Author: breana PM
It's time for Snow White to tell her own dark story. The stepmother wasn't hers, there was no magic mirror, her prince wasn't a prince and didn't have a horse. And her fellow outcasts... they were NOT dwarves. Come explore the seven paths... if you dare.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Adventure/Drama - Chapters: 8 - Words: 22,505 - Reviews: 41 - Favs: 12 - Follows: 15 - Updated: 06-10-08 - Published: 12-27-07 - id: 2455452
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The next few days were fairly uninteresting. I remained unsure what to think about the rest of them, but Lisle was still friendly and Darrius was still warm, though slightly distant. Vera was pleasant, though less serious than Darrius. Stephen and Ellana were silent for the most part, keeping their distance and ignoring me. Falon was lewd, though he was gone most of the time. Joseph, too, was gone a good deal, but when he was in the house he went out of his way to speak with me, to be pleasant and conversational.
The strangeness began on my fifth night there, when I had a dream.
"Where could she be?" Philip was asking. He was pacing across the floor, his hair disheveled and his eyes red, as though he had not slept.
Beatrice looked at him sympathetically. "Young women are known to be fickle, Philip," she told him gently. "Especially when you are dealing with the peasantry. Perhaps she simply realized that this was not her place."
"But it was her place," Philip said softly, a tear slipping from his eye. "And she knew it. I made sure that she did. She must have been kidnapped."
"Kidnapped?" Beatrice asked, sounding surprised. "By whom?"
"Perhaps someone seeking a ransom," Philip suggested.
"Then why has one not been requested yet?" Beatrice inquired softly. "Philip, I think that it would be best if you just forgot about her."
"But I cannot," Philip protested. "She has my heart, she has my soul. I cannot just forget her. I must speak with my father; he will know what to do."
"You know that your father is in no condition to speak of such trying things," Beatrice said admonishingly. "His health is declining; I doubt that he could handle the strain. You know he was fond of Gayle, as well."
Philip ran his hands over his face. "I must find her," he said.
Beatrice pursed her lips. "I will make you a bargain, Philip," she said. "Search for her, wherever you like. But if you do not find her before the end of the year, when you would have been married, you will let her go and marry another, to secure this household. Agreed?"
Philip nodded. "Agreed."
I sat up quickly, gasping and trying to let my eyes adjust to the still-dim light in my room. Poor Philip. What he must have been going through...
A knock sounded at my door, startling me; standing, I moved quietly toward it, opening it to see Darrius standing in the hall. "Are you alright?" He asked.
"I'm fine," I replied, frowning. "Why?"
Darrius hesitated. "I am not sure. I woke with a feeling that you were not well."
"It was only a dream," I told him quietly.
He was quiet for a minute. "Anything that you would like to talk about?"
I sighed, walking back into the room to sit on my pallet; he followed, leaving the door open. That made me smile, slightly; it amused me, that all of these men- with the exception of Falon- were so concerned with propriety.
"I dreamt of Philip," I told him softly. "He is going to come looking for me. I was meant to live with them for a year, and he will look for me until that year is over before giving up and marrying another." Tears welled up in my eyes, but I blinked them away. "I suspect that Beatrice is poisoning Gregory now; he was perfectly healthy before I left. She mentioned him being badly ill." I looked up at Darrius. "What will you do if Philip finds us?" I asked, surprised that I was so concerned.
Darrius shook his head. "He will not find us," he assured me. "There are protections around this place."
I frowned once more, confused. "Then how did I find you?" I inquired. "Surely the protections should have steered me away."
Darrius shrugged, meeting my gaze. "Something wanted you here," he said. "My guess is that you are here for a very specific reason."
I studied him for a long moment, realizing something quite suddenly. It startled me, how beautiful he was. Our first meeting had been so hurried, so prejudiced, that I had failed to notice. His red hair fell in waves and braids around broad shoulders and fair skin, his broad and angular face lit by the greenest eyes I had ever seen. "I could not begin to guess why I am here," I told him. "Perhaps-"
I was interrupted by Falon rushing into the room, pausing for only a moment to sneer at the two of us sitting together. "They're here," he said, directing his words at Darrius.
Darrius' features snapped into a frown. "Here?" He asked. "They are not supposed to be here for two more days!"
"I do not know what you want to hear," Falon retorted. "But they are here."
Darrius stood. "Stay here," he ordered me before disappearing into the hallway with Falon.
I peered cautiously out my window; a group of three horsemen waited outside the door to the ruins, the horses stamping their feet with impatience. Something seemed off about them, but I could not precisely tell in the darkness. A moment later the door opened to let them in, and I retreated back to my pallet.
