A/N: Hey, Frozen fandom, how's it goin'. I am beyond obsessed with this film and Kristanna right now, so as is often the case, the fic urges have come on strong. Hope you enjoy!
"Of Birthdays and Somedays"
If Kristoff had just had a normal childhood with normal things like birthdays, Anna thought to herself, pulling her cloak more tightly around her petite frame and eyeing the stand of trees in front of her, this never would have happened.
Of course, if Kristoff had had a normal anything, even now, he wouldn't be Kristoff. And she loved Kristoff, even when he was completely hopeless, which was the only reason she was currently standing in the middle of the forest, a small basket draped over one arm, a rumpled scrap of paper in her free hand, and a very, very irritated frown on her face.
"'Walk five hundred paces, then head down the lefthand path by the stand of spruces,'" Anna read again. She sighed and stared up at the towering conifers, tilting her head to the side. "Excuse me, are you a spruce?" she asked them, somewhat helplessly.
She didn't get a response, of course, but after everything she'd seen during the Great Freeze the previous year, it wouldn't have surprised her.
This whole thing really was Kristoff's fault. If he'd just told her where his new mountain cabin was, she wouldn't have had to go to such tremendous lengths just to find it behind his back.
She wouldn't have even known about it if he hadn't mentioned it in casual conversation a week earlier. They'd been lying curled up together in front of the fire in her room, and he'd said something about Sven's harness starting to fray and how he'd have to make a trip back to his cabin before the next morning's harvest to get the spare.
"Wait," Anna had said, turning a little to face him, "you have a cabin?" It seemed almost superfluous — despite Kristoff's awkwardness and misgivings about people who weren't Anna, he'd all but moved permanently into one of the spare rooms at the castle (not the one closest to Anna's, much to her chagrin, but Elsa had stood firm on that one).
Kristoff had shrugged a little. "It's nothing, really," he'd said. "It's basically just a room. A bed, a table, nothing to write home about. Apparently your sister thought it didn't exactly reflect well for a, um… 'future prince consort'…" He blushed and grinned awkwardly at her. "…to be sleeping in barns and abandoned shacks during trips up the mountain, so she gave me the deed a few weeks ago. I tried to refuse it, but she insisted. Early birthday present, apparently."
"It's your birthday?" Anna frowned slightly to herself, unsure how Elsa had known that and she hadn't.
"Next week. The 27th. That's not a big deal, either. I don't think I've ever really celebrated one."
"You've never had a birthday?" Anna asked quietly, staring up at him.
Kristoff had smiled warmly at her and kissed her forehead. "Again, not a big deal," he said. "The trolls don't really do birthdays — sometimes one of the little ones would give me a fire crystal or something, and Hulda would give me a hug or a pat on the head, but mostly it was just another day for harvesting."
"That's so sad," Anna had said, snuggling into his chest. "Everyone should have a birthday."
"Well, I mean, I had them. I did still age and everything."
"There was no one my age around when I had my birthdays when I was little," Anna had said. "My parents would give me all kinds of gifts and all these toys, but there was no one to share them with, not with Elsa…" She trailed off and frowned — even with their relationship mended, the painful memories of those lonely childhood days still lingered. "So I'd set up tea parties with all of my dolls and make these little party hats for them, and I'd take them into the great hall and set them near the portraits and act like I was in the middle of this amazing birthday party that was just for me." She smiled up at him. "I was a great hostess — bet you those dolls never had a better party."
Kristoff had laughed and leaned down to kiss her, sliding one hand into her hair. "I'll bet," he said.
Anna had leaned into the kiss, pressing her hands to his chest and tilting her head to deepen it, humming at the back of her throat at the light touch of his tongue against hers. Kristoff's hands were warm and wide at her waist, his fingers lightly trailing over her spine before pulling her even closer against him.
"Wait!" Anna had gasped suddenly, breaking off the kiss. "We should have a birthday party for you!"
Kristoff had quirked a disbelieving eyebrow at her. "Anna… picture me at a party. Any party. Let alone one actually for me."
"It doesn't have to be a big party," she'd wheedled, lightly toying with the hair at his nape and smiling coyly. "I mean, really, it could just be you… and me… and maybe that cabin of yours?"
She could only see his face, but she'd have bet that Kristoff was blushing straight down to his toes in that moment. "I—uh—we…"
"And we could build a nice warm fire…" she'd continued, curling up against his chest and placing a kiss to his neck.
