Elsa rolled her eyes as her sister tugged anxiously on her sleeve. “C'mon sis, please ! He just left... I need a distraction!” Anna's lip was popped out in a pout, eyes large and glittering with false tears.
“Anna, please... I have work to finish before Papa gets home.” Elsa bit her lip, before risking one glance upwards towards the red head. Almost immediately, she sighed, pushing her chair out from under the writing desk. “Okay, fine. Just a few hours, though.”
A smile stretched her cheeks, and Anna pulled her sister excitedly up from her chair, bouncing in a circle before running off to change. “Thank you!” she hollered over her shoulder, before disappearing into the doorway of her bedroom. “I promise we can go wherever you want!”
Elsa snickered behind her hand as clothing started to fly past the open door frame, and she took a few slow, careful steps towards the tornado of dresses. “Anna, you look fine in what you're wearing. Why are you –” her words were cut off as a skirt landed over her head. Uncovering her face and folding the cloth over her arm, Elsa let out a frustrated shout. “Anna!”
Taking pause, Anna looked up towards her sister with a small hum of inquiry before noticing the mess she had caused. “Oh... Um...”
“You look fine, Anna. Besides, you're engaged. You don't need to be impressing anyone,” Elsa muttered, a slight hint of teasing twitching at the corner of her lips.
Anna looked down to her dress, a simple green and black, and ran a hand along the fabric. “I... I guess you're right!” she laughed, relief washing over her face. The dress, in her mind, was rather plain, but she was sure it was fine for just going out shopping. “All right!” she started, grabbing Elsa by the wrist and leading her out the door. “Let's go!”
Elsa couldn't help but chuckle as her sister dragged her out the door, shushing the red head's excited laughter.
Within the hour, the two sisters were deep into town, a few bags slung over Anna's shoulder, Elsa laughing as she was dragged from window to window by her bright-eyed little sister. “Anna, don't go crazy, now... you know Papa wants you to be a little more careful with money since...”
Anna jumped back and clasped a hand over the blonde's mouth. “Shhh,” she hissed, placing her free index finger over her own lips. “We don't talk about that!” Feeling the blonde smiling under her hand, she let go of her grip, and straightened her posture again. “Besides, I learned my lesson! I'm only buying things that have been marked down, you see?”
A roll of her icy blue eyes, a smirk, and a shrug of her shoulders, Elsa continued forwards. “Whatever you say, little sister. I'm not defending you this time if Papa gets m –”
Suddenly, Anna's hands were wrapped tightly around Elsa's forearm, and she was tugging desperately. “Do you hear that, Elsa?” The blond quirked her head, trying to figure out what her sister was babbling on about, barely noticing that she was being dragged along the pavement. “Singing! We have to go listen!”
“A-Anna...” Elsa pulled her to a stop, tugging on her arm. She couldn't help but be quickly tired out by her sisters' overenthusiastic personality. “Can we walk?” There was an obvious sigh of relief from Elsa as Anna nodded with a smile, and did her best to keep the bounce in her step to a slow walk. Quick apologies poured from the redheads' lips as she put all of her focus into not running too far ahead of her sister.
To Anna, it took forever before they found the source of the music – a small barbershop quartet, all young, broad men with big smiles on their faces as young women stared on and smiled with infatuation. But one of the men in particular caught Annas' eye. He had deep brown eyes, blond hair that was slicked back under his hat. And it was clear that he had caught sight of her, too. She giggled, a blush spreading across her nose as he smiled at her, and looked away.
Elsa quirked an eyebrow towards her giggling sister, then to the stranger, and back to her flushed cheeks. The younger sister was a notorious flirt, and with Hans gone for a good two months, she wasn't sure that her sister would behave, if faced with an attractive stranger giving her the attention she had craved for her whole life.
The blond mans' gaze followed Anna as the sisters walked by, and he nudged the other men to follow his movements. Suddenly, her breath hitched in her chest as she felt a large hand grasp at her much smaller one, catching her and turning her to face the group. Elsa crossed her arms over her chest impatiently, watching with a curious protectiveness as the man knelt down on one knee, singing directly to Anna. The ruddiness of her cheeks only darkened, face almost matching her hair, as words rolled over the presumed leaders tongue, sweet words of affection through song.
Though Elsa didn't quite catch all of the words sung, she had heard enough about these men and their infatuation with the pretty, rich girls, and immediately tugged Anna away, scowling at the blond man as his words stopped and he stared onward. With the girl gone, and the the rest of the group slowly trailing off without their lead's voice to keep them going, the blond stranger stood up, dusting off his knees.
“Sorry 'bout that, guys,” he murmured, walking back to their original place. A brunet nudged his arm with his elbow, laughing.
“Haven't seen you like that in a long while, Kristoff...”
“Yeah, yeah. Shut it, bud.”
Kristoff swallowed a large lump forming in his throat as he stared after the mysterious red head, before giving a small snap and urging the group to continue with their repertoire for the afternoon. They had to gather money somehow, and he wasn't about to let some little pretty red head distract him from his main purpose out here. “All right, what's next?”
“Elsa!” Anna yelled, tugging her arm out of her sisters' grasp. “What on earth was that for?!” Crossing her arms over her chest, the redhead waited patiently for an explanation. The blonde tugged the opening of her shawl a little closer together and sighed.
“Anna... You and I both know that you... well...” she took in a nervous breath, gesturing with her hands before clasping them together in front of her chest. “We both know that you... like attention...”
“... And you're not one to turn it down, especially from... men...” Elsa swallowed the rest of her words, looking back nervously at her sister, whose insecurities were washing over her features. “Anna... I didn't mean...”
“No! You're right. You're...” the redhead sighed, slumping down on a nearby bench, casting her gaze downward to the stone beneath her feet.
“It's just that you're engaged...”
“And I could see it in your eyes, that look you had when you first met Hans, too...”
Anna frowned, twisting her fingers together. “Really?” she asked, peeking up from under her lashes. Did she really give that guy that look? Sure, he was cute... but he was no Hans. And she didn't even know his name! How could she --
“But it was different, somehow.” She looked up as her sister sat beside her, placing a hand on her shoulder. “Just remember how much effort you went through to get all of us to agree to Hans...” Elsa gave a small, reassuring squeeze on Anna's shoulder as worry took over her features again, before standing up in front of the bench. “Come on, Papa will be home soon.”
Anna nodded, gave a small smile and stood up, walking off with her sister.
The rest of the evening had provided a good distraction for Anna. Between helping Mama with the cooking, taking their puppy, Marshmallow, for a walk, and tidying up the kitchen, she hadn't had a moment to think about Hans... or the stranger from earlier in the day. But sitting here now, preparing for bed and letting her mind wander, she couldn't help but see his warm smile and deep brown eyes behind her lids when she closed her own.
She had to see him again.
Not like that... She just –
There was a loud knock on her door, and Anna perked up, smiling as her sister walked into her room. “Hi,” Elsa started, quietly latching the door behind her. She took a few steps forward, and held out her hand behind Anna, staring into the mirror in front of them. “Can we talk?”
“Of course,” Anna mumbled, handing her sister the brush that was resting in her palm. She had learned, over time, that Elsa was best able to express complicated topics if she kept her hands busy. When it came to something between sisters, Elsa felt most comfortable when brushing the red head's hair. “What's wrong?”
She brushed five times, exactly as she always did, before speaking. “I know you, Anna... And I know you're going to see that boy again.” Anna opened her mouth to protest, and Elsa cut her off. “Please. Just...” She sighed. “Anna, just be smart. I know Hans is gone for a while but...”
Anna spun in her seat, grasping the back of her chair so tightly that her knuckles began to turn white. “Are you implying that I'm some sort of tramp?”
“No, no, Anna. I just...” Elsa stepped back as Anna stood in front of her, her hands clenched into fists, face flushed with frustration.
“I know I'm spoken for, Elsa.” She walked with purpose towards her bed, sitting and crossing her arms. “I'm not stupid.”
“I wasn't saying you were!” The blonde watched her sisters' motions, and immediately was filled with a sense of regret. “I'm sorry, Anna... I just... I know you love Hans. And with all the effort you put in to get us to agree to the engagement –” Elsa sat beside her sister, placing a gentle hand on her knee.
“I know, Elsa. I know. I just want...” She sighed, clasping her hands under her chin. “I just want to know his name.” Pressing her hands against the back of her neck in frustration, Anna bit her lip and looked towards her sister. “Honest, Elsa. Once I find out his name, I'll be over him. Really!”
Elsa smiled, obvious disbelief in her grin. “Okay, Anna... Just...”
“I know. I won't do anything stupid.”
There was a chill in the air between the sisters as the blonde stood, kissed her sister on the crown of her head, and made way for her door. “Good night, Anna.”
Giving one last smile to her older sister as the door shut, the red head let her smile drop and laid backward on her bed with a frustrated whine. “Just want to know his name... That's it, Anna. Just...” She paused, pressing the heels of her palms into her eyes.
The next thing she knew, the sun was beaming in through her window, shining right onto her eyes as a hard fist knocked on her door. “Anna,” her mother's voice called through the door. “It's getting late, and Papa, Elsa, and I are going out. Are you okay alone today?”
She coughed, rubbed at her eyes and hollered out a weak “Yes, I'm fine! See you later!” before listening to her mother walking away. It very, very quickly clicked in her head that if they were out today, she would have every ability to go see that boy today, and Elsa would be none the wiser.
A bite of her lip, and a smile. It was perfect! She waited by the window, waving gleefully as her family left. She ran to quickly bathe, pick out a sweet blue dress, and style her hair up in mess of curls pinned haphazardly around her head. Within half an hour, she was out the door and on her bike, riding to town with a quick wave to one of her mother's closest maids.
The trip to town wasn't long, and with the late spring breeze cooling her off, it was rather enjoyable under the beating sun. But she moved quickly, probably a little too desperately, to reach the spot where she heard the singing the day before. When she heard the familiar harmonies of the four men just around the corner, she dismounted from her bike, locked it up against the side of a building and straightened herself up.
Anna took just a few steps before pausing, biting at her lip and pulling one curl loose to twirl it in her fingers. What if she didn't catch his eye again? What if he does that to all the girls who pass? What if...
No. It doesn't matter! She just wanted to know his name. Anything further than that wasn't even worth thinking about. It's not like it would happen. She had Hans, and she was sure that he had someone back home. He was too gorgeous not to. Just his name. Just. His. Name. She let out a deep breath, and stepped around the corner, immediately turning her gaze to the blond stranger.
When he caught sight of her, he couldn't help but stumble over the lyrics he was meant to be singing, and flash her a nervous smile. Anna stood back, gave him a small wave, and blushed brightly as he moved forward, his group following close behind again. So it was her who he wanted to sing to. More than he wanted to sing to anyone else who was standing around, at the very least.
In an instant, he had his hand clasping hers again, his arm twirling her out and in, and his other hand catching hers as she spun back, landing chest to chest. A bright laugh bubbled from her chest as he dipped her on their last note, calming to a soft giggle as he lifted her up again.
“Hello again,” he mumbled, letting go of her and stepping back, a new self-consciousness taking over him. Anna smiled, tucked a loose strand of hair back behind her ear, and winced as her cheeks burned. “No one to drag you off today, huh?”
His speaking voice was just as smooth as his singing one, and just his words made her flush brighter and feel a twist in her stomach. “N-no... I... By myself! I mean. I'm not...” Anna bit her lip to shut her words in, and quickly stuck out one hand for a shake. “I'm Anna.”
A thick eyebrow cocked in her direction as he lifted the back of her hand to his lips, smirking against her soft skin. “Kristoff.” Her big blue eyes continued to stare at him with a dreamy smile stretching across her lips, and he started to blush. “S-so, Anna –”
She snapped out of her daze. “Well!” Pulling her hand free, Anna took a few steps back between each broken phrase. “Just your name! That's all I came to find out. You see... I... I'm meeting my family! I have to go!” By the time he had a chance to react, she was darting off in another direction, and Kristoff stood where she left him, completely dumbstruck.
“W-wait!” he managed, taking a couple steps intended to follow her, before his friend called out to him.
“Hey, Bjorgman!” the brunet called, waving him over. “We're just getting started for the day! Get back over here!”
The next breath he let out was an almost a bitter laugh. What the hell just happened?
Anna pressed her back up around the wall, just around the corner, and took in a huge breath. Okay. Kristoff. His name was Kristoff... That's all she wanted to know, right? She began fiddling nervously with the ring sitting on her left hand, spinning it around and around on her finger. She was engaged. He was coming back. She couldn't...
Biting at her nails, Anna let out the breath she didn't know she had been holding. There's nothing wrong with just watching his performances... right? Right! She could enjoy the quartet, she was just an audience member. She couldn't stop him from flirting with her, if he so chose to... It was harmless! All she knew about him was his name, anyway. It was impossible for anything to happen there. Just a name, and a quartet, and a little, easy, harmless flirting.
That's what she told herself the next day.
And the next.
And the one after that.
Before she realized it, a whole week had passed. A week of walking by, and eying him. A week of him grabbing her hands and singing to her. A week of blushing and running away. And a week, in Anna's opinion, was long enough.
Today, she was going to do something different. Still innocent, she told herself. But different.
With a calmness she did not feel, she walked straight up to where the men were performing. No greeting, no waves, nothing but a little smile. But when he smirked and bowed his head down, she grabbed his hat and ran. Looked over her shoulder once to see that they had stopped singing, and he was just staring after her, and by the time he started running after her, Anna had picked up her pace, giggling wildly as she ran around a corner.
“Hey!” she heard his voice booming from behind her as she stopped to lean against the wall, hoping he wouldn't see her as he rounded the corner. She heard footsteps growing closer, the skid of dress shoes on the pavement as he tried to take the corner just a little to sharply, and his heaving breaths as he noticed her and came to a stop. “What did you do that for?”
Spinning the hat in her hands, Anna smirked. “I don't know!” she laughed, resting it behind her back, and looking up towards the blond as he leaned against the wall next to her. “Just thought maybe I could pique your interest by taking...” She had to pause to swallow the nervousness that was overwhelming her as he leaned down closer to her face. “... by taking something.”
Kristoff laughed, “Now, now, miss...” he tried to snatch the hat from behind her, but she moved just a little too quickly for him. “If you don't give that back me, I'm afraid I'm gonna have to ask you out on a date in order to charm it back from ya...” He touched gentle fingers to the tip of her chin, tilting her head up to face him. “Now I'm sure you wouldn't want that...”
Pushing off the wall, Anna gave him a smirk as she turned the hat in her hands again, before placing it gently over her voluminous curls. “So where are we goin'?”
Anna couldn't deny that the walk from the quartet's corner to... well, wherever it was he was taking her, was more than just a little awkward. From the second they left, there was a tense silence that neither of them were sure how to break.
Kristoff had told her that they needed to finish their set to make what he needed for the day, but then they could go off. And after waiting patiently for an hour, and enjoying every minute of it (she realized that she hadn't ever listened to their whole set), Anna skipped back up to the men and plucked off the blond's hat again. When he moved to snatch it back, Anna wagged a finger at him. “Uh-uh,” she started, pulling it tightly over her curls. “You still have to take me out to get this back!”
He gave her a smirk, and nodded. “Fair enough,” he murmured, offering the small girl his arm. “I guess I better get to work, then!” With a quick adieu to his mates, Kristoff led the small red head off in the opposite direction. Fast forward to now, where they were, walking arm in arm in almost dead silence.
“So...” she hummed, glancing up at the broad man, almost swooning as he let out a sweet laugh.
“So,” he smiled down at her, making the red head blush.
“Well, where are you taking me?” Anna felt him stiffen up in her grasp. Was that the wrong thing to ask? He coughed, and rubbed at the back of his neck.
“Well, um, you see,” he began, tugging at his collar. It probably was obvious to the girl that he didn't have a lot of money, just as it was obvious to Kristoff that she did. “There's a small ice shop near where I live. I thought – well, I can't really afford much but I thought that with this heat that maybe you'd --”
Anna squeezed just a little tighter around his arm, smiling brightly as she reassured him. “That sounds great!” It was a relief for Anna to feel him let out a breath and relax, patting a warm hand against her smaller one.
They stayed quiet for the rest of the walk, until they wound up in front of a little place called Oaken's.
“You live around here?” Anna asked, biting at her lip as she glanced nervously up and down the relatively empty streets. It wasn't like she had ever been to this part of town (or really, any part like this), but she had heard stories from her fiance of all the bad things that happened in areas like this.
Kristoff paled, taking a moment to tug at his collar again. His nerves were taking over and he was having a difficult time fighting them back down. “I-it's... it's not as bad as it looks. Honestly. It's just...” a small cough, and he was tugging her forward, towards the shop. “Really. This is just a little mom and pop shop that I've been coming to for years .”
A little bite of her lip and a smile before she started skipping along beside him, letting her hair bounce around her shoulders. “Okay! I'll trust you – but if I die, you're going to have a good time explaining that to my f –” ...Fiance. “–amily.”
He laughed, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. “You'll be fine, I promise.”
A little bell on the door rang, resulting in the large man sitting at the counter to perk up and wave. “Yoo hoo! Welcome! Kristoff! Are you finally bringing a little lady around?” Anna giggled behind her hand before waving, as Kristoff blushed and pushed his hair back.
“Now, now, Oaken. You know I –”
“Yes, I know!” the large man chuckled, standing up and moving towards the counter with the ice creams. “What can I get you?”
Anna wandered off to look around the shop as the two men began to quarrel about what flavor was best, and why didn't he bring more friends, and countless other things, only stopping to examine a picture of Oaken, and what she presumed to be his family. They were all waving, with bright smiles plastered on their faces.
“Nice guy,” she heard from over her shoulder, as she turned to face Kristoff. “A little pushy, but he's nice. And makes the best ice cream,” he finished with a wink, handing her a chocolate cone. “Sorry, I should have asked... but you seemed like a... chocolate gal.”
He trailed off with a laugh as she already had some ice cream smeared around her mouth. Anna wiped nervously at the corner of her lip with her finger and giggled. “Chocolate is my favorite! You...”
Kristoff snickered and swiped a thumb over her lip, catching some of the smeared cream that she had missed, before licking it off his own thumb.
“...You guessed right.”
“Glad I did.”
They moved to sit across from one another at a cold, steel table, both quietly working at their own ice creams. Anna couldn't help but avert her gaze every time their eyes met, blushing and giggling like a small girl with a crush. She felt like a fool, but his crooked smile and touches of his fingers against hers were reassuring.
“So Anna,” he murmured, popping the last bit of the cone in between his lips. “What exactly is it that you do?”
She coughed, paused with the cone right in front of her mouth, and smiled. “N-nothing, honestly... My family is pretty well off. I, um, just kind of enjoy myself.” Her face paled as Kristoff started laughing.
“What a life!”
Anna was embarrassed, and pulled his hat down to hide her blushing cheeks. Of course, why would he want anything to do with a spoiled rich girl? He was a working man who earned his way, why would he...
“I think I'd be bored without work, though.” Had he been talking this entire time? Had she completely missed everything he said?! Boy, was she messing up around this guy! Wait – was he still talking? Listen, Anna! Stop zoning out into your own little world!
