Something wasn’t right. The castle doctor couldn’t figure out exactly what it was, but she did tell Kristoff and Anna that much.
The doctor had said many other things during the visit, most of them good. She commented that Anna looked healthy, that she appeared to be coming along nicely. Kristoff ensured her that they had been taking all the advice the midwife had given them, and that Anna wasn’t even having morning sickness anymore. Anna laughed and confirmed that Kristoff was almost being too thorough with his doting on her.
But Anna remembers none of that. None of that is lingering in her head, repeating itself over and over the same way that the doctor’s final statement did.
“However, the heartbeat… it is a bit irregular.”
The mood shifted. Anna’s anxiety and instinctual curiosity were already beginning to send her into a frenzy. “What does that mean?” Her grip on her husband’s forearm tightened.
The doctor consoled her, reassuring her it was likely nothing too serious. Anna barely heard what the doctor was saying, but luckily Kristoff was able to overcome his concern to ask the questions. “Sometimes it could be something as simple as diet,” she said. “Eating too much, caffeine-“
Kristoff rubbed his thumb over Anna’s hand, tilting her head to make her look at him. “See,” he said softly. “Hey, you hear that?” He could read the concern on her face, her eyes starting to fill with tears as she looked up at him. He exhaled, his lips turning into a frown. “Hey, maybe you just have to go easier on the chocolate, hm?” Kristoff suggested, hoping it would ease her tension. He knows Anna well, and despite her overwhelming anxiety, she still manages a weak smile and enough of an exhale to signify an attempted laugh, just barely pushing through.
“Well, there is quite a bit of caffeine in chocolate, your majesty. That could very well be it,” the doctor chimed in.
Kristoff leaned in, touching his forehead to Anna’s. He waited there a moment, feeling her breaths steady and her eyes close in an attempt at gaining her composure. Only then did he press a kiss to her forehead. “You’ll be okay,” he said before quickly adding, “We’ll be okay,” as he curves his palm over her belly through the soft linen nightgown.
The doctor excused herself at that point, offering for them to request her presence whenever they may have a concern. “I’ll also leave this here, just in case. If you’d like.”
Kristoff thanked her as he pulled Anna into his chest while reaching out for the stethoscope with his free hand. As soon as the door shut, Anna let herself release the tears she had been holding back. The comfort of finally pressing herself against Kristoff gave her the security she needed to let go. She clutched the collar of his sweater as she wet the fabric with her tears.
“Oh, sweetheart,” he said, finding it harder to stifle his own tears — few things make him more upset than seeing her like this. He placed a hand on the back of her head, gently petting her hair to comfort her. “I’ve got you,” Kristoff said, his voice breaking.
The heartbeat… it is a bit irregular.
Anna wishes she could unhear it. On one hand, she’s glad she knows what’s going on, and is aware that something is actually wrong. But the doctor had also said it could be nothing. Why did she have to tell her that if it might be for nothing? She can’t stop worrying. She’s been pacing for hours in their bedroom, unable to eat or do anything other than pace, think, and occasionally accept a hug from Kristoff.
“Baby, you’re gonna tire yourself out.”
“I think I already have.”
“Then come here. You shouldn’t be on your feet for this long, anyways. Midwife’s orders.” Anna presses her hands to her forehead in exasperation, knowing he’s right — the stress couldn’t be too good for the baby, either. And it certainly isn’t good for her.
She lays down on the bed, crawling against Kristoff’s side where he has already extended an arm to make room for her. “We need to take care of you, Anna,” he whispers, his tone still determined despite the quietness of his voice. “And I won’t let anything happen to you.”
“But you can’t control this, Kristoff,” she sighs.
“True, but neither can you,” he points out. “All we can do is take the doctor’s advice.”
“I knowwwww,” Anna drags out a whine. “But it’s so hard, being out of control."
“I know, baby,” Kristoff says, stroking her hair again.
“And I can’t even stress-eat chocolate,” she says, muffled against his sweater. Kristoff’s hand stalls on her hair as he chuckles, glad her sense of humor is still somewhere in there.
“Can’t disagree with you there. That’s gonna be rough for you.”
They lay there for a while in silence, just embracing one another and feeling the comforting warmth of holding each other close. Before long, Anna speaks up. “Can you grab the scope thing, please?”
“Are you sure? I don’t want you to make yourself more anxious,” he reaches for the tool he left on the nightstand.
“I’m going to try. I just — I need to hear it,” Anna says. “I need to hear her.”
Thanks to Kristoff’s family, they had known since the very beginning that they would be having a daughter. No one else knows so far, though — it’s just been their little secret.
Anna sat up, readjusting herself to sit between Kristoff’s legs. She wants to hear her baby’s heartbeat, but she knows she’ll have to take every precaution she can to reduce her anxiety while doing it. In this case, that meant having Kristoff hold her — feeling him surrounding her as a reminder that he’s here. Kristoff passes her the stethoscope and presses a kiss to the top of her head, inhaling to take in her scent.
She puts the earplugs in and lowers the round end of the medical tool to her stomach, squeezing her eyes shut to tune out all other senses, except for the sound of her baby and the feeling of Kristoff’s hands curving around her belly.
