A/N: Over 150 followers! Thank you guys!
Sorry for not posting this as soon as I'd hoped! Yes, I did have two snowdays in a row (both Thursday and Friday) and I DID start writing this on Thursday, then continued on Friday, but I didn't get to finish because, well, I ended up getting myself sucked into yet another fandom and spent the better part of both days binge-watching so I would be caught-up, so I was kind of distracted :P (In case anyone's curious… OMG Sherlock. I'm in love. You should totally watch that show if you don't already. So many Sherlock fanfic possibilities swirling in my head right now… Hahaha but don't worry, no new stories until I'm done with this one!)
Okay, so without any further ado, Chapter 9! :)
Kristoff watched with bated breath as the pickaxe soared through the air, turning over a few times before hitting its mark with a soft crunch. Their pursuer staggered backward a bit as the rough metal object smashed into him, knocking him off balance. Anna's scream of surprise still echoed in the surrounding trees as she peeked cautiously over Kristoff's shoulder to see what had happened.
The shadowy figure in front of them stirred slightly, seemingly unperturbed by the pickaxe's strike. "Um, wow… Okay…" A familiar voice muttered softly in the darkness, seemingly breathless. "I guess… that's one way… to say hello…" The figure continued breathing heavily as it stepped forward, crossing into the flickering firelight at last.
"Olaf?!" Anna cried in disbelief as the tiny snowman finally came into view. "What are you doing here?"
"Trying… to find… you guys…" Olaf huffed breathlessly in reply, clutching his chest with one tiny wooden hand. "I've… been running… for hours…" He lifted his free hand slowly, feeling uncertainly toward the pickaxe embedded in his forehead. "You got me… pretty good…Heh…"
"Oh, jeez… Sorry." Kristoff winced sympathetically as he hurried forward. He had struck the snowman almost perfectly between the eyes, and the rough metal was buried very deeply in his icy forehead. "Why did you sneak up on us like that?" He placed one large hand on the cold snow of Olaf's head while the other gripped the wooden handle of the pickaxe tightly. Kristoff tugged as hard as he could, and the pickaxe came loose instantly, the force of the extraction sending both the human and the snowman staggering backward.
Olaf sat up slowly, patting the snow of his head to make sure everything had fallen back into place. "You call that… sneaking?" He asked, still out of breath. "I was… pretty loud… If you ask me." He tried to take a step forward, but swayed slightly, nearly falling over a second time as his exhaustion began to overtake him.
"Okay, little guy." The princess rushed over to Olaf as she spoke. "Why don't you catch your breath before you do any more explaining?" Anna shook her head, smiling as she helped him to his feet and gently led him toward the fire to sit at her side.
Sven trotted over then, greeting the snowman happily as Kristoff went back to the sled to begin preparing their evening meal at last. It was not long before the snowman and pair of humans had all finally calmed down, Olaf from the stress and exhaustion of his long journey, Anna and Kristoff from the excitement and fear of their potential attack. Looking back, it all seemed rather silly now, and neither Kristoff nor Anna was willing to admit just how frightened they'd actually been.
"So… how did you manage to find us?" Anna asked Olaf some time later, as she slowly rotated her wooden skewer of meat over the fire. "I didn't even think you knew we left in the first place."
"I didn't." Olaf explained. "I stopped by the castle looking for you guys, and Elsa told me everything." He shook his head. "I can't believe you were gonna go on an adventure without me!" The snowman looked from one human to the other as he spoke, clearly offended.
"It's not like we're doing this for fun, Olaf." Kristoff sighed. "This is really dangerous."
"Exactly!" Olaf cried, throwing his arms in the air excitedly. "That's why you need me to come with you!"
Anna and Kristoff exchanged a look. "Uh-huh…" Kristoff raised an eyebrow at the snowman skeptically. "And how can you help us, exactly?"
"How can I help? Are you kidding?" The snowman leapt to his feet as he spoke. "Do you want me to make a list?"
It was Anna who shrugged in reply. "Uh… sure?"
"Oh… Really?" Olaf scratched his head nervously. "I didn't actually think you'd say yes…" He muttered, his voice trailing off slowly. There were a few long moments of silence as the snowman furrowed his brow in concentration. Then suddenly, his eyes lit up. "Okay! Um… I can keep Sven from getting bored! He loves me, don't ya, buddy?" He reached over, scratching the reindeer behind the ears as he spoke, much to Sven's delight. "Happy reindeer, happy humans, am I right?" There was no reply from Anna and Kristoff, who continued watching him skeptically.
Olaf gulped nervously "And I… I can entertain you guys!" He offered happily. "Take your mind off the scary stuff, keep a smile on everyone's face… Huh, huh?" The snowman smiled hopefully. "Come on… Walking, talking morale booster, right here!" The pair of humans looked at each other uncertainly yet again, remaining silent.
