Disclaimer: I disclaim! :D JK Rowling owns my soul, and the Grimms brothers are fab. XD
Once Upon A Fairy Tale (but it's rather A Grimm, Grimm Story)
Chapter Three: Snow White and the Seven…Elves?
At the back of her mind, Hermione Granger wondered if she would be waking up anytime soon. Everything that was happening to her certainly seemed like a dream. First she was sucked into a book, and now she was being told by "elves" that she was to restore peace to their kingdom. If everything weren't so realistic feeling, she'd try to make herself wake up.
She sighed as she continued to trudge after the elves. Hermione, Blaise, and Draco had been following the five elves to their lair for the past half an hour, and the walking was getting quite tedious.
"Are we there yet?" Draco's whining voice came from the back of the group.
One of the elves snapped his head around and glared. "Soon enough, you ingrate."
Another elf nudged the one who had just talked, "Are you sure they're the Ones? Our Lady shall be quite displeased if—"
"They're the Ones! They have to be! Our Lady has nothing to worry about."
Blaise cleared her voice. "Excuse me, but who is …er…'Our Lady'?"
All the elves stopped dead in their tracks and turned around. "Our Lady is the leader of the elves," one said condescendingly.
"Our Lady is the keeper of the Scroll of Ages," piped in another.
"Our Lady is amazing," said the next, swooning.
"Our Lady is all-powerful," declared the fourth.
"Our Lady is really a man," the last elf said sheepishly.
Blaise coughed. "Right. Well. Shouldn't have asked."
The fourth elf hit the fifth elf over the head. "You weren't supposed to say that!"
The fifth elf winced. "It slipped out, all right?"
The first elf sighed. "Well, since we still have a while to go on this walk—" Draco groaned loudly, and was silenced by vicious stares from all the elves, "—we might as well tell you the story of Our Lady." The first elf cleared his throat. "It began long, long, long ago, in a kingdom sort of far away, before any of you existed.
"There was a queen who wanted more than anything to have a son who was white as snow, black as the wood of her embroidery frame, and red as her blood. Soon she gave birth to a beautiful son, who had hair as black as ebony, lips as red as blood, and skin as white as snow. Unfortunately, the queen died in childbirth.
"The king married again to the most gorgeous lady in all of the kingdom. The new queen was very proud and could not bear to be surpassed in beauty by anyone. The young prince grew prettier and prettier, and soon was as beautiful as day itself." The elf paused for breath and Hermione interjected.
"I know this story!" she proclaimed happily. "Isn't there a magical mirror?"
The elf snorted. "Of course not. Who's ever heard of such a thing? There's a magical chamber pot."
He continued his story. "Anyway, the queen had a magical chamber pot, which told only the truth. So one day she went up to it and asked, 'Chamber pot in which I pee, Is there one fairer than me?' Much to the queen's shock, it replied, 'Queen, you are full fair, 'tis true, But the young prince fairer is than you.'
"Well, right then and there the queen knew that the young prince had to go. She could not stand for anyone being fairer than her, especially a young boy! So she sent him into the woods one day to go apple picking…but she had secretly poisoned the apple she knew he would pick!
"Unfortunately for the queen, she was quite bad at brewing poisons. Where she was to add one fingernail, she added four, and accidentally created a potion that turned the consumer into a woman, instead of killing them. The young prince turned into a woman, although his appearance didn't change any since he was beautiful to start off with. When he realized he was now a woman, he ran to the far-away glen, and ended up in the elvish lair.
"We realized right away, of course, that this was Our Lady, the one we had waited for a long time gone. So we made Our Lady immortal, like us, and now we have a ruler!" The elf finished his story with a sweeping bow, and all the other elves clapped for him and brushed away tears. "Beautiful story," they murmured to each other.
"There wouldn't happen to be two more elves that aren't with you right now, would there?" Hermione asked, eyes glowing.
The second elf spoke up. "Of course there is. Two always stay at the lair to insure the protection of Our Lady."
"What does your 'Lady' need protection for if she—he—it's immortal?" Draco asked spitefully, and was ignored.
"Oh, it's just like 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarves'!" Hermione declared joyfully. "Except for the whole being male thing. Well, except for a lot of things. But it's a lot like that!"
All the elves declared, "We are not dwarves!" at the same time.
Hermione raised an eyebrow.
"There's a big difference," said the fifth elf.
"A whole centimeter!"
Hermione chose not to comment on that. The group kept shuffling along, and after a few more minutes they reached a large clearing. "We're here!" exclaimed the first elf.
"Welcome to the elves' top secret lair!" added the second.
