"You could tell me what color my eyes are."
"Because it would be romantic."
"Anna, that's silly."
"Tell me about my eyes, Kristoff."
She smacks him playfully on the arm, and he grins sideways at her before cracking the reigns over Sven's back. The sled lurches forward, cold air whipping over their faces, Kristoff's enthusiastic calls of "Ya, hiya!" breaking the winter stillness.
"So we're going where, exactly?" Anna asks, gripping her seat as they careen around a particularly steep corner. She leans over the side of the sleigh, peers with interest over the cliff face, until with one arm, Kristoff reaches around her shoulders and pulls her back toward the middle of the bench seat. They play this game whenever they go riding – she's inclined to standing, leaning over the front, urging Sven to go faster and faster – and he's inclined to keeping her in one piece, though her bravado is, he will admit, attractive.
Most of the time he's unsure if Anna is exceptionally brave or simple doesn't know better and doesn't care; usually he settles on it being an charming blend.
"Nowhere in particular." They're driving away from the cliff now, headed toward an old favorite run, so Kristoff lets loose the reigns – Sven knows the trail, and dashes on, tossing his head gleefully unrestrained – then sits back, one arm still resting across Anna's shoulders.
"Wait, so you dragged me out of bed at the crack of dawn to go…nowhere?" Her voice is indignant but a smile twitches at the corner of her mouth. His arm is warmer than anything she's wearing, a pleasant heavy weight on her back, and faint, lightening tingles in the one spot where his thumb grazes her arm.
"Princess, some things are worth getting out of bed for, I promise."
"Yeah, well, I'll let you know when we get there," Anna yawns, and sinks into the crook of his shoulder. He tenses a little, still not quite confident in what touching is allowed and what isn't, but doesn't move, and for long minutes the only sound in the forest is the whisper of the sled's slats grazing across the frozen ground, and Sven's snuffles and grunts of exertion.
Anna is mostly dozing when he pulls them into the clearing, nuzzled up against him and he's loathe to move her when she's this close, when her head is tucked under his arm, one hand lightly resting on his chest.
"Hey," he whispers, rolling out her half-embrace. (The cold air hits his side immediately, and heknew it was nicer with her there, knew it all along…)
"Time to wake up. We're here."
She straightens, stretching her arms over her head and blinking. The sun had pinked the sky before they left: a twinge of rose and violet on the dark horizon. It brightened as they rode, but remained mostly obscured in the trees – an ambient growing lightness, something she's barely been aware of.
Now her jaw drops open and she gasps, fully awake, vaulting upright in her seat.
'Nowhere in particular' is a sanctuary in the hills, a small meadow that opens on one end to a narrow lake – glossy and glittering in the rainbow of the sunrise. Above it, the North Mountain rises, mighty, tall and strong. Frost and freezing fog have sheathed every branch, every blade of grass, and pinecone in crystalline white.
To the east the sun is peeking over the tree tops, and as it does, the little clearing shines in every corner, refracted light bouncing off the lake, shimmering on the frosted trees: a thousand sunrises in miniature.
Anna is clutching at his arm, mouth agape, so he takes one of her small hands in his, and they sit together comfortably, watching quietly until the magic passes, the angle of the sun changes and the day begins.
"Do you still want me to talk about your eyes?" Kristoff remarks lightly, picking up the reigns again. Sven breaks into a trot and the sled eases around, turning back toward the castle. "I mean, if you need romance…"
It earns him another smack on the arm, but he doesn't mind.