Eighteen Years Later…
She was careful not to make a noise. It was autumn and the ground was covered in dried leaves, but she still did not make a sound. It was as if she could float just above the multicolored things. Not a twig snapped, nor tree branch swayed as twenty-one year old Princess Snow White came upon her prey.
She had her long bow out, and an arrow ready to go. Her prey, a wild boar, did not suspect a thing. At ten feet away, Snow White crouched down behind a large birch tree. The boar's back was turned, grazing on the still-green grass hidden beneath the yellow, orange, and red fallen leaves. She raised her bow and arrow, string pulled back. She fired.
The boar fell. Smiling, Snow White stood and approached it. Her six companions, who had hidden all around the boar as well, followed her in. Like her black hair, their long beards were tied up. Of course, Snow White kept her hair tied up to keep it from annoying her by falling in her face. Her friends, who were dwarves, had to keep their beards tied up so that wouldn't step on them.
"This boar will feed us for a week!" the youngest dwarf said. "The Patriarch will be pleased."
The Patriarch was the seventh of the dwarves, and the oldest of them. All seven were both brothers and clan members. The youngest dwarf, Magan, lifted the hind legs of the boar. One of his fellow brothers, Kehan, lifted the front.
"Let's get this back to your cottage," she said, putting her bow on her shoulder.
Snow White had helped her dwarven friends skin the boar. Now, they were off cutting the meats they needed and she was bathing. She had the bathing screen pulled in front of the bath and her yellow and blue outfit thrown over it. She scrunched up her nose in disgust at the blue part of the outfit--the top. She hated the puffed sleeves it sported. They always got in her way, and it made her feel as if she were wearing a dress instead.
She let her thigh-length, thick black hair fall and threw the band she had tying it up over the screen. Someone would find it and throw it away for her. Snow White then reached up and tapped the conduit above her. The dwarves had enchanted it to allow warm water to flow out of it. As it did, she ran her hands--bloodied from the boar skinning--under it. Finally, she stepped back and allowed the water to wash dirt from her hair.
The sound of someone clearing their throat alerted Snow White to step back from the water, so she could hear. Beyond the screen, she could see the silhouette of a wide dwarf standing there. The princess smiled.
"Greetings, Patriarch," she said. "Were you pleased with our hunt?"
He chuckled. "Yes, very, Princess."
The Patriarch was always solemn and judgmental of his brothers. However, he was fun and kind with Snow White. He had been the first of the seven dwarves she had met. One day, several years ago, the young princess had lost control of her horse and it had ran into the forest. She had been lost and scared when the Patriarch had come upon her. He took her to meet his brothers and nursed the wound she had received from a tree branch back to health. Soon after, he had shown her the way back to the city. The dwarves and Snow White had been friends ever since.
"So, my dear, how are things with Rothgor?" he inquired.
Snow White's smile became serene. Rothgor was a prince she had met from the Northern Lands. He was strong and broad with long, flowing white-blond hair. He was unlike any prince Snow White had ever met before.
"Very well. My mother has been pressuring me to take a suitor for some time now, you know," she replied.
"Ah," the Patriarch laughed again. "Is he your choice?"
The princess laughed as a young schoolgirl might. This was uncharacteristic for her. She had been raised as a warrior, proficient in several weapons. A girlish laugh just simply did not give one the intimidation that a warrior needed. She quickly stifled it and cleared her throat of it.
"Yes. He's coming back into the city today. I plan to make the announcement to my mother when I return to the palace."
"I am happy for you."
Snow White smiled, then sighed. "Turn around, now. I'm getting out."
The Patriarch did so. Snow White, dripping wet still, stepped out from behind the screen. Grabbing one of the large cloths kept by the bath, she dried herself. Then, she proceeded to get dressed. She had only just put her shirt on when an unexpected visitor burst into the room.
It was a young woman with short, mousy brown hair and bright, large brown eyes. She was dressed in a long, tan dress and wore thin shoes. She was Princess Snow White's attendant, Amelia. And she looked distraught.
Snow White stepped up beside the Patriarch. "What is it, Amelia? Why are you not at the palace?"
