Edmund was a little Bruce who grew up in a small village which was within walking distance to Happy Valley. He loved his village well enough, but he found Happy Valley to be a bit too cheery and busy for his tastes, for he was a private Bruce who enjoyed hearing his own thoughts once in a while.... But he did venture into the town, once in a while. Usually to do chores. Ed may have been little, but he was big enough to run and grab the milk from the grocer, and old enough to clean the snow off the windows for stores.
His family was not rich – Edmund ran errands and did various odd jobs around the town in order to help support his family and put food on the table. Everyone did their part – his older sister Alice was a caroler in Happy Valley – he often heard her voice dance through the streets, and he saw countless Neopians stop and admire her sing. It was soft and sweet, like honey in the air; it was said that it could stop the Snow Beast in his tracks. His mother and father operated a fishery near the ice rink famous for having constant games of Rink Runner playing – they sold Breadfish, Radarfish and even Titanic Giant Squid in all seasons. "When you're old enough, you can help us here," his father told him once. But Edmund had bigger dreams than just selling fish.
Although Ed had no desire to help his father at the family fishery, he dutifully did his chores as he was told. When he finished his chores, he'd make a mad dash to his best friend's house. Shireen was her name, and they were inseparable.
Together, they built forts, snowmen, and made snow faeries to decorate their little igloo homes. They went exploring in the mountains and waged a snowball war with the neighbouring Poogles. When the day was done and they sat sipping their hot chocolate by the fireplace, Shireen listened to Edmund's dreams of adventuring south to places like Mystery Island and Roo Island. They agreed to travel together into the distant south when they were older – together, they agreed to scale the mountains of Altador, meet the Tiki Tack man, and to share a jest with King Skarl... but for now, they were content with exploring the vastness of the mountains they called home. When Edmund wasn't doing chores, he was always found with Shireen.
It was the 10th day of the Month of Awakening, which meant that Valentine's Day was just around the corner. Edmund had barely remembered the day was so near, but he was reminded when he stepped into Happy Valley that morning to help the Darry's clean their chocolate shop's walkway. Instead of the quiet town he expected, Edmund was greeted with loud shoppers much like the ones who raided the tiny village during the Month of Giving. He saw stores decorated with bright pink hearts and red roses, and he could not help but be put off by the bright lights. Edmund saw shoppers everywhere he looked, buying, bartering, and chatting away with other shoppers and vendors alike.
They all ignored little Edmund, however; they never believed he had many neopoints to spend. Which, to be fair, was true. In his wallet jingled a few thousand neopoints he had saved throughout the year from doing odd jobs for his friends and family. But he was determined to do something – anything – for his Shireen.
As he went store to store, he was bombarded with scents and sounds from all directions. Maybe he'll get her chocolate? No, that was too impersonal – once she eats it, it'll be gone. A rose was a bit too romantic (and anyway, his paw got pricked when he reached for one, so he hastily put it back). Gems felt too flashy; toys were too childish. Edmund's mind was spinning with ideas and possibilities as he wandered throughout the quaint little town. He could feel his determination growing precariously thin as the day continued, but he soldiered on. He was determined to find her a gift. But not just any gift - It had to be perfect!
After what felt like many hours spent wandering, Edmund happened upon a small jewellery store – he had been to a few, but this one was less flashy than the others; it seemed to exude a somewhat different air. He felt drawn in. The door chimed, announcing his entrance.
The owner paid him no attention, for Edmund was just a little Bruce after all. He took his time to look at the many cases of fine jewelry on display; some caught his eye, but they were many hundred thousands away from his price range. His thoughts began to drift to leaving, until his wandering eye caught a heart shaped pendant. When he looked closer, it seemed to be split in two. The pendant seemed simple enough... and it was within his budget...
Eventually, when all the customers had left, Ed walked up to the owner by the counter. The owner was a middle aged speckled Kyrii with a monocle. He looked at Edmund questioningly, but Edmund smiled and pointed to the glass case.
Moments later, he left the store with a small velvet box, smiling to himself.
It was Valentine's Day. Well, to be fair, it was almost over. It was night time now, and Edmund was shivering away. The restaurants offering candlelight dinners were stuff to capacity, Edmund had found to his dismay, so he had asked Shireen to meet him by the bench next to the streetlight in the park at 6:00. As he waited for her, the park was empty, cold, and eerily quiet. His could see his breath. He looked at his watch. It was 5:58. He hoped she would show up.
At 6:10, he had half a mind to give up and just go home. He decided to give her a few more minutes. But then he saw her, and he felt his heart beating out of his chest. As she approached, his paws began to shake nervously.
"Hey," she whispered. He shyly nodded back in acknowledgement.
Without missing a beat, he took the velvet box out of his front jacket pocket. He opened it slowly, deliberately, but turned around so Shireen couldn't see what was inside. She couldn't tell what it was from the way he clutched it, but she spied a silver stream spilling from his paw. When he took her paw to give her what was in her hand, the metal felt cold to touch. When she finally opened her paws, she saw a broken heart pendant, engraved with the words "ST END". Confused, she lifted the heart up for inspection. ST END – what could that possibly mean? Maybe she missed something? Did she read it wrong?
But when she saw his quiet smile, she knew she hadn't. He wordlessly held his matching pendant to fit with hers – it was already dangling on his neck. He showed her how the two pieces connected together, and the two broken pieces of a heart became one again. And then she saw.
The streetlights flicked in the night.