The Snow Queen
- Chapter 1
There was a demon who made a looking-glass called War which had the power of making everything good or beautiful that was reflected in it almost shrink to nothing, while everything that was worthless and bad seem to take over the universe. The landscapes appeared charred, and the people became hideous. It declared that people could now, for the first time, see what the world and mankind were really like. Its effects were felt everywhere.
Unfortunately, the demon had been flying with it when it slipped from her hands, fell to the earth, and was broken into millions of pieces. But now the mirror fragments were the size of a grain of sand, and they flew about the world into every country. When one of them flew into a person's eye, it stuck there, and he could see only the worst side of what he looked at and turned ugly things into works of art. Some few persons even got a fragment of the mirror in their hearts, and their hearts became cold like a lump of ice. This is the story of two of those fragments.
There lived two poor cute little boys named Heero and Duo. They lived next to each other in two houses numbered L1 and L2 on Colony St. Their bedroom windows were right across from each other in the alleyway. They often played together in the alley by climbing out their windows. In winter, the windows would freeze shut. But then they’d simply look at each other through their windows and read each other’s lips and have funny conversations. Well, Heero would do most of the reading since Duo did most of the talking. In summer they could be together with one jump from their windows, but in winter they had to go up and down the long staircase, and out through the snow before they could meet.
One of their favorite stories told by Heero's uncle Jay was about the Snow Queen Relena. Relena was a queen made of ice who lived in a castle to the North. She had blue eyes, a blue dress and blonde hair. If one wasn’t careful, she would steal you away and take you to her ice castle, he said. Now Heero didn’t believe she existed until one evening, when little Heero was at home, half undressed, he climbed on a chair by the window and peeped out his window. There stood a woman, dressed in blue. She was fair and had blue eyes, but was made of ice. She called him several times by name, asking him to come out. The little boy was frightened and sprang down from the chair. When he looked out the window again, she had gone. He soon forgot all about her.
One day Heero and Duo were looking at a book full of pictures of animals and birds, when Heero said, ``Oh, something has struck my heart!'' and soon after, ``There is something in my eye."
Duo put his arm round his neck, and looked into his eye, but he could see nothing. “I think it is gone,'' he said.
But it was not gone; it was one of those cursed bits of War that made one unable to see anything good. Poor little Heero had also received a small grain in his heart, which quickly turned to ice. He felt no more pain, but the glass was there still. ``Get your hands off me!” he yelled.
"Heero, what are you saying? I always do this." said Duo, mystified. He tried to hold him and tease him as he always did but Heero only growled and climbed out the window away from him.
From that day, he was cold and silent, hitting him without reason. He no longer smiled and no longer wanted to play with him, which broke Duo’s heart. Heero could no longer find peace within himself but only in the cold figures of mathematics and reason. Everyone thought he was quite smart, but that wasn’t quite the truth. His heart simply didn’t have room for anything he perceived as flawed.
One day, Heero left to sleigh on his own without even telling Duo.
In the town square, the boys would often tie their sledges to the other people's carts, ride for a while and slide back down the hill. A great sledge came by. Heero attached his own sledge to it, hoping for a ride. It went faster and faster, and drove out through the town gate. Then the snow began to fall so heavily that the little boy could not see a hand's breadth before him. He tried to release himself from the large sled, but it was no use. The great sledge stopped, and the Snow Queen stepped forward.
"Heero, come and sit with me up front," said she, "If you come with me, I’ll take you to a place where everything is perfect, peaceful and nothing will ever trouble you again.” When he sat next to her, his whole body now felt as cold as his heart.
``Are you still cold,'' she asked, as she kissed him on the forehead. The kiss was colder than ice; it went quite through to his heart, which was already almost a lump of ice; he felt as if he were going to die, but only for a moment; he soon seemed quite well again, and did not notice the cold around him.
The Snow Queen kissed little Heero again, and by this time he had forgotten Duo, and everyone else at home. Heero looked at her, and thought her beautiful, he could not imagine a more lovely and intelligent face. With that, they both disappeared into the snow.
Heero didn’t return that day or the next day or the next. A month went by. Duo dressed all in black and decided to track him down. All he knew was that Heero had been seen taken by an elegant lady with a white sleigh. His friends scolded him, telling him that he was stupid for looking for someone who was either dead or obviously didn’t care a fig about him. Duo merely smiled and left with just a knapsack and a scythe as he was too poor to own a sword. He wandered far and wide, but couldn’t find any sign of him. Time passed and he met people who were also affected by the spread of War.
Once, he was wandering along a lonely highway when several bandits accosted him. He fought bravely, but there were over two dozen of them. Then he heard a voice say, “Kisama! How dare you gang up on him!” Duo saw a handsome Chinese lord ride towards him on a magnificent horse, holding a sword.
