalised, however. “Anna, I can’t believe you’re telling me this. Riding alone with a man! What will people say! Honestly, someone should have been keeping a better eye on you -” Birgitta looked at the ceiling - “But I thought you had better judgement.”
“It’s not ‘a man’, it’s just Kristoff.”
“I don’t know why you think I know who that is.”
Anna stood with her mouth open. Then she gathered herself and said, “Of course you know him. He came to my party! He helped you set it up. We’ve been - courting - for a year .” She looked at her maid for support. “You know him, Birgitta!”
“Enough,” Elsa said. “That’s enough. Anna, you are not leaving this castle again today.”
“But he’s waiting for me -”
“I dare say he’ll manage. You’re staying here, and you’re not going out again without a chaperone. You should have had one all this time; I’ve been far too lenient with you. Is that clear?”
Anna hung her head. “Yes, Elsa.”
“Good. I’m going to finish this then have a lie down, I think. I’ll see you tomorrow, I expect.”
“Yes. Goodnight. Feel better,” she said mechanically, and turned to walk away.
Halfway down the corridor, safely out of earshot, Anna turned to Birgitta and said “Do you think we should call for the doctor?”
“The doctor? Oh, no, ma’am, I’m sure she’ll be fine.”
“Well, I mean because - how could she not remember him! She must be - delirious, or something.”
Birgitta gave her a confused smile. “To tell you the truth, ma’am, I’m not sure who you’re talking about, either.”
Anna stopped still. “Kristoff! Kristoff Bjorgman! The ice harvester. He’s about this tall, and he has blond hair and brown eyes and broad shoulders, and -”
“An ice harvester? Oh, no, ma’am, I’d remember that!” Birgitta looked appalled. “You do need to be careful, ma’am, some of those men are awful rough. I think Her Majesty is right, you’d better not see him any more, and you really shouldn’t be keeping secrets like this -”
“He isn’t - he’s not - you KNOW him! You all do! It’s never been a secret!” Anna took a deep breath to calm herself down. “We haven’t been sneaking around! He even has a room here, Elsa suggested it, I’ll show you -” she strode down the corridor and threw her whole weight into opening the door.
She’d forgotten that he never left anything here. And the maids had cleaned it today, of course. It looked exactly the same as every other empty room on this hallway.
“Ma’am?” Birgitta had followed her into the room. “Is everything alright?”
“I need to find Kristoff,” Anna said.
“Kristoff? I don’t know anyone by that name,” Birgitta said pleasantly. “Is he a friend of yours?”
Anna walked back down to the stables. She’d agreed not to leave the castle, but the stables were still within the walls, so they were fine. No one knows who he is, she realised. No one remembers him. No one wants to help me, which is also so weird - even if it was for a stranger, wouldn’t someone want to help? What’s going on?
If she went into the stable and Sven was gone - Anna quickened her pace.
But she was relieved to hear, as she went through the stable door, a groom saying “Whose reindeer is this? Why is it in a stall?”
“He’s with me,” Anna called, “Or rather, he belongs to a friend. He needs to stay here for - a couple of days. Don’t worry about feeding him and everything, I’ll do that.”
“If you’re sure, ma’am.” The groom was still giving Sven a dubious look.
“Yes. I’m sure.” Her firm tone worked, or well enough. The man wandered off with a shrug.
Anna went into the stall. Sven pushed his nose into her hands and sniffed - no carrots. Disappointing. Anna stroked his nose.
“It’s okay, Sven,” she told him. “We’ll go back and find Kristoff. Then we’ll find out what’s going on here.” She started to lead him out of the stall, then heard her name being called from out in the courtyard. “Later,” she whispered. “Be ready, okay?”
Sven nodded - or she thought he did - then lay down and went to sleep.
Which is what Anna was pretending to do, a few hours later. She’d gone inside, and had dinner, and let herself be put to bed - watched the whole time by Birgitta, who was evidently trying to show how well she could chaperone. There had been no chance to get away. But at last she was alone.
As soon as the maid had left, Anna jumped out of bed and locked her chamber door. She dressed, hurriedly, and bundled some things into a satchel. She didn’t know what she would need but she had a few useful things. She had a penknife that Kristoff had given her, and a flint and steel - and it brought her a great deal of comfort to find them tucked under her mattress where she had left them. She was the one who knew what was real, and everyone else was - wrong, or bewitched, or something. She ran her thumb over the name carved onto the knife handle and tucked it carefully into the bag.
Some fruit and bread, that she’d borrowed from the dinner table and slipped into her pocket, also went into the bag. It was still warm out - and barely dark - but she took a wool cloak and mittens, just in case. And now all she needed was to get away.
Her promise to Elsa that she wouldn’t leave the castle alone niggled at her, but only a little. Something was very wrong, and she needed to fix it. She was the only one with all the facts, so she was the only one who could make an informed decision.
