Disclaimer: Hans Christian Anderson owns the Snow Queen. It's definitely my favorite of his works and I can't even pretend to have come up with it.

She is lonely in her palace of ice

She is lonely in her palace of ice. Sometimes, on her travels in other lands besieged by winter, she finds mortals who interest her and she takes them back to her palace to entertain her and keep her company. Hunters, who glory in the challenge of the deep snows; princes, who set out on quests to the distant north; sorcerers and scholars, who marvel at the beauty and power of Winter. It never works out. Some try and escape, try to steal her magic or her treasures, and she casts them out into the snowy wastes of the far north. Few survive to reach human civilization again.

It is even worse if they do not betray her, if they grow to love her, for then they inevitably try to warm her frozen heart. It is not in her nature to thaw, or to want to, or to survive such a thing. They cannot understand and so eventually she sends them away as well, out into the cold. She watches as they stumble, frozen and desolate through her wastes and she wonders if they can heed the lesson of her nature.

In a land which winter only touches briefly, she meets a boy. He is a beautiful laughing boy who loves the snow and the cold. She watches him work and play in the midst of her grey days and she loves him for his smiling face and rosy cheeks. She watches him open his window at night and stare out at the cold, bright stars and she loves him for the wonder in his eyes as his breath freezes in front of him.

She imagines him in her palace, his smile sparkling amidst the icy rooms. His laughter ringing through her silent halls. If only he could love her without trying to warm her--but such is mankind's nature: to try and change the world to reflect himself. Perhaps, she thinks, perhaps this time she can do the same. Gazing at her boy, she draws a shard of her own frozen heart from her chest and throws it into his.

As she throws, the winds swirl around her and pull the dart off target to land in the boy's eye. His gaze becomes cold and she knows he will see the only the hardest and coldest part of the world. She frowns at the winds' interference and pulls out another shard of her heart. This one lodges in the boy's chest and its ice spreads into him until his heart is as frozen as hers.

When winter ends in that land, she takes the boy away with her, farther and farther from man's reach. She gives him a room in her frozen palace that has hosted others who had once drawn her attention. There, at the very end of the earth, she waits. Waits to see her beautiful boy's reaction to the marvels of her realm. Waits to hear his sweet laughter at the antics of the snow imps, his joy in the beauty of the frost patterns she creates for him, or his wonder at the clear, crisp beauty of the stars set in a sky darker and colder than he can have ever imagined. But her boy is silent and his eyes dull. He has lost himself and so she has lost everything she loved in him. She cannot even bear to look at him but instead sets him a puzzle in the ice--to recover his own name. Perhaps if he does so, he will return to the boy she first saw.

She does not expect the girl. She has no power in or knowledge of spring when the girl sets out nor in summer when the girl almost loses her way, though later the winds whisper the girl's adventures into her ears. It is only at the end of autumn, when the girl first draws near to her realm that she knows what is happening. She did not expect anyone to try and follow her and her boy--and if she had it would never have occurred to her that anyone would succeed.

She watches the girl. She watches the small figure cross her realm, struggling bravely and melting even the fiercest of hearts. She watches the girl make her way into the palace of ice, watches as the girl finds the boy piecing together his puzzle, watches as the girl melts the boy's heart and she thinks of sweeping into her throne room and meeting this girl. She thinks of keeping the girl with her as well, of watching as the children grow up together in her palace. A pain she has never felt before cracks her own icy heart. The shard she had given the boy is melting as well. A piece of her own heart, which had withstood the love of the most romantic of poets and the magic of the most determined of sorcerers, is melting in the innocent warmth of this girl. She watches as the boy and girl, laughing and beautiful, leave her palace and travel out of her realm. She watches until they are far beyond her vision.

The winds dance around her, tugging at her flowing gown. They laugh at her--they have always known the end to this story, for they travel the earth whenever they wish and they knew the boy and girl of old.

She is lonely in her palace of ice. Yet, a piece of her heart is nestled in the boy's, and it is warm and flesh in a way that it was never meant to be.