In an attempt to quickly snap back to reality, the red head wound up hitting the hat abruptly off of her head, instead of slowly grabbing it and placing it on the table. “Oh!” She was frantic, hopping down off the stool as the blond moved to bend down and grab the hat.
When they both came back up to the table top, each with one hand on the hat, Anna's face was as dark as her hair.
“Are you okay?” Kristoff asked, placing a gentle hand on her shoulder. Why was she so nervous and jumpy? It's as if she was trying to get away from him. He should have known. She'd find out that he didn't have much more income than singing and she'd want to run. Or it's because she learned that he's actually just a blubbering mess of awkwardness, and not at all the smooth, charming person he displayed during work.
“I'm...” Anna bit her lip, letting go of his hat and smoothing her dress back down around her legs. “Y-yes, I'm fine. I just...” I'm engaged. I shouldn't be here. I already like you. “Am just a little embarrassed.”
He smiled and laughed, placing the hat on her head again. “You're embarrassed? I can't take you out for anything more than ice cream, and you're embarrassed?”
Anna was taken aback, a shocked gasp filling her lungs. “What? I th-thought... Well I thought you wouldn't like me after I said that – most people just see me as a spoiled heiress...”
Kristoff's smile stretched his cheeks even further. “No way. Money isn't gonna decide how I feel about someone. Especially not a cute red head with chocolate ice cream smeared all over her face. You certainly don't look like any spoiled heiresses I've ever met.”
She wiped at her lips, a goofy grin pulling at her mouth, and blushed again. Okay. This wasn't so bad of a start, now was it? But what, Anna began to wonder, was it the start of?
It continued like this for a few weeks. Meeting up after his shows were done, going on walks or picking up sweet treats (Kristoff had quickly learned that the little red head had a major league sweet tooth), or just sitting and talking. He wasn't sure that he had ever talked so much in his whole life!
Anna had told him about her mother and father, what they expected of her, and about her sister, and how she lived up to every one of her parents ideals. She told him about how when they were little, they were kept cooped up in the house because Elsa was very sick. To this day, she still didn't know with what, but she does know that sometimes her sister still has relapses, and will refuse to come out of her room.
Kristoff told her little about his past, besides the fact that he was an orphan. He had mentioned that his parents had died when he was young, but he didn't remember them, so he didn't see it as much of a loss. He had mostly spent his time wandering on the streets, doing odd jobs so he could eat.
“That's... really sad...” Anna had felt tears welling up in her throat, before Kristoff smiled, touching a hand to her shoulder.
“It's all right, really!” He made a rough gesture with his hands, giving a little shrug of his shoulders. “I met this really sweet family. They offered to take me in, but... I felt like a burden. Instead we agreed to a couple dinners a week in exchange for maintenance.” He smiled when the red head brightened up slightly. “Still go over there every now and again. They're basically a family to me.”
She told him about how she didn't have many friends, because she had to go straight home from school when she was young. But also because everyone was afraid of Elsa. Kids called her the ice queen, and she would stand up for her big sister, so people started to be afraid of her, too.
He laughed and told her he was the same. He didn't have many friends, but he had his pup, Sven, and that was all he needed.
Kristoff had held her hand when they walked, but never said anything when she pulled her hand from his when they passed by people who knew her. Anna was all smiles and bright eyes, and would sometimes pull him into dark places just to hug him close. He was confused, but never minded it all that much.
Anna loved to run up stairs, just to jump down and let him catch her, always mumbling things about trust exercises, and Kristoff would groan every time she did, not setting her down for a moment out of fear that she was going to kill herself. She would smile and tell him she knew he wouldn't let that happen, and he'd try to tell her how he felt but she would be bounding off to do something else before he got a chance. But he still didn't mind that much, because she was wild and crazy and Anna , and he liked that.
He would sometimes get upset when they were sitting close, knees bumping as they talked, and he would try to kiss her, but she would turn away and change the topic.
“I'm sorry,” she'd mumble, twisting her fingers together in her lap. “Just... the timing doesn't feel right. It's just a little...” she'd gulp and blush when his hand rubbed a warm circle along her back.
“It's all right, I get it.” Kristoff would admire the way her freckles popped over her red cheeks, and he genuinely wouldn't mind waiting.
Sometimes, she would almost give in, their noses together and their breath kissing between parted lips, but then she would remember that people could see them, and sit even further away from him than when they barely knew each other.
But Kristoff didn't care, after a while.
As long as he got to hold her hand, and see her smile, and hear her laugh, he just didn't care .
She never liked to go anywhere too public, and he was fine with that. So they would go to Oaken's, and dance on empty sidewalks to music in their heads, and he could hold her close at drive-ins, in his beat up truck, as she whimpered into his shoulder when it got too scary.
And they would have their private goodbyes in the place where they met, late at night after everyone else had left, and Anna would wrap her arms around him, bury her nose into his chest, and he would kiss the top of her head where her curls had just started to fall. They would say goodnight, and he'd wait anxiously for tomorrow.
And Kristoff... Kristoff had fallen for her too quickly.
Kristoff had convinced her to let him take her to the carnival tonight, saying that it was dark enough, and he doubted any of her family friends would be there anyway, if she was worried about being seen with him. Anna had tried to reassure him that that wasn't what the issue was, and he smiled and told her it was okay, he understood, and that he'd meet her at their usual spot.
So Anna was sitting in front of her vanity, curling her hair and pinning up the bangs before gathering the rest of her locks into a high ponytail, resting on the crown of her head. She paused when there was a light knock on her door. “Anna?”
“Hmmm?” she called over her shoulder, smiling up at Elsa as she entered the room. “Hey, sis! What's...” The red head could sense the tension in her sister's shoulders. “What's wrong?”
Elsa was silent for a moment, moving to sit on the bed, twiddling her thumbs together anxiously. “What have you been doing every night for the past few weeks?”
The red head froze, tugging on her ponytail as she turned to face her sister. “Been going out with a friend, is all.”
“A friend? Is it that barbershop boy?”
Anna stayed quiet, gnawing on her lip.
“People have been talking, you know,” Elsa began, standing to come closer to her little sister. “They say you've been fooling around with him.”
“I have not!” Her voice was loud and protesting, quickly moving to stand in front of the blonde. “Honest, Elsa. We're just friends! I...” She tugged on the ends of her ponytail again, lowering her voice. “I haven't kissed him or nothin'.”
Elsa gave a weak smile, placing a gentle hand on Anna's shoulder. “But you've been spending an awful lot of time with him... I think that seems... well, suspicious.”
With a toss of her hands in the air, Anna moved away from her sister. “I'm not cheating! I'm not a cheater. I'm just spending time with a good friend, all right? And I know...” She stopped pacing, wrapped her arms around herself and turned to face Elsa. “I'll tell him tonight, make sure he knows that we're just friends, okay? I... I know what I have with Hans is true love. I know that.”
“Just be careful, Anna. If Hans catches word of even a rumor of you having an affair... well... I don't know if things would work out for you.”
“I'm not havin' an affair!”
Elsa stopped, kept her eyes down and let Anna calm herself down. It wasn't that she didn't believe her sister, but Anna wasn't exactly known for being... well, she had a sort of negative reputation in school. And that hadn't fully left her, yet. She had once had a habit of flirting with every boy that showed her even the slightest bit of attention, and had accidentally ruined a few people's relationships.
She never meant any harm, but boys tended to fall for her left and right.
From how he had looked at her that first day, and considering they had been seeing each other every night for a few weeks, Elsa had no doubt in her mind that he had developed some sort of feelings for her.
“I appreciate the concern, sis, but... please, I have to go. I'm gonna be late.”
Elsa glanced back up to her sister putting on final touches on makeup and grabbing her purse. “Anna...”
“I know, I know,” she started, waving her hand in front of her face. “I'm gonna tell him, don't worry. I ain't a cheater.”
Before Elsa had a chance to reply, Anna was out the door.
Kristoff had begun to worry that the red head wasn't going to show up. She was already twenty minutes late when she was usually quite punctual. He would have understood, since he was basically making her be seen with him in public, but he wouldn't be able to deny that it would have hurt a bit. So when he finally saw her running down the street, he let out a sigh of relief. “Hey there.”
Anna took a huge breath as she ran up to him, leaning down to rest her palms on her knees. “S-sorry! I... Hah, I lost track of time.”
The blond laughed, reaching down to grab one of her hands and pull her into a hug. “No worries. I'm just...” he pressed warm lips against her forehead, squeezing her tighter. “I'm happy you showed up.”
Anna bit her lip as her grip tightened around his waist, sighing as she felt him start to pull away. “Now come on, we're missing out on lots of win-Anna-cute-things time,” he winked, keeping a firm grasp on her hand and tugging her towards the entrance of the carnival.
The night had gone relatively smoothly, but Anna had to keep reminding herself that this was only friendship, that she had to be careful. But every time he held her hand, wrapped an arm around her shoulder, or hugged her in victory, she had an even more difficult time remembering that.
They had been jumping from ride to ride, stumbling around dizzy between them, Anna giggling and holding onto Kristoff, and him blushing every time she got close enough to him to hear his heart beating. He had admitted it to himself, that he was darn near close to loving this girl, and every move she made, every whiff of her he got in the warm summer air, only intensified his suspicions.
They played games, with Anna clinging to his wrist and wrapping her arms tight around his neck every time he won her something. They got snacks, Kristoff always wiping little smudges of mess off the corners of her lips, and Anna's cheeks glowing red.
So by the time they were sitting on the ferris wheel, surrounded by little stuffed animals that he had won for her, Anna tugging off pieces of cotton candy and licking her lips, Kristoff wasn't denying anything anymore. He loved her.
He loved her.
It had happened faster than he could comprehend, but he couldn't deny it.
Just as she was about to tear off another piece of the candy, he reached over and grabbed her hand, holding it tight and staring forward as his cheeks flushed.
“Hm?” she questioned, glancing over to him. “Are you okay?”
He coughed, gave a gentle squeeze and let go of her hand. “U-uh, yeah. Yeah, I'm okay. I, uh...” He tugged at his collar, and glanced over towards her. “C-can I have some?”
Anna giggled, tearing off a little piece and holding it up in front of his lips. “Well of course you can.” He nervously let her pop the sugary treat into his mouth, and watched with intrigue as she licked the rest off of her fingertips.
He was a goner.
Something about this goodbye was different. They were standing in their usual meeting place, but Kristoff wasn't saying anything. Anna was smiling with a hint of confusion as he continued to stare at her, eyes glittering. “What is it?”
With a deep breath, the blond smoothed a hand over her hair, down to rest gently on her jaw. A few soft strokes of his thumb over her cheek, and the red head's smile dropped. “Kristoff... what...”
“Anna...” His other hand rose to fully cup her jaw, and he smiled. “Can I... Can I kiss you?”
Blue eyes widened up at him, and her mind started racing. She should have known that it would lead to this, eventually! Of course, if they had hit it off, he would want to kiss her. She certainly wanted to kiss him! But that would be crossing the line, wouldn't it? That would make her a cheater. And she wasn't...
“I mean,” he started again, pulling one hand away from her face to tug at his collar. “I'd like to... Would you like to...? I mean... May I--”
Anna couldn't take it!
Kristoff swallowed his words faster than she thought possible. “You're what?”
With movements so fast she felt a slight burn on her skin, Kristoff was backed away and stretching his arms up over his head. “You're what?! ”
Anna clasped her hands tightly together in front of her chest, and tried to get closer to him, letting out a frustrated cry when he continued to move away. “I'm sorry!”
“You're not sorry, you're engaged! ...Why... Why did you flirt with me like that, then? And agree to go out with me? And why did you –” Kristoff paused, dropping his face into his hands and letting out a defeated sigh. He had known this was too good to be true. What would a little heiress want to do with a poor man like him? She was probably engaged to one of the Weselton boys, or worse... “To whom?”
She stopped her desperate attempts to get closer to him, and cocked and eyebrow. “What?”
“Who are you engaged to?”
“Does it matter?”
The blond slumped down on the bench behind them, and frowned. “To me, it does.”
Taking small steps, Anna moved to sit beside him, placing her hands delicately into her lap. Why did he want to know? It's not like it really made that much of a difference, right? “H-Hans... Westergard.”
Kristoff laughed, a bitter bark of a laugh that she had never heard before. “Of course. Man runs the town. Could have me lynched and no one would bat an eye! Why wouldn't you be engaged to him?” He leaned forward, dropping all of his weight into his arms resting on his knees. “Anna...”
Placing delicate hands on his arm, Anna gave a small squeeze of reassurance. “It's not so bad... We can still be friends! He won't care if I have friends, you know.” She winced as he let out another one of those barking laughs. “Really!”
“Friends, Anna... That's a joke in and of itself, you know!” He turned to face her, took in her bright blue eyes, plush lips, and smattering of freckles... and he was a goner. He had known there was something there the first time he laid eyes on her – and unfortunately for him, she chose to pursue that relationship. And now, here he was, staring something he could never have, but wanted more than anything, right in the face.
“Anna, I...” Love you. Love you so much. But you're engaged! “I think it's time to say goodnight,” he finished, patting her hand and standing up tall over her small, seated frame. Giving her one last smile, Kristoff turned to walk away.
“Wait!” she hollered, grabbing onto his wrist and pulling him back with a force he didn't know Anna had. “No! You're not just gonna leave like that!” Her hands were balled into tight fists, shaking at her sides. How could he want to kiss her one moment, and then try to leave the next! Wouldn't friends be enough?
Kristoff crossed his arms, staring down at the girl who was on the verge of throwing a tantrum. “Well, whadd'ya want me to do?”
Breaths grew more erratic as she looked around desperately, throwing her hands up over her head. “I don't know! Something ! You can't just want to kiss me one minute and then –”
Wait... What was happening? Anna couldn't speak anymore, it was almost as if something had... Oh. Oh . He was kissing her. Kristoff's hands had found their way to her jaw again, and held her tight and close as he kissed her. And she knew this was wrong, so wrong on every level, but he sparked something deep within her. She could see fireworks behind her eyelids as she wrapped dainty fingers around his hands on her face and melted into his every motion.
Well that was certainly... something .
It had felt like forever, and just barely a second at the same time, when he finally pulled away.
Blue eyes fluttered open slowly to find his brown ones staring back. He was anxious. “I'm sorry,” she heard through her hazy mind, and she struggled to find words.
She felt like she was in a dream.
“Kiss me again.”
Anna had snuck back into her house that night, blushing and nervous, but excited and giddy all the same. Holding herself together with warm hands on her arms, she couldn't help but twirl as she strolled through the foyer, up the stairs and past her sisters room. She still felt like she had been in a dream. She had asked him to kiss her again, and boy, did he. Kristoff had picked her up, carried her to hide behind a secluded wall, and kissed her. Over, and over, and over, until she was breathless against the stone.
And then he kissed her once more, moved his warm lips to her jaw, her neck, kissed every bit of exposed skin that was still decent. She had sighed, pulled his lips back to hers, and regretfully murmured some form of apologies, that it was getting late, that she should go. He had smiled against her mouth, kissed her again and said he understood. That he couldn't wait to see her tomorrow.
When she was just outside her sisters room, she heard a door crack open and a whisper of her name. “Anna? Is that you?” Elsa was peeking out from behind her door, gesturing for her little sister to come closer. “It's so late... Where have you been?”
The red head sighed dreamily, gave one more twirl as she moved to stand by her sister's door, and leaned up against the door frame. “In a dream, Elsa... A wonderful dream!”
Elsa smiled, tugging on her sisters arm to coax her into the room. “Shh, Anna, Mama and Papa are sleeping. Come, tell me about this dream.”
So Anna did.
She came bursting into the room all giggles and smiles, Elsa's face slowly dropping as her younger sister retold the story of the young singer and his soft lips and gentle touches. Confusion turning into disappointment.
“Anna,” she started, cutting off the younger woman harshly. “I'm confused... I thought we talked about this...”
“We did, but...” Anna's eyes were full of wonder, her heart beating rapidly under her chest. “Oh, Elsa, he's just so –”
“He shouldn't be just anything, Anna. Do you know what people will say? You're...” Elsa sighed as she watched her sister's face fall with realization. “Anna, you're with Hans.”
“I know,” she nodded, voice low and cracking. “Oh god. No! You're right! I told him I was engaged and –” What had even happened? They were arguing. She was trying to convince him to be her friend and then he kissed her. Okay, so that was the first problem. But she had let him! She had encouraged him to kiss her more. Anna couldn't deny that she had felt something when he kissed her...
“It has to stop. I'm going to...” she bit her lip, as Elsa wrapped a comforting arm around her shoulders. “I'll tell him that can't happen again.”
Anna sat in silence, gnawing nervously on her thumbnail. It had felt magical... But maybe it was just because she was lonely. She loved Hans – and he loved her. It was true love, after all. She couldn't feel anything real for Kristoff, right? If she was in love with Hans – which she certainly was! – these feelings for Kristoff must have been fake.
Just feelings born from loneliness.
Elsa gave her a small pat on the back, rubbing a hand carefully in small circles. “Why don't you get some sleep, Anna. It sounds like it has been a long and confusing day for you.”
Anna nodded and stood, leaving the room silently.
Kristoff was going to hate her, wasn't he?
Short chapter.... shhhh
Anna didn't sleep that night. Her mind wouldn't stop running and going and worrying . She had tossed from side to side, tugged at her hair and rubbed her eyes, groaning and biting at her lips and staring out the window. In an attempt to bore herself to sleep, she had started reading her old history books from school – but even that, which had knocked her out time and time again when she was younger, wasn't enough to make her fall asleep.
When the sun started rising over the horizon, Anna had given up on sleeping, and made her way down to the kitchen. Luckily for her, her father was an early riser, always up with the sun and preparing for work. So by the time Anna had gotten downstairs, there was already tea and breakfasts ready.
“Good morning, Anna.”
Pausing in the doorway, the red head looked up at her father. “Hi papa,” she started, a smile on her face.
He shot her a grin, before turning back down to his paper. “I never see you up this early. Is everything okay?”
Anna pulled out the chair next to her father and sat beside him, turning her eyes down to the plate in front of her as one of their servants poured her tea. “No... I just... couldn't sleep, is all.” She gave a small sigh of relief as he nodded, his eyes never leaving his paper. “Any news?”
Augustus flipped down the top of his paper to look at his daughter, and took in a deep breath. “Nothing new. Another draft. Lots of young men leaving for war.”
She bit at her lip, and moved to pick up a fork as eggs were placed in front of her, but stayed silent.
With the paper folded on the table in front of him, he stood and sighed, moving to stand behind his youngest daughter. “I wonder when this is going to end,” Augustus murmured, placing a kiss on the top of her head. “Sometimes, I thank God I never had any sons.” Nodding to the driver to poked his head in to inform him of the time, Anna's father moved to make his way out the door. “Be careful, Anna. I don't think it's going to be safe outside today.”
Smiling up at her father, Anna said a quick goodbye, before turning back down to her breakfast.. Things definitely weren't going to go well today, but she wasn't sure it was for the reasons he was worried about.
Being alone for meals always bothered her, so the red head ate hastily and excused herself back to her room to bathe and get dressed in as quick a fashion as she could manage. Anna pulled her hair back in a simple up-do, flattened her dress against her hips and legs, and tied a small bow around her neck. As soon as the clock struck nine, she was downstairs and out the door.
