The Snow Queen
FIRST STORY: Which treats of a fallen angel and a broken mirror
In the very beginning there was an angel. He was clever and beautiful, and when the Heavenly Host sang the praises of their father, his voice sounded the clearest because he loved his father best of all. He was the brightest angel in all the heavens, and he thought himself the most beloved. But one day his father showed him a new development which had taken place on Earth. It was a creature which had evolved from the other beasts, but it walked on two legs and had a spark of the divine fire in its small brain. However it was still, like the other beasts, violent and stupid and greedy. The father commanded the angel to love and serve this new beast and help it to better itself, but the angel’s grace revolted at the thought of serving a creature so lowly, and he could not obey. Thus he found himself exiled from Heaven and rejected by his father and siblings, and his name became an unholy one. He took refuge with the demons of Hell and became their master: he was worse than all of them because he had known the bliss of Heaven, and his misery and confusion and wounded pride was fuel for his hatred. The only thing that could bring him any comfort was to inflict pain and evil upon the miserable creatures who had been the cause of his banishment so that they might suffer as he suffered, and so that his father might see what hateful creatures they really were, and the angel would be forgiven.
One day the angel was in a particularly good mood because he had created a mirror which showed everything beautiful to be repulsive, and everything good to be wicked. A lovely landscape was reflected as a sulphurous pit, a handsome young man would see himself deformed. The angel was very proud of his invention and showed it to his children. They were delighted and took turns to play with it, rejoicing in the confusion and horror they spread. However, as they played they flew a little too close to Heaven, and nothing as wicked as the mirror could remain in existence that close to the gates of Paradise. The glass trembled, then it shuddered, then it shattered into a million pieces and was swept away on the wind. The demons returned to their master, fearful of the punishment he would bestow, but the fallen angel only laughed, for he knew at once what trouble the broken mirror would cause.
Some of the larger pieces that fell to Earth were made into window panes, and you can be sure that nothing good was ever seen through them. Some were made into spectacles, and these would soon drive their wearers into madness. Some pieces were melted down and turned into wine glasses which poisoned everyone who drank from them. However, some pieces were so minuscule that they couldn’t be seen, and these were perhaps the most deadly of all. If a piece flew into someone’s eye they would be evermore blind to all that is good, and if a piece hit someone in the heart, that heart would become like a block of ice. These pieces are still flying about today, as we shall see as our story continues.
SECOND STORY: A little boy and a little angel
Once upon a time there was a carpenter called John who married a woman named Mary and had two sons. John and Mary loved each other very much, and the family was poor but happy. One winter’s night they returned home from market, their older son, Dean, running on ahead. Sam, the younger son who was then only two, was carried in his father’s arms.
Dean reached their little cottage well before the rest of his family, and was waiting impatiently by the front door when he noticed a small, black, shivering thing huddled by a nearby tree. Dean, being of a curious nature, went to investigate what it might be, and as he got closer he saw that it was a fledgling angel, no bigger than himself, his fluffy black wings wrapped around his body for warmth.
“Who are you?” Dean asked. “And what are you doing here?”
The angel looked up at him with sad eyes. “My name is Castiel. I have run away from home because my brothers and sisters were so cruel to me. Angels are not supposed to have black wings. They said I was ugly and they pulled at my feathers and they wouldn’t let me sing with them. I ran away, but now I am lost and I don’t know where to go.” The little angel began to cry.
“I think your wings are beautiful!” Dean said stoutly. “Don’t be sad.”
The rest of the family arrived home then, and Mary asked Dean who his new friend was.
“His name is Castiel,” Dean replied. “He’s an angel and he ran away because they were mean to him at home but now he’s lost. Can he stay with us?” He looked up at his parents hopefully. “Can I keep him?”
John and Mary looked at each other and smiled. They were not a wealthy family and could ill afford another mouth to feed, but they had kind hearts and couldn’t bear the thought of leaving the little angel out in the snow.
“Of course,” Mary said. “But there isn’t much room, so he will have to sleep in your bed, Dean.”
The angel was brought inside and warmed by the fire as Mary cleaned and groomed him. That night Castiel and Dean slept with their arms around each other, the little boy’s fingers entwined in the feathers of the angel’s wing.
As it happened, John and Mary had no need to worry about a decline in their store cupboard. The angel did not need food to survive, and aside from partaking of a little of what Dean offered him out of curiosity, he didn’t eat anything at all. Castiel was quiet and helpful and devoted to his new family, and before long John and Mary considered him one of their own. They also observed that no one in the family had suffered any illness since the angel came to live with them, not even so much as a cold. And there were other changes for the young family. John’s carpentry shop became increasingly successful, and in just a few short years the family was able to sell their little cottage and buy a bigger house in the town. There was no doubt in John and Mary’s minds that it was because of Castiel, and they blessed the day they had invited the angel into their home.
