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The Ice Queen
They called her The Ice Queen. Aciana the Ice Queen.
She certainly fit the role. They talked about her in the kitchens; the kitchen hands and the red-faced cook gesturing wildly. They talked about her when she was not in the room, the maids whispering and giggling behind their hands. They talked about her in the village, while doing their daily chores.
She seemed not to notice.
While she was growing up, everybody had agreed with the idea that she would be queen one day.
'She'll be a fine ruler,' her father, the King, had firmly decided.
'She'll be so beautiful,' her mother, the Queen, had cooed.
By the time she had reached eighteen, she had blossomed into one of the most beautiful women in the land. Her long gleaming ebony hair, curling down her back along with her frosty gray eyes, and her ashen complexion added to her hidden and secretive demeanor.
She liked to wear long, silver gowns that complimented her beauty. She would wander the castle, a pale shadow. In winter, when the snow was falling in blizzards outside and the temperature was below freezing, she would bathe in ice water to keep her skin as cold and marble as a statue.
Her parents had unanimously decided to make her Queen when she was eighteen. They would step down from the throne and she would step up. They were getting old, and it was time to retire.
'Shouldn't I get married first?' She had asked them, sitting at the banquet table. 'I can have my pick out of many men.'
The Queen turned to her. 'Only if you want to, my dear. This land doth not require both a Queen and a King.'
After hearing the news, many eligible men - many from foreign lands - came to see Aciana, to propose their hand. She rejected them all. They all bored her.
When the bachelors were alone, they would converse about her.
“What a shame her beauty will go to waste, for she is reluctant to pick a king.” One would say.
“What does she look for? We are all handsome, and we shall all be good husbands and Kings.”
After one month, she grew tired of the proposals, and was made Queen in an elaborate ceremony.
The lavish crown was put upon her head, gleaming amongst the raven curls. She was given a scepter, and complete power over the land.
The years went by and while she never lost her beauty, she lost shreds of her humanity. Her parents passed away with old age, so she had nobody to go to for advice. Her sisters left the castle one by one, married off. Soon she was left all alone, surrounded by servants.
That's when the whispers started. That she didn't seem to care for the people, that she had a heart made of ice.
Her heart wasn't ice, yet. She kept up a cold façade, the noble Queen without compassion. She knew what they said. The Servants and the peasants, the workers and the maids. But she hid her heart deep inside of herself, hoping one day for somebody that she could give it away to. But until then, she ruled over her kingdom, alone.
Fate smiled on her. It took pity on her loneliness and that's when she met him, her new counselor. They struck up an instant friendship.
He gave her advice, she took it. It was only when summer had finished, and autumn fell down like a draping curtain over the castle that Aciana realized that she was in love with him. In love with Draith, the Queen's counselor, the only real friend she had.
Being the Queen, she had to keep up a front, and so she did. It was unacceptable for the Queen to marry anybody that was not of royal blood.
Her pale skin turned even whiter as winter approached. But her cheeks always had a rosy tint when Draith was nearby. Soon he noticed this.
'Why are you blushing?' He asked her one-day after the afternoon meal. 'Your marble skin has turned pink.'
It was impossible to lie to him. So she just bowed her head.
'It's unacceptable for me to feel this way about you,' she told him in a frosty voice that sounded to him like a thousand snowflakes falling, and hurried away, the fabric of her silver gown swishing as her feet made hurried footsteps. She made her way through the castle, stopping at the bottom of a staircase, waiting.
He caught up to her. They were in a deserted part of the castle now, the ruined steps leading up to one of the towers.
'No it isn't!' He said. He then looked at her almost tenderly, touching her cold cheek with one long finger. 'Because I feel the same way.' He leaned down to kiss her, a tender kiss that, just for a moment ignited a warm star in the ice Queen’s slowly melting heart.
Thus began their relationship. Every spare moment they had alone they would spend together, as couples can tend to do. Aciana's heart had been found, and now it glowed the way only love can do so.
The whispers about The Ice Queen continued, but she was too happy to care. Of course, nobody knew about her and Draith. If anybody did, that could mean death.
But in the harshest months of winter, when all the castle folks were boarded inside, having to make do with all they had, somebody accused Draith of an affair with the Queen.
How they could come to that conclusion, she didn't know. They were especially careful about being watched. But yet, somebody had found out. She questioned everyone, yet everyone gave no hint as to the culprit that ruined her life.
And the penalty to the man in question was death.
What was she to do?
She loved him.
But she was the Queen.
Draith was her only solace.
But her obligation was to her people. As a whole, one person didn't matter.
Sitting on her throne, crown on her head and scepter in her hand, Aciana did what she had to do.
Weeping on the inside, not bearing to look into his eyes, she ordered him to death. To do otherwise was to prove that she was in the wrong, and her people couldn't trust her.
Her obligation was to her people. Her sacrifice was for the people.
That had been drilled into her, ever since it was declared that she was to be Queen one day. How could she go against something that everybody expected of her?
Draith was burned on the stake in the castle courtyard, the village gathered around to watch. The whisperers continued on, talking of her cruelness to kill an innocent villager, knowing full well they were the one that caused it.
Aciana watched coldly, the perfect image of a cruel Queen, yet behind her silver eyes, the villagers saw something, something so unimaginable, they could not bear to believe it. They saw hurt. Their Queen was hurting. Yet they continued to whisper.
Aciana sat, watching, slowly dying of a broken heart. But she refused to show it. She had to stay strong for her people.
The last fragments of her glowing heart had frozen forevermore, turning into ice like the rest of her was.
She now truly was The Ice Queen.