On a normal day, the bicycle ride into town would feel as if it were taking hours, simply because she had been so eager to get to Kristoff – but today, on this awful morning, the ride only seemed to take a few minutes. She wished it had taken longer, as she pulled around the corner and saw the blond setting up their station on the corner.
She wished she hadn't ever come when his eyes met hers and his whole face lit up like the sun.
Swinging her leg over the side of her bicycle, Anna moved to lean it against the wall while Kristoff spoke with his group before making his way to her with almost skipping steps. His smile was wider than she had ever seen it before, and she felt the tears welling up in her throat as she struggled to force an upward curve to her lips.
The blond threw his arms around her slim waist, lifting her off the ground in one small spin as he hugged her close, Anna grabbing onto his neck quickly to steady herself. She almost didn't let go, even as she felt her toes touch the ground again, taking in one deep inhale of his warm, musky scent. “Good morning,” she felt mumbled into her neck as she forced herself to loosen her grip around him.
“K-Kristoff,” she stammered, her voice weak and cracking. “We need to t-talk... please.”
He had pulled away and had his eyes locked onto her face, smile dropping almost immediately as he saw the unhappiness in her features. “Yeah... Sure, of course.” Letting go of the small girl, Kristoff moved to stand in the entrance to and alleyway for some semblance of privacy. “Anna, what's wrong?”
She was silent for a moment, before her words forcefully burst out of her mouth. “I'm not a cheater, Kristoff.”
His breath hitched in his throat, and he offered her a weak grin, attempting to make it look as cocky as he could. “Yeah, I figured that's what this was about... This was too good to be real,” he laughed, running a hand through his gelled back hair. “ Way too good. You're too good. Too good to be true, too good for me .”
Anna had stepped further away from him, pressing her back into the brick wall of the shop at the end of the alley. She stayed quiet, let him speak and ramble on, watched his hands closely as they flexed and turned, as they rubbed against his neck, face, arms, and hair as he continued to deny his worth.
“I shoulda known... Shoulda figured that this wasn't...” He stopped, stepped forward and rubbed a rough hand over the tense muscles in the back of neck. “I'm sorry, Anna. I... I've gotta go. Work to do.”
She darted forward, grasping his hand in hers and pulling away immediately as he snapped around to look at her. While hers was riddled with regret and sadness, his face was stern, not showing any form of emotion.“Anna, please.”
Everything was confusing her. What did she want? What was she feeling? What did she feel for Kristoff? For Hans? Were these feelings born from loneliness or...
“Please don't go.”
He froze, his back stiffening and only his eyes moving to glance up at her from the ground.
Anna came forward with another small step and wrapped slim fingers around his palm. As confused as she was, she knew that she wanted this man in her life somehow. She hadn't known him for long, but there was no way she could go on, knowing he was out there and not a part of her life. Something about him wrapped itself around her heart, and she knew deep down that he was supposed to be here.
A few more steps, and her arms were tight around his waist, his hands up in the air, trying desperately not to touch her. Anna scoffed, squeezed him tighter and pressed her cheek against his chest. “Hug me, Kristoff. It's fine.”
He sighed before wrapping his arms tightly around her shoulders. The blond took in a deep breath of her floral shampoo, and buried his nose into her wavy locks. He felt Anna squeeze him, and turn her nose into his chest.
“I need you,” she mumbled, pulling back slightly to glance upwards at him. “I... I know that might sound bad but...”
Kristoff shook his head, and loosened his grip on her. “Don't worry. We can...” He paused, pulling away and placing firm hands on her shoulders. “We can be friends. I can do that. I just –” love you. “ Really care about you. I'd...”
He lost himself in her eyes and her hopeful smile.
“I'd rather us be friends than nothing at all.”
Anna was walking on air by the time she left to head back home for supper. The rest of the day had been okay at least, despite the obvious tension between her and Kristoff. They had been purposely sitting with feet of space between them, only turning their heads to talk to one another so there was no chance of their knees bumping, and when it was time to leave, they had said goodbye with just a wave.
Sure, it wasn’t the most desirable situation for someone as touchy as herself, but if it was how they could still be friends, Anna wasn’t going to complain too loudly.
It was around five in the evening when she pulled up to the side of the house and parked her bike in the shed. She was practically skipping to the door when she finally noticed the strange car parked in her driveway. Who…?
Smile dropping, she slowly opened the door. “Papa? Are you here?”
The light was on in the living room, and Anna moved slowly, cautiously peeking her head through to find her father and --
“Hans?” Her words came out more strangled than she had hoped, as she stepped into the room. “You’re… you’re back early,” she finished, statement becoming almost a question.
Her fiance turned from his drink to face her, smiling as he did, and stood to move towards her. “Hello, Anna. I’m happy to see you.” His arm came around her shoulders, leading her closer to the center of the room. “Aren’t you happy to see me?”
Anna ducked out from under his arm, slack jawed and shaking her hands in protest. “Of course I am! Why would you think I wasn’t?” She grasped onto his arm and led him to the loveseat in the room. “Come, tell me about your trip and --”
“Anna, please,” he started, petting a hand down her fallen curls. “There will be time for that later. For now, your father and I were in the middle of an important conversation regarding…” Hans paused, laughing lightly and sitting back down in his chair across from her father. “Well, you wouldn’t understand. I’ll come up to see you before too long.”
With a frown, Anna nodded, twisting her fingers together. “Okay. Th-that’s fine… Hi papa, I’ll see you at supper.”
He nodded, glancing down at his paperwork.
Anna turned, watching carefully as Hans took another sip of his drink before speaking to her father again. With her head down and small steps, she found herself on the other side of the door and closed it tightly behind her.
Perking up, the red head looked up to see her sister coming down the stairs. “Elsa!” She nearly knocked the blonde down as she ran at her, grabbing her arm and tugging her back up the stairs to her bedroom.
“Anna, please slow down, what is going on?” Elsa tore her arm from Anna’s grip, and stood her ground in front of the door. “What is wrong?”
“Hans is back.”
“Yes. I saw.”
“Why is he back so soon?”
The blonde sighed, dropping her head into her hand. “Papa said something about something going wrong with their deal.” She glanced up at her sister, crossing her arms in front of her chest. “However, word from the servants is that someone told him you’ve been seeing someone else.”
Anna bit her lip, twisting her fingers together. “I told you, I wasn’t seeing him. I told him the situation and I… We were careful today. We didn’t even shake hands goodbye. No… nothin’.”
Elsa frowned, glancing again at her sister. “If he knows, someone sent word weeks ago. Letters don’t get over to Europe all that fast. Plus, I don’t even know if he knows anything. You should probably talk to him, though.”
Another twist of her fingers and the red head nodded. “Yeah. I will. Later.”
Why wasn’t she happy about Hans being home? Why was she wishing he wasn’t back yet? He was her fiance . She should be more than happy. She should be ecstatic ! But…
“It’s supper time,” Elsa cut into her thoughts with a gentle hand on her back. “Go wash up.”
Dinner was slightly more than awkward as Hans kept his hand clasped around hers the whole time, twisting at the ring on her finger. “I’m glad you have kept it safe,” he would mutter, releasing her hand for barely a moment to take a swig of his drink. “I’m glad my being gone so long didn’t cause you to be unfaithful to me, Anna.”
She gulped, tugging her hand from his and grabbing her knife. “I… Of course, Hans. I…” Carefully planned bites of food would cause him to raise an eyebrow at her before muttering something about speaking with her mouth full.
He knew. Anna knew he knew. Would he leave her? Would he stay with her? Did he still love her?
“Hans…” she started, leaning over towards the red headed man. “I think we… I think we need to talk later.”
“No need, Anna.” His voice was flat, as if hiding his irritation. “As long as you haven’t been lying to me, everything is fine.”
She bit at her lips, glanced across the table at her sister who gave her a shrug, and frowned. So if he found out she had been lying…
“N-no. Of course not. Why would I lie?”
His gaze, angled down towards her, was sharp and distant. “Good. I’d hate to find out that you were .”
Anna turned her head back down to her plate, focusing intently on her food.
Giving a small wave to Oaken’s family as he moved through the hall past their house to get up to his small apartment above the ice cream shoppe, Kristoff slumped his shoulders as soon as he was out of sight. He dug out his keys as he made his way to the second floor, giving a quick flick of his wrist to let himself in.
Running a hand through his hair, he plastered on a grin as his dog bounded out from the bedroom to greet him. “Hey there, Sven,” he mumbled, kneeling to scratch him behind the ears.
As the dog turned his head in question, Kristoff lowered his voice as if to mimic the dog. “Rough day, Kristoff?” He laughed to himself bitterly, returning to his normal voice. “You bet, buddy. I was stupid to think I was good enough for her.”
He stood, tugged off his cuffs, loosened his bowtie, unbuttoned his vest, and ran shaky fingers through his gel-slicked hair. Sighing as he moved towards his bed, Kristoff tugged the vest over his shoulders. “I was stupid. She’s engaged and I knew it. But I got my hopes up anyway.”
Sven hopped up onto the bed to sit beside the blond, lowering his head to rest on his lap. Kristoff rose a hand to scratch the top of his head. “She’s an heiress. She told me that early. I should have known . Of course she would pick the rich guy --”
He stopped as Sven snorted, looking up at him with sad eyes. Kristoff laughed again, laying back on the bed. “You’re right. She’s not that shallow. She’s…” When he paused, the dog whimpered and nudged his head under the blond’s hand. “She’s different.”
Scratching at Sven’s fur, Kristoff draped his other arm over his eyes. “I’m stupid.”
Anna was sitting in front of her vanity, brushing out her freshly washed hair, when there was a knock at her bedroom door. “Come in!” she called, twisting in her chair to watch her finace slip through the door. “Oh. H-hi!”
Smiling, Hans closed the door behind him and moved towards the redhead seated in front of her mirror. He placed firm hands on her shoulders, and bent over to place a kiss to her forehead. “I’m sorry for being so… cold before.” He loosened the tie of her robe and slipped it over her shoulders. “I was…” his hands rose to rest on her jaw, and Anna whimpered. “Stressed. Some things may be causing a problem for my deal with your father…”
Anna gulped, leaning into his touch. She had felt like it had been forever since he touched her. “Wh… What things?”
He smiled, kissing her cheek. “Things that I hope…” He kissed her other cheek. “... are resolved and done happening.”
Anna reached forward, grabbing at the lapels of his suit. “Are you staying this time?”
He ran a hand down her cheek, leaning back up. “I’ll do what I can… But you know my business is important.”
“ I know , but I haven’t seen you in a mo--”
“ Anna, please. Don’t whine.” He stood up and away from her. “I’ll be around. We are getting married, after all. Or have you forgotten?”
Her brows knitted together, looking up confused towards Hans. “What do you mean?”
With a sigh, he moved towards the door again. “Nothing,” he started, opening the door and stepping out. “Goodnight, Anna.”
When the door clicked shut, Anna stood angrily, before walking with haste towards her bed and flopping down on her stomach. Hans never talked to her. He never told her anything. What was wrong? Nothing. Never anything. How could she fix the problems if he wouldn’t tell her what they were ?
She curled into herself, tugging a pillow against her chest to hug close.
Kristoff wouldn’t --
Cutting herself off before the thoughts got any further, Anna buried her face into the pillow and willed herself to sleep. There couldn’t be anymore thoughts of Kristoff. Not now. Not again.
Anna woke the next morning feeling as if she had been hit by a tank. She rubbed at puffy eyes and vaguely remembered crying until she had fallen asleep. With a sigh and a stretch of her arms, she slipped out from between her covers and draped a thin summer robe over her night gown. She ran hands briefly through her mess of matted hair and made her way down to the dining room for breakfast.
“Good morning,” Anna heard from behind her, and she twisted at her waist to glance back and get sight of her fiance, already bathed and dressed in a suit.
Blushing and tucking messy hair back behind her ear, Anna took in a deep breath through her nose. “H-hi. I’m surprised you’re not already gone.” Her voice was shaking, nervous about almost confronting him with her issue.
Hans laughed and stepped forward, wrapping arms around her shoulders. Anna couldn’t help but be surprised, and stiffened under his embrace. “I just got back. I wouldn’t leave right away.” He pulled back and locked his golden eyes on her blue ones. “Even if you don’t believe me, I do want to spend time with you, Anna.”
There was a strange darkness to his eyes that she couldn’t quite place, as he slowly turned her and pressed her back against the wall. “Hans… We ca--”
He muffled her protests by sealing his lips over hers, smiling as she hummed under his mouth. Giving in, she wound her arms around his neck and all but melted into his touch. It had been so long since he had touched her…
Hands were sliding all over her, bunching the fabric of her robe and nightdress between fingers, and Anna was desperate for this, running her hands up his chest to cling to the lapels of his jacket and pull him closer. But in the blink of an eye, Hans had pulled away from her, stepping far enough back that her hands couldn’t reach him any longer.
She took in heaving breaths, eyes fluttering open and fingers touching to swollen lips as her cheeks burned with the flush of lust. He was straightening his suit back out, ran a quick comb through his hair and glanced up at her, still pressed flat against the wall.
“Was that proof enough?” he asked, face fairly stoic except for one cocked eyebrow.
“P-proof?” Anna took in another deep breath, trying her best to calm her nerves.
Stepping forward, Hans placed palms flat against the wall on either side of her head. “Proof,” he started, leaning in close enough that she could feel his breath on her cheek. “Of how much I want you, Anna. How much I want to be with you. Proof of…” He paused, standing back and tugging on the sleeves of his jacket. “How we’re meant to be together.”
She remained silent, his eyes locked onto hers as he turned to make his way down the hallway. “Wash up and come down for breakfast.” His voice was cold, making Anna wince as he finally took his eyes off of her.
Anna wrapped her arms around her middle and walked briskly towards the washroom, slamming the door behind her. She couldn’t stop the tremors that continued racing up and down her spine. There was something so detached about the way he spoke to her lately, and she hardly recognized him anymore.
He was not the Hans she fell in love with.
And then Kristoff just had to enter the picture.
Taking another deep breath, Anna moved towards the vanity, a tugged a brush through her unruly red locks. It was the one surefire way to calm her shaking hands, but nothing could calm her running mind.
She loved Hans. She knew she did. At least, she loved what he was before. When they had first met, he took her dancing, bought her flowers and chocolates, made her feel special and beautiful and loved. He was sweet and charming, had gotten her to fall in love with him in a week. He was…
He was perfect, back then.
Anna quickly (and messily) plaited her hair, dampened a cloth, and ran the towel over her face. She sighed, watching the smeared makeup disappear from her face.
They got engaged after a month. It was all she had ever wanted! To love and be loved in return, and to find a love so passionate that they knew it was true love immediately. That was when the fighting with her sister and father had started. Elsa thought it was too soon. Her father didn’t like his family.
Somehow she had convinced them to let her marry Hans.
Now, she wondered, was it worth the distance that came between her and her family?
Pinning her braids up around the crown of her head, Anna sighed and ran a palm down her face, rubbing at the bridge of her nose.
Soon after their engagement, Hans proposed a merger to her father. He wanted their businesses to come together and monopolize the weaponry industry -- Hans’ family focused on research, development, and sales, where her father’s business was focused on production. But if they had come together, they would be unstoppable.
Her father was hesitant at first, she recalled, but eventually he gave in. He never told her why, but it become more obvious that he was heavily invested in their marriage after the deal had been struck.
A small knock on the door pulled her out of her thoughts. “Anna, are you coming down?”
She dropped the cloth into the sink and clenched her hands together. “Y-yes, I’ll be right down, Gerda!” she called, tugging nervously on her sleeves. Taking one final look in the mirror, Anna nodded with some form of approval. Good enough, she supposed, turning on her toes and walking out of the washroom.
It was a short walk down to the dining room, where one final seat next to her fiance was all that remained. She took a deep breath and a plastered a smile to her lips as she passed over the threshold, placing a gentle hand on top of her fiance’s as she sat and had food piled on the plate in front of her.
Her face faltered when he barely acknowledged her, and she began to dig into her breakfast and listen to the discussion around her. This is how it had been since the deal was agreed upon.
Hans had retreated from her. He became cold and distant, and traveled all the time. He had be gone for most of the time they were engaged, in fact. Even when he was home, he spent most of his time in meetings, in the study, doing work, ignoring her.
Some nights he would find his way into her room, bed her, then leave. Once she had dared to ask him to stay.
“Anna, you know that’s not proper.”
She sat up, pulling comforter up to cover her chest and bit her lip, eyes pleading. “But we’ve already done the improper thing,” she said, sliding over to tug his shirt off of his shoulders again. “Why would it be any more wrong for you to stay the night?”
He stood hastily, buttoned his shirt and pulled his jacket over his arms. “Goodnight, Anna.”
She didn’t ask him to stay again. She didn’t ever want to relive that form of rejection.
Anna ate slowly, watched as her mother and sister finished eating and left the table, smiled as her father and Hans moved towards the study, and sat there until she was the last one left. She dismissed the servants and sat alone, chewing quietly on toast with jam.
Things with Hans had gotten bad.
And then she met Kristoff. And he treated her how she always wanted Hans to treat her. He was warm and loving, and cared about what she wanted, and did everything he could to make her happy. And…
Anna sighed. It didn’t matter. She was engaged to Hans. And she couldn’t help but think if she were to call it off, a lot would go wrong… And it would be entirely her fault.
She would make it work. She could look at the positive side of things. She could stay in love with Hans. She was sure it must have just been stress. He would love her again, too… If she stayed positive.
This could work.
It was barely a week before Hans left again.
Anna had leaped out of bed, excited for a day of wedding planning with her sister (and, she hoped, her fiance), got dressed and sprinted down the hall to knock on her sister’s bedroom door. “Elsaaaa!” she hollered, her hands cupped around her mouth. “Are you reaaady?”
The blonde appeared through the doorway, laughing and pushing loose locks of hair back behind her ear. “Shhh, come on. I’m ready. Let’s go.” Grasping the redhead’s hand, Elsa moved to head towards their front door.
“Wait,” Anna paused, glancing down the hallway. “Is Hans coming?”
Biting at her lip, Elsa cast her gaze downward and frowned. “I… um… I’m sorry, Anna. He left this morning.”
“... Left?” She could feel tears brimming her eyelids, and she tried her best to bite them back. This shouldn’t be a surprise in the least! He always left. Always! Why… why did she believe him when he promised he would come out to help today?
Anna took in a deep breath and straightened her back. “No, don’t be!” A large smile stretched at her lips. “It’s his loss, and he’ll just have to be happy with whatever cake we choose today.” She tugged her sister, who was doing her best to smile as well, down the hall and out the door.
Within the hour, the sisters were sitting at the bakery with over a dozen cake samples spread out in front of them. There were chocolates and vanillas and lemons and... “Oh my goooosh!” Anna swooned, propping her chin up on her hands. “There are so many choices!”
She picked up her fork eagerly, grinning widely as her eyes shimmered with excitement.
“Okay Anna, remember… just a bite or two of each. Because eating all of all of these will be almost an entire cake…” Elsa laughed, remembering the last time her little sister had managed to eat an entire chocolate cake before being stopped by Kai. “We don’t need you to be on a sugar high for the rest of the day.”
