I had come here to rescue my friend, the boy I’d been in love with since childhood. He sat, for right now, on a frozen pedestal to the side of the frozen throne.
It was not a queen who held him captive however, but a king. One whose dark eyes stayed on my face as I stared up at him. One whose white cloak spread out around him, fading into the snow under his throne. One whose crown was made of icicles.
“Welcome,” the king said. “You are Gerda,” he said.
“I am,” I replied. “And I’ve come to rescue Kai.”
“As I thought you would.”
He came down the stairs towards me. Each step left a pattern of frost on the stone flooring. I backed up a little as the cold aura around him enveloped me.
“What do you mean?”
“I watched you, my dear,” he said. “As a child. You played in the window garden with your friend, and you loved deeply and warmly. I watched when he rejected you as well. And when he did, I came and took him away. I’d only intended to do so for a little while, to show him what was in front of him and what he was missing. I thought it would make you happy, for him to realize how wonderful you truly are. Alas.”
The king sighed, stopping not more than an arm’s length from me. My breath had begun to show in the chill surrounding us both.
“Alas?” I asked and he smiled. Though not cruel or unkind, there was no warmth in his smile.
“Alas, the townsfolk thought him dead, and you surprised me then. You went searching for him and as you did, I knew I had been wrong. I’d thought myself content merely watching you. As you went through the trials and continued searching for him, I came to realize I would not be content without you.”
“Me,” I said. “I’m just a simple town girl.”
“One that sees beauty in all that surrounds her,” the king said and held out his hand. “A deal then. You may leave, or you may stay. If you choose to leave, I will gift you with the power of ice and snow as well. You may use that to make a kingdom of your own. And if you stay I will return Kai home, unharmed and free to do as he pleases. You will instead, remain in his place and by my side.”
“I came here to rescue Kai,” I said quietly. “You expect me to choose his life or my own power?”
The king smiled again. “No,” he said. “So take my hand and be my queen.”
By A.J. Helms