Sam was fond of Castiel from the start, and would follow him around wherever he went. As he grew older, Castiel taught him to read and write, and would tell him stories of Heaven. With Dean, however, the angel shared a more profound bond. The two were rarely out of each other’s sight. Castiel’s quiet wisdom tempered his friend’s impetuousness, while Dean’s humor and adventurous nature made the angel a little less serious.
The first spring in their new house, Castiel planted climbing rosebushes beneath the windows, and the next year he and Dean enjoyed sitting on the window ledge and looking out at the flowers, planning the adventures they would have when they were fully grown.
“The flowers can talk, if you have an ear to listen,” Castiel told his friend. “And each one has a story to tell.”
Dean couldn’t believe it, but he loved to sit and listen to Castiel repeat the roses’ stories. They had their own rooms now, but Dean found that he slept badly without his friend, and would often end up in Castiel’s bed wrapped up in the angel’s wings.
When winter came, the lake froze over and all the children liked to skate on it. Castiel’s adult feathers were growing in and his wings were getting stronger. He still was not able to fly far, but he would flap along a few feet above the ice pulling Sam and Dean behind him in their little sledge.
One day it snowed too heavily for them to go out. The wind made the windowpanes rattle, and snow whirled around the house furiously. That night Castiel lay awake listening to the storm outside. He did not need to sleep, but he usually did so to be companionable to Dean. The weather made him too anxious for rest that night.
He gently rolled Dean away from him and climbed out of the bed. He padded across to the window, his wing tips making a soft shushing sound on the floorboards. Castiel opened one of the shutters and peeped outside. The snow was whirling down from the sky, and Castiel thought that it looked like a swarm of angry white bees. It made him feel afraid. As he watched, one snowflake caught his eye. It was not slave to the wind like the others, but hovered in front of the window, and as Castiel watched it started to grow and distort until it had transformed into a beautiful lady smiling in at him. She was fair and richly dressed in a glittering white gown, but her mouth was cruel and her eyes as white and blank as the snow that had given her form. She held out her hand and beckoned him towards her.
Terrified, Castiel slammed the shutter closed and rushed back to the bed where he dove under the warm covers and huddled close to Dean, trembling from head to toe.
“What’s the matter, Cas?” Dean mumbled sleepily. “What’s wrong?”
But Castiel just buried his face in his friend’s neck and made no reply.
The next morning, his fears abated a little, he told the family what he had seen.
“Oh, it was probably the Snow Queen,” Mary said with a smile, thinking that the angel had only been dreaming. “You should be careful, Castiel, for she loves nothing more than taking children away and keeping them for herself.”
“I’m not afraid of the Snow Queen!” Dean boasted. “If she tries to take Cas away from me, I’ll poke at her with the fire tongs until she’s all melted away, and then we’ll see who’s the tough one!”
Castiel smiled, and had soon forgotten all about the mysterious lady. However, the Snow Queen had not forgotten about him. An angel would be a charming addition to her collection of lost souls, and she was determined to have him. The Snow Queen was not accustomed to disappointment. She called upon the North Wind, and together they formed a plan.
One week after the encounter Dean and Castiel were walking together in the snow, one of Castiel’s wings wrapped around his friend’s shoulders to shield him against the cold. Suddenly, the angel felt a terrible stabbing pain in his heart. He gasped and threw his head back in surprise, but no sooner had he done so than he doubled over in agony, a hand over his left eye. He cried out with pain, falling to his knees.
“Cas!” Dean shouted. “Cas, what is it? What happened? Let me see!”
Little did Dean know, but there was nothing he could do to help the angel, for Castiel had been hit by two tiny pieces of the wicked mirror, thrown at him by the North Wind, one in the eye which blinded him to goodness, and one in the heart turning it to a block of ice.
“Let me see,” Dean repeated, putting an arm around the angel’s shoulder and gently cupping his face to turn it towards him.
“Get off me!” Castiel growled, pushing Dean away from him. “You shouldn’t touch me like that, it isn’t right!” He got to his feet again.
“I’m sorry,” Dean replied, shocked by his friend’s sharp words. “I was just worried about you.”
“I’m fine,” The angel said flatly. “We should go home now; I’m bored of talking.”
Castiel was quiet and unresponsive during dinner, and when Dean tried to follow him into his bedroom, Castiel stopped him. “We’re too old for this now, Dean,” he said. “I don’t want to share a bed with you any more, it’s disgusting.”
Mortified, Dean spent a sleepless night in his own bed.
After that, Castiel didn’t want to spend time with Sam or Dean. He would spend the days walking by himself and often would not return until after dark.
John noticed his eldest son’s despondency and tried to offer him some comfort. “Castiel is an angel,” he reminded Dean. “It may be that he is missing Heaven. I’m sure that if you give him time he’ll be cheerful again.”
