Hello, my fellow Frozen fans! I hope you're all as excited to see Frozen as I am. The countdown is certainly on.
I've been playing around with this story in my head for some time now, and finally just started writing. I hope you enjoy.
Disclaimer: Frozen and its characters are owned by Disney, and not me. If they were owned by me, the movie would have come out by now.
In the months following what its inhabitants kindly referred to as "the Winter Incident" in July, the kingdom of Arendelle had its first real snowfall of the season on a mid-November afternoon. For most of the villagers, the icy precipitation conjured up images of warm nights snuggled by the fire, hot cups of glogg, snow angels, and the promise of snowball fights. But for a select few, the first snowfall signaled that it was time to prepare for the upcoming ice harvest. Kristoff Bjorgman, a strapping young man of twenty-one, was one such person. He had been sitting on the landing of the palace steps, contentedly watching the world go by, as the snow first started to float softly down. Initially, the sight of the flakes caused a rush of excitement. Snow meant cold temperatures, cold temperatures meant ice, and ice meant the start of the three-month season of ice harvesting – his passion as well as livelihood.
Then, the full realization struck him and for the first time in his life, he wished things could be different.
Ice harvesting meant leaving Anna.
His eyes trailed down to the woman with strawberry blonde braids sitting next to him, nuzzled against his side. Just looking at her, with her arms wrapped tightly around his bicep and her head rested on his shoulder, began that now-familiar stirring in his chest.
It had been four months since this little firecracker of a princess had turned his world upside down. It was her spirit, he had decided early on, that he admired most about her. That willingness to just go with the flow and try things out, never letting obstacles get in her way, and never giving up. But he didn't just admire that about her – he bathed in it. He drank it up in the hopes of being able to see the world the way she did; with all its majesty, and wonder, and excitement.
Maybe that was the reason why he found falling in love with her so terrifying. She was slowly but surely changing the way he had seen the world for the last twenty-one years – and she didn't even know it.
He had to tell her. As terrible as he was at talking about his feelings, he had to find some moment to speak the words that were clamped tight in his heart. Those three little words. Three terrifying words, which when voiced, would confirm the fact that he was becoming a different person because of her. A different person than the one he'd spent his entire life being – up until now.
He only had weeks before the harvest began. He had to do it soon, or he'd spend the next three months in agony waiting for his next chance. And as the falling snow reminded him of the months he would spend without her, the warm stirring in his chest turned quickly into a painful ache.
"It's snowing!" came a familiar voice from behind him.
As Anna suddenly righted herself and lifted her face to the sky with an excited "It is?!", Kristoff looked behind them as Elsa appeared on the landing, dressed in icy blue.
"Yeah," Kristoff replied gruffly, not wanting to be reminded.
Anna noted his tone and looked over at him in concern. "Everything okay?" she asked.
No, everything was not okay. She was dating a coward.
Anna didn't seem buy it, but apparently decided not to press the issue. Instead she leaned over and kissed the stubble on his jaw before standing up to speak with her sister about the change in weather. The pair immediately fell into conversation and as he watched, Kristoff couldn't help but relax. There was something so heart-warming between Anna and Elsa, especially considering their history together.
Since the Winter Incident four months ago, the sisters had found their way back into a warm, loving relationship with each other and were both finally thriving. The Snow Queen of Arendelle had learned to master and control her fantastical powers by leaps and bounds, and Anna had been there every step of the way. She was Elsa's constant cheerleader, tirelessly coming up with ways for Elsa to safely vent frustrations or meditate them away, and nurturing her growing creativity. Ice sculptures were becoming a particular favourite, and the palace gardens were dotted with frozen statues of Anna in various poses.
"So, Anna, just wait until you see what I've made. You'll love it. You, too, Kristoff." Elsa beamed.
Curious, Kristoff rose and joined the sisters on the landing.
"What is it?" Anna asked excitedly. "Did you finally make a Kristoff statue?"
"Oh, no. Please don't tell me you made a Kristoff statue!"
Elsa giggled at their exchange. "No, even better." She then turned towards the palace. "Come to me, Vogel!"
There was a caw, and suddenly a beautiful, icy phoenix flew into sight. With a graceful flap of its glittering wings, it glided towards the threesome and came to land on Elsa's shoulder.
"Oh, Elsa," Anna gasped. "It's amazing! You're amazing!"