"Tough crowd…" Olaf muttered to himself. "Well… How about this? What if we get attacked? Things get hairy, looking for a quick getaway, need a distraction? You're looking at him!" He threw his hands above his head for emphasis. "No bones to break… I'm pretty much indestructible! Makes me the perfect bodyguard, too." He nodded enthusiastically. "You'd be crazy not to bring me along!" He finished confidently.
Anna bit her lip, knowing that Kristoff was sharing the same thought she was having. "Olaf, listen…" She began carefully.
Without warning, Olaf threw himself at the girl's feet, clutching her skirt in his wooden hands desperately, his charade now over. "Oh, please, please, please!" He begged. "You have to let me stay! I came all this way, you can't make me go back now!"
Kristoff leaned forward, the pity apparent on his face. "Look, Olaf, we get it, but –"
"Things are so boring back at home!" The snowman continued. "This is finally a chance for some excitement! The four of us out on an adventure – It'll be just like old times! Oh, please? I won't be any trouble, I promise." Olaf batted his eyelashes up at them, pouting slightly as he did so.
"Aww… Kristoff, look at him." Anna leaned forward, gently reaching out and placing a hand on the snowman's cold cheek. "He did come all this way... And it's always nice having a familiar face around… Maybe –"
"What? No way!" Kristoff shook his head in disbelief. "It's too dangerous." He said firmly. "Trust me, we have enough to worry about already without –"
"Listen, no offense, Kristoff," Olaf said calmly as he got to his feet, dusting himself off as he did so. "But I'm not so sure we should be taking advice from the guy with the messed up head."
"Hey! My head is not –"
"That's not what Elsa said."
Anna tried unsuccessfully to suppress a giggle. Maybe having Olaf around wouldn't be such a bad idea after all…
"I know, let's do a vote!" Olaf smiled happily. "Everyone who thinks I should stay, raise your hand." He threw both of his in the air immediately, looking around at the others expectantly.
Sven panted happily as he lifted one of his hoofs off the ground as well. After a moment's hesitation, Anna raised one small white hand slowly, shrugging guiltily at Kristoff as she did so.
A soft groan of frustration escaped the young man's lips. "Fine." He grumbled, annoyed. "If you're crazy enough to risk your life like this, be my guest."
"Yay!" Olaf cried in joy, seating himself between Kristoff and Anna with a contented sigh. "This is gonna be great, you'll see!"
Kristoff shook his head. "Yeah, sure…" He muttered, all of his previous confidence now gone. What if it hadn't been Olaf in those trees? He kept asking himself. Where would they be right now? How was he supposed to protect himself? Let alone Anna, and Sven, and now Olaf too… Kristoff looked up at the starry sky, sighing softly as these thoughts crossed his mind.
This could be the stupidest thing I've ever done. He told himself sadly, taking a bite of his food at last, and listening as Olaf began regaling them with the tale of his journey to find them. A story which, much to Kristoff's chagrin, continued well into the night.
Snap. Rustle. Scratch. Scratch. Huff.
Snap. Rustle. Scratch. Scratch. Huff.
"Huh?" Kristoff opened his eyes suddenly, abruptly pulled from his deep sleep by the sound of movement close by. The sky above was still quite dim, though not quite as dark as it had been the night before. Must be before dawn… He yawned heavily, closing his eyes once more and pulling his blankets over his face as he did so. Thanks to Olaf's incessant chatter, it had been past midnight when he had finally fallen asleep the night before. I just need a few more hours… Kristoff thought sleepily, feeling himself begin to drift away once more.
Huff. Huff. Rustle. Scratch. Scratch.
"Ugh…" Kristoff rolled over, pulling the blankets even more tightly over his head. "Olaf, cut it out…" He muttered groggily, still half-asleep.
"Cut what out?" A small voice called sleepily from his right.
Scratch. Rustle. Rustle. Huff.
Kristoff's eyes snapped open, as he realized that it was not Olaf who had woken him. Anna? He wondered, pulling the blankets from his head and sitting up at last. What he saw made him feel as though his heart had dropped into his stomach, and all the breath seemed to have vanished from his lungs.
An enormous creature covered in coarse brown fur stood on its hind paws beside the sled, its head and front paws digging around in the supplies within. It breathed heavily as it sniffed the contents of the sleigh in search of food, while its large claws scraped gently on the floor as it dug around, examining everything.
Kristoff froze, staring in horror as the huge bear continued its search. Has it seen us? He wondered desperately. Either way, they couldn't just sit there – they had to move. As silently as he could, Kristoff got to his feet, crouching as low to the ground as he could manage, and shuffled toward Sven, never once taking his eyes off the enormous beast.
