Once upon a time, Prince Flor fell in love with Princess Snow.
One day, they met in his room, with a lotus bed topped with a leafy canopy, sitting quietly in a forest where his powers ensured that the flowers always bloomed and the leaves always changed colour.
“You bring out in me a softness, my dear prince,” said the golden-haired princess with eyes the color of the setting sky. “But most importantly, you love me as I am.”
“And you, my dear princess, bring me strength, inspire in me a power I never had,” replied the blue-skinned prince. He wrapped his lanky arm around his princess. “But yes, I love that you love me the way I am. Would you please marry me?”
“Yes,” replied the princess. “Promise me we’ll never change, and I’m yours forever.”
As was custom, the two went to the court of the king and queen of love to be married in the presence of all other kings and queens in the land, and their families. There’s had always been a world of precarious balance, and all the rulers needed to approve of all unions to ensure the balance would never disturbed.
The red-haired king and queen of love had the final vote, though, and after all the monarchs had risen in their seats to express their approval. They exchanged a look of concern. “Are you sure?” asked the queen. “You belong to different world, and this marriage won’t be easy.”
The princess took a long look at her prince and replied, “But we know each other now, and we love each other the way we are. Not to mention, we both deserve someone who will be our companion till the end of time, because look at us! Look at what we’ve made of ourselves!”
The king nodded. “Yes. It appears the two of you will be successful contributors to the natural order.
The king and queen turned to each other, and deliberated in whispers for a few minutes. Then, they finally faced their court and said, “Fine. We bless your union. May you flourish together on your destined path.”
Prince Flor and Princess Snow retreated to their palace on the foothills, somewhere between the icy chill of the higher peaks and the lush greens of the fertile plains. They worked all day, helping their parents oversee the realms below. But things changed one day, when Princess Flor came to their living room and looked out of their window to see their flowers lacking in colour. She found her prince in his study, and asked, “The roses don’t look very red.”
He smiled, but the corners of his mouth wouldn’t rise high enough. “Mankind can be rough on my family.”
“I’ve heard,” said Princess Snow. “But what can I say, you just have to stand strong.”
Prince Flor furrowed his brow. “Believe me, I am trying.”
“If you want, I could freeze half the land.” The princess shrugged.
“That’s not what I want. I want mankind to flourish and appreciate my family’s work.”
“Well, a little bit of chill never hurt anyone.”
Prince Flor didn’t say anything, but a short wall came up between them, growing taller by the day. It wasn’t as if they were changing. They were merely becoming more of who they were.
Prince Flor’s instinct was to always nurture, and he went to dozens of meetings with the prince of humanity to reach a solution to his problems. But both princes were losing, but at the same time didn’t want to punish the lower realm for their hurt. It just wasn’t in their nature.
“You said I brought you strength,” said Princess Snow. Their bedroom was slowly growing colder, a thin sheet of ice spreading through the ceiling. “Sometimes, one nedds the strength to deliever justice. Unfortunately, justice isn’t always sweet for everyone.”
“But I cannot be like you,” replied Prince Flor. “I believe in letting things grow, not thwarting them by force.”
“Well, I believe things need to end in order to begin again. That’s my role. And yes, I use force, but force is necessary.”
Prince Flor got out off their marital bed and started walking away. “I think I’ll sleep on the couch today.”
“You can’t. It’s freezing there. I was lying on it this afternoon and I was angry with you-“
“I’ll bring it back to its natural state,” said Prince Flor. “Because that’s what I do. God! I would love a bit of appreciation around here.”
The strong, icy princess had had enough. The next morning she went to the king and queen of love.
“We need to break up,” she said. “It’s just not working out.”
The queen raised her eyebrows. “You are married. You can’t just break up.”
“But you can reverse the union, annul it!”
“But we won’t. Because there is still love between the two of you. We can feel it in our bones, because that’s what we are good at,” said the kind. He leaned back on his red throne, his face set in lines of determination.
“But we don’t love each other for who we are anymore. We want each other to change. Doesn’t that mean we have failed? Because I know I’m one hell of a woman and I don’t need to tailor myself to the needs of any man.”
The king and queen were speechless for a second and then burst out laughing. The princess through her hands up in the air, exasperated. “Is this a game or something?” she shrieked.
“Young girl, everyone needs to change and that’s how love wins out in the end,” said the queen.
“What?” said the Princess.
The king nodded at his wife. “We don’t mean you need to change your very being. That’s not love. But you must learn to link yourself to your beloved, and feel him in your very heart as if he’s part of you. You don’t have to tailor anything, but you have to be receptive to growth, which in its own way, is change.”
The princess was confused. But she knew she couldn’t change their minds. She went home, unsure of what to do, and found her husband in their garden. Their vegetable patch would soon die off. Princess Snow watched the cabbages growing brown and wrinkled, the spinach in their last stage of life. She looked at Prince Flor. And for the first time, she was defeated. She hadn’t been able to freeze his heart and instead he had melted hers by just standing strong and unmoving, and wasn’t that what she, the heir to all that was chilly and cold, was known for?
She looked up at the sky and lifted her arms in the air, using her powers to freeze the realm in town, channeling her uncle, the king of time, to freeze the heavenly clocks and not just the air. Prince Flor felt the change. He turned around to see his wife working her magic.
“I want to know what you were going through,” said Prince Flor. “I love you as you are, but we will grow together.”
They went to their room and the Prince told her everything. “I just don’t know what to do,” he said.
“I want mankind to grow, but I’m not sure they will be able to once my family loses its powers. I have given a lot to the earth, but what did I get in return? I have been cut and slashed and burnt, and yes, I can take a hit, but now it’s just too much.”
That was when he held out his arm to her, and she saw the lines on it, skin ripped open and then healing but not all the way, flesh that now threatened to burst open. She held his hand and kissed his palms, and a tear slipped from her eyes.
It started with their bedroom. The frost subsided. Then, time started moving again. Slowly, the upper reaches of the heavenly mountains became warmer. Princess Snow couldn’t stop crying.
Her tears had a way of manifesting themselves in the realm below, as the glaciers began to melt. The cities mankind had so painstakingly built, taking from the gifts bestowed by Prince Flor and his friends, started drowning.
Mankind was taken aback. What had they done? What could be done now? They weren’t sure, but it started by planting a tree.
“What did you do?” said Prince Flor. “I feel…warmer.”
“I don’t know,” said Princess Snow. “I just listened to you, and I couldn’t help it.”
Prince Flor sighed. “Thank you for understanding. I have a feeling everything will be fine now.”
“Indeed,” said the king of love, miles away from the couple but still experiencing their reconnection, still on his throne with a glass of wine. He raised his glass in a toast, and said, “To the power of love.”
His wife nodded once and raised her glass to his. “And to the power of change. May they always coexist for the sake of every realm in the universe.”