She nodded, picking up the first piece of cake onto her fork.
All of them were exceptionally delicious, ranging from mildly sweet to even too sweet for Anna, and they found themselves stuck between a few cake choices. There was a chocolate fudge cake, a german chocolate cake, banana cream and a vanilla filled with chocolate mousse. The redhead tugged on her braids, bit at her lip and hummed. “What do you think?”
Elsa tapped a dainty finger to her lips, rolling her shoulders. “Anna… I don’t know. We’ve been here for two hours now… I liked the all vanill--”
“No! There has to be chocolate!” she protested, throwing her hands up.
“Then get rid of the banana cream - there’s no chocolate there.” She pushed it off to the side, and rubbed at her chin. “Okay. So Chocolate fudge, German chocolate and Vanilla with chocolate mousse…” Elsa smiled. “Chocolate fudge was really rich. I think it might be too much for a lot of people.
Anna nodded in agreement.
“Do you want all chocolate or just a hint of chocolate?”
Anna grinned. “All chocolate!”
Elsa smiled and moved to get up and talk to the baker, satisfied that her sister had finally made up her mind on the cake. As soon as she was out of earshot, she sighed and rubbed at her forehead. Only about half of their time there had consisted of actually tasting cakes - the other hour was Anna complaining about Hans.
And that was exhausting.
After placing the order, Elsa made her way back to the table and noticed her sisters’ down turned eyes. Anna was thinking too much and getting lost in her head, and she knew it.
Elsa moved quickly and picked her sister up by the arm. “Come on, Anna. What’s next?”
Taking a deep breath, Anna stared wide eyed at her sister. “N-nothing. Nothing’s next. I… I have to go, okay? I’m sorry. I’ll…” she reached around her and grabbed her bag, flattening her shorts against her thighs. “I’ll see you at home, okay?”
The blonde was startled and couldn’t find any sort of response in her brain. “Anna, wait, what…”
Blue eyes watched as the redhead darted out the door. But when she finally managed to run and chase her outside, she was far past the end of the block, and Elsa knew she had no chance of catching her. She scratched at her head and worried her lip before heading home.
What on earth was she up to?
What was she doing?
Her feet were running, but she didn’t know to where. All she knew was that she was angry. Hans left her… again. For the hundredth time, he left her. He hadn’t helped with one detail of the wedding, and honestly, Anna was sure that he didn’t even care.
When she finally stopped, her chest heaving for air, she looked up to the sign lit up above her head. Oaken’s Ice Shop.
Laughing to herself, she quickly ran to the door and poked her head in. She was greeted with a “Hoo-hoo!” and a huge grin as the giant man stood behind the counter to come forward and give her a large hug.
“Anna!” he cheered, lifting her high off the ground. She couldn’t help but laugh as he bounced her.
“Hi!” Waiting patiently for him to finally put her down, Anna placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. “I’m so sorry to bother you, but I didn’t know who else to ask… Can… Can I ask you for Kristoff’s address?”
The man smiled and looked down at her with bright eyes. “Right upstairs, in fact!”
Anna was beaming as she screamed her thank yous and ran up the stairs as hastily as she could. There was one apartment above this shop. Just one. She bit her lip, took a deep breath, and knocked.
“Hang on!” she heard hollered from inside, as well as a dog barking. Her hands were clenched together, one palm holding the other as she waited. Waited. Waited for what felt like forever. Until the door swung open to reveal a rather grumpy looking blond.
“What is--” Kristoff froze. His eyes widened when it registered in his mind who was standing outside his door. “H… hi?”
He swallowed hard, tried to blink and speak, but neither was happening.
Anna sighed, letting her shoulders relax. “Do you… Do you want to do something?”
“Can we go do something?” What did he want from her? She was desperate to get her mind off of Hans. To focus on something else. “Please?”
Shaking his head, it was like Kristoff finally snapped back into reality, his hand raising to rub at the back of his neck as he averted his eyes. “Uh. Now? I mean… I have dinner with the folks tonight and --”
“Can I come?” See? Desperate.
Kristoff laughed, and turned to walk back into his apartment, gesturing for her to follow him inside. “Let me call my ma… I’ll see if she’s okay with that. Just uh--” He paused, gesturing around the room. “Wait here.”
With bright eyes, the redhead followed him into his apartment, glancing around and taking in her surroundings. He was a simple man, as she predicted. Very little in the way of decoration, just what was necessary. A few pictures on the walls of who she presumed were his sort-of-family, and there was minimal lighting around the apartment.
Suddenly a mutt of a dog was jumping around her feet, and Anna was down on her knees scratching him behind the ears. “Hi there. You must be Sven.” He perked up, and licked her cheeks happily. Anna was all giggles and happy petting when Kristoff came back out, his face flushed and ruddy.
“So, uh. Yeah,” he coughed, blush turning darker when her big blue eyes turned up to face him. She stood, dusted off her knees and smiled. Kristoff felt his heart racing under his ribs. “I asked my ma, and, uh…” Damn it. Why did she have to look at him like that?
Kristoff rubbed at his forehead, looking down at Sven. “She said she’d be happy to have you. So. Yeah.”
Anna smiled, bouncing on her toes in excitement. “Yeah? Really?”
He nodded, blush spreading across his nose.
And he almost fell over when she ran at him, threw her arms around his waist and buried her nose into his chest.
Wrapping tight arms around his shoulders, Kristoff sighed. He wanted to ask her what happened, wanted to pick her up and make sure she’s okay and kiss her and --
Kristoff couldn’t help but laugh to himself as they strolled side by side down the street. Never in a million years had he thought this would be happening! He had never thought that he, a lowly barbershop quartet singer, would be walking alongside the city’s biggest heiress, who was engaged to the son of the wealthiest man in the state, to bring her to meet his large, loud, sort-of-family.
How on earth did this happen?
His mind drifted back to the first day he saw her. He knew who she was - well, everyone did - and at first he was looking for donations, to be quite honest. But when he looked straight into her eyes, he had felt something. Something… new. When he touched her hand, he felt sparks. He had felt a warmth spread from his fingers to his heart, and felt lost when she had been dragged away by her sister.
The day he had finally asked her out? He knew that he wanted her, wanted to know her and spend all his time with her and christ he wanted to kiss her. Somehow, he had managed to get all of that with her.
And here he was, now, taking her to meet his family?
He chuckled again, and choked on his laughter when he noticed Anna’s big blue eyes staring up at him. “Uh, sorry. I… Uh…” Oh god, would she stop looking at him like that? “This is weird.”
Anna cocked an eyebrow at him, humming in the back of her throat asking for an explanation.
“ Look I just… I’m kind of nervous for you to meet them, okay?” he tucked his thumbs under his dark brown suspenders, tugging on them slightly to steady his hands. “My… family, I guess… they’re kind of weird. They’re… large. There’s a lot of them.” He paused, took a deep breath and gestured vaguely with his hands. “I, ah, love them and everything but they’re… wow, they’re loud and,” he shrugged shoving his hands in his pockets. “God they’re just so ridiculous and are you sure you want to --”
They had stopped, and there was a small hand pressing firmly into his bicep.
“ Kristoff… I’m sure they’re wonderful . And if they took any part in bringing you up… I know they are.”
He swallowed hard, offering her a crooked smile and running a hand through his blond locks. “Well… Okay, it’s right up there so…” Unconsciously intertwining his fingers with hers, Kristoff pulled her forward past the four more houses and then…
He had never before been self conscious about this house… but she was an heiress. She was probably used to big mansions and not run down little ranch houses and --
“ Oh my god.”
He knew it. But… what? Anna was bouncing on her heels, a huge smile spreading across her cheeks.
“ It’s so cute!” she exclaimed, clinging tightly to his arm. “Oh, goodness. It’s just precious and sweet! Let’s go inside!” Before Kristoff could react, Anna was tugging him up to the door and knocking enthusiastically. He almost laughed at the idea of knocking on his own door, but it was suddenly open and there was a warm, round faced woman smiling brightly at them.
Anna tensed slightly, a little shock settling on her shoulders before she brightened up again, and waved at her from across the threshold, her other hand holding tighter onto his. Kristoff couldn’t help the deep blush that started spreading across his nose. “I’m Anna!” She exclaimed, nerves taking a hold of her.
“ Hi there! Kristoff mentioned that he was bringing a friend...” She paused, glancing down at their intertwined fingers and couldn’t help but giggle behind her hand. “But he didn’t mention that you were a lady friend though--”
“ Ma…” he protested, running a hand through his hair.
“ Oh, hush, baby. Come on inside!” She extended an arm, placing it warmly in the middle of Anna’s back and ushering her inside the door. The redhead turned her head back to smile at him before reluctantly letting go of his hand. “So… how long have you two been… well, you know!”
Cheeks glowing bright red, Anna pulled back slightly from the short woman, laughing. “Oh... Oh boy um…” She waved her hands in front of her face before yanking nervously on her plaits. “That’s a really complicated question… We… We’re not… Um…”
When she felt Kristoff’s hand brushing at her lower back, she almost melted with relief. “We’re just friends, Ma. Really. Don’t you think I would have told you about a girlfriend ?” He bumped his hip against the redhead’s, and glanced down at her with a smirk.
Her deep chocolate brown eyes darted between them, grinning when Anna’s eyes turned up to him, her cheeks stretched to their limit, and sighed. “All right, baby. Whatever you say. It’s still gonna be a little while ‘til dinner,” she turned on her heels, reaching behind her to tighten her apron around her waist. “Why don’t you guys keep the kids company, please? Don’t need them running into me while I’m handling hot pots and pans!” She was already far away when Anna finally turned her eyes back forward. Had she gotten that distracted by just looking at him?
“ So, uh,” Kristoff mumbled, stepping a few paces away from Anna. “Ready to meet the rest of my family?”
Biting her lip, she stepped closer to him, tugging him by the sleeve to bring his ear closer to her. “I, uh… Are we gonna get in trouble for this?”
His expression seemed confused, and urged her to further explain herself.
“ I mean… I… I’ve never been to a Negro neighborhood before and…” She trailed off, turned her blue eyes down with shame and twisted her fingers together. “I… I just don’t --”
His eyes widened and he grabbed at her shoulders, turning her to face him. “Oh… jeez. I didn’t even think to say anything I just don’t even notice anymore. I… Are you okay? I mean,” he paused, scratching at the back of his neck. “You won’t get in trouble but I get it if you’re not comfortable …”
“ Oh god no!” Anna almost yelled, clamping hands over her mouth. “I don’t… it’s not that . I just wasn’t expecting it…” She leaned forward, clinging onto his shirt. “I’m happy to be here, honest. I just... my papa… never let me talk much to them.”
Kristoff smiled, ran his hands down her arms and squeezed tenderly right above her elbow. “I promise, it’s okay. I know it’s a little unconventional… But they’re my family. And they’re amazing people.”
Returning his grin, she nodded and sighed with relief. “Okay. Let’s go. I wanna meet them.”
They walked quickly to the back of the house, where the large den and all the bedrooms were, and Kristoff was almost immediately tackled by two teenaged boys and a girl around the age of seven. He toppled backwards just slightly, scooping the girl up from under the rump and tossing one of the boys up over his shoulder.
“ All right, all right guys,” he laughed, placing them all back down gently. “I’m happy to see you too!” Sitting down, cross legged in the center of the floor, the blond had the three kids piled up in his lap, while a few more came out of their rooms to sit around him.
Anna’s features softened as she looked at how he spoke with and played with the young kids, blushing brightly when his chocolate eyes turned up to smile at her. She smiled, almost teary eyed, down at him, and sat beside him. She could hardly believe that this man was real.
All she had ever seen of Hans’ interactions with kids was disgust and impatience. He didn’t care about them, and Anna feared he wouldn’t care about their kids, if they were to have any. Not that she was thinking about having babies with Kristoff but… Oh god . Her blush deepened when he looked up at her, confusion etched across his face.
She couldn’t stop her brain from going there , picturing his strong arms lifting her and his mouth pressing hot, wet kisses across her throat and chest, and his hands roaming and --
“ Anna?” came from the kitchen and she all but sprang up off the ground, running towards the source of the voice.
Kristoff only stared after her, mouth slightly agape and laughter dancing through his eyes.
The redhead was out of breath by the time she got to the kitchen, and paused to lean up against the door frame. That was, until a nagging finger poked at her arm. She jumped with a gasp, turning to face Kristoff’s mother.
“ Are you all right, honey?” she asked, offering a concerned hand to lead her towards the stool by the island counter in the middle of the kitchen.
“ Oh… Yes, I’m okay!” It’s not like I was just thinking about your son taking advantage of me and --
She stood abruptly, causing the woman to step backwards in shock. “S-sweetie I…”
“ No, please! I’m fine, honest,” Anna mumbled, resting her hands on top of Kristoff’s mother’s shoulders. “Um… Miss… Uh,” she paused, tapping at her lip.
“ You can call me Bulda, honey.”
“ Bulda!” the redhead cheered, bouncing on her heels. She coughed and stopped bouncing, running hands down her hair to smooth out her braids. “Miss Bulda… Do you think I can help you cook?”
Bulda smiled brighter than Anna had ever seen, and nodded enthusiastically, tugging her forward. “All right, baby. so what you need to do is this…”
Things went smoother than Anna had expected, since she had maybe only cooked twice before in her life, and within the hour a beautiful dinner was ready and set up on the long dining table. Bulda hollered loudly across the house and waited for all the kids (Anna had counted six before, but there were eight sitting around the table) to show up and take their respective seats.
Everyone was seated when Kristoff showed up, stood next to Anna and blushed when she grabbed his hand. They both look down at the table, realizing there was only one more seat left, and the blond frowned.
“ Ma… Please let me get you some new chairs. I know you don’t want me--”
“ No, no,” she protested. “I don’t want you spending any money on us baby. We’ve got it handled.” Bulda glanced around, and hummed behind closed lips. “Look, you take my seat, Anna, honey. I can eat later.”
Gasping, Anna waved an arm in protest. “No, gosh, no! I don’t want to be a burden or make you change anything , Miss Bulda…” She released the blond’s hand and clasped one of her palms in the other. “Please. I can… Um…”
Kristoff shoved her playfully, grabbed her by the wrist and sat down in the chair, pulling her onto his lap. “We’ll share, Ma. Don’t worry.”
Anna prayed that he missed the way her entire face turned as red as a tomato when she felt that much of his body pressed against hers. Hoped that he didn’t notice her breath hitching when his hands held tight against her waist when he tilted her to the side to place food on their plates. Begged to anyone that was listening that he couldn’t feel her shiver when she felt the muscles in his legs flexing and shifting under hers.
Swallowing hard, she did her best to bite down her nerves and used shaky hands to grab for her utensils, dropping her fork once before getting a firm grasp on it. She almost dropped it again when she felt a large, warm hand against her mid-back and a whisper of an “are you all right?” against her cheek.
She turned her head, eyes downcast to look at him, pulling away when she realized how close their faces were together. Truth be told, she would be surprised if he couldn’t detect the heat radiating off of her face. But she couldn’t stop herself from staring at him, at his brown eyes and crooked smile…
“ Kristoff and Anna~” she heard sung, snapping her out of her weird trance. “Sitting in a tree…” She jolted, turned in his lap and lowered her head down over the plate. “K-I-S-S-I--”
“ That’s enough, Kalee,” the older man sitting at the table cut in. After taking a bite of food, he turned his head back up. “Now, miss Anna… I swear I recognize you from somewhere.”
Pressing her lips together, Anna swallowed her current bite and looked over towards Kristoff’s father. “I… Oh, maybe. My father is Augustus Arne… He runs the factory over on--”
“ Ahh, yes… yes!” he started, nodding and placing his fork down. “Wow… Kristoff, boy, how’d you manage to get one of the Arne sisters?”
The blond ran a hand over his face with a groan, and mumbled incoherent profanities under his breath. “Pa… I didn’t… We’re just…”
“ Friends. I know.” Cliff turned back to his food, laughing to himself.
Anna coughed, leaned forward on the table and propped her chin up in her hands. “So… I’m interested. What was little Kristoff here like when he was younger?”
Brown eyes shot open and he choked on his bite of food, sending a glare forward to his mother who was smiling like a cheshire cat. “Well…” She started, laughing openly alongside her husband. “He was a wild boy!”
Anna smiled, glanced back at Kristoff’s ruddy cheeks before returning her attention to his parents. “He loved to run around in the buff, you know? Would follow Cliff here to work down at the mines, but always got sent back because of course the mines are no place for a little boy!” She tapped at her chin, shrugging. “He also had this strange fondness for going outside to tinkle!”
“ Oookay!” he halted, throwing his hands down on the table. “That is plenty about me. Can we stop this now?” He looked over to the giggling redhead on his lap and softened, laughter playing at his lips.
“ What, you find this funny?” he teased, lifting his hands and holding them next to her sides. “I’ll show you something funny .” Suddenly his fingers were digging into the soft flesh of her sides, tickling fiercely until she was howling with laughter, slapping at his hands and wriggling in his grasp.
They continued until Anna’s knee bumped the table, knocking one of the kids’ plates down and into her lap.
Everything was frozen, blue and brown eyes wide open like deer in the headlights. “Oh god…” Anna started, leaning over the table to pass napkins towards the girl. “I’m so sorry…”
“ Jayma…” Cliff started, watching her face contort with what they all thought would be a tantrum… until she burst out laughing, and chucked some of the ruined mashed potatoes right back at the couple who had ruined her dinner.
All hell broke loose, and suddenly food was flying everywhere, landing on their heads, faces, in hair and all around the room. The whole family was laughing and screaming, playing and enjoying themselves until there was no more ammunition left, and everyone was heaving for breath.
As quick as the mess had been made, it took forever to clean up -- and that wasn’t including cleaning it off of themselves. After about thirty minutes of wiping down the dining room, Kristoff figured it had been getting late enough, and moved to say farewell to his family.
Bulda came forward, grabbing at the redheads hands and dragged her into a big, warm hug. “Sweetheart…” she started, pulling back just enough to look her in the eyes. “You come back here any time, okay?” Lifting her hands to cup Anna’s cheeks, the woman smiled even brighter. “Maybe I can teach you how to cook some more!”
Anna nodded enthusiastically and almost jumped on the woman, throwing her arms around her neck. “Yes, Miss Bulda. I would love that!” When she pulled away, she kept a firm grasp on her hands. “I… Thank you so much for having me. I’m sorry for causing such a mess--”
“ Please! Most fun we’ve had in ages,” Cliff cut in, walking over to shake Kristoff’s hand firmly. “Bring her back, Kristoff.” Pulling him into a hug, with hard pats on one anothers backs, he continued to mumble. “Hang onto her, son. She’s the best you’ve ever had.”
And Kristoff found himself finally not denying that there was something there.
The walk home wasn’t long, and they walked mostly in silence, minus the occasional laugh or pausing to pick a pea out of someone’s hair. But by the time they got to the alley stairwell to his apartment, neither of them could stop talking.
“ So I’m sorry things got so crazy.”
“ Oh it was all my fault! I hit the table!”
“ But it was my fault you hit the table.”