He nudged the reindeer gently until Sven's eyes opened at last. Kristoff put a finger to his lips, hushing his friend before he could even make a sound, and pointed wordlessly toward the bear, then toward a large boulder about 30 feet away from them. Go hide. The man mouthed. Sven did not need telling twice. He scrambled to his feet a bit more noisily than Kristoff would have liked, and the man winced nervously as he studied the bear carefully for a reaction. Thankfully, it did not even pause, and simply continued its search as the reindeer slowly began sneaking away.
By this time, Olaf had finally sat up, already having been woken by Kristoff moments before. "What's going on?" He muttered softly, looking around.
His tiny black eyes widened in horror as they fell on the enormous beast. Kristoff crept toward the snowman carefully, shaking his head at him as he did so. "Shhhh." He whispered, as quietly as he could, then gestured with a quick nod of his head toward the retreating reindeer. Go. He mouthed. Olaf hesitated uncertainly, glancing toward Anna's still-sleeping form. Kristoff shook his head slowly, then pointed to snowman understood, and, with a small nod of his head, hurried off after Sven.
Anna's snoring grew louder as Kristoff drew nearer, glancing over his shoulder at the sled with every step. He approached the sleeping woman carefully. He did not want to startle her – or the still-distracted bear. Anna lay sprawled on top of her blankets, her mouth open and a small trail of drool running down her cheek. Kristoff hesitated for a moment, caught between disgust and amusement, and then remembered the gravity of the situation at hand. Carefully avoiding the moisture on her cheek, he leaned in very close to her, whispering gently in the girls ear and shaking her shoulders lightly. "Anna? Anna, you've gotta wake up."
"Ugggghhhh…" Anna groaned loudly in reply and rolled over, turning away from him as she did so, her arm smacking Kristoff heavily across the face as she pulled the covers over her head.
"Ow…" Kristoff winced, rubbing his chin to try to ease the pain. Oh, come on, Anna… Don't do this… He had to crawl on his elbows to reach her again, shaking her a bit more urgently than the first time. He was so distracted, he failed to notice that the bear had suddenly gone very quiet…
"Anna, come on, get up." Kristoff whispered a bit louder than before, his patience wearing thin. "We have to move… There's a bear."
"There's nothing wrong with my hair." The girl murmured sleepily from beneath her blankets. "It always looks like this in the morning." Anna yawned, pulling the blankets more tightly around her as she did so.
"Not your hair… A bear!"
"A what?!" Anna sat up suddenly, looking around frantically until her blue eyes finally fell on the huge creature. "It's… It's… Ahhh –!"
Her cry of alarm was cut-off by a large hand cupping roughly over her mouth. "Shhh!" Kristoff looked down at her angrily. "Do you want it to... hear…us…?" Oh no… Kristoff's heart sank at the sight of the immense bear staring at them curiously, the contents of the sled now forgotten. It took a step toward them, cocking its head to the side as it did so, and letting out a low, huffing breath. So much for trying to stay quiet…
Beside him, Anna was shaking. Kristoff took a deep breath, steadying himself, and gently rose to his feet, pulling the girl with him as he did so. "Whatever you do," He whispered, his lips at her ear. "Don't act afraid. Don't look away. Just follow me, nice and slow." Kristoff began stepping backward carefully as he spoke, Anna following his lead moments later. Neither one of them took their eyes off the creature, which had now taken another uncertain step in their direction.
The boulder behind which Sven and Olaf now stood felt like it was miles away as the pair continued, moving at an achingly slow pace and never breaking eye contact with the bear as they went. "Are you okay?" Kristoff whispered so quietly, Anna had to struggle to hear him.
"Just peachy." She replied just as softly, her voice quavering slightly, giving her away. The bear had taken another step forward, but was sniffing the ground now, scratching briefly with its claws in the dirt near where Kristoff had slept.
"We're almost there…"
Anna let out a breath she didn't realize she'd been holding as she and Kristoff finally reached the boulder, scurrying behind it and crouching low to the ground beside a very terrified Olaf and Sven.
"What do we do?" The snowman asked nervously, trying to peek around the side of the huge rock.
Kristoff pushed Olaf back gently, shaking his head slowly. "We wait…" He said simply. "And listen." His heart was pounding in his chest as he strained his ears for any sign of movement. Beside him, his friends did the same.
So much for making it to the mountain in one piece… Kristoff thought to himself sadly as the minutes dragged by like hours and, high above, the morning sky began to lighten at last.
A/N: Another cliffhanger? I'm awful, I apologize. Hahahahaha.
Nice job to everyone who correctly guessed that their "attacker" was actually Olaf! As promised, here is a cookie as a reward :P farm6. staticflickr 5510/ 11373878704_08fb691ac8_z .jpg (Just take away the spaces XD Or, if you're lazy, it's just a cute picture of an Olaf cookie :P)
Thank you for reading, you're awesome (yes, you!).