Dean didn’t believe it, and shook his head. He knew Castiel better than anyone else. “Something’s wrong with him!” he insisted. “Something’s wrong, and I have to find a way to help him!”
But Castiel did not want Dean’s help. The piece of glass in his left eye meant that whenever he looked at his friend all he could see was that the love they felt for each other was something wicked and shameful, and there was no longer any comfort in it for him. Another week passed and it began to snow again. After everyone had gone to bed, Castiel climbed out of his window and flapped up to the roof where he sat and watched the snow whirl around him. He still thought it was like a swarm of white bees, but it didn’t frighten him any more – it made him feel exhilarated. So it was that the Snow Queen saw him sitting there, and drove down to where he was in her great white sleigh.
She smiled at Castiel sweetly. “Won’t you come with me now?” She asked. “Won’t you come and live with me in my palace so that we might play together every day?”
Castiel was no longer afraid, but he was very cold and he began to shiver.
The Snow Queen smiled again. “Come and sit beside me and get warm.”
Castiel climbed into the sledge and she wrapped him up in her white fur coat. However, this only made Castiel even colder, and for a brief moment he longed for his little bed and for Dean’s arms around his neck.
“Let me kiss you,” the Snow Queen whispered. “Then you’ll be quite warm again.”
She planted a kiss on his cheek, and Castiel felt a chill pass through him that was so intense as to be painful, but in a moment it was gone and he didn’t feel the cold at all. The Snow Queen kissed him again and again, and Castiel forgot all about his bed and his home and his human family.
“And now no more kisses,” the Snow Queen laughed, “or I shall kiss you quite to death!”
With a crack of her whip they were off at a lightning pace, racing through the snow and the frost and the biting wind until they were far, far away from Castiel’s home. The next night Castiel slept in a palace made of ice, at the feet of the Snow Queen.
THIRD STORY: Concerning a flower garden and the young woman who understood witchcraft
Nothing could console Dean when he discovered that Castiel was gone. John and Mary did their best to comfort him, telling him that the pull of Heaven must have grown too strong and Castiel may have decided to go back, but they secretly believed that the angel would not have done such a thing without at least saying goodbye. They asked everyone they knew, but no one had seen or heard from Castiel.
The snow melted away, and still Dean sat by the window, watching for his friend.
“Castiel doesn’t love me anymore,” he said one day. “That’s why he left.”
“That’s not true,” Sam replied. “You know that something was wrong with him. Castiel would never just leave us.”
“Castiel is dead, and he’s gone forever,” Dean said a couple of days later.
“I don’t believe it,” Sam replied. “Something bad happened, but he’s not dead. You’d know it if he was.”
Dean looked at his brother and knew that what he said was true. Something bad had happened to Castiel, and he had been taken away. He was out there somewhere, Dean could feel it, and he had to help him.
Very early one morning, when tiny green leaves were beginning to unfurl on the rosebushes Castiel had planted, Dean took a small knapsack and set off, leaving a note for his family to tell them where he was gone. He walked until the sun was high in the sky, and then he reached a river where he sat down to rest his feet.
“Have you seen my Castiel?” he asked the river. “He’s an angel and he’s beautiful and he has jet black wings. Were you the one who took him away?”
Dean thought the river spoke to him in a laughing, bubbling voice, and he leaned closer so that he might hear better. “Have you seen him?” he asked again.
Dean slipped and fell with a splash into the water, and the river carried him away with a laugh. Dean tried to swim to the shore but the current was too strong, and he was carried onwards, onwards, onwards, until at last a rope was thrown to him and a voice called out to him to grab hold of it. He did so, and was pulled to the banks of the river where he was helped ashore by a pretty lady with dark hair and a bright smile.
“Have you seen my Castiel?” Dean asked as soon as he’d caught his breath. “He’s an angel and he’s beautiful and he has jet black wings. Did he pass by here?”
“I haven’t seen him,” the lady replied. “Why don’t you come to my house to rest yourself and have something to eat before you continue your journey? My name is Lisa and my cottage is very near here.”
Dean was very tired and hungry, so he readily agreed.
Dean told Lisa all about Castiel, and the games they played and the conversations they had beneath the roses. He said how much he loved the angel and how he must get him back again. As he spoke, she felt a stab of regret in her heart for she wished he felt that love for her. It just so happened that Lisa knew a little of witchcraft. She was not a wicked witch, but she had been lonely and Dean was young and handsome, so even though he did not belong to her she decided to try and keep him for herself.
At the back of Lisa’s cottage was a beautiful enchanted garden filled with flowers. However, when she saw the roses that grew there she knew they would remind Dean of his angel, so when he was drinking the tea she gave him she whispered a spell that sent the roses back underground, deep, deep down until they were quite hidden. Then she gave Dean a slice of an apple pie she had made, and as he ate it he forgot all about his quest, and Castiel, and even his own family back at home. When the young witch asked if he would like another slice, Dean smiled contentedly and said that he would.