“ But you only did that because I was laughing at you! See, it’s all my fault!”
“ ... You’re right.”
Anna gasped and hit his arm, laughing. “How dare you! Blaming a lady…”
Chuckling and tugging down on his suspenders, Kristoff couldn’t help but grin up at her from under his bangs. “So… uh…” He scratched the back of his neck. “Do you want a ride home? I… figure it’s… faster.”
She twisted her fingers together and grinned. “Yeah… sure…” It was probably a bad idea to let him bring her home in this state but…
“ Come on up, I just have to get the keys for the truck.”
Nodding, Anna followed closely behind the blond to his apartment, waiting just behind him as he unlatched the door, greeted Sven and moved back to his bedroom.
“ Just hang out here, okay? I’ll just be a minute…”
She watched him closely as he disappeared through the doorway, and swallowed hard. Part of her mind drifted back to those thoughts she had before… to his mouth, and his shoulders… Moving quickly, Anna shut the door behind her and took quiet steps. She moved slowly, leaning to glance around corners, keeping a nervous eye out for him to appear again.
“ Okay I’ve…” He stopped just short of ramming into her, and smiled down at her. “Hey there. What are you…”
Two steps forward, that was all it took to close the distance between them. Anna’s palms were flat on his chest, her eyes down turned, and she took in a heavy breath. “Kristoff…”
Her words were laced with something the blond couldn’t place. “Anna… what’s…” He watched her tilt her head up to face him, eyes dark, and noticed how her tongue peeked out to run across her lips. He knew exactly what was about to happen. “...Anna…”
“ Kristoff. I… want to kiss you again.”
Heart hammering against his ribcage, Kristoff tried to step back, willed himself to back away from her because, shit , this was wrong on every level… but he just… “You’re engaged, Anna… I thought we… decided…”
“ He’s…” Anna bit her lip, balled her hands into fists against his chest and bit back the tears welling up in her eyes. “Not the same. He’s not… He’s not the man I agreed to marry, Kristoff…” When one tear managed to fall, she felt the floodgates open. “I don’t… I don’t feel bad… I know I should, oh… Oh god, I know I should feel awful but I just don’t . He…”
Kristoff’s hands had moved to cup her jaw, to tilt her face up so he could see her fully.
“ He ignores me, Kristoff. He goes away for months at a time and… He… He hasn’t been around to even help plan anything it’s like… It’s like all I am good for is…”
She hiccuped, shivering when his fingers brushed the tears away. Heart racing when chapped lips pressed against her cheeks.
“ Anything you need, Anna… just ask me. I’ll do it for you. I’ll… do anything for you.” His words were strained, as if he were holding something back. Brown eyes were frantically searching hers, looking for any sort of answer.
All of his questions were answered when her eyes slowly opened, wet and tired and… He leaned down to kiss her, hungry and desperate to help. He wanted nothing more than for her to be happy and safe and oh god she was so warm against him, as she pressed herself closer. His hands slid down the full of her figure, palms gripping at the underside of her thighs and hoisting her up bodily to sit on his hips.
She gasped against his mouth, and he took full advantage of her parted lips to lick, to nibble, to tease her. Her fingers tangled in his messy hair, her little sighs and whimpers, all drove him to the point of near insanity. He hadn’t even realized that he had taken some steps backwards into his bedroom until his butt hit the mattress, her legs tucking to rest with one knee on either side of his hips.
Anna pulled back with a heavy breath, pressing against his shoulders to push away the straps of his suspenders, before kissing him again and letting her fingers roam and twist at the buttons of his plaid button down.
He sighed against her when his chest was bared to the cool air of his apartment, his own fingers digging hard into her waist, pulling hastily at her shirt to reveal the hem tucked way into her shorts. As soon as he felt her skin under his pinkies, he slowed down, using his palms to lift her shirt up over her head, brushing his fingers against all of her newly exposed flesh of her ribs.
Pulling apart for just a moment, they locked eyes and Kristoff knew this wasn’t right. He was close to choking on what he was about to do.
“ We… need to slow down, Anna…”
She swallowed hard, pulling back from him. “What?”
He lowered his hands, let them rest on her hips, using thumbs to rub soft circles right above her hip bones. “Anna…”
Her hands gripped tightly to his shoulders. “D-don’t you want to?”
Laughing, Kristoff pulled her a fraction closer. “Believe me, I want to.” He looked at her pout, laughed again and kissed her on those round, plush lips. “I really want to.”
“ Then why are you stopping it?”
Basically moaning as she latched her mouth to his throat, Kristoff internally punched himself as he pushed her back again. “Anna… I just… I don’t want you to regret this. I…” He looked away, ran fingers through his hair and groaned. “I don’t want you to do this just out of spite…”
Her face softened. She understood, and let her hands drag down his arms. “I… I’m not… I promise I’m not.”
“ Just… Let’s slow down, okay? I… don’t want to screw this up.”
Anna sighed and rolled off of him, crawling up towards the head of his bed. He turned and watched after her, confusion etching his features. “...What are you doing?”
“ Well… It’s too late to go home without them thinking I did something… so…” Shrugging, Anna crawled under the covers and bundled herself up. “So I’m staying here. You can sleep here or on the couch. It’s your choice, Kristoff.”
He stared at the moving bundle of covers, frowning before standing up and digging through his dresser. “Fine,” he mumbled, pulling out a pajama set and tossing the large shirt on top of her. “At least get comfortable…”
Walking out and to the bathroom, Kristoff groaned and locked himself in to change, giving the redhead privacy she might have wanted.
She stood up, stripped down hastily and pulled his grey shirt down over her chest, watching with awe as it slipped down and landed right above her knees. When she heard the bathroom door swing back open, she dove back under the covers to hide her exposed thighs, watching him as he walked back in and stood next to her.
His chest was still bare, and Anna did her best to avert her eyes. He reached over her, grabbed for a pillow and smiled down at her. “I’m gonna sleep on the couch, all right?”
For some reason that stung. She pulled the blankets up tighter under her chin and closed her eyes when he bent down to place a kiss against her forehead. “Goodnight, Anna. Sleep well.”
He left and patted Sven on the head, moving to make himself comfortable on the couch.
He could do this.
He could ignore the beautiful girl sleeping in his bed. He could ignore the fact that she was in his shirt, her pale, perfect skin peeking out from underneath. He definitely could ignore her bare legs, the idea of her slender body pressed up against him while he slept…
He stood up, furious with himself, and stalked back to the bedroom, grunting when her big blue eyes turned up to to look at him. “Don’t say anything.”
Anna smiled, laughing as he flopped down into the bed beside her, making sure to keep his back facing her and not give in at all in any way.
“ I said don’t say anything.”
She shifted in the bed, then, slid directly next to him and wrapped thin arms around his chest. “Okay…” Her cheek was snuggled against his spine, and he melted in her embrace.
Did he really think he was a goner before?
He didn’t have a snowball's chance in hell now.
Sunlight shone straight on Anna’s face when the morning came, and all she could do was groan and throw an arm over her eyes. This wasn’t normal - in fact, she had specifically placed her bed in a place where sun never hit it… Did someone move her bed in the middle of the night?
In a failed attempt to escape the sunlight, the redhead flopped around in the bed for a moment before she let her eyes squint open. She noticed a red bedspread that looked unfamiliar, and another body in the…
It finally clicked in her head, and Anna let out a sigh of relief. She had almost forgotten that she had spent the night over at Kristoff’s. Scooting forward in the bed, she found herself pressed up against his back again, arms wrapping delicately around his stomach, hands roaming freely over his bare chest and oh gosh , she was getting completely lost in the feel of his firm, chiseled chest -
“Can I help you?”
Anna jumped at the sudden voice coming from in front of her, and immediately retreated to the other side of the bed. Her heart was hammering against her ribs.
“Oh… Oh jeez… I didn’t realize…” her face was brighter red than she had thought possible as he turned over to face her, propping his weight up on his elbows. “... I didn’t realize you were awake.”
Raising one eyebrow at her, he couldn’t hold back his crooked grin. “So you like to grope people while they sleep, do ya?”
Her eyes grew even wider, her hands flew up to cover her face, and Anna couldn’t get out more than two words strung coherently together. “I don’t -- I didn’t -- what do -- how dare --” Letting out a huffy breath, Anna pulled the blankets up and over her head. “You’re mean.”
She felt arms wrapping around her and the blanket cocoon she had made, and suddenly felt her whole body flush. This was… not innocent anymore. She couldn’t even lie to herself about it. Being in bed, half naked, after spending the night with another man certainly made this an affair.
“Do you want me to make breakfast?”
Anna peeked out from the hem of the blanket, glanced up at the warm brown eyes smiling at her, and realized that she didn’t care. She didn’t care . Something about Kristoff made him worth risking everything for. Did she… love him?
Tugging the blanket far enough down to expose her whole face, Anna gave him a sleepy nod. “Mhm… Eggs?”
Kristoff caught her chin between his fingers and left a kiss that lingered just a little too long against her lips. “Anything you want.” His words rumbled between their mouths, making pulling apart even more of a challenge than it already had been.
Sitting up with a groan, He ran fingers through unruly hair, and moved to get out of bed. “It’s a little chilly this morning,” he started, watching as Anna pulled herself out from the covers with a shiver. “Do you… want pants?”
The chill of the morning had caused a considerable amount of goosebumps to rise up on her thighs, but she couldn’t deny that she was far more interested in the way his eyes got stuck on her legs as he looked at her. “No, I’m okay…” She watched, satisfied, at the sudden rise of his chest as he took in a nervous breath.
“All… right. Okay.” Kristoff shook his head, moved to make his way to the kitchen, making sure to give Sven a satisfactory morning ear scratching before getting too far away, and began rummaging through his cabinets to find the proper pans. When the redhead finally followed behind and sat down on the floor of the kitchen to play with the mutt, he turned to face her, flushing when he saw even more of her thigh exposed. “D-do you want my sausage?”
Her blue eyes turned up towards him, piercing with accusation, and Kristoff smacked his own forehead. “N-no not… Not my sausage. I have sausage. I mean like… for breakfast -- to eat for breakfast--” He froze under her gaze, throwing his hands up in defense. “Seasoned pork rolled up into a casing and cooked on the stove for breakfast do you want any?”
Anna laughed and nodded, giving him a small “sounds good,” before turning her attention back to Sven. He was happy as could be, with her little hands and long nails scratching deep into his fur all over his neck and belly.
“Aww, do you like that buddy? Who’s a good boy, huh? Is it you? Do you like your beh-wy wubbed? Huh? Do ya? Yeah! I know you do!”
She jumped when a hand clapped down on her shoulder and a mass of blond hair appeared next to her.
“Don’t talk to him like that.”
Frowning, she turned her attention back to the pup as Kristoff moved back to the stove and began working diligently on the breakfast. The aromas that were wafting through his apartment were just making her stomach growl even louder. Anna wasn’t sure she had been this hungry in a long while. “Are you almost done?”
He smiled, grabbing two plates of food and setting them down on his small, rickety table. “Yeah, come here.”
Anna basically jumped up and floated to her seat, the smell of perfectly cooked sausage and egg calling her over like a siren. Landing in her seat rather ungracefully (and readjusting once or twice, because damn it the wood was uncomfortable on her bare thighs!), she immediately grabbed for her utensils, and stared expectantly at the blond who hadn’t sat down yet.
With a glance over his shoulder, Kristoff laughed. “You can eat, you know. You don’t have to wait for me.”
He watched her bounce eagerly in her seat, still not moving in on the food. “Seriously. Go ahead.”
“ Come sit,” Anna started, gesturing towards his spot. “I want to have my first meal here with you. Not with you watching me eat as you clean.”
Laughing, he nodded and dropped the pans into the sink. “Okay, okay.”
Anna watched with joyous eyes as he came to sit in front of her, picking up his fork and knife slowly.
A nod from him. “Go ahead. You take the first bite.”
It was a simple meal, but Anna dug into it as if it were the most exquisite thing she had ever had the chance to eat. Little sounds of pure joy were quietly escaping from her throat as she dipped soft bread into even softer eggs and popped the yolk-soaked treat into her mouth.
When she noticed him watching her and barely taking any bites of his own food, she couldn’t stop herself from blushing under his gaze. “What?”
A laugh. “Nothing.” And then a “you’re adorable.”
Swallowing her food, her blush deepened. “Oh.”
A few moments of silence fell between them, only the sound of silver clicking against ceramic breaking it, until Kristoff decided to speak up. He shifted in his seat, scratched at the back of his neck and finally…
“We should talk about this.”
Anna almost dropped her fork. “About… what?”
He set everything down in front of him and sighed. “About… us. What this is. What we’re doing. What… you’re doing.”
Biting down hard on her lip, she put down her fork and stared at the table. “I… I want to be with you, Kristoff.” She paused, tugged on the end of her hair and frowned. “I told you. Hans treats me so badly… I… I don’t love him, Kristoff.”
Kristoff reached one hand across the table to hold hers. “But… Anna… you know that an affair… if word got out... “
“I know.” She ran her thumb over his knuckles. “I know…” Lifting her gaze to meet his, Anna smiled. “I don’t care…”
He sighed, smiling warmly at her. He could feel that this was probably not going to end well, but… There was no denying that he was in love with her. He had known it for a while now, and he had accepted long ago that if she ever wanted him…
It would be impossible for him to turn her down.
Kristoff smiled across the table at her, squeezing her hand ever so slightly.
“I don’t care either.”
After finishing breakfast, sitting on the couch for a short while (and being sure to get in their fill of kissing and touching), and making sure that Anna was presentable, they said their farewells. Anna ran her hands down his chest, letting him kiss her one more time.
“You sure I can’t drive you home?”
“That’s…” His hands wrapped around her waist and pulled her closer. “... Too…” His lips latched to her throat, suckling gently. “...Suspicious.” Anna gripped her fingers tightly against his hips.
A few more kisses were shared between them before the redhead pushed him backwards. “No… I… I have to go.”
He laughed, reluctantly let her go and finally said goodbye, watching as she skipped down the stairs, her braids bouncing on her shoulders. Closing the door as he retreated back into his apartment, Kristoff sighed and sat backwards on his couch.
Sven perked up and trotted over towards the man whose hand was dangling off the edge of the couch and pressed up against it with his muzzle.
“ I’m good, buddy. I’m… really good.”
Anna practically skipped all the way home, her face glowing with a slight hint of red. She couldn’t even begin to explain how happy she felt. Every step was light, like she was walking on air, like she was floating through the clouds and nothing could bring her back down to earth.
When she stepped in through the doorway, however…
“ Anna?!” came her sisters’ panicked voice through the halls. “Anna, is that you?” Elsa came around the corner and began running towards the redhead, worry etched across her features. “Where on earth have you been? We were so worried!”
The blonde’s hands kept roaming over Anna’s face and shoulders, checking for any injury that she may have sustained.
“Elsa, please… I’m fine! Nothing happened! I just…”
She paused when she noticed Hans emerge from the study. It was then that her heart started pounding in her chest, threatening to burst out from under her ribcage at any moment. The one thing she hadn’t thought about was how she would hide this from everyone. What was her excuse? Where was she?
“I just was wandering around town and it got to be late… and I was far away from home so I just… stayed at a motel for the evening. I’m… I’m fine.”
Hans’ eyes never left her face. She felt uneasy as his golden eyes bore into her, face calm and stoic.
“Glad to hear it,” he stated, voice crisp. “Please just call us next time.”
She nodded, watching as her sister stepped back and held firmly to her hands. “Yes… I will. I’m sorry.”
He took a few steps towards the sisters, nudging Elsa aside in order to stand directly in front of Anna. A rapid “You worried me,” and his hands were holding tight to her jaw, his lips crashing down onto hers. She froze, eyes wide, and slowly lifted her hands to rest on his elbows.
This all felt so wrong, now. She didn’t want him touching her. She didn’t want him kissing her. She… didn’t want him. At all.
When he pulled away, she quickly wiped at the tears forming under her eyes. He didn’t notice (or chose to ignore it, Anna wasn’t sure), and quickly turned on his heel to head back to his office. Anna couldn’t help but follow him with a glare.
Which Elsa noticed.
“Anna? What’s… what’s that look for?”
The redhead snapped her gaze towards her sister, immediately replacing her sour look with a smile. “Nothing! What look?”
“... Anna…” Elsa grabbed at her hands again, forcing her to catch her gaze. “What’’s going on?”
The redhead tore away, worrying her bottom lip. “Honestly, Elsa. Nothing is going on. Nothing at all.” She turned to head up the stairs with a grin. “I’m going to go bathe and take a nap. I’ll see you at supper time, okay?”
Elsa nodded, an uncertain frown playing at her lips.
The rest of the week, in Anna’s opinion, had gone fairly smoothly. Everyone had forgiven her for the earlier incident, and things had carried on as normal. Elsa was still subtly prying, but she wasn’t going to break. She couldn’t tell anyone about what was happening, and she was sure she didn’t want to yet.
The other day, Bulda had asked if there was anything in particular she wanted to learn how to cook, and had agreed to invite her over when she was planning on making it. So as soon as Anna had heard that she was making a roast chicken tonight, she was more than ecstatic to go over, learn a meal, and spend time with Kristoff and his family.
She just had to figure out how to get out of this house without raising any suspicions.
It had taken a whole lot of sneaking and a few clever lies about going out with some friends to her mother, but she had made it out and was quickly on her way towards the quartet singers home. She had figured out a short cut, and was there by bike in just twenty minutes.
Anna practically skipped up the stairs and pounded her fist against the wooden door. Within a minute, it was swinging open to reveal a glowing face behind it. She gasped as his hands darted out and lifted her in a slight spin into the apartment, and smiled against his lips as he pulled her in for a warm kiss.
“Hi.” A smile.
“Hi.” A blush.
Anna coughed, slowly letting go of him as her blush took over her face. “Are you ready?”
“Just a second.” Kristoff retreated back into the apartment to grab Sven on his leash before closing the door behind them. He grabbed her hand in his and smiled down at the little redhead, mumbling a quiet “Okay.”
The walk was shorter than she remembered (though Sven tugging them along may have helped speed the trip up), and before she had had a moment to collect herself from all the walking and biking, they were already at the door.
Anna couldn’t help but smile as Kristoff just walked in with a warm “Hello!”. It was so nice to see him so calm and at ease… and with family, no less. Her smile grew even wider as the kids ran in and tackled Sven and Kristoff, greeting them with screaming and cheering. She thought her cheeks were going to tear when Bulda’s arm came around her arms and she greeted her by tugging her straight into the kitchen.
“Hi, Miss Bulda!” the redhead giggled as she tripped over her own feet, stumbling into the already warmed by the oven kitchen. “Have you started yet?”
The woman grinned, held Anna out at arms length and shook her gently. “Not without you, dear! I promised I would teach ya, so here we are!”
Kristoff peeked his head in to say hello, followed by an offer for assistance, to which his mother responded by shoving him out of the room and laughing, saying “No, no! It’s girl time in here! Spend time with your siblings!”
He gave Anna a small wave before being fully forced out of the little kitchen.
“All right baby,” Bulda started, turning back to her with a mischievous smirk. “You ready to get started?”
A final nod and they began working.