A mansion stood in front of them, encrusted in gold and adorned with leering gargoyles. Over the doorway, a large sign hung that declared, "ELVES' TOP SECRET LAIR."
Blaise rolled her eyes. "How inconspicuous."
One of the elves rang the doorbell, which sounded suspiciously like "Greensleeves."
"The doorbell at my Manor plays 'Greensleeves,' too," commented Draco. Everyone ignored him.
The door opened from the inside, and there stood the sixth and seventh elves. They gasped at the same time, and pointed towards Hermione, Blaise, and Draco. "Are those the Ones?"
"We think so! Where is Our Lady?"
The group was ushered into the main hall, which was decorated with large, grinning pictures of the elves.
Blaise clicked her tongue. "What tacky decor," she said distastefully.
"Isn't it just?" came a mellifluous voice from the top of the stairs. "I keep trying to get them to redecorate, but you know elves." A beautiful woman was descending the stairs. She was tall and thin, with pale white skin, ebony hair, and rosy cheeks and lips. She simply glowed. When she came to the bottom of the stairs, she swept into a low curtsey.
"Your Lady…ness," Hermione said in awe, curtsying back the same time as Blaise.
The woman let out a sultry chuckle. "Please, just call me Sno." Her piercing, dark gaze looked over the two teenage girls. "So you are the princesses from another land…the Ones…" Her look landed on Draco, who was looking utterly bored, his arms crossed over his chest. "And you are the so-called knight?"
Draco glared at Sno and jabbed a finger at her. "And you are the so-called she-man?"
All the elves gasped, and Sno threw her hand to her head in a dramatic swoon. "Please, don't bring up my past. It's quite a painful memory." She sniffed for effect.
Blaise stepped forward, taking charge as usual. "Sno, could you please tell us what we're doing here? The elves keep saying we're 'the Ones,' and that's all they say. We're tired, we're lost, and we really would like to just go home."
Sno became very serious all of a sudden. "I'm afraid that isn't possible, Mistress Zabini."
Blaise's eyebrows furrowed. "How do you know my name?"
"Our Lady knows all!" piped in one of the elves.
Sno coughed. "Actually, it says her name right there," she said, pointing to the name tag on Blaise's school clothes, which she was holding. "Anyway, yes. You can't go home just quite yet. If you'd please follow me into the study upstairs, I can explain a few things."
When they were in the study, Sno opened a door in her wooden desk and pulled out a large metal box. She then used a key that was tied around her wrist to open the box, and pulled out a very old looking roll of paper. "This," she said holding it up for everyone to see, "is the Scroll of Ages."
All the elves gasped excitedly, as they were known to do at dramatic points. However, Hermione, Blaise, and Draco simply looked at it blankly.
"Many years ago," Sno began, "there was an eighth elf. One day, he met an evil enchantress, and gave up his immortality to her for the ability to see into the future. He wrote down all the predictions he made on to this scroll, and died short after. The enchantress, however, was now immortal, and is still living to this very day." Sno paused. "Your importance in our kingdom has to do with both the enchantress as well as the predictions.
"For a while, the enchantress lived quietly in the mists of the Dark Wood, only causing harm to those who came her way. But as the years went on, her power grew, along with her ruthlessness.
"Now about two years ago, the Queen was called away urgently to tend to her sick mother, away in the farthest mountains. Not a single messenger can reach her there, nor can she send any messages to her kingdom. Although we hold hope for her return, no one can know when her mother will return to good health or pass into the next world.
"For when the Queen chose to leave, the enchantress made her move. Rumor has it that she made her way into the castle dressed as an old beggar woman. The King could not turn her away, and provided her with food and temporary shelter. She then turned him into something—no one is quite sure what—and sent him away or put him aside.
"Now, Lord only knows why, but the evil enchantress took to kidnapping the maidens of the kingdom. If she met a maiden, she would turn her into a bird, and lock her up in the castle. It is of belief that the princess came to such a fate. Almost all the maidens have been taken…and if they're not locked away, they're in hiding.
"Our land has been turned into a place of constant fear. Unmarried women can no longer go outside, and young men are distraught over their missing lovers. Many have tried to vanquish the enchantress, and have been turned to stone. It is a dark time in our land. We all simply hope for one who will be able to defeat this evil enchantress.
"This is where you come in. It was written in the Scroll of Ages that in the darkest time of deepest need in our kingdom, three would come from the farthest land to destroy evil and restore all peace."
Hermione gulped. "And you think we're these three…these Ones?"
Sno nodded intently. "It says two princesses and a knight. You seem to fit. However, it is also written in the Scroll of Ages that these three will not be able to complete the journey home until they have helped the kingdom."