So many days passed, and Dean was quite happy living in Lisa’s little cottage. He was safe and warm and comfortable, and the young witch was pleasant to be around. His only anxiety came from the feeling he had that there was something he had forgotten to do, but trying to remember it was like trying to grab hold of morning mist.
Dean’s favorite thing was to sit outside in the garden amongst all the beautiful flowers. “Every flower has a story to tell,” he said to them. “I think someone told me that once. Or maybe I dreamed it.” He looked around at all the flowers, and he couldn’t help feeling that there was one missing, although he couldn’t say what it was.
“Do you have a story to tell?” Dean asked the cornflowers.
“Yes,” they replied. “We have a story about a girl who falls in love with a statue and gives up her life because she would rather be crushed to death in his embrace than live the rest of her life without it. But that’s not the story for you. You should ask the tigerlilies.”
“Do you have a story to tell?” Dean asked the tigerlilies.
“Yes,” they sang. “Ours is the story of a proud king who learns how to become invisible. He overhears all the disagreeable things his subjects say about him in his absence and plans to have every dissenter executed, until he realizes that if he did that there would be no one left in his kingdom to serve him. But that’s not the story for you. You should ask the freesias.”
“Do you have a story to tell?” Dean asked the freesias.
“Ours is a beautiful story,” they whispered. “It’s of a boy who finds a magic carpet that can travel through time. But that’s not the story for you. Your story can only be told by the roses.”
“Roses?” Dean asked. “Roses! Oh, where are the roses?”
The roses, deep under the ground, awoke when they heard their names being called and they struggled and stretched and made their way back to the surface. In a few short minutes there stood a rosebush covered in beautiful red blooms.
The sight of it made something in Dean’s mind stir. “Do you have a story to tell me?” he breathed.
The roses nodded their heads. “Our story is about a boy and an angel who loved each other very much. They played together and talked together, and every night they slept in each other’s arms. But one day the angel was hurt very badly by a wicked enchantment which took all the joy from him, and then the Snow Queen came and took him away to her palace and—”
“Castiel!” Dean cried, jumping to his feet. “Oh, I’ve wasted so much time! How could I have forgotten him? So the Snow Queen did take him after all. He isn’t dead, is he, roses?”
They shook their heads. “No, we’ve been under the ground where the dead are, and we didn’t see him there. Castiel is alive.”
Dean thanked them and set out at once away from Lisa’s cottage, more determined than ever to find Castiel. He knew now that the angel had been taken, and that his captor was the Snow Queen.
When the pretty witch learned that Dean was gone she was sad, but she knew that she should not have tried to take something that wasn’t rightfully hers. She continued to tend her garden and bake her pies, hoping that one day another young man would come by and would choose to stay without the inducement of magic.
FOURTH STORY: The angel prince and the angel princess
Dean continued on his journey, walking all through the day until he was quite exhausted. He stopped to rest just outside a large town, thinking he might be able to find a place there to stay for the night, and that there might be someone there who had seen Castiel or knew where Dean might find the palace of the Snow Queen.
As he sat and rested his feet, a raven landed on a nearby rock and bowed to Dean. “How do you do?” it said. “I know everyone and everything around here but I’ve not seen you before. What are you seeking, stranger?”
“My name is Dean,” Dean replied. “I’m looking for my friend Castiel. I think he was taken by the Snow Queen. He’s an angel and he’s beautiful and he had jet black wings. Have you seen him?”
The raven cocked its head to one side. “An angel, you say? Oh yes, an angel came here not too long ago, but he wasn’t with the Snow Queen.”
Dean’s heart leaped. “He must have escaped from her! Or maybe the roses were mistaken and she didn’t take him after all. Is he still here? I have to see him and fetch him home again!”
“Oh, he’s still here,” the raven said. “But I don’t think he’ll be leaving with you – the young princess has won his heart and has driven thoughts of anyone else from his mind.”
Dean felt himself grow cold at these words. “The princess?” he whispered.
“Oh yes. I’ll tell you the story if you like, for it’s a good one. Our kingdom is ruled over by a wise and beautiful princess. She’s an angel as well, and she came to Earth many years ago so that she might study and further improve her mind. She is a just ruler, and beloved by all her subjects. She had many suitors, but none of them could keep her interest – rich clothes and handsome faces were not enough for her. So she published a decree stating that any man who could converse with her for an hour and keep her amused would be her husband. Princes and dukes and earls came from all across the world, but none passed the test until one day a blue-eyed angel came to the palace and requested an audience. He and our princess talked for the rest of the day, for he was very clever and could converse on many subjects.”