The heartbeat… it is a bit irregular.
Anna moves the stethoscope around, slowly grazing her skin, desperately trying to hear it. Her eyebrows furrow.
Her own heart rate picks up, practically thumping in her ears. Kristoff continues rubbing his thumb over her, trying to keep her calm. Anna focuses on regulating her own breathing for a moment, otherwise she wouldn’t be able to hear the baby over the sound of her own heart pounding.
Her breaths steady. She carefully moves it again, this time just under her belly button. She eases her facial muscles, trying to focus. And then, she hears it. The faintest noise, repeating a few times each second. It was trying to keep a steady rhythm, she could tell. Sometimes it sped up a little, but it was there.
“You got it?” he says, and she could sense the relief in his voice without even having to see his face.
She nods frantically, feeling tears beginning to pool in her eyes. Anna moves her hand to cover Kristoff’s, relief washing over both of them. “I don’t know if it’s irregular, or… or too fast, or… I don’t know. But I can hear it!”
“Thank gods,” Kristoff sighs. “May I?”
Anna pulls the tubes out of her ears and hands it to her husband. It takes him only a moment of pure concentration on his face before he lights up, giving Anna a dumbfounded look. “It’s there,” he breathes out. “She’s… I can hear her.”
Anna turns to see him. She wipes a tear that’s threatening to fall from the top of his cheeks. “Anna,” he smiles, his eyes warm.
“Ma… she can probably get us a crystal… we have these crystals that mimic the heartbeat, and I bet we can sync it up. We can… you can have one, and you can listen whenever you want, and-“
She cuts him off with a gentle kiss. “That would be perfect.”
He smiles as they pull away, her fingers threading through his soft blond hair.
“Rare moment when you’re the one talking too much.”
He chuckles. “Do you think… can she hear us too?”
“I… I’m not sure. I’ve heard some of the other ladies talk about reading stories to their babies before they’re born. I guess we don’t know for sure but… I’d like to.”
“That sounds wonderful,” Kristoff smiles. “Tomorrow though, feisty. We’ve gotta get you some rest.”
Anna hadn’t realized how late it was getting. She mentally thanks Kristoff for being such a trooper and staying up with her through her anxiety, even though she knows he’d probably do anything for her. “Well, that’s the perfect time for a bedtime story, isn’t it?” she says, settling in against his chest.
“If you insist, but I’d have to get up and go all the way to the library to get a book…”
“No,” Anna says, tugging him back down with her. “A lullaby, then.”
“Sans lute, I presume?”
“And have to wait for you to go all the way across the room? I don’t think so, mister.”
“A capella it is, then,” he says. “Any requests?”
Anna mentally thumbs through some of the songs he’s performed for her on his lute before. He’s sung plenty of them to her before going to bed, and without fail, they always help her drift off, although she attributes that mostly to his soothing voice. And then, it hits her.
“The one my mother sang!”
“Is that the one you and Elsa always talk about?”
“Mhm. Oh, Kristoff, I’ll teach you! It’s really easy. And you can pick it out on your lute soon, and we’ll sing it to her just like my mother did for me.”
Kristoff beams at her. “I think that’s a great idea.”
She momentarily leans her head back against his chest, her chin tilting up slightly, just to press herself as close to him as she possibly can. “Alright, you know the rules. Scooch in.”
Kristoff readjusts himself slightly so that he can hold Anna, with her sitting on his lap slightly angled, just enough to see both her face and her belly. “What was that thing you always say she did? This?” he asks, bringing a finger to the bridge of Anna’s nose and stroking down once.
“Yes, that,” Anna giggles. “I can’t wait to do that with her.”
“Me too,” he says, once again placing his large hand on her stomach.
“Maybe… if we sing to her, and she can hear us, maybe it’ll be like she’s singing back to us.” Anna hesitates, then continues, “Maybe it will be enough to bring her home.”
Kristoff’s heart squeezes, both at the reminder of the still-present concerns, and because he doesn’t want to have to see Anna this crestfallen ever again. “I think you could be right about that.”
Anna gives him a smile. “Okay, so I’ll sing the song, and you sing it back with me, alright?” Kristoff nods.
Where the north wind meets the sea
There’s a river full of memory
Sleep, my darling, safe and sound
For in this river, all is found
Kristoff repeats each line, his voice shaky, but he quickly finds that sturdy, deep tone that Anna loves. After the second verse, she stops looking at him, and instead turns her attention to her stomach, her gaze filled with love. She sings the next verse to their baby, and Kristoff matches her gaze, joining their duet with his daughter in mind.
She will sing to those who’ll hear
And in her song, all magic flows
But can you brave what you most fear?
Can you face what the river knows?
Until the river’s finally crossed
You’ll never feel the solid ground
You have to get a little lost
On your way to being found
Their voices meld flawlessly, sending out a beautiful call for their daughter to arrive home to them safely.
Where the north wind meets the sea
There’s a mother full of memory
Come, my darling, homeward bound
When all is lost, then all is found.