Anna found herself slightly confused with quite a lot of what she was instructed to do. First of all, she had to rinse the chicken, check it for feathers and cut off unwanted fat.
“It’s so slimy!” she had laughed, holding her hands up with a contorted look of disgust on her face.
“You’ll get used to it, cutie.”
They seasoned and stuffed the inside of the chicken with some spices that, honestly, Anna couldn’t remember the name of.
“Why the inside? Can you even taste what goes inside?”
Bulda laughed, patted her head and nodded. “While it’s cooking, the inside steams and all the seasonings perfume the meat. It makes it much better.”
Anna nodded, and continued to listen to direction. Season the outside, tie the legs up and tuck the wings under the body of the chicken, and it’s ready to be put in the oven. Watching with intrigue as Bulda quickly chopped up some vegetables and tossed them with seasoning and oil and spread them all around the bottom of the pan, she bit at her lip and hoped everything would turn out all right.
“Okay, baby, put the chicken right in the center of the pan here -- yeah, just like that.” Anna leaned forward to place the pan in the center of the oven, and Bulda smiled. “Now it just roasts for about an hour and a half, and it’ll be done!”
The redhead couldn’t stop herself from jumping up and down with excitement.
“Congratulations, dear. You’ve made your first roasted chicken!”
Leaping forward to catch Bulda in a hug, Anna buried her nose into her neck. “Thank you so much.” Her words were strained, arms resisting her pulling away from her.
No more words were exchanged before she moved to go sit with Kristoff.
“Hey,” he greeted through the child climbing up over his shoulders. Patting at his lap, he urged for Anna to come sit with him, wrapping his arms warmly around her waist as she landed in the center of his crossed legs. “How’d it go?”
She bit at her lip, sniffed at the air and smiled. “Okay, I think! I can smell it already.” Suddenly, a young child of about six was in her lap, giggling and using her braids as a fake mustache. “Oh… hi?”
He looked up at her with big, amber eyes and smiled. “I like your hair. It’s a pretty color.”
Time passed quickly as Kristoff’s lips pressed gently against the back of her neck and shoulders, as kids toppled over them and Sven bounced around the room excitedly, and soon they had finished eating with everyone complimenting Anna on a job well done. Before long it was time for the two of them to head out, as Anna realized she couldn’t stay out all night again for a while without her family becoming suspicious.
The walk home was tense.
“I want to walk you all the way home.” Kristoff’s grip on her hand tightened. “It’s dark.”
She froze, tugging him backwards, and placed her free hand gently over his. “I appreciate it, Kristoff… But you know you can’t.”
Tugging her to his chest, he pressed his lips against his forehead. “... I know…”
It almost hurt her to have to leave him. She felt a sudden hollowness in her chest, and pulled away rapidly. “Goodnight.”
Kristoff smiled, and she felt a stab in her chest again.
Anna was almost dreading going home. She had taken the long way home, but by bicycle, it didn’t take long enough. There was a light on in the study, but not many on elsewhere, and Anna could hear yelling as she approached the doorway. Yelling that sounded a whole lot like Hans’.
There was barely a creak as she opened the door as silently as possible, closing it with a tiny click of the latch behind her, and breathed a sigh of relief as the yelling continued. They hadn’t heard her, so she took tiny steps towards the study, leaning against the wall outside of it.
“ If she’s straying, Augustus, I swear to God this deal--”
“ That is not like her, Hans.” She jumped when she heard the slam of what must have been a book hitting a desk. “I very highly doubt that Anna is being unfaithful .”
A laugh, a bitter laugh that only Hans ever did. “Well if she is, and this wedding doesn’t happen… Neither does the deal. And then you’ll be finished in this city. In this state , even.”
A chair scraped against the ground, feet shuffled on the ground, and Anna bit down on her thumb in order to keep quiet.
“ Who on earth do you think you are , Hans?”
There was silence between them for a moment.
“Just makes sure it happens, Augustus.”
Hearing the signature click of his shoes against the hardwood floor, Anna darted past the opening to the study and hid behind the stairwell, watching in the dim lighting as he turned to exit the house. She stayed hidden, worried and fearful, until she could hear his engine revving and driving off the property.
She stood up, moved towards the study and knocked timidly, almost jumping to a ramrod straight position when her father stared up at her. “Hi papa…”
“Anna… How long have you been home?” He dropped his pen down onto the desk.
Twisting her fingers together and scuffing her toe against the floor, she mumbled “Long enough…”
A sigh. “I’m sorry that you had to hear that, Anna.”
She shook her head.
“But… please tell me you’re still planning on going through with the wedding.” His voice was stern, his posture strict.
“Of… Of course I am, papa.”
He waved a hand in front of his face, muttering something about having to finish paperwork, and shooed her from his office.
Anna bit back her tears, used quick feet to run up towards the bedrooms, and knocked impatiently on her sisters’ door. She hadn’t noticed the front door opening behind her.
“Elsa? Elsa please open up!”
She didn’t notice the footsteps coming up the stairs behind her.
The door swung open, and Anna forced her way inside, shoving past her sister and immediately falling face down onto her bed.
And she didn’t notice the door stay slightly ajar.
“What is it, Anna?” Elsa came to sit beside her, running a hand through her hair. “What happened?”
“Elsa… I…” She hiccuped. “I did something bad.”
The blonde sat quietly and listened as Anna confessed everything. As she started at the beginning, about not loving Hans. As she moved to the middle, about being with Kristoff. As she finally finished, saying she didn’t want to marry him… but she would, for papa. She would do it if it meant saving their family.
Elsa offered quiet comfort, a hand brushing through her hair, over her shoulders, rubbing circles on her back, and small words of “it’ll be okay. Everything is fine.”
Neither of them noticed the click of shoes walking away from the door.
Hans sat down at his chair in his bedroom, tapping a pen against his desk. He was sure, now, and was not pleased in the least. He ran a hand down his face before reaching forward and lifting the telephone off of it’s cradle. Ten digits dialed, and he waited as it rung.
“Hello.” The voice was gruff, almost violent, on the other end.
“Did you get the information I asked for?”
A laugh. “Ya think I’m some sorta amateur? Of course I got it.”
He smiled against the mouthpiece and slid a sheet of paper down in front of him. “Give it to me.”
Kristoff had invited Anna over tonight on a whim. She had walked past his quartet’s corner on her way to the florist, and he had motioned for her to come over. With a quick aside, he had said simply “mine tonight,” and she had nodded, with a blush coating her cheeks, and continued on her way. Despite everything that was happening, she knew she had to continue planning her wedding. Elsa had scolded her enough, and she had regretted telling her anything at all.
But she had been panicked, that night.
It had been about a week since, and Anna had recollected herself, and chose to remain quiet about anything else. Elsa’s glaring looks were painful enough, she couldn’t imagine her father or Hans finding out… She had asked a friend of hers to say she had been there that night, and told her family a story.
“Oh, yeah, I ran into Merida, you know, the Dunbroch’s daughter? Yeah, I ran into her and she wants me to come stay the night!”
She bit her lip as she bounced up the stairs to his apartment, nerves settling in under her skin. What if they had found out? What if… They wouldn’t. They would believe the word of Merida .
One knock was all it took before the door swung open, she was yanked inside, pressed up against the wall, and hard lips were pressing against hers.
It felt like forever before he pulled away long enough to let her speak. “What was that for?”
Kristoff let out a sigh, kissed her again, and stepped back. “Nothing. Wanna go grab something to eat downstairs?”
She was taken aback by his sudden change but nodded anyway, following him back down towards Oaken’s. There was an almost tense silence between them as they walked, as they ordered, as they waited, and finally, she couldn’t take it. “Kristoff… What’s going on?”
A smile and a shake of his head. “Nothing.” He placed a hand over hers. “Really.”
He got up when their order was called and she watched him skeptically. This wasn’t like him, at all. It made her nervous.
They ate in silence, hands held tightly together, barely making eye contact (though it wasn’t for lack of trying on Anna’s part), and suddenly they were finished and he was all but dragging Anna up the stairs.
As soon as they made it through the door, she pulled her hands from his. “Kristoff, what is going on?!”
Blushing furiously, Kristoff turned to look at her.
“N-nothing, Anna. Nothing.”
A flash of frustration tugged at her features, and her voice was rising. “Don’t say it’s nothing, Kristoff! It’s obviously something! You don’t… You’re not talking and you’re not looking at me and why won’t you just tell me what’s wrong?” She ignored him stepping closer. “Please just tell me!”
He cupped her jaw in his hands and smiled warmly down at her. “Nothing. I’m happy you’re here.” And he kissed her, warm and full and hungry .
Things moved quickly, and before she knew it, they were where they were a couple weeks ago, almost bare and on his bed and lips moving far too quickly, him biting at her newly exposed skin and her keening above him as he pulled away again.
“Seriously?” she breathed, chest heaving for lost air.
“ I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” Fear was etched on his face, his hands clinging tightly to her, but eyes dancing with worry. “I just… Okay I thought maybe it was time but it’s not time I’m just so wrong and--”
She kissed him once more, a smile teasing at her lips. “It’s fine. It’s okay. Please don’t worry.”
They sat together for a few moments before she crawled over him and slipped under the covers. She was asleep the second her head hit the pillow.
Kristoff, however, found himself shifting relentlessly. He tossed and turned so frequently that he chose it best to just sit up and read… or something . Flicking the switch on his small desk lamp (though jumping in his skin when he heard Anna snort and shift, relaxing as she buried her face back into the pillow and continue her snoring), he took a deep breath.
He pulled out the drawer on his night stand as quietly as possible, and pulled out the letter he had hidden inside. The envelope crinkled in his hands, creased and folded from frustrated fingers handling it, and he reached inside to grab the even more manhandled letter.
A few flips of the paper before the trifold was open, and he sighed.
Greetings, Kristoff Bjorgman.
You are hereby ordered for induction into the Armed Forces of the United States.
It had been almost a month since Anna decided to tell Elsa what had been going on, and she was honestly surprised when her sister had managed to keep the secret. She had even been going out with Anna to give her cover stories when she wanted to spend the day with Kristoff.
Anna didn’t understand why her sister was being so supportive, but she wasn’t going to complain. Besides, when she had once asked Elsa why she was helping, all the blonde had said was that it was important that the secret wasn’t revealed. Whatever that meant. Elsa did sometimes have a tendency to be a little bit cryptic.
It didn’t matter though. She had another day planned with Kristoff and his family, and she was more excited than she had been in a long time. Today Anna was going to learn how to make Kristoff’s favorite dessert! Anna was practically skipping all the way to Miss Bulda’s house from the grocery store, her arms grasped tightly around the brown paper bag full of ingredients for a carrot cake.
Many of the women around the neighborhood had gotten to know Anna over the past month, and always greeted her with warm smiles and enthusiastic words.
“You look lovely today, darlin’!”
“That boy of yours sure is one lucky fella.”
“Maybe you wouldn’t mind watching my kids one afternoon!”
Anna always laughed and continued on her way, hollering back replied filled with appreciation. Never before had she been so openly welcomed in a community - she had always been the odd one out. At school, she was never quite as bright as her big sister, never as pretty, never as good. Even when it came to dating, all the boys wanted to more regal, more beautiful, more shapely, blonde sister over her. She was just the leftover - the spare - for when no one got anywhere with Elsa.
She was fairly certain she only got accepted into certain groups because of who her parents and sister were.
So when this lovely neighborhood of even lovelier people were so open to her - and just her - Anna couldn’t help but be grateful and happy to see every one of them.
Jumping up the stairs to the porch, Anna immediately burst through the door and was tackled by Sven and two children. She almost dropped the bag as she tripped over the dog panting at her feet, and the kids clinging to her legs.
“Oookay! Okay, hi guys!” Catching eyes with Bulda, she smiled when the woman ran over to take the grocery bag from her hands. “Good mornin’, Miss Bulda.”
“Mornin’, baby. How was your walk over here?” She scampered back into the kitchen, Anna in tow, and started laying out all the ingredients across the counter.
Anna knelt down to pet Sven, who had followed them into the kitchen. “It was okay. Kind of lonely - but it’s lovely out.” Peeking around the corner, she continued. “Speaking of my walk - which was very much Kristoff-less - Where is Kristoff?”
Bulda stiffened, slowed her movements, and sighed as she turned around. “He’s at the recruiter’s today, baby. I think his appointment starts soon, then he said he was going to head back to his apartment before coming here.”
Blue eyes widened, and all the redhead could do was stare.
“He’s got the physical today, you know?” Bulda turned to face Anna. “He’s being so brave about this whole thing and --” She finally noticed the girls misty eyes and stiff posture. “... And he hasn’t told you, has he?”
Anna stood, her fist clenched over her chest. “He hasn’t told me what?” She took a step closer to the woman. “Bulda… What hasn’t he told me? Did he…”
Bulda clapped her hands onto Anna’s shoulders, doing her best to guide her backwards into a chair. “Look, honey, I’m sure there’s nothing to be worried --”
“He got drafted…” She turned wet eyes up to the woman. “Didn’t he?”
A silence fell between them, Anna’s ears ringing and blocking out the rest of the noise of the house. “He…”
“I’m so sorry, baby…”
Anna sat back into the kitchen chair, the loud scraping of the metal legs against the tile shocking Sven, causing him to jump up. He placed his muzzle onto her lap, whimpering and frowning up at the redhead. Her hand landed heavily on his head, scratching absentmindedly behind his ears. “When…” One deep breath. “When does he leave?”
Frowning and kneeling in front of the girl, Bulda pressed her lips tightly together. “I think… if everything goes well at the physical - which… which we know it will… He’ll probably be shipped off within the week.”
Anna’s fist tightened in Sven’s fur. “... A week?” She dropped her face into her free hand. “Why… wouldn’t he tell me?”
Warm hands rubbed comfortingly at her arms, a kiss placed gently on her forehead. “Anna, baby… Kristoff is… He’s not used to having someone he cares about so much outside of family. I’m sure he thought it was better to not tell you. I’m sure he was planning on telling -”
“When?” Standing as her voice rose, hands shaking at her sides. “When was he going to tell me if he knew he’d be leaving soon? Why wouldn’t he tell me as soon as…” Her eyes jerked up to Bulda’s. “How long ago did he get the notice?”
Bulda stood beside her, trying her best to calm Anna down. “About a month ago…”
Anna’s entire body was shaking now, her throat was tight, eyes watering, lips pursed together, shoulders tense and fists clenched. She couldn’t even manage a single word. He had been hiding this from her for a whole month? A wholemonth. Didn’t he trust her? Didn’t he...
She felt Bulda step back, her hands sliding down to hold firmly onto Anna’s.
“Baby, why don’t you head over to his apartment. Talk to him. I bet he’ll be there soon.”
A nod. Sven’s leash in her hand. The click of the door behind her, and she was on her way. She barely remembered leaving.
She didn’t remember the walk. Or seeing his truck, and knowing he was home.
She couldn’t focus on her fist knocking on the door.
She finally snapped back to the present when the door opened to reveal a slightly red faced Kristoff.
“Anna!” he breathed, pressing his hand against his chest. “Hi. Wow. Hey.” Silence. “What are you doing here?” Nothing. “I thought we were supposed to meet over at Ma’s…”
Anna’s eyes were locked onto his, making him nervous, making him sweat under her gaze. They remained silent for long enough to annoy Sven, causing him to bark to get their attention.
“Hey buddy…” he started, kneeling down to greet his best friend.
“You were drafted.”
Kristoff froze, his hand tangled in the fur of his dog’s neck. With a low hum, he closed his eyes. “I… uh…”
Leaning against the railing to the stairs, Anna pressed her palms flat against the top of it, her eyes brimming with tears. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I…” He stood, took a few steps forward to close the distance between them, and held out his hands. “I didn’t want you to worry.” When she remained silent, he lifted his hands to cup her cheeks, tilting her head to meet his gaze head on. “It was for -”
“When do you leave?” Her voice was tight, visibly choking on every word, tears threatening to fall.
Kristoff swept his thumbs under her eyes, catching the stray droplets that had latched onto her lashes. “... Monday.” He felt her swallow under his fingers, and turned his eyes away from her.
“Monday? That’s…” She pulled out from his grasp and ducked under his arm, turning to face him as she stood in his doorway. “... That’s in four days, Kristoff.”
When he noticed her shoulders shaking, he stepped forward again to grasp at her arms. “I’m sorry, Anna. I’m sorry. I… I was gonna tell you tomorrow, when -”
“Tomorrow…” She started shaking more violently. “You were only going to let me know three days before you left? You’ve known for a month!”
Kristoff pulled her to him, wrapping arms around her, pressing palms flat into her back as she struggled to push away from him. “I just…” his voice was low in her ear, calming her down just slightly. “I didn’t want you to worry, okay?”
Convulsing hands grasped onto his shirt, her voice weak and whimpering. “What if I wanted to worry?” Her nose buried into his shoulder, arms slid to wrap tightly around his back. “What if I wanted to spend every second I could with you before you left?”
Sliding his hands down lower on her back, Kristoff lifted her just enough to step into the apartment and close the door behind him. Anna held on even tighter when he set her down.
“...You can’t go.”
He held her tightly against his chest. “Anna…”
“I don’t want you to go.”
A sigh. “You know I have to.”
Anna pulled back, tugging on his collar and catching his gaze. “No! No you don’t! We can… leave! We can go to Canada.” Her grip was firm, and she pulled him closer. “We can run away. We can fake an injury -”
Shaking his head, Kristoff grasped her shoulders and smiled, a hint of sadness playing at his lips. “You know I can’t do that…”
She punched a fist against his chest and pressed her nose against him again. “... I know…”
His hands were running softly over her back, standing still and silent. If anything could possibly convince him to shirk his duties, it would be this small girl holding onto him for dear life.
“I’ll come back.”
Anna froze, sniffled once, and shook her head.
“I promise I will,” he smiled, his hands rubbing a little more firmly against her shoulders.
Another sniffle. “You can’t promise that. You don’t… You don’t know.” Her hands were shaking again. “You don’t know what’s going to happen…”
Kristoff placed his hands on her shoulders, pushed her back, and ducked down to her eye level. “Anna, look at me.” He almost caved when her watery blue eyes turned up to him. “I’m going to be fine. I promise.”
“No!” Anna stepped back and punched a fist against his chest again. “You’re not going. I don’t want you to go. My…” She hit him again. “My family has power. We can figure something out.”
Catching her fist as it came down to hit him again, Kristoff sighed. “Anna. I’m going. Stop. Please…”
She couldn’t hold it back anymore. Everything she had been trying not to let loose came pouring out of her in a steady stream of tears. Wrapping her arms around his waist again, Anna pressed her cheek against his chest and sobbed, her shoulders jerking with every breath. Kristoff was frozen above her, one hand resting on the nape of her neck, the other circling along her back.
Laying his cheek on top of her head, Kristoff sighed. “I need you to do something, though… Okay?”
Anna squeezed him as tightly as she could, nodding against him.
“Go…” A hard swallow of the lump in his throat. “...Go marry Hans.”
Pulling back, slack jawed, Anna looked more upset than ever. “...What?”