"Yeah, um… that would be…" Kristoff had swallowed hard and subtly turned Anna slightly in his lap. "…that would be nice. But, um… I don't… think it's a good idea for you to be up at the cabin."
Anna had frowned and pulled away from him. "And why not?" she'd asked.
Kristoff grimaced at the irritated furrow of her brow. "It's not that I don't want you there," he'd said, holding his hands up apologetically. "But, well, it's not too easy to find, and, I mean, it's not the cleanest place in the world, and on top of all that, it's not, you know…" He'd looked at her helplessly, hoping she'd be able to take his meaning.
Anna raised an eyebrow.
Kristoff sighed and dropped his forehead into his palm. "It's not exactly… proper… for a princess and an ice harvester to be… you know." He gestured vaguely between them. "Alone, in a mountain cabin, miles away from everyone."
"But we wouldn't be doing anything!" Anna had huffed. "And besides, we'd also be miles away from anyone who would care if we were!"
"You're not the one who has to worry about Elsa freezing you if we do!"
"What are we even fighting about? If you don't want me at your stupid cabin, just say so!"
"It's not that I don't want you, Anna," Kristoff had sighed in exasperation. "It's just… you're the princess. You're always going to be the princess. And whether you're with me or not, someday…"
"Don't even start with that. I am always going to want to be with you, okay?"
Kristoff had gotten that sad, distant look in his eyes then, the one she usually only caught the barest glimpse of whenever they talked about the future, about their future, and she knew that deep down he worried about whether or not an orphaned ice harvester could ever hope to be accepted as her chosen consort. He could love her more than anyone, and she knew that he did… but there were still rules, and laws, and all kinds of royal entanglements that he could only look at from the other side.
Anna's heart turned over painfully in her chest, as it always did at that look. She fought the urge to pull him to her, to hold him close and assure him that she was never, ever going to want anyone else, that he was her whole world, that she was sorry they'd argued, she loved him so much…
"It just…" Kristoff said, breaking into her thoughts. "It just wouldn't be proper. For your reputation. You know."
Well, so much for that.
"Proper?" Anna repeated, coming to her feet and staring at him incredulously. At a loss for words, she gestured inarticulately to her kiss-stung lips, her disheveled hair, the shoulders of her dress that Kristoff had pulled down somewhat scandalously far. "Does this look proper to you?"
"…it's not the same thing! We're in the castle!"
"In an isolated room!"
"Near servants and plenty of people!"
"You're being ridiculous!"
"And you're acting like a child!"
"Well, fine! If that's how you feel, you can go be proper all by yourself!"
Anna sat down heavily on a fallen log, digging the toes of her boots into the freshly fallen snow. She'd barely spoken to him since their argument — although he'd knocked on her door a few times in the following days, she'd stubbornly remained inside, even as she sat by the fire with a book, a blanket draped around her shoulders that was nowhere near as warm or comfortable as Kristoff's arms. By the time she'd finally swallowed her pride enough to apologize, he'd headed up the mountain with the rest of the ice harvesters for an extended harvesting expedition. No one at the castle seemed sure when he'd be back, and her heart had fallen, remembering that sad, distant look in his eyes.
Maybe it was luck, or fate, but it was the 27th when Anna made her way into the marketplace, eyes searching the crowd for Kristoff's stocky frame. She could usually tell right away if he was there or not — no matter how many times Kristoff told him not to, Sven had a tendency to come bounding through the crowd and trot excitedly over to her as soon as he caught a glimpse of her face by the castle gates. More than once he'd done so while he was still hooked up to the sled.
But the marketplace was decidedly reindeer-less. With a sigh, she'd glanced over at the ice stall, clasping her hands behind her back and worrying her lower lip between her teeth. The harvesters selling today didn't look too familiar to her, but then, none of them really did, except Kristoff.
It's worth a shot, anyway. "Um, excuse me?" she had asked politely, walking up to the stall.
The harvesters had glanced at her before removing their grubby caps and bowing. "Princess," they said respectfully.
Anna had grinned to herself and curtseyed. "Um…" she began awkwardly. "You wouldn't happen to know Kristoff, would you? Kristoff Bjorgman? He's about this tall…" She stood on her tiptoes and reached up as high as she could, frowning at the distance and jumping up a bit higher in demonstration. "…and really broad-shouldered and he probably has a hole in the right sleeve of his sweater because he still won't let me fix it for him even though I've told him that he's going to get cold but he insists it's fine and he can do it all on his own but I said that if he could he would have done it by now, you know? Oh, and his reindeer's name is Sven."
