12 Days of Kristanna: Day 12 - The Wonder of Christmas
The Warmth of a Promise
Squeaking in just before midnight here ;)
Art by the incredible lissa-42! Thank you so much for agreeing to collaborate with me, sweetheart <3 <3 <3
This one is for picture-of-sophisticated-grace, thank you so much for all of your hard work putting together this great event! You did a wonderful job, sweetpea, we’re so lucky to have you *hugs*
The castle was a blaze of lights, candles lighting up the great hall like stars, glittering off of silver and gold ornaments, shining off of the demurely glossy evergreen needles that formed swags and wreaths and garlands on every possible surface. Warm fires made cheeks glow, and lanterns sparkled off of the snow that gathered on the windowsills and carpeted the ground outside. The air smelled of sweet things, cinnamon and chocolate and gingerbread. There was music and laughter and Anna loved it with all her heart.
“Kristoff, there you are! Isn’t it beautiful?”
“It’s amazing,” he said, his hand coming to rest against her back lightly. Anna let her head lean on his shoulder for a moment.
“Thank you, for being here, I mean. I know you don’t really like being stuck with so many strangers.”
He shrugged. “It’s not so bad.” His fingers delicately tucked back a loose curl of ginger hair. “Is it everything you hoped for?”
“It is and so much more,” Anna sighed happily. “I missed Christmas so much.”
“Anna…after everyone leaves, would it be okay if I—if we—would you wait for me? I want to show you something.”
“Okay,” she said. “I mean, of course! If,” she added, “you dance with me, right now.”
Anna smiled up into Kristoff’s face as he draped her cloak around her, fastening the clasp at her collar. The guests had finally gone, and the hundreds of candles were slowly being extinguished, one by one. As a little girl, Anna had always felt so sad to see the lights go out, to know that Christmas was over (always well after her bedtime, of course, but she had always managed to sneak out of her room to watch the Christmas ball, before the gates had been closed). It felt dark and cold after the lights and warmth and music of the holiday, but somehow she didn’t feel that emptiness now. There was still plenty of light from the lantern that Kristoff had lit.
“Are you sure this is warm enough?” he asked.
“I’m sure,” she said. She tucked her hand into his elbow. “Where are we going?”
“Not far. I know it’s late. I just wanted to walk with you for a little while. Unless you’re too cold.”
“I’m not too cold, I promise,” Anna said.
They stepped outside, snow crunching under their feet. Kristoff led her into the gardens, where a white blanket obscured the flower beds and the shapes of topiaries and hedges.
“It’s beautiful,” Anna murmured. “Like the mountain was, remember?” She slid her hand down into his, leaning her head on his arm. “I’m glad that…that winter is still beautiful,” she said softly. His fingers squeezed hers gently.
There had been a few weeks, when the snow first began to fall, that her nightmares had come back. A few times she’d sat up all night, huddled beside the fireplace in her room, afraid to sleep. And then one night the fire had burned out before she woke up, and she’d found herself in the hallway, scared and alone in the dark. She hadn’t been sure if she was awake or if she was lost in one of the nightmares, but she’d knocked on Elsa’s door. Elsa was the one who led her to Kristoff’s room, knocking to wake him up.
‘Anna’s cold,’ she’d said urgently. 'I don't…I don’t know how to light a fire.’
They’d all ended up in Anna’s room, Elsa wrapping her in blankets while Kristoff lit the fire. After that it became routine for them to stay with her until she fell asleep, usually still by the hearth. Anna hadn’t asked, but she could guess how many times Kristoff had needed to carry her to her bed. She was too grateful to be embarrassed. Slowly the nightmares had receded, and when she’d gone out in the snow, determined to remember how much she loved to play in it, she’d found that she still loved to play in it after all. She’d gotten Kristoff in the face with her first snowball.
“I have something for you,” Kristoff said suddenly. “I wanted to wait until we were alone to give it to you, so…here.” He pulled a lumpy bundle wrapped in paper out of his pocket and held it out.
“For me? Oh, Kristoff, you didn’t have to–Oh,” Anna said, folding the paper back. She blinked. “It's…it’s a rock.” Years of training caught up and she forced the bewildered surprise out of her voice. “How nice! Thank you,” she added quickly.
“Well, it’s not just a rock, it's—here—” Kristoff took the package from her and tipped the stone out onto his hand. The underside of it glowed with a warm golden light, lighting up his face.
“Oooh, it’s a troll crystal, isn’t it?” Anna breathed, clasping her hands together. “It’s beautiful! I don’t remember seeing a yellow crystal before.”
“It probably won’t stay yellow, they change colors as they grow, over time. And this is a special type of crystal, it’s a…well, I’m not sure how to explain it. It's…a sort of promise.”
“A promise? How?”
“It’s a troll thing, so…this is going to sound weird, I guess. But—” he took a deep breath. “Okay. The crystals are kind of…they’re alive. They grow, like plants. This one…” He touched a couple of bumps on the surface lightly. “This type of crystal will grow and split into two, see? And then when the two mature crystals are harvested, they sort of…sense each other. They respond to each other, even when they’re separated. The trolls collect them, and they give one of the two crystals to people that they…that they love. Important people. Brothers and sisters, parents, close friends, and…and husbands and wives. Mostly husbands and wives, really. It’s part of the wedding ceremony, exchanging the crystals.”
“Wait,” Anna said, “but when they tried to marry us—”
“Oh, that, um…” Anna glanced up at his face. He was blushing a little, looking down at the stone in his hand. “That was more of a game, for them. That was what they thought human weddings are like.”
“They think humans get married in holes in the ground?”
“Well, not that part. Or the moss outfits, those are definitely troll things. But a troll ceremony is more about two people making promises just to each other.”
“Oh.” Anna looked down at the glowing shape in Kristoff’s broad hand, biting her lip. “I—Kristoff, I…”
Kristoff touched her cheek lightly. “I’m not…I’m not asking you to make a promise to me, Anna,” he said softly. “This is my promise to you. My promise that I’ll be here, when you’re ready. That if you, someday, want to give a part of this crystal back to me…that I…that I'd…I just…I’ll be here.” His palm curved over her jaw gently. “I’ll always be here.”
Anna folded her hands around the crystal, pressing it to her chest. Its gentle warmth pulsed softly, and after a moment she realized that it was matching the rhythm of her heartbeat. She closed her eyes and leaned her cheek into Kristoff’s hand.
“Thank you,” she whispered. She blinked hard, then looked up into his face. “I only got you a scarf,” she said. “It’s not even a very good scarf. It came out all lumpy and lopsided.”
“It’s a beautiful scarf,” he said. “Besides, Anna, you’ve given me so much more than that.” His thumb stroked her lower lip lightly. “May we?” he asked
Anna curled her fingers in the fabric of his shirt, tugging him down to her. “We may,” she breathed as his lips brushed over hers, and then his arm was wrapping around her, pressing her close as he kissed her, so that they could both feel the warmth of the promise between them.