“Now she’s waiting for a new love,
and she hopes he’ll be here soon…
She says she’s got no time for winter nights,
she doesn’t notice as the days grow darker,
she can’t remember getting any older”
“Icehouse” by Icehouse
“He’s coming for you.” Winter breathed cool breath against her ear. “Shall I spare this one?”
“If he cannot defeat you, then he has not come for me.” She watched the young knight in his shining armor on his flashy steed pick his way down the lane, crowded with the bleaching bones of other young knights inside once shining armor rusting over the skeletal remains of their flashy steeds.
“If you want to be free of me, say the word and I will spare this one.” His voice turned the hair on the back of her neck stiff with frost.
“If he cannot defeat you, he is not the one,” she said, her voice flat with the weight of a thousand such deaths.
“You called me,” he reminded her, icy fingers bringing gooseflesh to skin long used to winter’s chill.
“I did not.” He heard the tiniest of catches in her voice the only emotion she’d displayed in centuries.
“You did, your longing for a deathless love, and I came.”
“You were not what I wanted.” Her voice flat once more, she watched the young knight rein in his mount. He pulled off his helm. The sun shone on his fire red hair.
“Hair like flames.” Winter spoke in one ear, before moving to the other. “An omen perhaps.”
“I did not call you,” she repeated, her voice barely a whisper.
“Or come eagerly to me once I arrived, I suppose.” Icy lips brushed her bare shoulders. She closed her eyes, remembering when she could still feel the sting of him against her flesh. “I remember you, peering out from between the trees, taking my hand…”
“I didn’t know you would… I would become…” She pulled slightly forward, reaching for the doors to the balcony.
“You hate me for giving you what you asked for? I did not make you what you are. I’ve told you before, you are free to leave at any time. I will even leave one of these young fools alive to take care of you. I would see you happy.” His hands tightened briefly on her arms. “Do you think this one could make you happy?”
She bit her lip, and looked down at the door handles.
“You will not spare him, then?” Winter asked. She stepped up to the doors and grasped the handles. “Very well.”
She opened the doors and stepped on to the balcony, knowing that in the bare second before the sun melted the frost on her skin, hair, and gown that she glittered like diamonds come to life. One would-be suitor had told her so, before Winter dispatched him, his blood warming the soles of her feet briefly before freezing like everything else inside the Icehouse. The young knight stared at her, and she felt the warmth of it even from this distance. She closed her eyes, savoring the heat of his gaze.
Below her the gates creaked open, and a howling wind burst forth, bearing a torrent of snow and ice into the bright spring day. She opened her eyes. Startled, the young knight jammed the helm back on his head, unshipped his lance, and spurred his flashy steed forward. Winter’s mount the grey of deep ice, frost rimed hooves striking frozen earth from the ground, surged forward like a blizzard wind, and in seconds, it was done. The flashy steed lay dying, its whickering growing weaker as it bled to death from the wounds inflicted by Winter’s mount. Its master lay dead, his head separated from his body. Winter in his icy armor dismounted and stooped to lift the head to her by its fiery hair. The sun shone off frost on Winter’s face that its heat couldn’t touch. She stared at him for a long moment, the young knight forgotten.
“The one who truly loves me will not be defeated.” She turned to go back into the Icehouse.
“No, I won’t.” Winter tossed the head back to join the rest of the remains near the dying horse, and led his mount back inside the icy gates.