Star of Wonder, page 31
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Alone at the center of the hall, with all eyes on them, the Winter Princess and the Ice Dragon began to dance the Waltz of the Flowers. At the second statement of the main theme, a second couple joined them in their dance, then a third and a fourth, until the floor was filled with flashing feet and spinning skirts, a kaleidoscope of color to match the timeless music, with the Dragon’s silver and the Princess’s gray weaving a brilliant pattern in and out among the other dancers.
The reprise began, with the woodwinds’ sweet arcs of elaboration rising and falling above the strings and brass, and in time with these the Dragon led the Princess up the broad steps near the back of the palace hall, until they were dancing by themselves on the small square landing which looked out over the courtyard of the Palace of Winter. As they finished a spin, he held up his hand to halt her in place, then leaned out the window, beckoning. From the sky descended a broad path made of moonbeams, and onto this stepped the Ice Dragon and the Winter Princess, hand in hand. Slowly they ascended, and the Princess marveled, for the path which had been so steep and difficult to climb alone yielded easily to her feet with her beloved beside her.
Below, the music grew impassioned and threatening, and the Princess looked back in sudden fear. The King and Queen of Winter had noticed their daughter’s absence, and had rushed to the window, shaking their fists and threatening terrible reprisals if she did not return at once. She shivered, and held tightly to her beloved. “I will not go back to them, back to what they want for me,” she whispered under the sound of the music. “I would rather die.”
“I would rather you live, and live with me,” her beloved made answer. “And there is a way. If your heart and mind are agreed, if I and the life we have made together are what you truly want, then take the crown from your head and throw it away, for if you are no longer a Princess they will have no more control over you.”
Without hesitation, the Princess snatched the tiara from her hair, held it high so that all could see what it was, and flung it into the air from where she stood on the moonbeam path. It flashed in the light as it tumbled, then vanished at the top of its arc, and from the place where it had disappeared, in time with the flowing lines of violins and violas, stars began to fall. One after another, they struck the bottom of the moonbeam, driving back the King and Queen, and severing the path’s connection with the earth.
“There is only the way upwards now,” said the Ice Dragon, turning to face his lady, a Princess no more. “Are you afraid?”
She smiled. “Not when I am with you,” she said, and together they walked on as the music soared, as the Land of Flowers descended from the sky to meet them. Below, in the palace hall, the Queen of Winter raged back and forth across the floor in powerless fury, as the King tried vainly to calm her down and the other dancers danced on unheeding, though some, wiser than the rest, cast laughing looks upward. There, the Ice Dragon and she who had been the Winter Princess entered into the Land of Flowers, to begin their happily ever after with an embrace amid the orchestra’s great final shout of triumph.