She'd smiled hopefully at them.
The men had blinked back.
"So you're Kristoff's lass, then?" one of them said finally.
"God's sake, man, she's the princess. Why would she be…"
"No, no, I am," Anna said quickly. She frowned. "Or, well, I was. But I probably still am. But, see…" She sighed, her shoulders sagging. "We had a fight. And I need to apologize, but I don't know where he is."
One of the harvesters had smiled kindly at her. "It'll be a difficult thing for you to find him, miss. Small thing like you won't travel easily up the mountains."
Anna had crossed her arms across her chest and smiled proudly. "I'll have you know I've done it before," she said with a pert nod. She chose not to mention that she'd been with Kristoff every time. "You wouldn't happen to know where his cabin is, would you?"
"Pretty sure it's the one on the northland pass. He's been heading that way after harvesting work's over, at any rate. Him and that reindeer of his."
"Is he okay?" Anna asked, features softening.
The harvester had shrugged a little. "Couldn't say. We don't talk about that sort of thing much, miss. But I'll bet he'll be happy to see you." He tore off a sheet of paper from the sales ledger in front of him and quickly scribbled down some directions.
"You really going to send that girl up the mountain by herself?" the other harvester said, narrowing his eyes and looking from him to Anna.
The man had smiled a little and shrugged. "I take it she can handle herself just fine," he'd said, handing Anna the slip of paper. "Would have to in order to be with Bjorgman, wouldn't she?"
Anna had grinned happily and slipped the man a coin, which he accepted with a slightly embarrassed blush. After a quick trip back to the castle to gather a few things and change into traveling clothes, she'd slipped past the guards and made her way towards the snow-fringed mountains in the distance.
Where she currently sat, surrounded by trees that may or may not have been spruces, and beginning to realize that she was, in fact, hopelessly lost.
Anna sighed and lay back across the log, closing her eyes. "Stupid Kristoff," she muttered to herself. Stupid Kristoff and his stupid face and his stupid sad eyes and his stupid warmth and love and the stupid way she couldn't stay mad at him, even when he was trying to make her "proper".
She opened her eyes and gauged the distance of the sun across the sky. Headed towards late afternoon, she thought with a frown. Even with the days as long as they were, she'd have to find the cabin soon or turn back if she didn't want to be trapped on the mountain overnight, with the searing cold and rabid wolves and who knew what else.
Straightening her cloak, Anna hefted the basket in her arms and narrowed her eyes at the trees. "I am going to assume that you are spruces," she informed them pointedly, "as you are five hundred paces from the fork in the road by the frozen pond. But if you're pines or firs or something else and I end up getting eaten by wolves, you're going to have to explain things to Kristoff." She nodded once to the trees and made her way down the lefthand path.
Where a small cabin lay in plain sight a short ways down.
Anna glanced back to the trees. "Well you could have just said that," she said with a sigh.
The snow was deep, but there was a long track of footprints leading to and from the cabin — someone with large feet and a long stride, side-by-side with a set of unmistakable reindeer tracks.
Anna grinned and picked up her pace, attempting to follow Kristoff's tracks to hide her own, but even stretching her legs as far as she could, she didn't come close to matching his strides. She settled for leaping from footprint to footprint, teetering over and falling facefirst into the snow twice in her first few attempts.
By the time she'd reached the front door to the cabin, there were several Anna-sized indentations in the snow along the path. So much for this being a surprise.
The sun was still high enough that she imagined Kristoff must still be harvesting, so she carefully pushed open the door, peering inside.
Well, he'd been right about it not being much. It was a small but sturdily-built space, with clean hardwood floors, a small split-pine table, and a narrow bed set off to one corner. There was a pile of straw neatly gathered by the door, and a metal hook from which one of Sven's familiar harnesses hung.
Anna walked fully into the room, tugging off her cloak and gazing around the room. It did smell a bit like some odd combination of sweat and pine, but that was just kind of Kristoff in and of itself. Not the cleanest smell in the world, but familiar and comfortable and, admittedly it was a little gross but gods, did she miss him.
Setting her basket down on the table, Anna walked over to the bed and sat down, frowning slightly at the familiar crunch of straw. And not much of it, that she could feel — the bed seemed to be little more than a rough pallet.