“That must be Castiel,” Dean interrupted, his heart sinking. “He’s the cleverest person I know.”
“They were married the next day,” the raven continued. “I wasn’t at the wedding but I’ve been told that they were a lovely sight, all dressed in gold with their beautiful wings shining in the sunlight.”
“Do you think I could go and see him?” Dean asked. “I just want to see him one last time, to say goodbye.”
The raven eyed him dubiously. “They’ll never let you into the palace looking like that! Luckily, I know of a back entrance, and I can tell you the way to the royal bedchambers, for my sweetheart is one of the court ravens and knows the palace like the back of her wing. You’ll find the prince there.”
Dean thanked the bird, and they set off towards the palace. Dean’s heart was heavy. He was glad that Castiel was safe, but it grieved him that the angel had found happiness with someone else. He told himself that Castiel was an angel and deserved better than someone like Dean. Castiel deserved an angel princess who was clever and pretty and good. Dean would bid him farewell, then go home and do his best to bury the love he had for the angel.
The raven showed Dean into the palace, and he made his way through passages and up staircases, careful to avoid the guards, until he reached the bedchamber of the prince and princess. He slipped inside and tiptoed towards the nest-shaped bed where he could dimly make out two sleeping figures. It was too dark to see them clearly, so Dean lit a candle that was beside the bed.
He saw the princess first. She really was beautiful, with delicate features and dark red hair, her head resting on her auburn wings. Dean tried not to be jealous. Her arm was around the waist of her husband, whose head was turned away.
Dean raised the candle a little higher. “Cas?”
The prince turned over and opened his eyes, and Dean saw with a mixture of relief and embarrassment that it wasn’t Castiel. The angel’s eyes were blue, but he was fairer than Castiel and his wings were tawny gold.
“Who are you?” the prince demanded. “What are you doing in our bedroom?”
The princess awoke too, and sat up in surprise.
“Please!” Dean cried. “I’m sorry, but I thought you might be my friend. I only wanted to see—”
“This is an outrage!” the prince shouted. “We’ll have you put in the dungeons for this.”
“Wait!” the princess said. “Wait. Let us hear what the young man has to say before we pass judgement. Sit down, stranger, and tell us what has brought you here.”
Relieved, Dean told the two angels about Castiel and the change that had come over him before he disappeared, all Dean had done to recover him, and what the roses had said about the Snow Queen. The young couple were clearly moved by his tale, and listened to him attentively.
“Have you heard what might have happened to him?” Dean asked. “He’s an angel and he’s beautiful and he has jet black wings. I have to find him and bring him home again.”
The prince and princess shared a look.
“Angels aren’t supposed to have black wings,” the prince said. “Your Castiel must have been made wrong.”
“He wasn’t made wrong!” Dean replied hotly. “His wings are the best I’ve ever seen.”
The princess smiled. “I’m sorry, Dean; please forgive our rudeness. I am Princess Anna and this is my husband, Prince Michael. We haven’t heard of your friend, but we will do everything in our power to help you on your quest. Stay with us for a few days and rest yourself, then we can provide you with a horse and new clothes.”
“I have heard of this Snow Queen,” Prince Michael mused. “I heard that she is a terrible demon, a collector of innocent souls. Her palace is far away to the North, where it is winter all year round. No one has ever escaped from her clutches.”
“Castiel’s still alive,” Dean insisted. “I know he is. And I’m going to get him back.”
“If he’s an angel,” Princess Anna said, “his grace may prevent her from destroying him, but she could be using him in other ways. Dean, even if you do find him, he may not be the same.”
“I’ll get him back,” Dean told her. “I have to.”
“Very well, then we will do all we can to help you.”
Dean stayed a week in the palace of the angel prince and princess. In that time he was given smart clothes and provisions for his journey to the North, and Anna and Michael sat with him in the library looking over history books and maps, helping Dean plan the rest of his quest to the palace of the Snow Queen.
Dean was provided with a handsome chestnut horse, and after bidding farewell to the prince and princess, he set off.
FIFTH STORY: The little hunter maiden
The first day of the journey passed without incident. It was growing cold and the leaves were starting to turn, so Dean was glad of the warm clothes Michael and Anna had given him. On the second day he began to travel through a forest of tall pine trees. It was dark in the forest, and Dean thought longingly of his home and family. He wished that his brother was with him, but the thought of Castiel gave him courage. Dean could never go back without him.
When Dean was at the heart of the forest he became aware of something watching him. He thought at first that it was only the animals, but then his horse became nervous. Dean sped up, but before he could get very far someone jumped out in front of him, his horse reared up, and Dean was thrown to the forest floor, momentarily stunned.
He came back to his senses a moment later to find that someone was splashing water on his face. He opened his eyes and saw a woman wearing buckskins and holding a large knife kneeling above him.
