For the most part, water maidens and snow maidens avoid each other. The single touch of a water maiden, after all, can melt even the coldest heart of any snow maiden, or turn her hands to clear water. The snow maidens, in their turn, can freeze a water maiden in her tracks, or worse, trap a water maiden beneath ice. That last, it is whispered, has happened to more than one unwary water maiden choosing cold oceans to explore the ice of Antarctica, or a glittering glacier, or even merely returning to her lake for a forgotten item. Some, after a few goblets of hot molten rubies, have even spoken of the long standing war between the two, marked by flurries of battle here and there, fights that have left lands glittering with melting ice, and covered rivers with rushing slush.
The fairy courts, of course, have forbidden such things, but the water maidens and the snow maidens have never been ones to pay too much attention to the decree fees of the fairy courts – even when they hear these decrees, which is not often.
And so, the water maidens and snow maidens keep their distance. Usually.
But every few years, a few snow maidens and water maidens do gather together to celebrate Water Maidens Day.
Not in only one place, of course – that is too much cold for any water maiden, even those who inhabit the icier regions of the world. And snow maidens cannot journey far from their clouds, or their snow; they die swift deaths if they do, and so they are unwilling to travel far to meet the water maidens.
Still, some of the more adventurous, the ones who do not wish to remain hidden in hills of snow, or beneath ice laden trees, and who find even a frost-lined fairy court far too warm for them, do venture out to half frozen, watery lakes and ponds, or deep bays by the sea, and call lightly to the water maidens.
Sometimes, this call is only a puff of wind, or a swirl of snow. The water maidens are always alert at this time of year, of course, watching carefully for ice and snow, or the rush of fairies seeking cold and warm sunlight to flavor their winter feasts. And if the water maidens do not respond to wind or snow – well. The snow maiden can always howl in the wind.
They are kin, in a way, the water maidens and the snow maidens. It is a call they cannot resist.
Eventually, the water maidens emerge, shivering.
They have only one remedy against the cold of the snow maidens: dance.
And so they do, the snow maidens dancing with them, for as icy as they are, as frozen their hearts, no snow maiden can resist the call of the dance.
So be cautious, when you travel today. If you see a melting icicle, or a sliver of ice across a puddle, or, in warmer regions, a cool pond or lake, be wary. Watch. That shimmer? That flicker of light that you cannot be sure you saw? That green sparkle on the ice?
You might be seeing a water maiden sip sunlight just before she slips back into the dance. Or a snow maiden adjusting the the ice on her dress.
Or the edges of a war.
After all, it is the Day of the Water Maidens.
And this year, the Snow Maidens intend to dance.
Water Maidens Day is the brainchild of poet, writer and scholar Nin Harris, whose story Your Right Arm recently appeared in Clarkesworld. I’m just borrowing it for fun.