Underneath This Canopy of Snow
By Jadadaye

"Goddess, Victoria, why do you have to act so perfect all the time?" Electra snapped.

I stared at her for a moment before narrowing my eyes. I thought about responding to her comment, but instead I turned and stalked off, tail high. I could hear her mutters follow me as she ranted to Jemima and Etcetera about my overbearing attitude.

Once I was out of sight, I sighed and flopped to the ground, laying my head on my paws. Heaving a deep sigh, I tried to hold back tears. So what if acting perfect was the only way I got any attention? How else was I supposed to live my life? If I didn't play up the perfect act, I was ignored.

Jemima - now she was perfect. She could sing, she was sweet, angelic, never disobeyed… The problem was, she was so honestly nice that I couldn't even bring myself to hate her. Then there was Etcetera - she was far from perfect, but again, she had a good heart. Almost everything that queen touched, she messed up, but everyone loved her for it. Electra was just a rough and tumble tomboy whom everyone was constantly yelling at - but they usually ended up chalking it up to kittenhood.

And then there was me. Where did I fit in? Where did you classify poor Victoria, stuck in among all these other distinct personalities? I didn't even look like the others; the single feline in the Jellicle tribe that was a pretty solid colour. And *white* of all things. I wasn't sweet-pretty like Jemima or sexy-pretty like Bombalurina.

I didn't fit in anywhere. And when I tried, they usually assumed that I wanted something from them. My own plan to get attention by trying to seem good at what the other kittens were good at had backfired in my face. So what was there left to do but go along with it, continue acting like the cold ice-princess I had created for myself?

True, I could dance. But so could every single other Jellicle in the blasted tribe. My singing voice wasn't terrible, but I sounded like a crow next to Jemima.

But yet… I had never told anyone, but I drew. I had stacks of papers that I had found in the trash, straightened them out, and drew on them. Anything that came to mind, pictures from the ball, pictures from my head…

Hidden, all of them. Hidden, because I'd never had the courage to tell a soul. What would that look like, the perfect little snob Victoria, a closet artist? Artistry was for felines like Jemima - felines who could do it all already.

The old bitterness welled up again and I struggled to my paws, wiping at the tears furiously. I wasn't supposed to cry! I was supposed to be impenetrable, like the snow that my coat resembled. Clenching my jaw, I made my way through the Junkyard to my home, taking out a new sheet of paper and the old pencil I used. Desperately, I sketched on the paper, hoping to lose myself in the drawing as I usually did.

But this time, it didn't work. When I finally sat back to look at it, all that was on the paper was a picture of me. Sitting alone in the center of that vast white field, looking as lost and alone as I felt right then.

Hunching over and burying my face in my paws, I started sobbing. I couldn't even lie to myself. Was this some cruel omen that I would be alone forever, never knowing where I fit in? Was there even a place in which I could fit in, where I would be accepted for who I was?

Who was I? Did I even know anymore?

Had I ever known?

I was a queen, I was a Jellicle, but beyond that, what was I? Who was I?

Sniffling a bit, I felt my tears slow down and I wiped them from my cheeks. Looking into the mirror I had propped up, I sniffed again, shocked at my bedraggled appearance. My eyes were red and I looked desolate.

Another face appeared next to mine in the mirror and I yelped, spinning around to stare at the intruder in shock.

"Vicky, are you okay?" Mistoffelees asked quietly, his wide brown eyes probing mine in concern. "I heard crying, but I never thought…"

"That it would be me?" I asked bitterly, my voice losing it's usual sickeningly sweet quality in my despair. "That perfect little Victoria could cry?"

"I never said that." His gaze looked to the piece of paper that I had left laying out and he reached down to pick it up.

"Don't…!" I cried, but it was too late. Before I could stop him, he had picked it up and was looking at it curiously.

"What's this?" he asked, once more turning to look at me.

I snatched it from his grip. "It's nothing," I said firmly.

"Did you draw that?"

"I said it's nothing!"

He shrugged, looking a bit hurt. "I was just curious. It's very good." Turning, he started to leave, but I tentatively reached out a paw to stop him.

"Do you mean that?"

"Would I have said it if I didn't? It is, Victoria. Have you drawn others?"

I gestured sheepishly towards the stack of papers in the corner. His eyes widened.

"May I see?" he asked shyly.

I bit my lip, but reached over and picked them up, handing them to him without meeting his eyes. He started to flip through them, but eventually sat on the ground next to me, examining each one. As the silence dragged on, I shifted uneasily, uncertain what was taking so long.

"These are fantastic!" Mistoffelees said finally, shocking me so much I jumped. "Why haven't you shown anyone these before?"

"I didn't think anyone would like them," I mumbled, staring at the ground as my face reddened. "I didn't think they were any good."

Carefully, he set the papers down. "You're acting very different from the way you usually act," he said finally.

I started once more and stared at him, uncertain what he was going to say next.

He grinned at me and took my paw. "It might be just me, but I think I like this Victoria better."

I looked away, staring at the opposite wall. Mistoffelees stood up and patted my shoulder.

"I'd better go…" Slowly, he stood up and started to walk away, leaving me with my thoughts in a greater turmoil than before.

Maybe… Maybe I didn't need my Ice Princess any longer. Maybe if I dropped that, I could see who I truly was.

Maybe I didn't have to be perfect for everyone to like me.

Quickly, I stood and raced out the door. "Mistoffelees!" I called. "Wait up! I think I'll go with you!"

He stopped and turned around, waiting for me to catch up. When I reached him, he draped an arm easily over my shoulders and I couldn't helped smiling as we headed for the proper.

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