It was definitely a mountain man's cabin, she thought to herself, flopping back onto the bed and wincing slightly as her head hit the scratchy straw pillow. Humble furniture, nothing personal or homey to it.
"You'd think he'd at least have furnished the place with things from the castle," Anna sighed, turning over and reaching to fluff the pillow. "We've got more than enough…"
She frowned as her fingers touched something cool beneath the pillow. Taking a deep breath and praying that she wasn't about to extract something really disgusting, she tugged the pillow aside, her eyes widening.
It wasn't the best quality, not like the large, ornate ones in the castle that had been commissioned for thousands and thousands of dollars.
But it was her.
Not exact, not perfect, but obviously her. And she looked so… beautiful, her eyes shining, smile soft and warm, but with just a hint of mischief, her smile quirked slightly to one side, a familiar spread of freckles across her nose, like whoever had commissioned the miniature portrait had spent ages describing her, making sure she was painted just right.
Anna ended up crying noisily and unthinkingly wiping her nose on the pillow before pausing and slowly flipping it over.
Stupid Kristoff. Stupid wonderful, amazing, impossible Kristoff.
"Yeah, I see them, Sven. I don't know what she's doing, either."
Speak of the devil.
Anna sat bolt upright and folded her hands in her lap, biting her lip as the door to the cabin swung open and Sven rushed inside, bounding over to the bed and putting his front hooves up on it, happily nuzzling Anna's face. "Hi, Sven," she managed around a mouthful of reindeer fur. "Good to see you too, boy."
"So," a familiar voice deadpanned from the doorway, "Sven here thought it was a little weird that there were all of these tiny footprints leading up to our door, with what looked like some Anna-shaped snow angels."
"They weren't snow angels," Anna said stubbornly, hiding her face against Sven's fur. "I fell."
"I gathered." Kristoff shut the door gently, and she heard him brushing snow off his clothes. "So first of all, how did you get here, second, why did you get here, and third, are you actually speaking to me now?"
"Walked, because I wanted to, and yes."
Sven grumbled as he was pulled off her, and she found herself looking up into Kristoff's brown eyes, a slightly hesitant look on his face.
Anna pulled her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them. "I just… you know," she began awkwardly. "Wanted to… apologize. I know you were just… looking out for me. And everything. You know." She ducked her face in against her knees, starting as the bed sagged beside her with Kristoff's weight.
"I didn't mean it the way I think you were thinking," he said carefully. He started to put an arm around her but hesitated, and Anna smiled and pulled his arm around her herself, snowy clothes be damned. "I just… don't want you to get in trouble, or things to get out of control. Because you're just so…" He gestured helplessly at her. "…you."
"Is that a good thing?" she asked, peeking out from behind her knees.
"That's a very good thing," Kristoff affirmed, lightly tugging at one of her braids. "But sometimes it's, ah, almost a painfully good thing…" He flushed. "…and I never want you to be in a position where you might, you know… regret something. And I thought that might be a little… harder to do if it was just… you know… us, alone, up here. Just the two of us. By ourselves."
Sven, who was snuffling around by the table, exhaled with what sounded remarkably close to a disbelieving snort.
"Nobody asked you," Kristoff said pointedly.
"So you still love me?" Anna asked in a small voice, toying with the ends of her hair, smiling up at him hopefully.
Kristoff rolled his eyes and stared at her in open disbelief. "Of course," he said, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
And maybe it really was.
Anna smiled and launched herself at him, pinning him back to the bed and kissing him awkwardly but enthusiastically, her legs tangling with his. "I love you too," she said, a bit breathlessly. "Even when you're being an idiot."
They both turned at a sudden clatter to see Sven tipping over the basket Anna had left on the table, spilling its contents onto the floor. His eyes widened happily as a bundle of carrots rolled in front of him, and he quickly began chewing on the nearest one.
"Oh, Sven, those aren't all for now!" Anna said, untangling herself from Kristoff's embrace and hurriedly rushing over to gather up the rest of the carrots. "And don't eat that!" she cried, tugging aside the small brown object Sven had begun sniffing appraisingly.
"What've you got there?" Kristoff asked, taking her hand and pulling her to her feet.
"Oh! Um…" Anna smiled awkwardly up at him, clutching the object to her chest. "It's… it's nothing, really."
Kristoff raised an eyebrow at her.