So she pulled on her boots, shouldered her satchel, and climbed out of the window.
Chapter 3: Chapter 3
(I never put this chapter on here apparently? It's been on tumblr for months but I guess I forgot, I'm sorry! Here you go)
(yes I am working on this, more soon I hope)
He wasn’t there.
Anna was quite sure they were on the right path. It was dark, but Sven had also known the way, and was now nosing around in the grass while Anna looked up and down the road, perplexed and, suddenly, afraid.
“Sven,” she said. “What do we do? Where do we go now?”
Sven snorted, looked at her, and walked off the road and into a bush.
She followed him into the pitch-dark undergrowth, then walked straight into something large and solid. “Ow!”
Sven snorted at her again and she managed to get over to him. The branches that she had thought were bushes were loose, and some fell down around them.
The sled and the wagon had been pushed off the road and covered up. Now she knew what she was looking at, Anna could see how neatly it had been done, as only Kristoff would do it. He realised we weren’t coming back, she thought, her heart sinking. Oh, she hoped he hadn’t been too upset, or too worried about her when she didn’t return .
Or was he just...gone?
Anna backed up out of the bushes and onto the road. In the moonlight she rummaged in her satchel and found her knife, ran her thumb over her name carved into the handle; first in blocky capitals, then in runes. Kristoff had done that. Kristoff, who loved her, had given her this knife (mainly in exasperation because she kept borrowing his, but still) and marked it with her name. The knife was solid and it was real.
She thought about the runes and she thought about magic. She knew where she needed to go. “Come on, Sven.”
Anna had been taken to visit the trolls many times by now, and Sven of course was very familiar with the route and needed no guidance. Within another hour they were there. She’d half-expected to find Kristoff there waiting for them, but he wasn’t, and no one had seen him all day.
Her presence, alone in the middle of the night, of course required explanation and Anna was more than happy to give it. As she talked, more and more of the trolls rolled over, until there were several rows watching her intently. “And he left the sled by the side of the road,” she finished. “Well, he covered it up and left it and now I don’t know where he is or what’s going on. Do you know where he is?” The trolls shook their heads.
“We can find out,” a voice said behind Anna, and when she turned she found Grand Pabbie watching her. He hadn’t been there a few moments ago, she was sure, but she was also sure that he had heard every word.
He held out a hand. Another troll rolled up and handed him a crystal, glowing faintly in the moonlight.
“What’s that?” Anna said, gathering her skirts and kneeling in front of him.
Pabbie held the crystal carefully across both hands. “Kristoff’s heart crystal. Well, half of it. He keeps the other half, and his family keep this.”
“The one he wears around his neck?”
“Yes.” Pabbie touched the central crystal on his own string. “It is the first crystal any young troll must earn. In time he will have more, but this is the most important.”
“Each crystal takes many years to earn. He has only yet lived long enough for the first.”
Pabbie closed his eyes and Anna shut her mouth over the rest of her questions. She waited, watching, managing to hold herself as quiet and still as every troll in the clearing.
The crystal in Pabbie’s hands started to glow more brightly, then flickered for a few seconds. He opened his eyes and looked at it curiously. “Peculiar,” he said, and held it up. It flickered again. He peered at it, then turned to Anna. “Hold out your hands,” he said, and when she did he placed the crystal gently across them.
Now it glowed more evenly, and he smiled. “Something is wrong. But we can mend it.”
“What can I do?”
“You? It’s not something you can do. It is not safe. Leave it to us.”
“Please! I’ll do anything.”
“He is under a powerful enchantment.”
“But it didn’t affect me. Or you.”
“We are not human.”
Pabbie glanced at the crystal that Anna still held in her hands. “Your connection with him is very strong. That is why you do not forget, or not yet.”
“Not yet?” She clutched the crystal and it gave out a burst of light. Pabbie looked at her clasped hands.
“Perhaps,” he said, “If you took the heart crystal it would be enough...no, you would need something more. Wait here.”
He rolled away. Anna waited, kneeling, her hands in her lap. The trolls were whispering amongst themselves. They didn’t seem concerned, more - excited.
When Grand Pabbie returned a few minutes later, he was holding something that looked like a ball of moss. He took Anna’s hands and gently opened them to show the crystal. It glowed gently.
“This belongs to you now,” he said, holding her gaze. “Will you protect it as if it were your own?”
“Yes, of course.”
“It will always lead you back to him. You have no crystal to give him, but it is the intention that matters. The crystal is the focus for the intention.”
He looked at Anna as if expecting a response, so she nodded.
“Take this also,” he said, and handed her the moss.
“What is it?”
“You will know when you need it. Keep it safe.”
He stepped back. The other trolls had been watching, but now seemed to relax, to talk amongst themselves, to wander around.
“Now go and find him, and bring him home,” he said.
Anna stood. Sven nudged her arm. “I will,” she said. “Thank you.”