Together, they fought them off. Then the Chinese boy then got off his horse and said, “I am Wufei Chang. What are you doing walking by yourself?” Happy to have someone to talk to, Duo told him the whole story of his life and adventures, and asked him if he had seen Heero.
"I may have heard of him."
"No! Do you think you have?" cried Duo. He kissed Wufei on the cheek, and hugged him almost to death with joy.
"Stop! You're squeezing the hell out of me." screamed Wufei. "It may be Heero; but he has certainly forgotten you by this time for the prince."
"Prince?" asked Duo. Oh, his heart sank when he heard that.
"In this kingdom, there is a prince named Quatre who decided to marry. He assembled all his sisters together and when they heard of his intentions they were very much pleased. `We are so glad to hear it,' said they, `we were talking about it ourselves the other day.'" said Wufei, "My sweetheart is a lady of that court and wrote me about all this. I am going there to marry her."
"The announcement was published immediately. They gave notice that every young man who was handsome was free to visit the castle and speak with the prince," said Wufei. "The people came in crowds, but no one succeeded either on the first or second day to win his affections. It was on the third day, there came a thin boy without horses or carriage; he had strange hair and his clothes were very poor."
"That was Heero!" said Duo, then he frowned. “Well, I wouldn’t call his hair strange, but he doesn’t have any money. Maybe it got messed up. I wondered what happened to the woman with the sleigh . . .”
“Ahem!” said Wufei. Duo quieted down. "He didn’t say much, but said he had not come to woo the prince, but to tell him that he wanted to see the person reputed to be so kind and wise."
“The prince asked his name. The man said that he had none, so he could call him Nanashi. Quatre shook his head and said, ‘You must have a proper name so you should be called Trowa.’ Then the prince proposed and the stranger accepted."
"Will you take me to the palace? Heero may be suffering from amnesia. Maybe he fell off the sleigh and has been wandering around ever since. Seeing my face may be just what he needs to remember everyone at home." The thought of that cheered him immensely.
"Come with me," said Wufei. "My fiancee Meiran knows a little back-staircase that leads to the sleeping apartments, and she knows where to find the key."
Once all the lights in the palace were out, he led Duo to the back door, which stood ajar.
Each hall appeared more splendid than the last, it was enough to bewilder any one. At length they reached a bedroom. There was a king sized bed. The couple was huddled in the middle with the blankets covering their heads. Duo saw a spike of hair in the darkness. Oh, that must be Heero!
"Heero! Wake up! It’s Duo. I’ve been looking all over for you. Why did you run off like that, anyway? I’m so happy to see you!”
Wufei smacked himself on the head for helping such a loudmouth.
The blankets went down and two very green eyes looked up at him. It wasn’t Heero at all. It was a very handsome man, well, what could be seen of his face was handsome, but he looked nothing like Heero.
The blonde prince awoke and turned on the lamp. Quatre turned to his husband and said, "Trowa, who is that?"
Trowa merely shook his head. Duo told them his story, and all that Wufei had done to help him.
"You poor child," said the princes. "Of course, we’ll help you." They got one of the attendants to show Duo to a bedroom and Wufei to another bedroom.
The following day Duo was dressed from head to foot in silk and velvet, and they invited him to stay at the palace for a few days for Wufei’s wedding. But he only asked for a pair of boots, and a horse, so that he might go into the wide world to look for Heero. He received everything he asked for. The princes themselves wished him success. "And when you find him, you must come back for tea and crumpets, and tell us how you found him!" said Quatre.
Duo rode through a thick forest, where he attracted the eyes of Queen of the robbers. With her band of brigands, she stopped him.
“You shall play with me,'' said Hilde, the little robber queen; ``and sleep with me in my bed.''
She forced him to ride besides her into the depths of the forest. They stopped in the courtyard of a robber's castle.
After she had given him something to eat and drink, she showed him her little menagerie of pets. She had quite a few like dogs, cats, and wood pigeons. Then she walked off into the stables and came back with a rather special pet. “Here is `Shinigami,' I named him after the god of Death. Don’t you think that’s clever?" It was a reindeer with a copper ring around its neck. She sat on her bed nearby and said, “I suppose you don’t have such a fine zoo at your palace.”
“Oh, I’m not a prince.” He told his story of woe. Luckily, by this time, his story was so long that Hilde fell fast asleep and snoring without molesting him in any way.
Then the wood pigeons said, ``Coo, coo; we have seen Heero. He sat in the carriage of the Snow Queen, which drove through the wood while we were lying in our nest. Coo, coo.''
"What?" cried Duo. "Where was the Snow Queen going? Do you know anything about it?"
"She was most likely traveling to Finland, where there is always snow and ice. Ask the reindeer that is fastened up there with a rope.''
"Yes, there is always snow and ice,'' said the reindeer, "The Snow Queen has her castle there. I could take you to someone who knows the way."
In the morning Duo told Hilde all that the wood-pigeons had said.