He let her go and ran his fingers through his blond locks. “Look… I just…” Crossing his arms over his chest, Kristoff continued. “I don’t know what’s gonna happen. I don’t know how long I’m gonna be gone. I don’t know when I’ll be back.” He watched carefully as Anna moved to sit on the couch, and took a few steps towards her. “But what I do know, from what you’ve told me… is that marrying Hans is good for your family. And…”
Standing, her arms crossed over her chest, Anna stepped closer to him. “No. I don’t want to. I’m not going to.” She grabbed at his hands, holding firm. “I don’t… I don’t love him, Kristoff.” Intertwining her fingers with his, she looked up towards the blond. “Kristoff… I love -”
His hand was clamped over her mouth.
“Anna… don’t… don’t say it.” He was the one shaking now.
She pulled his hand away from her mouth, and stepped far enough away so he couldn’t grab her again. “I love you, Kristoff! Okay? I… love you.”
His head dropped.
“Damn it, Anna.”
They stared at each other for a moment, silence falling between them. Silence that was only broken when Kristoff stepped forward to kiss her, a simple kiss that said everything they were feeling in just a few moments.
She loved him.
He loved her.
They were in love and about to be torn apart.
Between parted lips came heavy breaths and mumbled confessions of affection. His hands slid along her back, pulled her closer, tangled in her hair, tugged and pressed and craved more.
Until he stopped.
Anna laughed. “Again? You’re stopping again? Really?”
He nodded. “Yeah. I am. It’ll...” He kissed her again. “It’ll make it that much harder to leave.”
As much as she hated to admit it, Anna knew he was right. If they crossed over that hump in their relationship, she wouldn’t be able to let him go. Never.
“I love you.”
He smiled. “I love you, too.” A few moments passed, before he spoke again. “I have something I want you to have, Anna.”
She sat back onto the couch, watching as he walked back to his room, disappeared for a few minutes, and came back with his fist closed. Kristoff sat down beside her, and held his hand out towards her.
“It’s… not much… But it’s a reminder… and a promise.” He opened his fist to reveal a thick, plain silver band. “It was my dad’s. After he died, I kept it with me.” Placing into her palm, he smiled. “Keep it with you. It’s the only thing I have left of him and I want you to keep it safe…”
Anna was speechless.
“I’m coming back for it, Anna. I’m coming back for you.”
Wrapping her arms around his neck, Anna kissed him full and deep. “I promise.”
They sat and talked for a while, tangled up in one another. Hands held, arms brushing, legs crossed one over the other, gentle kisses and pets of fingers through hair. There was silence, there was non stop talking, there were tears and laughter and everything in between. For hours. Until the sky grew dark and the moon rose high into the sky.
Her legs were draped across his lap, her head resting against his shoulder. “So…” Anna started, fingers running up his forearm. “What are we going to do tomorrow?”
Kristoff laughed. “Tomorrow?”
“Well I figured that with you leaving on Monday…” She nuzzled her nose into his neck. “We should spend as much time together as -”
“No…” He pulled her closer. “Anna… I’m sorry. Tonight… tomorrow morning… That’s it. That’s... our goodbye.”
Anna was silent. She stayed burrowed in his neck, her fingers slowly closing tighter on his shoulders.
Kristoff almost thought she was okay.
Until she cried.
Kristoff just held her closely, his heart hammering in his chest. It pained him so deeply to hear her cry, to know it was his fault, to know there was barely a thing he could do to fix it.
“We’ll meet again…” his voice was low and rhythmic. “Don’t know where, don’t know when…”
She turned her head to hide her face in the crook of his neck.
“But I know we’ll meet again…” he pressed a kiss against her forehead. “... Some sunny day…”
He heard her breathing slow against his ear, felt her eyelashes slowly closing against his skin.
“Keep smilin’ through, just like you always do…”
Her grip on his collar loosened.
“‘Til the blue skies chase the dark clouds far away.”
Soft snores came from her lips, and Kristoff just hugged her closer, pressing his nose into her hair, and sighed.
He loved her.
But he had to let her go.
HOLA FOLKS. LONG TIME NO SEE.
HOW Y'ALL DOIN.
I HOPE YOU ARE AS EXCITED AS I AM!!!!!!!!!!!!!
They had both decided to attempt to delay the morning for as long as possible. Ignoring the sunlight pouring in through his window, Kristoff would pull Anna closer, or Anna would bury her head back into his shoulder, until they realized just how late it was getting.
“You should head home soon.”
Her fingers curled against his bare back, as if she were too scared to let go. “... I know.”
Kristoff lifted a hand to rest against the back of her hair, pressing a soft kiss against her forehead. He was terrified too, if he was being completely honest. He knew that she would be long moved on with her life by the time he returned, and, at best, he’d probably only see her in passing on the street. And who knew if she’d recognize him then?
He knew all about this war.
He knew that too many people never came home.
And if they did, they were not the same person they were when they left.
What if he came back a changed man, and Anna didn’t want that version of him?
He knew that that was not the kind of person she was, but he couldn’t help but fear the worst.
Anna shifted against him letting out a wavering sigh and tried to sit up in the bed, forcing him to sit up with her. “Are you sure I can’t come by again tomorrow?”
With hesitation Kristoff nodded, leaning over to rest his head against hers. “I’m sorry, but yeah.”
She nuzzled her forehead against his jaw, accepting that this was the way things had to be. Her eyes closed as Kristoff rubbed a soft hand against her back, soothing her if only slightly. Anna had a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach that she would never see him again, and wanted to hold on to every moment she could.
They sat in silence, neither wanting to speak, neither wanting time to tick on. They both wished that by just sitting still time would stop and allow them to have just a few more minutes, hours, days together.
Breaking the silence and pressing a soft kiss against Anna’s temple, Kristoff shifted to stand. “You have to go, Anna. Go be with your fiance, and don’t worry about me, all right?”
He stepped around the bed to stand in front of her, lifted his hands to her jaw and pulled her in for one last kiss. It lingered for just a moment too long, making both of them desire just a little more, until Kristoff ended it slowly, whispering soft I love yous against her lips.
Anna couldn’t stop touching the silver band that hung below the collar of her shirt. They had stood in silence for a little longer before Kristoff pulled out his father’s ring on a simple silver chain and gave it to her.
Keep it safe , he reminded her, kissing her forehead one last time. Please don’t forget me , she heard him mumble softly as she had been closing the door behind her.
She wouldn’t - there was no way she could possibly forget him. Even if it was just a summer fling, even if she married Hans and never saw him again, even if she was happy with her life and didn’t know whether he came home or not. She wouldn’t - couldn’t - ever forget him.
The walk home felt like it took forever, and she found herself upset and worried about the fact that Hans’ car was sitting in front of the mansion. Did she have an excuse for where she had been all night? What if he noticed the chain around her neck?
A blush rose to her cheeks and she pulled the necklace off as quickly as possible, tucking it into her purse before she stepped up onto the porch. She didn’t want to risk anyone seeing it and asking her what it was.
She was already pretty sure that Hans knew she was being unfaithful.
There was no sense in confirming that information for him.
With a deep breath, she pushed the front door open and was unsurprised to see that no one had really noticed her absence. Her father was hunched over his desk, Hans was on the telephone in the back office, and her sister was nowhere to be seen. Anna wouldn’t admit it out loud, but for once she was happy to be the spare - to be a ghost in this house.
She snuck upstairs as quietly as she possibly could and closed the door to her bedroom behind her, letting out a sigh of relief. And before she even had a chance to catch her breath she moved towards her vanity, tucking Kristoff’s ring away into a secure drawer of her jewelry box.
Finally feeling safe, Anna flopped backwards onto her bed and closed her eyes just for a moment.
She still couldn’t believe she wasn’t going to be able to see Kristoff for… well, probably for years. At the very least months. And she was having a difficult time wrapping her head around the fact that he wanted her to marry Hans.
Even if it was what was best for everyone involved…
He’d be leaving on Monday at eight am and there was nothing she could do about it. She couldn’t even see him one more time before he left. Wiping at her nose, Anna rolled onto her side curling her knees up against her chest and willing herself not to start sobbing.
Only a few minutes must’ve passed when she heard someone knock on her door.
“Are you in there? I thought I saw you come in…”
She stayed quiet, hoping he would think she was asleep and leave her alone for a little while.
“I have to say that it’s rather rude of you to not say hello to your fiance.”
Taking a deep breath, Anna rolled off of her bed and made haste towards the door. She cracked it open, just peeking an eye out to look at him. “I’m… sorry. I’m feeling a little under the weather.”
He looked skeptical, but shrugged. “Anything I can do to help?”
Anna bit her lip. It had been a while since she spent some proper time with Hans. Maybe the stress was getting to him too. Maybe that was why she felt so out of touch with him - like he was so different. Maybe they had just lost touch with one another…
She opened the door just a little wider, revealing her whole flushed face. “Some tea, maybe? And hugs?”
Grinning and nodding, Hans started to turn away. “I think I can help with that.”
Anna smiled, a blush rising to her cheeks, and closed the door to change quickly into more comfortable clothing. Maybe things… would get better. Maybe things with Hans weren’t as bad as she thought they were.
Maybe she could… be okay with this.
Kristoff was sitting on the floor against his couch, hand absentmindedly petting at his dog’s head, scratching and pausing until Sven whined causing him to shake back to reality. It had only been a few hours since Anna left his apartment, and he was already feeling completely swallowed by the silence of the air around him.
His clock ticked, second by second, the sound feeling closer and closer with each passing moment. He didn’t have a television, he didn’t want to listen to his radio - that would all be about the most recent draft anyway - so all he could do was sit here in this stifling apartment.
He hadn’t let himself look weak or scared in front of his mother or Anna - he couldn’t let them know that he was afraid of dying - that he was afraid of never coming back.
He had to be the strong one. He knew it.
Rubbing a hand over his face he began to feel sobs rising up in his throat. He closed his eyes and willed them back down, laying his head back onto the soft cushions.
Sven sat up next to him letting out a soft, questioning whine and pressed his wet nose against his best friend’s cheek. Something was wrong, and he could tell.
“Thanks, buddy,” Kristoff mumbled, rolling his head over to look at his dog’s sweet chocolate eyes. “I’m just…” He sighed and sat up, rubbing at the back of his neck. “I’m scared, bud.” This was the first time he let himself say it out loud, and he couldn’t help but feel like a weight had been lifted off of his shoulders. “What if I don’t… What if...”
Sven tilted his head and Kristoff leaned forward, burying his face into the mutt’s fur.
Anna couldn’t deny that the last few days had been just short of wonderful. Hans had been caring, sweet, kind, attentive; all of the things that she had originally fallen in love with him for. But she still felt like something was off. He wasn’t… genuine. He wasn’t real .
She wasn’t sure what exactly it was that was making her feel this way, but it would not leave her head - she was certain that there was something wrong. Maybe it had just been because of all the time she spent with Kristoff.
It certainly didn’t help that she was finding it impossible to get him off of her mind. Pure, sweet Kristoff, who probably couldn’t tell a lie if his life depended on it. She found herself constantly getting lost in memories of him. It had only been two days, and she couldn’t stop the ache that filled her heart whenever he popped into her mind.
He was the most genuine person she had ever met.
Hans… was still a businessman, first and foremost. He did what he had to do in order to get what he wanted, and didn’t settle or rest until he got exactly that.
Anna doubted she was much of an exception.
But everyone was right. Their being together was beneficial to all parties - to her family, to his, to both of their businesses… So who was she to decide that her desire to marry for love was worth more than all of that?
She turned over in her bed, glancing at the clock. It was seven. She had an hour before his train left.
She had an hour to see him one last time.
Hans was at work.
Anna bolted out of bed and pulled on the closest dress, pulled her hair back as quickly as possible and ran across the hall to her sisters’ room. “Elsa!” she hissed, knocking furiously. “Elsa!”
She knew her sister would be awake - she always was awake early in the mornings - and she just had to wait patiently for her to come to the door. In the meantime, she would just keep knocking.
The door swung open and she saw a rather frazzled (at least for her sister) Elsa. “What?!”
“ You have to drive me to the train station!”
Elsa shook her head, her eyebrows furrowing together. “Wait, what?” Lifting her hands up in front of her chest, she sighed. “I don’t understand.”
Grabbing the blonde’s hands, Anna started pulling her down the hallway to the stairs, struggling to get her words across as they ran. “I can’t… We just have to go! Right now! I only have forty-five minutes!”
They moved swiftly out the front door, and even in her confusion Elsa drove onward. She assumed this had something to do with Kristoff, but also knew that Anna wouldn’t properly explain herself until after the whole situation had unfolded.
The train station was outside of the city and it took about thirty minutes to drive to, even in the early morning before the work traffic began. Luckily it wasn’t too busy - but then again not many men got drafted from their town at once. Usually ten at most, and this time was looking a little more slim than normal.
Anna had barely waited for the car to stop before she jumped out, running as fast as she could to the platform. Her blue eyes darted around trying their absolute best to find her Kristoff, but there was no sign of him. She glanced back to Elsa, who was standing at the steps to the parking lot, with worried eyes. What if she had come to the wrong station? What if this was all a waste of time?
It may have been an act of desperation, but Anna started running down the length of the train, jumping up to glance in all of the windows and praying she would see that familiar head of blond hair.
Please, please, please , she begged, biting her lip as she started to lose hope…
Until she heard her name called in a familiarly gruff tone. “Anna?”
Turning on her heels, she ran at Kristoff who had stepped off the train, throwing her arms around his neck as tightly as she could manage. His hands pressed into her back, pulling her as close as possible as his nose turned in to press into her hair.
“Anna,” he breathed, pressing his cheek against hers. “What are you doing here?”
“I just…” She was out of breath from running and from relief, and she let out a small hiccupping sob. “I had to see you. I’m sorry.”
He kissed her hair before leaning back just far enough to kiss her temple, her cheek, her nose. “Don’t apologize, Anna. Don’t. I’m… I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
The whistle of the train blew, signaling its’ preparation to depart, and Kristoff held her close for a lingering kiss before pulling back and stepping up onto the train.
Anna stood as close as she could, trying her best to speak loudly enough for him to hear her over the locomotive. “I’m going to wait for you!”
Kristoff leaned down with one hand still gripping at the handlebar of the trains’ entrance and invited her back in for one last press of their lips, smiling widely against her mouth. It was more than enough to see her here, to have her surprise him and wish him farewell.
But her saying that she loved him and wanted to wait…
He suddenly felt less afraid.
The train started moving forcing Anna to leap back away from it to avoid injury, and she began her short run along the platform alongside Kristoff in the stairway.
Before she knew it she was at the end of the platform and he was no longer visible, and she was breaking down into her sisters’ shoulder. It wasn’t fair that the world would take someone so pure and genuine, but leave someone like…
Anna felt a soft hand rub at her back, and her crying slowly calmed to just mere sniffling.
“I’m so sorry, Anna.”
Kristoff stood at the door for as long as he could just staring back towards the departed station, until a conductor walked by and asked him to please take a seat. He nodded, running a hand through his hair, and returned to where his suitcase was situated. He wished he knew more so that he could prepare himself better.
But all he knew was that he was headed for Texas, to the thirty-sixth infantry division.
It was going to be a long train ride and Kristoff knew he probably wouldn’t be able to stop thinking if he stayed awake. It was true, he felt less afraid because he knew he had Anna… But the fear was still there. There were too many what if s that were plaguing his mind and he took a deep breath before closing his eyes, hoping that sleep overtook him.
The sisters arrived back to the house by nine to find that Hans had returned from his meeting just a few minutes prior. Anna knew her face was red with sadness, tears having dried out her cheeks and her eyes and lips were puffy. She hoped that Hans was so buried in his work that he wouldn’t notice…
But of course she had no such luck.
“Anna, dear, what happened?” he asked the moment his eyes landed on her. He moved swiftly towards her and led her away from her older sister, urging her to sit down beside him on the loveseat. “You look dreadful.”
She sniffled, fearing that discussing the issue would make her cry again. But she didn’t want to lie and erase Kristoff either…
“My…” She wiped under her eyes, smiling when Hans wrapped his arm around her shoulders. “My friend was drafted. They just left today and…”
“Oh, Anna,” he sighed, squeezing her closer. “I’m so sorry to hear that.”
Anna was somewhat relieved, happy that Hans was being such a caring man - that caring, lovely man he used to be when she fell in love with him. But as his arms wrapped around her and his lips pressed softly and comfortingly against her cheeks and her mind couldn’t stop thinking of Kristoff… she knew for sure that she didn’t love Hans anymore.
“Was this the friend you’ve been spending so much time with lately?”
The question caught Anna off guard, and she let out a soft laugh. “Oh… Yes. You noticed?”
“Of course, Anna,” Hans smiled, pulling her a fraction closer. “I always pay attention to you and what you’re up to.”
She felt a shiver run down her spine, those words creeping under her skin in the most uncomfortable of ways.
Kristoff felt the train slow to a halt, and heard the conductor announce that they had arrived at Dallas Fort Worth. There was a man in uniform waiting on the platform to check in the new cadets, silently taking their names before directing them to the van waiting to drive them to the camp.
He gave his name, walked down the steps, and carefully loaded his one bag into the trunk of the van before stepping in and waited patiently. It only took a few more minutes - and a few more probably freshly eighteen year old boys stepping into the van - before they got moving.
Keeping to himself, his hands stayed folded in his lap until they got through the gate, rolled up to the camp, and began unloading the men.
As they stood in a line, hands planted firmly at their sides, a man who Kristoff believed to be a General - he figured he’d learn all the proper titles later.
“ Hello men, I am Sergeant Fitz, and welcome to the thirty-sixth infantry division.”
Um so. Strange format! but I hope it's still enjoyable. After discussions with some Beta's we decided that this would be the best way to cover the ten-eleven months of stuff without it getting redundant and boring.
I hope you all enjoy it!
It had been about two weeks since Kristoff left, and he decided it was finally time to write.
I’m here safely, and I thought I would just write you to let you know where you can address things. So far they seem sure we’ll be here for a long while, but I’ll let you know if anything changes.
I… know I told you to go be with Hans, so I’m sorry if writing you is inappropriate…
Most of the people here are just kids. I mean, there are definitely some men older than me, but it’s looking like they really went after the kids this time. Do they think they’re just disposable?
I’m sorry. We just got settled in and I’ve just been observing.
They treat us like garbage.
Kristoff sighed and scribbled out the last line.
I hope this war will be over soon.
Anna couldn’t contain her excitement when she received her first letter from Kristoff. Even though he had said he loved her and kissed her goodbye, she couldn’t stop the fear that he would just use this as an opportunity to force her to move on from invading her thoughts constantly.
I am so happy you got there safely, and thank you for writing me.
I’m doing everything I can to postpone the wedding. I don’t want to marry him, but I’m learning more and more that this merger won’t happen without a wedding, and that my father really needs for it to happen. I’m just hoping that eventually if the wedding is postponed for long enough, the merger will go through and then I can get away from him.
He’s being oddly sensitive lately, as if he knows that something was going on. He did confirm that he knew about you - just as a friend of mine - but he is aware of your existence. I felt a little nervous when he told me that. What else might he know?
I am so proud of you, Kristoff. You are so brave and strong and I know you’re going to be there for those kids. But please also take care of yourself. I need you to come home.