“He isn’t a demon,” she said.
“Of course I’m not a demon!” Dean replied. “My name is Dean, and I’m looking for my friend Castiel. He’s an angel and he’s beautiful and he had jet black wings. Have you heard anything of him?”
The woman did not pay him any notice. “He might still be a spy,” she said. “Rufus, Caleb, tie him up and we’ll take him home.”
In a few short minutes Dean found himself bound, gagged and slung over the back of a horse, and no matter how hard he struggled he couldn’t free himself.
They rode for about an hour, and stopped outside an inn where Dean was carried inside and thrown down in a corner.
“Jo!” the woman said. “Keep an eye on our new friend.”
A pretty blonde girl wearing britches and a buckskin jacket came over to Dean and sat down opposite him. She was holding a small but vicious-looking knife which she twirled in her fingers, and Dean didn’t think he would win her trust easily. His abductors were all gathered around a large table now, eating the meat stew the older woman handed out to them. They all looked rough and used to a hard life, but they talked amongst each other cheerfully and Dean didn’t take them for thieves.
“Are you some kind of prince?” Jo asked with a wrinkle of her nose. “You’re certainly dressed like one.”
Dean scowled at her and shook his head.
Jo looked him over. “Well... you have workman’s hands and you are tanned from the sun. And you were traveling alone which no prince would ever do. How did you come to be here?” She reached out and removed Dean’s gag, but she didn’t untie his hands and feet.
Dean told her about Castiel and everything he had done to rescue him, and she nodded thoughtfully.
“Who are you?” Dean asked. “And why are you keeping me prisoner here?”
“We’re hunters,” Jo replied. “We protect the land from demons and monsters. My mother thinks you might be a spy for the demons, but I believe you’re telling the truth. You should stay here with us, Dean! You’re young and strong, and you would make a fine hunter. Once you have won my mother’s trust, you’ll see that there’s no one as loyal or as kind as her. Stay with us and forget your friend. If he’s really been taken by the Snow Queen there’s nothing you can do to save him.”
“I have to try!” Dean insisted. “I know he’s still alive, and I can’t rest until I’ve found him again.”
Jo shook her head. “There’s no point. Besides, we can’t just let you go; we still don’t know if you can be trusted. You could do good work here, Dean. Stop chasing after a dream that will only get you killed, and stay here with us!”
Dean was treated kindly by the hunters, and after a few days they untied him. However, they did not let him out of their sight, and while they no longer thought he was a spy, they would not let him go. It didn’t matter how much Dean begged and pleaded, Jo told him there was no use in trying to find Castiel, and he had much better become a hunter like them.
Every night Jo would sit with him and tell him tales of the demons they had slain. Then he would talk to her about his family back at home, and about Castiel. Every night he begged her to let him go and every night she refused. However, Dean thought she did so more and more regretfully as time went by.
One night he was awoken by Jo shaking him roughly by the shoulder. She clapped a hand over his mouth before he could speak.
“Quiet!” she hissed. “I still think this is stupid and I don’t know why I’m doing it, but I can’t bear to keep you from finding your Castiel any longer. Come with me.”
She led Dean around to the back of the inn where the horses were kept. At the back of the stables was a great black reindeer.
“This is Impala,” Jo told him. “His home is far in the North, where the Snow Queen lives. He can take you on your way.”
Dean was so grateful that he pulled Jo into a tight hug, but she pushed him away. “I don’t want you getting all weepy on me!” she cried. “Now get out of here before I change my mind. And if you do manage to rescue your angel, come back and see me before you go home.”
Dean promised that he would, and bidding the hunter maiden farewell, he rode away into the night on the great black reindeer.
Jo waved sadly, feeling quite sure that she had sent her friend to certain death.
SIXTH STORY: The Lapland angel and the Finmark angel
Dean and Impala traveled further and further North. Dean was beginning to feel the cold now, and started to regret not asking Jo for some warmer clothes before he left her. He buried his fingers in Impala’s thick fur and listened to the reindeer’s stories of the friends he had in the North who might be able to help them.
“We’ll go and see the Lapland angel first,” Impala said. “He’s a strange creature and a troublemaker, but he’s very knowledgeable and if you can win his trust he could be a great ally.”
The house of the Lapland angel was carved into the side of a cliff face, and Dean and the reindeer had to traverse along a treacherous mountain pass to reach it. They found the angel inside, seated before a roaring fire on cushions of red velvet, eating a cream cake. He had large bronze wings, and there was a wicked glint in his eyes.
The angel grinned. “And what brings two lone travelers out to these parts on a night like this?”
Dean told the angel about Castiel and the Snow Queen, and everything he had been through to rescue him. “Do you know how I could get him back?” he asked. “He’s an angel and he’s—”
“Yes, yes,” the Lapland angel interrupted. “There’s no need to go on about it. You want your feathery sweetheart back. Why do you think I’ll be able to help you?”
