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This Bowl of Stars

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So, in theory, Anna understood why they couldn’t sleep in the same room. To part of her mind, it was self-evident; of course they couldn’t, of course that would be wrong. But when you thought about it logically - well, if they wanted to do THAT there was plenty of opportunity; she understood the basics well enough to know that night-time or the proximity of a mattress weren’t essential elements. She certainly trusted Kristoff enough to have no fear about being asleep while he was in the room. So, technically, there was no reason for him to sleep in the stable every night. It wasn’t as if anyone would even find out .

But whenever she thought of suggesting that he make up another bed on the other side of the cabin, she found herself tongue-tied.

 


 

The weather turned colder.

For days the sky was clear, and the air temperature was so low that it almost seemed like a solid thing , sharp and painful on the face and hands. Anna had no reason to go out, so she didn’t; the woodstove kept the cabin at least warm enough to sit in. She span the wool, and plied it, because there was nothing else to do. Small movements in a small space.

The only heating in the stable was courtesy of the reindeer, but Kristoff still contrived to spend as much time out there as possible, even after the weather warmed a little. One morning he came into the cabin to drop an armful of firewood, then left again immediately and didn’t come back; Anna, left alone, stewed on it until he came back for their midday meal.

“Why don’t you want to stay in here with me?”

“What do you mean?”

“What I said.”

“I’ve got things to do outside.”

“You’re just avoiding me.”

“I’m not.”

Anna stood and rolled her shoulders. She knew she was just tired from sitting, irritable from being just slightly too cold for days on end, fed up of looking at these walls. But she couldn’t help herself.

“You are. You wish I wasn’t here. Well, I’m sorry.”

“Nothing you can do about it.”

“So you DO wish I wasn’t -”

“That’s not what I said! I had some things to do outside, but I can stay in here this afternoon if you’d rather.”

“Don’t bother on my account.”

It might have ended there, if Kristoff hadn’t made the mistake of rolling his eyes as he turned away.

“Well, maybe I don’t like being stuck here with you, any more than you like being stuck with me!”

He sighed. “Is that so. Not that I said that, remember.”

“Well, I’m going. You don’t want me here, I’m going.”

“Going where?”

“Home! You asked me what I want, that’s what I want. I want to go home. I don’t need you, I don’t need anybody. I’ll walk.

“Don’t be ridiculous.”

“You don’t think I’ll do it?” She grabbed her boots from by the door and stamped them on, pulled her hat and cape off the hook on the wall. “I’m going. I’m gone. Goodbye.”

She heard him say her name as she slammed the door behind her but she didn’t turn back.


The ridge was further than it looked. Even if Anna stayed against the side of the mountain, where the snow was shallowest, it was hard going. By the time she was at the top and looking down into the other valley she was exhausted.

And she had worn out her anger, now. It never lasted long, anyway, and now she was cold and tired.

She couldn't even see Arendelle from here. She'd thought she would be able to, but there was another ridge in front of her, and she realised she had no idea how far they’d come on the sled in that snowstorm. Had she even walked in the right direction away from the cabin? She couldn’t see that from here, either, but she could always follow her footprints back.


It was dusk - she’d forgotten how early it got dark. As she turned the last corner to the cabin she saw the door open, and Kristoff come out. He was dressed for the snow, and had a rope and a lantern. When he saw her he stopped short.

Explanations and apologies died in her throat. He held the door open and they both went back inside.

 


 

Kristoff stayed in the cabin that evening longer than he usually did, cleaning his woodworking tools while Anna cast on for his sweater (and she would never take a skein of yarn for granted again, now she fully understood how much work it was to make it).

And when he finally said goodnight and left for the stable, he was back a minute later.

“Come with me,” he said. “I want to show you something.”

Anna thought he must mean the aurora, the lights. She’d seen that many times before, of course, but on a clear night like this one it would still be beautiful, so she pulled on her boots eagerly. But once she got outside she saw there were no lights tonight. Kristoff, holding a lantern, led her round the back of the cabin and, to her surprise, climbed onto the top of the logpile cover. “Come on,” he said, holding out his hand, and when she took it he pulled her up with him.

Then he climbed onto the roof, and again pulled her up. But it didn’t feel like standing on a roof; the wood was covered with thick turf, so it was more like a little piece of mountainside that had pushed itself up into the sky somehow.

Kristoff dropped the shade on his lantern and everything went dark.

Except it wasn’t. As Anna’s eyes adjusted to the loss of the candle she realised that there was plenty of light - and she turned her face up to the sky, and gasped out loud.

The sky was full of stars. Not in the way it normally was, at home - but full of stars, with barely a hint of black between them. A thick stripe across the centre didn’t fade any darker than a deep purple, with blues and indigos on either side. The range of colour was incredible and the whole thing was glowing and she felt like she could have looked at it forever.

“I know in the town you can’t see it as well,” Kristoff said softly. “Too many lamps and fireplaces and things. And you said you’d never been outside Arendelle before and it’s a clear night and I thought you might want to see. It’s pretty.”

“It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” Anna replied.

He laughed. “You live in a castle.”

“It’s still true.”

She stepped back, still looking at the stars, and stumbled on the uneven roof; before she could fall, however, an arm caught her round the shoulders and steadied her. She held her breath as it lingered for a few seconds before withdrawing, leaving her steady and also somehow warmer.