Kristoff merely stared, too blown away for words.
"Thank you," Elsa blushed. "Balancing the ability to fly with the right weight of ice proved a bit difficult, but I finally figured it out. He's meant to be a messenger bird. I made him so that you and Kristoff can write to each other come December when he's away ice harvesting."
That snapped Kristoff back to reality with a sudden lurch, and brought Anna up short.
"Away when he's ice harvesting?" she asked, visibly confused. "What do you mean?" She turned to Kristoff, who sensed with a sudden dread where the conversation was heading. "I know we haven't really talked about it, but I just figured was going with you." When she saw the expression on his face, she hesitated. "Aren't I…going with you?"
Kristoff wanted to hit himself. He should have known. He should have known that she'd want to come with him! This was Anna, after all. The girl would run into a cave of hungry bears if she thought it worth her while! How had he not foreseen her wanting to join him and the other harvesters on the lakes? How had he not realized that she wouldn't see how incredibly dangerous it was?
He had to tell her no. For her own safety, and for his own peace of mind, she could not come with him. But when he looked down at her poor, confused face, he felt a rush of guilt and anxiety. It was going to be hard enough saying goodbye to her for three months, but now saying goodbye to her and knowing that she had expected to go with him?
He reached for her small hands and entwined them in his larger ones. "Anna," Kristoff gently began. "I'm sorry, but no, you can't. It's too dangerous."
"What?!" she exclaimed. "Too dangerous?! What's so dangerous about me sitting on the bank watching you work all day?"
Kristoff shook his head sadly, his heart aching. "I know you. You'd promise to stay on the shore and out of the way, but then you'd get restless and want to help. You need to understand; one wrong move, one little slip on the ice, is all it takes. You could fall into the water and get trapped under the ice. A block could slip off a harness and crush you. A saw could – " but he stopped. Thinking of all the horrible ways Anna could die was starting to make him nauseous.
Anna, however, was unperturbed.
"But I really, really would stay off the ice! I'll swear it in blood, if you want," she cried. "I'll do it! Elsa! Get me some paper and a knife!"
"Anna, please," Kristoff begged, squeezing her hands. He looked into her ocean eyes, willing them to accept his words. "Please understand. I'm not doing this to be mean, and I'm not doing this because I don't trust you. I'm doing this because I…" he hesitated.
Say it, he told himself. Man up and just say it right now.
"because…I…because I know if anything happened to you - if you so much as twisted your ankle because I let you come along - I'd never forgive myself."
Elsa, who had remained silent during the exchanged, suddenly piped up with the clincher. "Besides, Anna; you're forgetting something very important. If you're around while he's working, Kristoff will want to watch over you. If he is watching over you instead of focusing on his job, that kind of distraction would put his life in danger, as well."
Anna turned towards her sister in surprise.
"Oh!" she exclaimed. "I, uh…I hadn't thought of it that way…"
Looking back at Kristoff, Anna held his pleading gaze for just a few more moments before giving a sigh of defeat. "I don't want you to get hurt because of me, so…I guess I won't be joining you after all," she said sadly. "But at least I'll get lots of practice at letter writing!"
Kristoff merely shook his head incredulously before pulling her into a hug. Leave it to Anna to care more about the safety of others than her own well-being.
Just then, Kai, their head-of-staff, appeared at the door. "My ladies, Kristoff; lunch is served. If you would please join us in the dining hall."
"Thank goodness. I'm starving." Standing on her tip-toes, Anna gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. "Come on, Vogel," she said, offering her arm as a perch. "Let's see what you like to eat."
Vogel gave a caw and hopped from Elsa's shoulder to Anna's outstretched arm.
"Oh, you're heavy!" she declared. She was still hurt by the fact that she was about to be separated from Kristoff in another month, but trying hard to look on the positive side. Being able to have her written letters personally delivered to him by a bird made of ice was pretty fantastic.
Elsa and Kristoff watched Anna follow Kai inside, all the while talking to her new pet. Then, Elsa placed a hand on Kristoff's arm.
"Thank you," she said. "That couldn't have been easy, but you truly love her, and it shows."
Kristoff felt a sudden wave of shame, thinking back to just a few moments ago when he had turned down his chance to say those three words.
"If that's true," he mumbled, "then why can't I even say it?"