Dean grew angry at this, but the reindeer gently nudged his shoulder, and he held his tongue.
“Please, Your Grace,” Impala said. “We came to you because your wisdom is renowned throughout all the land. You are amongst the mightiest of all Heaven’s angels, and if anyone can advise us on this matter it is you.”
“Will you help us or not?” Dean demanded, annoyed by the smirk on the angel’s face.
The angel laughed. “I like you,” he said. “You’re not afraid of me. Very well, I will help you. The Snow Queen’s palace is farther North, beyond the reaches of my land. I don’t know exactly how to get there for I’ve never cared to go, but you should visit my younger brother, the Finmark angel, and he will be able to direct you.”
Then the Lapland angel plucked a feather from his wing and wrote upon it in a language that Dean did not recognize. “Give him this,” he told Dean, handing him the feather. “It tells him that I have sent you and I wish him to help you. Oh, and if you find yourself in trouble along the way, call on me and I will bring you aid.”
Dean thanked the angel, and then he and Impala set off again, traveling across the border into the Finmark.
The house of the Finmark angel was in a cave beneath the ice. The angel himself was seated in a glass armchair drinking a steaming glass of amber liquid, his silver wings shimmering in the light of the candles that lined the walls. Dean handed him the bronze feather and waited as patiently as he could for the angel to respond.
The Finmark angel quirked an eyebrow and gave Dean a small smile. “So your lover has been taken by the Snow Queen? I will do what I can to help, but I feel bound to tell you that no one has survived being one of her playthings.”
“He isn’t dead!” Dean insisted. “His name is Castiel. He’s an angel and he’s—”
“Castiel?” the angel interrupted. “Little Castiel? I knew him when he was a fledgling! So he is the angel the demons have been whispering about!”
“What do you mean?” Dean asked.
“I have heard tell that the demons think it’s a great joke that the Snow Queen is keeping an angel as a pet. He sits at her feet all day and never says a word. Normally such a thing would never happen for a wicked thing like she would not be able to stand in the presence of angelic grace, but his grace is being kept in check. He thinks himself quite content, and that the palace of ice is the loveliest place in the world, for he has a piece of magic glass in his eye and another in his heart, and they blind him to all goodness. You will have a hard task getting him back again, but I wish you luck for Castiel was a good angel.”
“Can’t you do more to help him?” Impala asked. “You are a renowned alchemist – can’t you give Dean a potion to make him stronger or faster, that he might defeat the terrible Snow Queen?”
The Finmark angel shook his head. “He needs no more power than that which he already possesses. His strength is in his love for Castiel – if that is not enough, then there is nothing more I can do for him. Impala, the Snow Queen’s palace lies North from here. You must carry Dean to the edge of her garden, but there you must leave him, for he has to continue the last stage of his journey alone. Dean, the way to the palace is hard, but once you get there you will find your Castiel in the throne room. However, remember that you must find a way to remove the glass pieces from his eye and his heart, or he will never be yours again. And if you meet with any great trouble on your way, call upon me and I will help you as best I can.”
Dean thanked the angel, and he set out again towards the border of the Snow Queen’s garden.
SEVENTH STORY: In the palace of the Snow Queen, and what took place thereafter
Impala set Dean down outside the garden, which was completely barren apart from trees and statues all made of ice. He promised to wait for Dean there, although he feared that he would never see his young friend again. Dean’s progress was slow, for the garden was covered in a thick layer of snow, but the knowledge that he had almost reached Castiel gave him fresh determination. He struggled onwards, following the lights of the Aurora Borealis towards the Snow Queen’s lair.
When he had been walking for about half-an-hour he was met by a whole regiment of snowflakes which did not behave as snowflakes usually do but traveled horizontally along the ground towards him. As they got closer they transformed into terrible demons, glittering and white, their arms stretched out towards Dean. He realized that they must be the Snow Queen’s guards, and unarmed as he was he knew that he could not hope to defeat them. Closing his eyes tightly, Dean called upon the angels of Lapland and the Finmark, remembering their promise to assist him if he ran into trouble along the way.
Electricity crackled through the air, and Dean opened his eyes to see the two angels standing on either side of him holding swords made of fire. They leveled the swords at the demons, who could not stand the heat and evaporated into steam with howls of anguish.
“You’re on your own now, kid,” the Lapland angel said. “We’ve cleared the way for you.”
“Don’t forget about the glass,” the Finmark angel reminded Dean. “You must find a way to remove it or Castiel will never be yours. Now make haste, and good luck!”
Dean could see the palace now, glittering in the Northern Lights, and he ran towards it, his heart full of Castiel.
