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This Bowl of Stars

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Kristoff carried on with the chair. He'd been planning to make some new shelves with this wood, but another chair was clearly more pressing, and he'd been early on enough in his plans that it wouldn't take much to adapt them. Except that now he really couldn't concentrate.

She's fine, or anyway, if she isn't it's her own fault. Let her learn that I don't want her talking at me all the time, he told himself. It's not as if she can go far and she can come back any time she likes.

 

She'll be back in a minute.

 

But Anna wasn't, and he couldn't even hear where she might be. He hadn't heard the door of the cabin shut. Eventually he put his file down and put his head out of the door - just to check she hadn't done something stupid. Fallen in a crevasse or something.

 


 

When he found her, Anna was halfway up a pine tree. She was muttering to herself, and she didn't look completely secure, but she had managed to get quite high and if she fell she'd only land in a snowdrift, so Kristoff just stood and watched her. He had to admit, he was a little bit impressed.

 

Then Anna turned to grab a branch and saw him. She froze, then said in a small voice, “I'm sorry, I'm coming down, I'll be right there.”

“Don't worry about me,” he replied, wondering why she was acting like she was in trouble. “Climb as many trees as you want. Though try not to break your neck, that might cause me some inconvenience.”

 

Anna hesitated, then reached for a higher branch. “I thought you were too busy to talk to me.”

“I was. I am. I just thought I'd better find out where you were.”

“Well, now you know.”

“I suppose I do.”

He turned to go back to the shed, then paused. “The branches get thinner the higher you go,” he said. “Be careful.”

“I'm not going to fall out of the tree.”

“That's okay, then. See you later.”

 


 

She didn't fall out of the tree. In fact, when Kristoff went back to the cabin at noon, he found the floor swept, the shelves dusted and tidied, and the ice birds sitting in a row on the headboard while Anna wiped out their cage.

 

He put the second chair by the table. It wasn't finished to the same standard as the first, but it would do. He could always smarten it up a bit later.

 

The birds twittered to each other. They really were amazingly lifelike, if you thought a bird could be trained as well as a dog or a horse.

“I see now why the Queen isn't afraid to remain in Arendelle,” he said. “With such powerful magic to protect her.”

Anna shrugged.

“I'm surprised anyone would even dare consider an attack.”

“Oh, it's a secret. Only we - only a few people know.”

“Seems like it would be easier if it wasn't. A secret, I mean.”

Anna shrugged again. “That's up to Elsa.”

He laughed. “A lot of things seem to be.”

“Well, she's the Queen.”

“True.”

 

Anna held the cage door open and the little birds spread their wings and flew, in a neat line, back inside.

“And then you could go home,” Kristoff sId.

“And get out of your way.”

“That's not what I meant. You don't have to do my housework, anyway.”

“I have to do something. I can't just - sit.”

“I'll think about it. I'll find you something.”

 


 

That afternoon Kristoff went to the shed and fetched Anna’s other trunk so she could decide what she needed inside and what could stay outside. Then he went back out, and returned with something else.

 

“You said you can knit,” he said, and dropped a sack at Anna’s feet. It looked like a cushion but it landed with a ‘clonk’ on the wooden floor.

“Yes!” Anna said eagerly. “I can knit, I can knit socks and sweaters and scarfs and hats, I'm a good knitter, I make lots of things.”

Kristoff waited patiently for her to stop talking. “You said you can knit,” he repeated, “can you spin?”

“Yes! My mother had a spinning wheel, a really pretty one. She showed me how, I'm not super even but I'm okay. I'll go carefully. Where's your wheel?”

“No wheel.” He picked up the sack again and opened it. “Can you use a drop spindle?”

Anna hesitated.

“Or I'll spin and you knit,” he continued, “but it'll take a while, I have other things that are more urgent.”

“I can do it. I mean I haven't before but I can, I'm sure. Drafting is the same, right?”

“Sure.”

“And that's the tricky part.”

“I suppose so.”

 

Kristoff took the wooden spindle out of the sack, along with a handful of the carded fleece that filled the rest of it. He sat on the new chair and Anna watched as he hooked the fibre onto the spindle and set it spinning.

“Spin it like this,” he said, “and draft as it falls. When it's close to the floor, stop it, and wind it onto the shaft.” He demonstrated. “Then you do it again. And again and again.”

“I've never seen a man spin wool before,” Anna said.

“There isn’t usually anyone else here to do it,” Kristoff said, handing her the spindle and the wool. Anna bit her lip and tried to spin.

 

“When it's full you can wind it off and ply it,” he said.

“Then knit it.”

“Then wash it to set the twist. Then knit it.”

“OK.” The tip of Anna’s tongue poked out of her mouth as she concentrated. “This isn't so hard. I can do this. Just you watch.”

“Okay. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Anna muttered, brows furrowed. She took a steadying breath, then spun the spindle so hard the yarn snapped and it flew across the room and bounced off the side of the woodstove.