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This Bowl of Stars

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The birds flew back and forth a few times.

 

“Isn’t she worried about your reputation?” Kristoff asked. Anna had used the times they were waiting for the bird to sort through her clothes and find a dry outfit, and now she was fully dressed again and brushing out her damp hair.

“I’ve already been here two nights,” she said matter-of-factly. “I don’t think a few more matter. And she trusts you, or she wouldn’t have sent me with you in the first place.”

“But what will other people think?”

“Whatever they want. I don’t care,” and she tossed her head.

When he looked sceptical she continued, “You’re still my guide and I’m kind of still on my journey. We’ve just, paused for a bit. It still counts. It’s okay.”

“If you’re sure.”

“I’m sure.”

 

Anna knelt by the trunk and put away her hairbrush. “And I’m sorry. I’m sleeping in your bed and eating your food. I’m sure this isn’t how you wanted to spend your winter.” She stood, and pushed the trunk against the wall.

“And what do you want?”

“What do you mean?”

“Don’t you want to go home?”

“Elsa said -”

“I know what Elsa said. What do you want?”

Kristoff watched her open and shut her mouth a couple of times. He wondered whether anyone had actually asked her before.

“I have to go and get married,” she said. “I mean, that’s what I want. I guess I can wait a while. But that’s, you know. What I want to do.”

“Get married.”

“Yes.”

“To this Prince James.”

“Well, yes.”

“You’d better hope the pass opens, then.”

 


 

That was what she wanted, wasn't it? Her handsome prince. Well, everyone said he was, Anna hadn't actually had a chance to judge for herself yet. Everything had happened so quickly and she was secretly a little glad of this breathing space. Even in this tiny cabin that smelt of reindeer, in the middle of a snowdrift, miles from anywhere.

 

She couldn't make Kristoff sleep in the stable every night but she didn't know what the solution was. She didn't fancy sleeping in the stable herself, though she knew that was selfish.

 

Anna tried to get to sleep and wondered who had made the patchwork quilt she was lying underneath.

 


 

The next morning Kristoff went out to the shed to feed Sven and didn’t return. After a while Anna got bored and went to find him; he was in the shed, arranging some pieces of wood on the floor.

“What are you doing?”

“Hmm? Finding what I need.”

“To do what? What you need to do what.”

“Make another chair.”

“You made the other one?”

“Well, yes.”

“Wow!” Anna pulled herself up and perched on the side of Sven’s stall. The reindeer pushed his head into her hand and she scratched his nose.

 

“So what do I do?”

He looked at her, watching him with hopeful eyes. “I don’t know. What do you do?”

“No, I mean. You have all these things to do in winter. What can I help you with? I can do lots of things.”

“Can you make furniture?”

“Well, no.”

“Bake bread?”

“No.”

“Can you cook?”

“Not really. I can learn!”

“What can you do?”

She looked him in the eye. “I speak three languages fluently and can converse in a further two. I can sing, play the piano, and dance. I know the correct way to address all levels of the nobility. I can embroider, knit, draw, paint with watercolours and work tapestry. I can ride. I respond to the majority of the Queen’s correspondence. And my table manners are exceptional .”

 

“Well, those are all very important skills -” Kristoff opened his tool box and rummaged through it - “But I’m not sure if I need any of them right now. If a duke drops by for tea I’ll let you know.”

“Dukes are Your Grace.”

“OK.”

“And I can do a lot of things, I can be helpful!”

“OK.” He selected the tool he needed and picked up a piece of wood.

“Do you need me to hold something? Or hand you things?”

“I'm fine. Go back inside.”

“I am inside.” Anna waited but he didn't say anything more. She drummed her heels against the wall of Sven’s stall. “Does it take long to make a chair?”

Kristoff sighed. “Not if I can concentrate.”

He expected her to carry on talking, but instead she jumped straight down, said “I'm sorry, I'll leave you alone,” and was gone before he could reply.