But Castiel had no thoughts of Dean, or knowledge that the friend he had loved so well was even now outside the palace doors. He couldn’t remember anything of his old life – he only knew the cold, empty place that was now his home. There was no company or entertainment for him in the Snow Queen’s house. Sometimes the queen would talk to Castiel or pull at his wings, but mostly he was left alone in silence. He had no idea of how big the palace was. It was formed from the snow and the wind, and some rooms stretched for several miles. Everything was empty and glittering and cold.
When she was at home, the Snow Queen sat in her throne room in a great chair made of ice, and this was where Castiel would remain. He was quite blue with cold and his wings were covered in frost, but he didn’t mind because the Snow Queen had kissed away all the shivers, and his heart was like a block of ice.
He had been alone for about a week because the Snow Queen had told him that it was time for her to visit warmer lands and bring winter to them. He sat there on the ice, staring into nothing, his head buzzing with thoughts he no longer knew how to articulate.
This was where Dean found him when he came bursting through the palace doors. He recognized Castiel instantly. He ran up to the angel and held him close, but Castiel didn’t recognize him or even look at him.
“Cas, it’s me!” Dean said. “Cas, don’t you know me? Don’t you remember our house? Don’t you remember Sam? Don’t you remember the roses and the sledge rides, and going to sleep in my bed every night? You were taken away, but I’ve come all this way to bring you home again!”
Castiel still didn’t respond. In fact, he looked as though he was dead and frozen. Dean began to cry hot tears, thinking that everything he had gone through was for nothing after all. The tears fell upon Castiel’s chest and their warmth penetrated his heart, melting all the ice away from it.
He gasped and looked up at his friend. “Dean?” he whispered. “Is that you? I feel as if I haven’t seen you in such a long time! Why is it so cold?”
Dean laughed for joy then, and held the angel close. “Yes, Cas, it’s me. I knew you weren’t dead, and I’ve traveled for so long to find you.”
Castiel began to cry then, and he cried for so long that the piece of glass that was in his eye was washed away. “How cold it is here!” he said. “How empty and loveless and dead! How could I ever think that is was beautiful?”
Dean kissed his cheeks and his lips and his eyelids, and the color returned to them. He caressed Castiel’s wings and the frost fell away.
It was then that the Snow Queen returned. She screamed with fury when she saw Dean with her favorite pet, and she stamped her feet so hard that great icicles fell from the ceiling like frozen daggers, blocking off their escape. She advanced towards them, intending to kill Dean and then pluck all the feathers from the angel’s wings for his disobedience.
Castiel gripped Dean’s hand tightly. “Put your arms around my neck and hold on,” he whispered.
Dean obeyed and Castiel spread his wings, which were now fully grown, and began to beat them. They were carried upwards, and Castiel swooped around the falling shards of ice and out of a high window. Castiel’s grace burned brightly within him now, and it made the walls tremble and crack. The last they heard of the Snow Queen was her furious screams as her great palace collapsed in on her.
Castiel carried Dean swiftly through the cold air, landing just beyond the borders of the frozen garden where Impala was waiting for them. They returned to the house of the Finmark angel who was very pleased to see his long-lost brother, and gave them both a warm meal. Next they visited the home of the Lapland angel who happily informed Dean that he had been sure the mission would result in failure, but gave them both new sets of warm clothes nonetheless.
Dean remembered his promise to Jo, and they went back to the forest to return Impala to the little hunter maiden and let her know what had happened.
Jo was overjoyed to see Dean again, and she grinned at Castiel. “Dean was right,” she told him. “You are a pretty angel. I certainly hope you’re worth a trip to the ends of the world for!”
They told her all that had happened to them, and she promised that if she was ever nearby she would come and visit them.
Dean and Castiel slept in the treetops every night for safety, Castiel’s great black wings wrapped around them both like a cocoon. They kept each other warm with kisses and caresses, learning new ways to show their love for one another.
They received a warm welcome at the court of the angel prince and princess, who gave them a grand carriage to carry them the rest of the way home.
Dean and Castiel left the carriage just outside their own town, preferring to continue on foot. They walked hand-in-hand, pointing out all the places they used to play as children, for they were both fully grown now though they hardly realized it.
John and Mary had all but given up on ever seeing their eldest son and his angel again, but Sam always had faith that they would return. He tended the roses that Castiel had planted so that they would still look good when they were all together again. So it was that Sam was in the garden and saw Dean and Castiel approach. With a joyful shout to his parents, he ran to greet his brother and his friend, and the happiness and celebration in the house that night was beyond compare.
The rosebushes had grown so that they now covered the whole house, and Dean and Castiel would sit in their old spot by the window and breathe in the scent. This time, Dean could relate to the angel what stories the flowers had to tell. They were not happy as they had been before – they were happier still, because they now knew the extent of their love for one another and all that it could overcome. All the frost had melted away, and it was summer once more.