Celestine tossed her deep black hair over her shoulder, and then raised her head to the icy wind. Her cruelly beautiful land. Isea. The branches overhead crackled with snow and ice. It was perfect weather for looking for snow blooms, but that was the last thing on Celestine's mind. Wild trees are special. Her father had once told her. Look hard enough and you'll find a faerie. Tell it your wish, and it'll come true. Her mother didn't believe in faeries. She bent, searching the undergrowth for the small blue sparks that are supposed to accompany faeries.

"Princess Celestine! Princess, come!"

Celestine sighed. That was Balen. A royal guard. She hadn't found a faerie in time.

She closed her eyes. "Please, please all I want for my fourteenth birthday is a friend. A real friend."

"My lady!"

Celestine sighed again. "Coming Balen."

Grabbing the long white skirt of her dress, she ran out of the forest.

"Where have you been! I've had half the Royal Guard out looking for you!" Celestine's Mother, Queen Leda, was scolding her. "I wish you would stop disappearing, especially on such occasions!" Celestine found herself sighing for the fourth time that day.

"I'm sorry mother. Truly." disappearing? I was in the woods. I go there often!

"Allright. Just make sure it doesn't happen again. And for heaven sake's, go change your dress! It's the first day of Yule tide, and your birthday celebration!"

Celestine dropped a curtsy then dashed out of the room, up a long flight of stairs, and into her tower room. Blytha, her maid was sitting in a chair mending a sleeve.

"Merry Yule, my lady."

"The same to you, Blytha." Celestine responded, throwing open her closet. She selected a pale blue one, with long draping sleeves and a crisscrossing silver belt. Stepping behind the screen, she donned it.

"Blytha, will you do up my buttons?"

Blytha obligingly put down her mending, and took up a button hook.

"There. All pretty, my lady."

"Thank you, Blytha!"

Flying back down the staircase, she ran though several rooms, to another, grander, staircase. She paused at the top, waiting for her queue.

"Presenting, the Princess Celestine!"

Celestine came delicately down the stairs, one hand lightly on the railing. Blue fire whisked across the stair below her. Faeries! She froze, but a glare from her mother made her take another step.

One friend. One friend. One, real, friend.