"Well… I mean, I know it's your birthday and all… and I know you've never really had one, and I know we were kind of fighting and I thought you didn't want me here but I still thought, you know, everyone deserves a birthday present and it's not much because I made it and you know how hopeless I am with this stuff, but…" She smiled and held it out to him. "Happy birthday?"
It was a small knitted reindeer — or, well, an approximation of one, anyway. Its right antler was roughly twice the size of its left, it had somehow ended up with five legs, and one of its eyes was missing, but it was most assuredly reindeer-shaped, and it even had a tiny felt harness.
Kristoff took it gingerly, eyes wide.
"I just thought…" Anna said hesitantly. "Well, I know you love reindeers — or, well at least Sven — and at least, you know, better than people, and I thought…" She bit her lip, looking down at her boots. "I didn't know if you… you know, still wanted to… be with me because of the whole princess thing and I understand if it's too much, but I just… I just remembered what it was like to be alone on all of those birthdays, and I thought that you should at least have something. From the heart. Even if it is kind of… you know." She gestured helplessly to the reindeer's legs and smiled up at him.
"I've never gotten a birthday present before," Kristoff said finally. "I'd… never even gotten a present before you." He gestured towards the door, where she knew the sled she'd bought him was waiting on the other side.
"So you like it?" Anna asked hopefully, twisting her fingers together.
Kristoff smiled and carefully set the reindeer down on the table. "I love it," he said, leaning down to gather her into his arms. "It's a complete mess. Just like you."
"It's also pretty cute and comes with a whole lot of love."
He lightly kissed her nose before dropping his forehead to rest against hers. "Like I said," he said quietly.
They stayed that way for a long moment before Kristoff spoke again.
"As for the princess thing…" he began hesitantly. "I think we can… work it out somehow."
"Yeah. I mean… I hope so. I want to. Someday. Not now, but, I mean, not never, but eventually… well not eventually, sooner than eventually, but…" Kristoff stopped as Anna pressed her fingers to his lips.
"Someday," she repeated, leaning in to kiss him softly.
One of Kristoff's hands curved around her cheek as he returned the kiss, and she took it in her own, squeezing slightly. He lightly brushed her nose with his as they broke apart. "I'm glad you came," he said finally.
"Me too. But remind me to make you show me what a spruce looks like for next time."
"It's a long story."
"I'll still want to hear it one of these days. I can't believe you managed to make it all the way up here." He yawned, then smiled apologetically. "Sorry. It's not you, I promise."
"Long day at work?"
"Yeah. Always is when we have a few days up."
Anna bit her lip, glancing behind Kristoff to the bed. "Do you want to… take a quick nap, or…?"
"I could, I guess."
"Me too. It wasn't easy getting up here."
Kristoff smiled at her and kissed her forehead before moving around her to collapse into the pile of straw, where Sven was curled up still munching contentedly on his carrot.
Anna stared at him. "…what are you doing?"
"…um… taking a nap?"
"You wanna lay with Sven instead? I was giving you the bed."
"…it's big enough."
"Well of course it's big enough for you, you're tiny as…" Kristoff stopped and stared at her, eyes widening.
Anna held out her hand, blushing slightly. "Just a nap," she said. "You don't have to worry about my reputation."
Kristoff stared at her, glancing down to her outstretched hand. "Um," he said. "It's not… I mean, if it were that easy for me to…" He looked at Sven helplessly, but the reindeer merely snuffled into the straw and turned over. "I really think it's better if you just take the bed."
"I agree. I just think it'll be even better if you take it with me."
Kristoff gingerly took her hand and pulled himself to his feet. "Just a nap," he repeated, lightly brushing a few strands of hair away from her face.
"Just a nap," Anna said. She bit her lip and blushed slightly. "I mean… for now. But, um, have you ever wanted to…" Anna hesitated. "You know… with me?"
He leaned down to kiss her, full and soft. "Every single day of my life."
They stared at each other, the air between them suddenly warm.
Anna leaned in to give him a quick kiss. "Someday?" she said quietly.
"Sooner than someday," Kristoff said.
Anna wordlessly took him by the hand and led him to the bed, tugging back the blankets and snuggling in. She felt Kristoff's warm frame curled up behind her, his arms looped tightly around her waist, his cheek pressed into her hair.
Anna shivered as she felt his breath against her neck, followed by his lips.
"Way sooner than someday," Anna smiled, grinning wider at the sudden choking noise he made in response.