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Once upon a time there was a little girl who had a dreamy pink Barbie princess castle. It had tiny little doors and tiny little windows, from which you could look into even tinier little rooms. In front of the grand entrance stood a darling porcelain doll with her arms held high above her head and one leg outstretched behind her. She wore dainty pink little ballet shoes, fastened with ribbon, that allowed her to dance on the tips of her toes. She was a tiny dancer, a prima ballerina.

As the clock struck midnight, all the toys would spill out from their boxes and come to life. The ballerina used to entertain the rest of the toys with her beautiful midnight ballet performances. But when the ballerina’s Barbie castle was damaged by the little girl’s boisterous new puppy Burke, it was placed high upon the top of the bookshelf where the other toys couldn’t reach her. At first they would shout up to her to keep her company but soon even they forgot about the tiny ballerina up there alone in her castle.

When the entire household was deep asleep in their beds, the ballerina would watch the happy toys below play, as she continued to dance the lonely night away to an absent audience and no applause. She had no audience, no friends, nobody.

One strange night, the ballerina awoke to find an old dusty tin soldier placed upon the shelf as he too was damaged. The ballerina hardly noticed the soldier’s odd appearance, nor did she care as finally she had a companion; another toy to play with.

The soldier had no time for friendship for he had to escape from the shelf and return to his brothers in arms. The ballerina warned him that there was no way of escape but the stubborn solider wouldn’t listen and immediately jumped from the shelf to the floor below. But in the morning he was discovered by the little girl and placed back on top of the shelf.

Each night the two toys were trapped alone together. The solider worked on his new plans of escape and the ballerina danced to no applause. The soldier was cold and stubborn but the ballerina paid him no mind. A companion was a companion. And an audience, however reluctant, was an audience. Every night, the ballerina danced wild stories of princesses and heroes, villains and love and each night, slowly but surely, the solider found himself looking forward to the ballerina’s fairy stories.

Though the solider refused to admit it, his feelings for the ballerina grew stronger, until eventually his plans of escape fell by the wayside. However, the solider knew he would never be able to love the ballerina properly. You see unlike the other toys the solider was comprised entirely of tin; he was heavy metal through and through; possessing a metal head, a metal soul and a metal heart.

By this time the ballerina too had fallen deeply in love with the solider and his tragic stories of battle and war, violence and loss and it saddened her that he could never experience true love for himself. So one morning while the solider slept, the ballerina removed half of her own heart and swapped it for half of his. Now they would both possess half a heart of metal and half a heart of love. When the solider awoke his capacity for love had immediately doubled. He asked the ballerina to marry him and she immediately accepted his hand.

The lovers exchanged their vows and were married that very night. The ballerina led the solider in their first dance. He too now had grace and rhythm and vowed that she would never again dance alone. Nothing in this world could ever part them. That is, until the next day when the ballerina awoke to find her castle mended and placed down among the other toys. Though she was glad to be reunited with her friends, she pined after her new love, the metal solider, who remained on top of the book shelf alone with the other half of her heart.

As the days and weeks passed, the ballerina danced for her beloved solider every night, though she couldn’t see or hear him. Each day he dedicated to creating a plan to be with his love once again.

One night, as the clock struck twelve, the solider leapt from the bookshelf to the floor below. The ballerina ran to him and he took her in him arms, but she knew it wouldn’t be long until he was torn away from her again and placed back up on the shelf. They were to act quickly. The solider told the ballerina of his plan to remain together forever. They both agreed this was his greatest plan yet.

The ballerina and the solider spent the night piling building blocks and Lego up to the height of the windowsill. Once they had finished the couple ascended their rickety structure to the window ledge. The ballerina looked down at the cold hard street below. Though she was frightened, she trusted the solider. Together they embraced and locked lips one last time as they threw themselves from the ledge and onto the hard pavement below. As they hit the ground both toys smashed into several pieces and lay scattered and broken upon the cobbled streets.

The next morning the toys’ fragmented remains were discovered by the little girl on her way to school. Devastated she begged her father to mend the toys and he did so that very afternoon. Her father was no craftsman but he did his best with half a tube of superglue. Once he had finished, he placed the mended toys back upon the shelf out of harm’s way, to dry.

The soldier’s plan had worked, they had been reunited and when they both awoke, they embraced each other tightly and wouldn’t let each other go until sunrise.

The next morning when the little girl’s father returned to bring down the mended toys, he found that the glue had finally dried but the figures had somehow been fused together, in an embrace. The little girl warned her father not to split up the couple as they were in love and a couple in love should never be parted. Her father agreed and placed the fragile toys back up on the shelf in front of the dreamy pink Barbie castle.

From the top of the bookshelf the ballerina looked upon her love and was glad. Despite the fact they now both had a cold metal head, a metal soul and a metal heart, they burned with the warmth of their love.

Hand in hand with her metal man, the ballerina and solider lived happily after; day after night as they danced forever, together.

THE END