Notes: Written for my dear friend Anya. She and I fangirled over Frozen when it first came out. I'm not ashamed.
Disclaimer: Don't own Frozen.
Both Anna and Kristoff are pretty confident that this thing they have is true love. But because of the fallout with Hans, as well as Kristoff's insistence in sticking by his principles (he doesn't think marrying someone just two days after meeting them is really all that preferable to just one day, world-saving and life-changing quests aside), they make an agreement to "take it slow."
"Taking it slow" ends up being a very loosely-defined term. Thanks to his new position (at one point or another Anna forwent the ridiculous title, beginning to gigglingly refer to him as the "Ice Delivery Guy"), he's already living in one of the many unoccupied rooms of the castle, so that doesn't exactly allow for much space between the two of them; he sees Anna every day, and usually ends up spending the majority of his time with her. Not that he's complaining - he loves spending time with Anna, loves watching her take overt joy in her newly-allotted freedom, loves witnessing the happiness she takes in her rekindled relationship with Elsa, loves being on the receiving end of her genuine enthusiasm for life. It's all very endearing, and Kristoff's not used to being endeared by humans, so it's all fairly overwhelming as well.
Anna's brimming at the rims with this enthusiasm, and understandably so. It's like she just has so much to be happy about now, everything having finally fallen into place, and in response she's somehow managing to be happy in every direction at once. After what was undeniably an incredibly sheltered and lacking youth, she has a lot to learn, a lot to experience, and Anna - in all her optimism and headstrong bravery - is more than ready to dive headfirst into it all.
Kristoff is both pleased and nervous to find that many of these "new experiences" involve him directly. As much as he hates to admit it, he's also led a pretty sheltered existence - that is, before meeting Anna - and for all his protests of being far less naive than she is...well. He's definitely way less foolhardy, but as far as actual experience goes, Kristoff's basically in the same boat as Anna, having grown up with the guidance of "love experts" or not.
So, all things considered, the whole "taking it slow" thing is no match for Anna's unstoppable determination to live life to the fullest, like there's a deadline on her happiness or something. And Kristoff, for his part, really can't find it in him to be anything but hugely excited and completely terrified, and all against his better judgement.
It's only been a week now since Anna's sacrifice and Elsa's joyous return as Queen of Arendelle, and the kingdom is just beginning to wind down from the festivities, although there is still a definitive sense of unconcealed contentment among the people, and the city itself seems to glitter in serenity.
This morning Anna and Kristoff go into the village at Anna's behest, Olaf and Sven on their tails, par the course. Anna is quickly sidelined, in awe of the very existence of snow-cones, which are being sold at one of the stands in the town square.
"They have different flavors," she marvels, seemingly to herself, examining the sign with wide eyes. "Elsa used to make these all the time, but we never had flavors…"
"Some of the mountain men I used to live with would have beer-flavored ones in winter," Kristoff contributes.
"Shh, Kristoff, I'm trying to read," Olaf pipes up from beside Anna, examining the sign with equal parts interest and confusion. "This would be so much easier if I knew how to read." He looks to Kristoff, a serious expression on his face. "I don't."
Kristoff nods. "I got that."
Anna chooses a peach-flavored snow-cone in the end, offering some to Kristoff, who reminds her that if he has some Sven's going to end up having some, too. Anna gives him an apologetic look, and resolves that she'll give them both the last few bites.
Kristoff and Anna manage to shake Olaf and Sven by leaving them with the remainder of the snow-cone, and together they go down to the docks, sitting side by side and chatting and bantering and laughing for a while, but soon enough they've fallen into their regular refrain. Their "regular refrain" being "kissing," an enterprise that seems to take up quite a significant amount of their time together. Again, Kristoff's in no way complaining, far from it - it's just that the ebb and flow of their embrace never seems to embody the ideal of "taking it slow."
They break apart for breath, and at the same time speak -
"I think we should slow down -"
"I think we should go back to the castle -"
Kristoff raises his eyebrows immediately. "Why do you want to go back to the castle?"