“Do you know where Finland is?'' she asked Shinigami the reindeer.
“I was born and brought up there, and used to run about the snow-covered plains.''
Hilde sighed. While she liked him very much, Hilde decided to let Duo go. She turned to the reindeer, and said, “you must make good use of your legs, and carry him to the castle of the Snow Queen. You have heard what he told me, for he spoke loud enough, and you were listening." Hilde helped Duo unto his back. "Now run, but mind you take good care of him."
Duo waved at Hilde, and said, “Good luck and goodbye,'' and away flew Shinigami, over stumps and stones, through the great forest, over marshes and plains, as quickly as he could.
And at length they reached Finland, and knocked on the door of Sally Po’s hut. Once inside, Shinigami explained what was going on and then said, “You are so clever. Can’t you give him something that will make him as strong as twelve men, to overcome the Snow Queen?''
"The Power of twelve men!" she said; "that would be of very little use." She went to a shelf and took down and unrolled a large skin, on which were inscribed wonderful characters, and she read till the perspiration ran down from her forehead. But Shinigami begged so hard for Duo, and Duo looked at Sally with such beseeching eyes, that her own eyes began to twinkle. She drew the reindeer into a corner, and said to him, “Heero is with the Snow Queen. He believes it is the finest place in the world; but this is because he has a piece of broken glass in his heart, and a little piece of glass in his eye. These must be taken out, or he will never be a human being again, and the Snow Queen will retain her power over him.''
"But can you not give Duo something to help him to conquer this power?"
"I can give him no greater power than he has already," said the woman; "Don't you see how strong that is? He cannot receive any power from me greater than he now has, which consists of his own warmth and sweetness. If he can’t help Heero, nobody can. Two miles to the northeast, the Snow Queen's estate begins; you can carry him so far, the rest is up to him.''
With that, Shinigami took Duo to the edge of the Snow Queen’s estate. The reindeer told him that, he could not go any further, but would wait for his return.
There stood poor Duo in the midst of cold, dreary, ice-bound Finland.
The palace had more than a hundred rooms in it, sterile and cold. The largest of them extended for several miles; it was the Snow Queen’s throne room. In the midst of its empty, endless hall of snow was a frozen lake with a thousand pieces of ice, flat and brilliant. Servants were seen, maintaining the beautiful façade that was her kingdom. It was reminded one of Cinderella’s shoe, all beautiful and made of glass. But in the end, wasn’t it a brittle illusion?
Heero was quite blue with cold, but he did not feel it for his heart was already a lump of ice. He dragged some sharp, flat pieces of ice, and placed them together in all kinds of positions, as if he wished to make something out of them. The Snow Queen had said to him, “There are three words I want you to form. If you form them by the time I come back, I will give you the whole world and you will become master of everything I own. Now I must meet with many heads of state.”
And away flew the Snow Queen, leaving Heero alone in the great hall which was so many miles in length; so he sat and looked at his pieces of ice, and was thinking so deeply, and sat so still, that any one might have supposed he was frozen. He knew which three words she wanted him to form, but even though he was frozen inside and out, he felt that those words were meant for someone else but couldn’t remember whom.
Just at this moment it happened that Duo came through the great door of the castle. He caught sight of Heero; he flew to him and threw his arms round his neck, and held him fast, while he exclaimed, ``Heero, I have found you at last."
But he was quite still, stiff and cold. It seemed as if there was no breath in his body so far gone was he. “Heero?” whispered Duo. He’s so cold, he thought. Is it too late? Then Duo began telling him all the troubles he had gone to find him and what he had seen during his troubles. Then he told him that even though the world was not perfect, there was still something worthwhile about it; that this cold, empty illusion created by the Snow Queen was just a dream of hers that would melt at the slightest heat of reality. Duo pounded Heero on the back while holding him out of sheer frustration. Then Duo wept hot tears, which fell on Heero’s breast, and penetrated into his heart, and thawed the lump of ice, and washed away the little piece of glass.
Then Duo kissed him as he had always longed to even when they were children. A tear came from Heero’s eye and the splinter of glass swam out. Then he recognized Duo, and said, “Duo, Duo, where have you been all this time, and where have I been?'' And he looked all around him, and said, ``How terrible and barren this all is.'' They kissed and held each other for so long that Heero became once again the sweet person he had been before this whole misadventure began.
“Let’s leave here,” said Duo.
“There’s just one thing I have to do,” said Heero.
The Snow Queen might come home now when she pleased, for there stood his certainty of freedom, written in shining letters of ice, three words, “Omae o Korosu.”
Then they took each other by the hand, and went away from the great palace of ice. As it had taken a long time for them to find each other, they had both changed and grown up as had their feelings towards each other. So, Heero and Duo then moved into their own little apartment in the Terra Plazas and lived together until the real Shinigami came to take them away to an even better place.
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