I love you,
I’m sorry I’ve gone a little while without writing. The only time we get to write is late at night prior to lights out, but I’ve been doing my best during that time to help anyone who has fallen behind on their duties. If one cadet falls behind, the whole platoon is punished.
It helps that I almost always finish what I’m assigned to early.
I hope that things are still going well for you. I know it must be hard to put on a happy face for your family. But just remember that I’ll be home soon.
Have you tried to speak with your father about it? Maybe he would understand if you were really unhappy. I think he values your happiness over his success, right?
We’ve just been learning the basics. Marching, proper body movements… things like that.
From what I’ve heard, hand to hand combat training is next. I don’t want to learn this.
His grip tightened on his pen before he placed it flat against the desk, rolling his neck and folding it up into a neatly scripted envelope. He wanted more than anything to tell her that he loved her, but Kristoff couldn’t bring himself to be the thing holding her back.
Anna was scribbling furiously in order to write just a quick note before she had to leave with her sister and fiance.
Please don’t apologize. Even just one letter from you is more than enough.
My papa is stressed. I think that without Hans’ business merging into ours, we will fall into poverty. I know he would care more about me than his business, but I think that he knows we will not survive without it right now.
I don’t have much time - I am being forced to make some decisions for the wedding. But I love you, and I hope things are okay for you.
Please stay you. Don’t let this harden you.
Her bedroom door opened just as she sealed the envelope, and Anna shoved it under her makeup bag as subtly as possible.
“Are you ready, darling?”
“Yes, just a moment!”
Kristoff had waited almost a month before writing her back. This whole time had been filled with learning how to fire weapons and grueling physical training, and he couldn’t get the sound of gunshots out of his head for long enough to formulate a coherent letter.
I know that I’ve said you should move on, but I can’t stop hoping you’ve still managed to postpone things.
Your face is the only thing getting me through this right now.
Please tell me how you’re doing
The kettle whistled, blowing steam from its’ spout, and Hans carefully held the letter near the fog. He waited impatiently for the glue to begin to give before placing the envelope flat on the counter and easing it open as gently as possible. As his green eyes scanned over the paper, confirming what he was already sure he knew, he sighed.
He really wasn’t a cruel person.
At least not until someone gave him a reason to be.
Anna held his letter close to her heart, thankful that one had finally come. But she was unaware that it had been read by meddling eyes.
I have managed to postpone things indefinitely for now. I told my family I wanted to get involved with the war efforts, and that I won’t have time to plan a wedding around it. That the war is what needs my attention right now. I spend many days away from home now, doing what I can.
Even on days I don’t volunteer I find myself at your apartment cleaning up, or visiting your mother and Sven.
I hope that’s okay.
She has been teaching me some of your favorite recipes. She says that my beef stew rivals hers now. I can’t wait to make it for you.
I love you dearly.
How are you doing?
She also didn’t notice that the paper had been refolded and put back in the envelope before she had a chance to seal and send it.
Kristoff wouldn’t admit that he felt relief wash over his whole body when he learned that she had been able to put the wedding off. If everything kept going well, all he had to do was make it home. Maybe that was a foolish way to feel, but he needed a little bit of optimism.
I’ve held back on saying it, but I love you.
I don’t want to talk about how things are here. They are the same as always - difficult. We have, however, moved to more individualized training.
Tell me about you.
Anna had gotten home later than usual, and almost panicked when she saw mail from Kristoff sitting on her desk. Praying that it had been put there by her sister, Anna tore the envelope open and almost wept at the three line letter.
It’s been almost six months since you left and I cannot express how happy I am to finally see those words written by you. I love you and I cannot wait to see you again.
Things here have been okay. I’m getting really, really good at cooking. I never thought I’d say that!
Your mother took this sweet picture of me and Sven. I hope it brings you even just a bit of joy.
Anna paused to check over the photograph again, scribbling the date on the back and stuck it into the folds of the letter.
I do have some bad news, however. Hans is insisting that we just have a quick wedding. No big ceremony… just close family in our back yard. He refuses to go through with the deal without a wedding.
I’m afraid I might have to give in and just do it… for my papa, you know?
But we can figure it out, right?
Kristoff immediately shoved the photograph into his pocket, eyebrows furrowing together in confusion and hurt. He knew it wasn’t her decision, but he couldn’t help the words that came out from his head to paper.
Maybe we should stop this if money is so important to you.
He hesitated, wondering if he should explain how much he needed her. Or tell her how alone he had felt on days where he thought she may not be his anymore. Or that he knew that this whole situation was just a stressor for them both. That maybe it wasn’t worth all of the back and forth and ups and downs.
She couldn’t stop this forever.
He knew that money wasn’t the issue at hand, but at least it gave him something to blame, and maybe it would make her angry with him.
They were in love, yes, but was that enough?
Signing just his initials, he folded up the paper and dropped it into the letterbox. He was sure he’d regret it, but maybe it would make things easier.
What? What on earth do you mean? I waited a month and a half for your reply and that was all you wrote?
This isn’t my decision. It’s not what is important to me.
I wish I could change things.
I just keep running away. Nothing is getting sorted.
Hans is getting frustrated and taking it out on my father. I need to do something.
Are you saying we should just stop? If so…
If so, please just tell me.
She went to bed in order to relax and rethink things before deciding if she should actually send the letter, but to her horror awoke the next morning to have the envelope nowhere to be found.
This wasn’t the letter that Kristoff would ever want to come back to after a day like this. After one where he learned where he was destined to wind up. After one where he learned he was being sent somewhere that he knew people rarely came back from.
That is what I’m saying. We should stop. It’s probably best for everyone.
It was the middle of the night when Anna finally left him alone for long enough to read what he had to, but as soon as he did a smile stretched across his face.
This would be the perfect last letter for her to receive from him.
Anna sat in front of her desk for what felt like the thousandth time in months. She had initially sent him a letter pleading for him to change his mind, that she didn’t want anything but him and that she’d be willing to do whatever she could to make things right.
But it had been four months since she sent that.
She supposed he really did mean it - but that didn’t change the fact that she still wanted to try.
I understand that you were serious, but I just wanted you to know that I still haven’t stopped loving you. Please, don’t forget that.
She left the envelope in the mailbox, but missed someone else picking it up.
Kristoff pulled out his notebook of unsent letters.
He had never heard from her after he suggested they end it.
He guessed she agreed.
I’m so sorry. I take your picture with me everywhere. I still hope that someday I’ll have you again.
We’re leaving at the end of the week. I wish I still had you.
… I won’t admit it anywhere else.
But I’m scared.
Putting the book away, he scratched at the back of his head and moved back to his bunk, well aware that writing to her almost every day just made it worse for him - but he didn’t want to forget her.
Not even for a second.
i'm not a soldier and historical fiction is not my forte ;) please don't get mad if it's not the most accurate thing in the world.
Kristoff stared out at the seemingly endless ocean surrounding the ship and rolled his neck in frustration. They had been packed in like sardines and, even though it had only been a few days, it felt like it had been weeks. Sure he could pass some time with cards or scribbling in his notebook, but mostly he just had to deal with the relentless rocking of the ship on the water by laying on his cot or going over commands.
A few of the younger boys had seemed to latch onto him, or at the very least they seemed to be comfortable around him. They always invited him to sit with them and would tell him about their families and friends, about how they were confident this war wouldn’t last much longer and that they’d be home soon.
They were Peter Stein, Evan Winslow, Dustin Johnson, and Craig Langston, and they were the most optimistic group of eighteen year olds he had ever met.
Peter had just graduated from high school and enrolled himself in the army. His grandfather fought and died in the first world war, and Peter thought this was the only way he could be close to a man he never had the pleasure of knowing beyond the stories of his endless bravery.
Evan was a dropout, had been working in a factory since he was fifteen because his father fell ill and they had no other source of income. About a year ago the factory had to shut down and donate all of its materials and resources to the war effort, and Evan decided that just enlisting would be easier than the suspense of waiting for a draft notice.
Craig didn’t give them much information - all he said was that he was an orphan who lived on the streets so at least he had food most days now.
Dustin was the only one of them who was drafted. He didn’t get into college, so he worked as many hours as he could to save up as much as possible for his family before his eighteenth birthday, knowing full well that the draft was likely coming for him. He had hoped that his name wouldn’t be drawn, but unfortunately he had no such luck.
Kristoff didn’t like talking much about himself.
Two days into their voyage Evan had caught him sitting in the corner of a room with the picture of Anna between his fingers and chose to tease him mercilessly about the lady he must have at home. That was, at least until he saw the frustration wrinkling between Kristoff’s eyebrows as he fought to get the picture back.
Evan had tore the corner, nicking her hair, and immediately began apologizing profusely until Kristoff pushed his hair back out of his face (still not used to the shorter cut) and told him it was fine.
The boys had asked who she was, if she was a wife or a fiancée or something, and Kristoff had shrugged them all off, just saying she was a thing of the past that he wasn’t ready to let go of yet.
He pressed the torn corner between firm fingers in an attempt to flatten it as much as possible before sliding it back into his breast pocket, angry that his head was now filled with thoughts of her again.
Anna was resting her chin in her palm as she stared longingly out the window to the busy street. They were sitting in a dress shop as her mother flitted around trying to find the perfect dress that suited all of her bridesmaids, and as much as she wanted to care she couldn’t stop staring at the corner where she met Kristoff - where his quartet no longer sang because she was sure they had all been drafted at this point.
“ ... or this one in the blue … Anna?”
Snapping out of her daze, Anna finally looked up at her mother who had the poor saleswoman juggling at least ten different dresses and rubbed her eyes. “I’m sorry… which?”
Her mother’s brows furrowed in concern and she asked the saleswoman to just hang the dresses for now and to come back in a little while. When the brunette finally closed the door behind her, Anesa sat beside her daughter and brushed one braid back behind her shoulder. “What’s wrong, my love?”
Anna smiled, shrugging. “Nothing, mama, why do you ask?”
With a softness to her touch, Anesa ran her fingers gently across her daughter’s cheek. “I think we’ve all noticed that you’ve been a little quiet over the last few weeks…”
“Oh no I --”
“ And,” she continued, unfazed by her daughters’ attempt to interrupt, “with all of the postponing and fluttering around, I’m starting to believe you do not want to marry Hans.”
Frozen, Anna swallowed any words that were forming on her tongue and replaced them with the most convincing lies she could muster. “What! Mother, please. Of course I do. I… I have wanted to for a long time and I still want to, more than ever!”
Anesa cocked a brow at her daughter, and nodded. “Then why have you not married him yet? Your original wedding was supposed to be almost a year ago.”
“Well… The war…” she mumbled, pushing her hair back behind her ear.
“I know you, Anna. And I am well aware that you are only going through with this for the benefit of your father.”
“No,” her voice wavered, giving her away. “I…”
Her mother’s face was so comforting. Anna suddenly wondered why she hadn’t spoken about this whole situation with her earlier.
“ He’s not the same, mama. And I’m not the same.”
Rubbing a soft hand against her daughter’s back, Anesa rested her head against Anna’s and smiled. “You’re in love with someone else, aren’t you?”
“Why are you not with him?”
She bit her lip and shrugged. “For one thing, I don’t want to betray daddy. For another, he was drafted.”
Pulling Anna as close to her as she could, Anesa smiled. “Well then I guess we will have to hold this off until he comes back.”
Anna could feel tears welling up in her eyes and a quiver begin at her lips as she threw her arms around her mother’s waist. Small sobs popped in her throat as she shook her head against Anesa’s chest. “I thought you would just tell me to do what was best for our family. That I’d have to marry Hans.” She paused, squeezing just a little tighter. “What if he doesn’t go through with the deal? What will happen to papa?”
A mother’s comfort was one that could not be replaced. “I will take care of it if that is what happens, my love.”
It took almost a week for Kristoff’s troop to reach their final destination Salerno, Italy, and the commanding officers quickly got them settled, warning the new soldiers that they were unsure of when the next battle would take place.
On their trip over, the division had been informed of the current state of the base camp they were being transported to; They had managed to take back part of Italy and had just finished fighting off a German counterattack so their troops were smaller now, and that was precisely why they were bringing in new soldiers.
They were aiming to fight their way north to France.
Hoping to take advantage of the small amount of free time they had before they were immersed fully into training again, Kristoff was sitting on his cot and working at his boots. He was sewing a seam on the inside of his right boot back up as tightly as possible before he was interrupted by the call for lights out.
Laying back, Kristoff pulled out the picture he kept in his breast pocket. He knew he should let go, that her lack of response to the letters he had actually sent meant she was serious about them moving on, but he couldn’t quite get to that place yet. She was everything he wanted and truly the only thing that brought him comfort in all these days that were yet to come.
But she was probably doing what was best for her family and, unfortunately, that scenario never included him.
He tucked the picture away again willing himself to focus on anything but her, and closed his eyes hoping sleep would come quickly.
For a while their days were redundant. Up before the sun, bunk checks, breakfast, training, lunch, cleaning, paperwork, dinner, and some down time before it was lights out again.
The training wasn’t much different from what they had done at basic and Kristoff was able to run through the drills without much difficulty, but he still found himself worn out most nights. As scared as he was to have to actually use the skills he had learned, he wondered if they would ever do anything different.
But the night that finally came, he wished he hadn’t ever thought that.
After a long day of being dragged around town by her sister and her fiance, Anna couldn’t be more relieved that her favorite day of the week had rolled around. It was Thursday, and on Thursday’s Anna had her cooking “class” with miss Bulda over on the other side of town.
No one questioned it and no one ever tried to come with her, so it was the one day a week that she could be completely and fully herself.
The afternoons with the Bjorgman’s always consisted of lots and lots of warm hugs from the whole family, an amazing long walk with Sven, learning a new recipe from Bulda, and playing a game or two with Kristoff’s brothers and sisters. And sometimes she and Sven would stop by Kristoff’s apartment and take a nap, curled up together in sheets that still faintly smelled of his soap.
But the thing that Anna always loved the most was just being with his family and getting to know them. They treated her like she truly belonged, and she always felt at home.
Tonight was no different.
She sat with Bulda as the younger kids cleaned up, and couldn’t help herself as she started to cry. They had booked the venue this morning and the wedding was now a mere 8 months off. She didn’t know what to do anymore. Her mother had said she would do whatever she could, but all that had happened was a major argument between her parents.
All she could do now was hope Kristoff was home before the wedding happened.
Then she could just run away with him.
But Bulda held her close, rubbing a soft hand across her back, and whispered soft words of encouragement.
“I know baby, I miss him too. But he’ll come home soon. I just know it in my gut.”
Anna frowned and held Bulda’s free hand. “But he told me to move on. He told me this wasn’t going to work. But I just… I can’t.”
With a smile, the woman pressed a soft kiss against Anna’s forehead. “I promise you, baby, he ain’t moved on.” She heard a sniffle and continued. “He loves you more than he’s ever loved anything, and he’s not lettin’ you go so easily.”
“But then why did he --”
“Because,” Bulda cut in, pushing Anna back so she could look her straight in the eye, “he loves you and he probably just thought it’d be easier in case anything went wrong.”
Anna gave an unsure nod and wiped at her face hoping to clean up slightly before the kids came in and dragged her off for a cutthroat game of Monopoly . She knew in her heart that Miss Bulda was right, that he didn’t want to leave her.
It didn’t make the sting go away, though.
An alarm blared through the camp and his fellow soldiers were scrambling around in some sort of organized chaos before he realized what was going on. He knew what that siren meant, and he swiftly hopped off of his cot and into his boots before following his comrades out to the trucks that were already revved up and waiting.
Everything was moving quickly, but it was as if his training had kicked in subconsciously and he moved with no hesitation. Once in the trucks, the trip was short, bumpy, and loud, and before he knew it they were running in formation towards a dimly lit battlefield.
All he could hear was gunshots and screams, of the enemy, of his allies, of his own fears in his head.
Orders were being barked at them and he could barely understand what was being shouted above the sounds of violence, but he did his best, moved with his troop and stayed in formation, following orders until the troop was spread too thin to hear the commander.
At that point all Kristoff could think to do was shut off his brain and mindlessly follow what he had been trained to do.
By the time they were called back to base he wasn’t sure how many soldiers he had shot.
How many innocent boys - who were dragged into war just like he was - had he killed?
A couple of months had passed by in the blink of an eye to Anna, when she noticed the advertisement on the back of her father’s newspaper about needing all available people to lend a hand in the war effort. She had been doing a little bit here and there, donating clothing and food, buying war bonds, had even volunteered at drives for metal scraps and rubber.
But she wanted to do more. Anything she could do to help bring… everyone home sooner.
She had gotten dressed that morning and headed down to the address listed on the advertisement, sat patiently in the waiting room full to the brim of others who wanted to help, and when one of the managers finally came over to her she happily told him she was willing to do whatever they needed her for.
The manager - Percy, she believed his name was - smiled at her with round pink cheeks before leading her back into his office. They talked for a little while, discussed where they needed people the most, and Anna signed off on a liability waiver for future factory work before they shook hands and she was on her way back home.
When she told her family that she was going to be working in a factory that produced weaponry and munitions they were as supportive as they could be, with the exception of Hans who stated that they had enough volunteers and that wasn’t something a woman of her status should be doing.
Anesa would have slapped him upside the head after he finished talking if not for her self control, but restrained herself for long enough to calm down and step forward to give Anna a hug and tell her that she was proud of her.
Her father smiled and repeated the sentiment, though Anna knew he was mostly happy that she wasn’t going abroad.
Though she had been thinking of it.
But she wouldn’t tell her parents that.
Anna found that she really loved working. It made the days go by in a flash and gave her an excuse to halt planning the wedding. It made her less sad, and helped her miss Kristoff less.
In fact, it made her feel better about him being gone because she could convince herself that maybe she was helping him somehow, even if that was a bit silly.
Work in a factory was not easy by any definition of the word, and Anna found herself exhausted most nights. But overall it was an experience she wouldn’t exchange for anything else. She wanted to do what she could, and this was how she could currently help the most.
Maybe someday she’d join the nurse corps.
If she needed to run.
The first battle made him physically ill. He didn’t stop vomiting for three days. He fought through it as best he could, but Kristoff had to excuse himself on more than one occasion to get rid of the nausea.
After the second battle he felt better than the first, but he had been grazed by a bullet or two and was extremely aware of how different his shoulder and arm felt. He could tell that there was something different in the way it moved.
The third battle was different. They weren’t even close to coming out on top.
Kristoff pulled a mask up over his mouth and nose with hopes that it would help block out the smell of death that was surrounding him. Every step was cautious, making sure to respect his fallen comrades and not step on any… part of them.
So many had died.
So many had been blown apart.
He felt tears threatening to fall when he came across Evan, the boy who gave up his education to help his family, lying lifeless over his rifle. He wanted more than anything to hoist him up on his shoulder and carry him back to base so that his family would have something to bury, but he knew that he couldn’t.
He couldn’t endanger the rest of his troop because he had grown attached to a few boys.
He hoped that he’d come back to find Peter, Dustin, and Craig safe and sound. But he had his doubts.
Kristoff had witnessed so many soldiers - allies and enemies alike - fall into the rapidly gushing river and never resurface. Had seen men’s limbs get blown off and watched some die right before his eyes.
But he still didn’t expect for a bomb to detonate right in front of him.