Anna freezes, lips forming a small 'O' as she cautiously side-eyes him. "Um, well, ah." She laughs nervously. "No reason! Anyway, what were you saying? Is this about the whole taking it slow thing? Because you know I agree with you about that, I mean, we talked about this, I totally agree, especially after everything with Hans, so it's not like we really need to talk about it anymore -"
"Why do you want to go back to the castle?"
"- and yes, obviously I now see that I got ahead of myself, but can you blame me really? I mean, you've been in there!" Anna gestures behind herself vaguely, presumably meaning the castle. "Can you imagine being stuck in there for over ten years?"
Kristoff splutters. "How am I supposed to argue with that?"
"Exactly," Anna declares, pointing a finger at him triumphantly. Kristoff really doubts this was her plan from the beginning of her speech, but her endgame is nevertheless successful.
He must be staring at her, embarrassingly enamored, because Anna begins to blush. She breaks eye contact, looks off toward the horizon, and then back to him with a small, shy smile playing on her lips.
"Okay, you're right, we're totally not following the rules," she says, placing a hand on his thigh. Kristoff feels he should inform her that that gesture isn't helping, but she's giving him that affectionate, huge-eyed gaze, and her hair's down today, and her hand is on his thigh, and he seems to have lost his voice.
She appears to have not noticed his reaction, as she continues on, "I know! I'm going to ask some more in-depth get-to-know-you questions. That's a good idea, right?"
Kristoff immediately shirks from the idea of speaking about himself. "Er, that's not what I meant…"
"That's not fair," Anna laughs. "This is totally the point of your entire argument - that I couldn't possibly know someone enough, blah, blah. So, I'm getting to know you."
Again, Kristoff can't argue with this, and, truth be told, he's a little put-out that his guidelines on how relationships work are kinda shooting him in the foot right now.
"So…" Anna hesitates. "What's up with your family?"
Kristoff sighs. "Look, I know they can be weird and they over-share and they're inappropriate and grabby, and sometimes they want you to get undressed for no reason -"
"No, I meant -" Anna pauses. "About that, though...what exactly is with the wanting you naked thing?"
Kristoff flushes, not so much at what he knows is the answer as just the subject matter itself. "They're just really…"
Anna's eyebrows rise steadily.
"...physical. And they think clothes are weird."
"O-kay," Anna says with a nod. "Well, they were really nice, and I think we - or, you know, you - should go visit them again soon, but...they weren't who I was talking about." She presses her lips together, assessing him tentatively.
Kristoff thinks back over her question. "Oh. You mean my parents."
Anna gives a tentative nod, before holding up her hands and saying, "If you don't want to talk about it though, or whatever, it's totally fine, don't worry, I'll understand -"
"No, it's fine," he assures her, taking her outstretched hands in his without thinking about it. Anna smiles as he continues, "It's just I don't really know that much. I...all I know is what the other mountain men told me. Apparently, my mother worked in a tavern or an inn or something - you know, one of the places they would stay when working a lot - and she had me, but I guess she couldn't really take care of me, and she convinced the mountain men to take me in." He shrugs. "They didn't really keep a very good eye on me," he concludes, smiling lopsidedly.
Anna nods, keeping perfect eye contact. For a girl as spazzy as her at times, she sure has a knack for being unsettlingly intent. "And so then the trolls took you in…"
"And they became my family," Kristoff supplies, confident at least in this information.
Anna smiles, and it's enough to thaw any winter. "You really should visit them soon. You haven't since you brought me to them. I can go with you, if you want. And we can bring Olaf and of course Sven...and, oh, maybe even Elsa?" Anna pauses, and, toning down her enthusiasm significantly, shrugs nonchalantly, saying, "Or, you know, whatever's cool with you."
One side of Kristoff's mouth quirks up. "So, what were you saying about going back to the castle?"