Amelia bowed hastily. Once she bobbed back up, she said, her voice hurried and high, "There is trouble, Princess. Your brother, Prince Nicolas, has done something terrible."
Snow White threw her still-wet hair behind her. "What has he done?"
Amelia's eyes were wide, making them larger than usual, with fear. "It is Prince Rothgor. Prince Nicolas accused him of an attempted plot to murder the Queen. He has arrested him!"
Snow White lost no time. She knew her mother's wrath better than anyone. She quickly set out of the cottage.
"Use my horse, your highness! I'm sure the Patriarch will help me home!" Amelia said, following behind.
The princess nodded to show that she had heard. Once she reached the animal, she threw herself up into the saddle and set it into a dead run toward the city and the palace.
Thirty minutes later, her half-dry hair plastered around her face, Snow White burst through the doors of the throne room. Ahead of her was her mother, Queen Malice, sitting upon her throne. Before Malice was Rothgor, being held down upon his knees by two Royal guards. Looking on, his face hidden by the dragon shaped helm he wore with his armor, was Nicolas.
"Mother! What is the meaning of this!" Snow White yelled, marching up the aisle.
Queen Malice's eyes were livid. It was a well known rule that neither Nicolas nor Snow White were to call her mother as long as someone else was in the room. At the moment, the princess didn't care. Malice stood slowly. She descended the single step that her throne sat upon and came face-to-face with her daughter.
"This man is suspected of my attempted murder. He shall be punished. Do you have any objections?" Malice hissed in Snow White's face.
"This man is my suitor," Snow White replied.
At this, Nicolas removed his helm--showing him to have shoulder-length black hair and deep, coal-black eyes--and placed it under his arm.
"What is this, my sister?" he said. He walked over and placed a hand on Rothgor's shoulder. "This…barbarian from the north is to be your husband?"
At this, Rothgor let out a deep growl, but he said nothing. Snow White spoke for him.
"He is no barbarian. And yes, he is to be my husband. I have chosen him…as my mother as instructed me to do for some time. So you would do well to show him respect," she hissed.
Malice scoffed. "I instructed you to find a Prince. Not an…animal."
Snow White's eyes had begun to sting. She knew she was going to lose this battle. However, she was not taught to cry. Scream, yell, kill…that was another matter. But crying was never an option.
"Do not do this, Malice!" she yelled, reaching for her bow.
Malice laughed. "You would kill your mother, to save another? Ungrateful wretch. However…I admire your audacity. I will give you another option."
The Queen snapped her fingers and one of her assistants stepped forward. The young woman bowed and opened a box that she had been holding. Inside was a velvet lining and a small, thin bottle. The Queen took it and undid its stopper. Nicolas smiled.
"The potion of Eternal Sleep," he whispered in reverence.
Malice signaled for the two Royal guards to hold Rothgor's mouth open. Snow White's eyes widened.
"No!" she screamed.
But it was too late. Malice had already poured some of the potion down her beloved's throat. The guards released him, and Snow White rushed forward to catch him as he fell. She knelt on the floor with him in her arms. Rothgor's hand came up to touch her face.
"Snow--" he croaked before his eyes closed and his hand fell.
"No…No!" she screamed again.
Standing, Snow White approached her mother. The Queen turned, a smile on her face.
"He is not dead, Snow White. He is merely in a deep, mystical sleep. You can save him…but it will take more than just your "love" to do so," she said, taking a seat back on her throne.
"You're letting me try?" the princess hissed.
"Oh, yes, please. I could use some entertainment. In fact, I'll even go so far as to wish you the best of luck."
Snow White's breath was caught as the two guards lifted Rothgor's body. She stepped forward to stop them, but her brother caught her.
"I'll put him in a coffin of glass for you. Yes…In the middle of the city, so that everyone might see what happens when Malice is threatened," the Queen laughed.
Snow White kicked and screamed as the guards left to carry out their queen's orders. But in the end, she was powerless to stop them. But that would not last. She would see to that.
Edited 9/30/09 to fix a wording error...thanks to AD Spencer, btw, for catching it! I think I was just trying to go both ways, haha.