I waited for a long time; the sun rose, birds began to sing. The plants in the garden seemed to be calling for me.
At last my door opened and Darrius stepped in, holding a goblet in his hands. "Our guests are preparing to leave," he told me quietly. "But they have not had a drink in nearly a week, and it would be rude of me not to offer..."
I frowned in confusion before I realized. "My... my blood?" I asked, my voice shaking. He nodded. I hesitated, but it was part of our agreement. I could hardly refuse. "Just do it quick," I said, closing my eyes.
"It will not hurt," he told me softly, lifting my arm. He kissed the skin at the inside of my wrist; when, after several moments, I felt nothing I opened my eyes questionsingly. My wrist had already been cut, my blood drippin into the goblet. "How?" I asked, puzzled.
"Something in our saliva numbs skin," he explained, setting the goblet aside and pulling out a strip of cloth to bandage my wrist. "We do not know why. We will all drink from this cup, so we will not need any more of your blood for a while. I will come back when they are gone." He stood and left once more.
A short while later he did, indeed, return. My wrist was beginning to ache slightly, but that was the only discomfort I felt. I blinked, and frowned; the cord stretching between Darrius and myself had grown thicker. "You can come downstairs, now," he told me apologetically.
I nodded, stnading. "Why did I have to hide from your guests?" I asked.
He shook his head. "It is always difficult to be sure who your allies really are," he explained. "It was safer to keep you out of sight."
I nodded and followed him downstairs, where another surprise awaited me. A cord stretched between me and every one of his companions; not only that, but the ropes connecting them to each other had grown brighter. What was going on?
Darrius, too, seemed puzzled. "What's wrong?" I asked him quietly.
"Them," he replied in a whisper. "I hear no bickering, no sharp remarks, no mockery. It is... highly unusual."
"Maybe it is a sign of things to come," I suggested.
He looked down at me, his eyes holding something odd. "Perhaps."
"We need more fish," Lisle announced to no one in particular. "The winterbox is nearly empty."
"I can fish," I suggested.
"And we can be sure that you will not run?" Ellana asked, eyeing me coldly.
"Darrius can go with her," Falon said wickedly. "They seem to need time alone."
Darrius ignored his insinuation. "I have things I must tend to," he said. "Stephen, would you go with her?"
Stephen gaped at Darrius. "What? Why me?" He demanded.
Darrius gave him a look. "Stephen, please. Just go fish."
Stephen scowled, standing and walking out the door.
"He'll get the poles out of the shed," Darrius told me with a sigh. "Have fun."
I walked out of the house to find Stephen holding two fishing poles, still scowling. "Come on," he said, thrusting one of the poles at me before turning and walking off, clearly expecting me to follow.
A while later we emerged from the trees into a clearing surrounding a good-sized pond. Stephen moved forward, perching on a high rock and tossing his line into the water. I followed suit quietly, and the both of us sat in silence for a good long while.
At last, tired of my eyes being drawn to him of their own volition, I had to ask. "Are you blind?" I inquired, trying not to sound impolite.
He snorted. "Define blind."
Surprised that I had not received an outright refusal, it took me a moment to recover. "Can you see with your eyes?"
"No," he said simply. "You had to ask to figure that out? You are duller than I had thought."
I frowned, but there was no real harshness, no real admonishment in his tone. "What happened to you?" I asked.
He shrugged. "I was born blind."
"No, I mean... the scars," I corrected hesitantly. "The bitterness."
He pursed his lips. "Have you ever known people to embrace things different from themselves?" He asked.
"No," I said sadly.
He nodded. "I was different."
I paused again. "What happened?"
"My village decided that I was some kind of demon," he replied quietly. "So they burned me at the stake."
I supressed a gasp, looking back at the water.
"I remember that I was only about nine," he told me. "And even then it made no sense. Why would you burn a demon? Wouldn't you think that would be his element?"
I snorted, then stopped myself. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to laugh."
"You should laugh," he told me. "If you do not laugh at man's stupidity, you will go mad."
I studied him for a minute. "You know that you do not have to be so awful to everyone," I told him.
"I know," he agreed easily. "But it is easier."
"Easier than what?" I demanded.
"Feeling," he responded without hesitation.
I continued looking at him. "Why are you telling me all this?" I asked. "Days ago you seemed to hate me."
He shrugged. "My eyes do not work," he said. "But I can still see. I do not know how, and I do not see how you do, but I see. There is a bond forming and growing between you and all of us every day. There must be a reason for it."
"So..." I paused. "You trust me?"
"To some degree," he answered. "I am not so bitter and foolish as to deny a gift from God. I do not know what your purpose is, but a purpose you have. It is not my place to make life harder for you."