Anna's eyes widen, before she attempts to brush it off, waving her hand grandly and going, "Pfft, that? I don't even remember what I was talking about -"
"You said, 'I think we should go back to the castle,'" Kristoff informs her, patiently. He's found over the past week or so of knowing Anna that watching her fumble through verbal awkwardness is equal parts amusing, endearing, and annoying. Right now it's one-hundred percent amusing, and he's having a hard time not laughing outright as he watches her squirm for an excuse; he's not at all sure why she'd made the suggestion he's inquiring about, actually, but it's obvious it's something pretty interesting, especially if Anna's reaction is anything to go by.
"I meant...lunch!" Anna exclaims. "Yes! Lunch! Lunch. We should totally go back to the castle for…" Meeting Kristoff's eyes, Anna trails off, unexpectedly, and his attention is instantly piqued to an even higher degree. He and Anna engage in what is essentially an unspoken staring contest, and things become...heated. He can't explain it, but suddenly they're just staring at each other, Anna's hands still clasped in his own, grips tightening inexplicably. Kristoff swallows. Anna licks her lips, and immediately blushes, and if she's blushing then he must be on literal fire - and it feels like he might be, too.
"Kristoff," Anna begins, voice low and very serious, eyes never leaving his. "I think we should go back to the castle."
"...For lunch?" Kristoff swallows again. He feels the need to pull at the collar of his shirt, to get some air, but he doesn't dare untwine his and Anna's hands.
Anna tilts her head, narrowing her eyes slightly.
Kristoff shakes his head, as if to throw off the stupidity of his previous sentence, and nods. "I would very much like to do that. I mean - if you want to, of course. Not that I don't want to, obviously I want to, I just want - I mean, you have to want to too - as well - I just -"
"Kristoff," Anna says, cutting him off, smiling broadly, eyes twinkling. "Yes."
Kristoff has been at the receiving end of several talks on "the essence and subtleties of natural love" from the trolls, especially in his mid-late teenage years. They really just boiled down to sex talks, and they were always hugely embarrassing and Kristoff never really felt like he'd learned anything. And yeah, that may be because he spent the entire duration of each and every one of these talks trying to figure a way out of it, but he doesn't think he can really be blamed for that.
But now he's grasping for any fragmented memory of advice or information that has been given to him by his family over the years. He remembers Gerda once telling something about the importance of hands and taking your time - he thinks her exact words were "Use those man's hands! They're not just for ice-picking and petting that silly reindeer of yours, you know. Women love a man who knows how to use his hands. Oh, and don't rush it - it's not a race, Kristoff, they're not going to melt! Or, they might, but that's only if you're doing it right!" This had earned a good laugh from the surrounding trolls, allowing Kristoff a chance to escape the dreaded conversation, marveling at how it had begun as a chat about what they were having for dinner.
And still, even that advice isn't particularly helpful when it boils down to it, but Kristoff supposes he's better off with at least that embarrassingly-acquired foundation than nothing at all.
Soon enough Kristoff doesn't even have the mental capacity to grasp for such obscure tidbits of information as to his current situation, due to, well, his current situation. He and Anna did go back to the castle, and fast, and next thing he knows they're in Anna's bedchamber.
Some subset of Kristoff's mind has time to register how surprised he is that things seem to be going as smoothly as they are. Yes, it's frenzied (as all things with Anna seem to be - in a good way!), and there are a few bumps in the road - when settling down onto her bed, Kristoff accidentally traps some of her hair beneath one of his hands, pulling it, Anna going "Ow ow ow ow ow ow" as Kristoff goes "Sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry," shifting and releasing her. But other than that, things go surprisingly smoothly - and that's not even close to being the best part.
Kristoff's not exactly sure what the best part is, and if someone were to ask him he'd probably end up saying, "All of it," or something equally vague, but it's true.
If Anna's reactions are anything to go by, she feels the same. And while Anna's never particularly quiet about anything, she also isn't one to give false expression of how she's feeling, and Kristoff doesn't think that this is any different. At least, he hopes not.
Afterwards, they lay there next to each other, staring at the ceiling, and despite the shy grins plastered on both their faces, neither of them quite knows what to say.
It's Anna who breaks the silence, naturally.