Hermione and Blaise exchanged looks, and Blaise cleared her throat. "Well…how are we supposed to defeat this evil enchantress?"
There was a pause. "That's something you will have to discover for yourselves."
"A load of bloody good you are," Draco grumbled.
Sno shot him a threatening glance and continued talking to the two girls. "However, I think I have some items that can help you on your quest. It will be a long, hard journey, and you will often lose hope." She pulled open a drawer and pulled out a purple satchel. "That's what these are for. Inside this satchel are hardened tears of a dragon. Place one on your tongue, and it will restore your hope, confidence, and will." She handed the satchel to Hermione and opened another drawer. This time, she pulled out what appeared to be a loaf of bread.
"This is a loaf of everlasting bread. After you eat a piece of this, it renews itself. It also tastes like whichever food you imagine it to taste. Keep care of it, because you won't always find caring people to provide you with food." She gave the bread to Blaise, and then opened one last drawer, pulling out what seemed to be a match box.
"This is for those of more pampered dispositions," she said sourly, giving Draco a look. "Inside are three pieces of what appears to be ordinary cloth. Alas, when you place one of these pieces on the ground, it becomes a cot, complete with heated covers!" Sno took out a small piece of cloth and put it on the ground, and true to word, a comfortable-looking cot appeared. "Now," she said, "if you want to make the cot go back to being a cloth, you simply say, 'Dear cot, I thank thee for your fine services.'" The cot turned back into a piece of cloth, and Sno put it back in to the matchbox, handing it to Draco.
"Thank you so much for all of this," Hermione gushed happily.
Blaise bit her lip, clearly thinking hard. "I'm sure your gifts will help us, Sno, but isn't there anything you can tell us to help us?"
Sno smiled sadly. "Only to follow your hearts. Be strong, dear Ones. You have a hard quest ahead of you, but if you stick together and stay true, you can make it through the storm." She smiled at each of them in turn. "Now go, and save our kingdom!"
The three were just leaving the house, when Sno came running out to meet them. "One thing I forgot to tell you!" she said, breathless. "Blaise, Hermione…you should sleep with the covers over your head, because you don't know where the enchantress may be."
"Thanks, Sno," Hermione said, grateful. She hugged the older woman, and then they set off once more into the woods.
"Well," Draco said, clearing his throat, after a few minutes of walking in silence, "that was rather queer."
Hermione nodded, agreeing with Draco for the first time. "Yeah, it was. But I have a feeling we're going to encounter a lot of queer things on this 'quest.'"
The three had reached another clearing in the forest, just as the sun was starting to set. They sat down on various rocks, Blaise pulling out the loaf of bread. "Anyone hungry?" she asked, ripping off pieces of the bread and handing it to Hermione and Draco.
When they had finished eating their dinner, Blaise yanked Hermione away by the arm and led her a little ways away from Draco. "Listen," she said to Hermione, "I think we should give all our money and the gifts that Sno gave us to Draco to hold."
Hermione's eyes bulged out of her head. "You have got to be kidding me."
Blaise shook her head, the veil of her henin flying forward. "It's better that way. Since you and I are both girls, there's a possible danger for us. If either of us gets captured, and we still have the stuff, it's of no use to the other two. But Malfoy's not in the same danger, because there isn't a deranged enchantress after him."
Hermione snorted. "No way, Zabini. I am putting my foot down here. If we give Malfoy all the goods to hold, he'll probably run off to this enchantress and give us in."
Hermione pointed towards Draco. "Take a good look at him. He's evil." Blaise looked over towards Draco, who was happily smashing bugs with his shoes.
"I admit, it looks bad," started Blaise, "but I think I know him a little better than you, after being in the same house as him for seven years. Yes, he seems pretty evil, but he's really just a spoiled brat."
Hermione opened her mouth to argue, and Blaise cut in before she could speak. "Besides, do you think he wants to stay here, in this fairytale land? Malfoy wants to get home just as much as you and I do. He wouldn't go mess that up just because of evil urges."
Hermione took one more look at him and sighed. "Yeah, I guess you're right. I just have a bad feeling about this. He's such a horrible person."
Blaise laughed. "I'm not arguing with you that he's a horrible person, I'm just saying that it's better if he holds on to everything that we might not want taken away from us by an evil enchantress."
Finally having reached an agreement, the girls went back to the main area of the clearing. Draco looked up at them with a bored expression on his face, cocking an eyebrow.
"Blaisesaysyougetallthestuff," Hermione spat out quickly and spitefully, crossing her arms and sitting down on the grass like a child.
"What was that, Granger?" Draco said, completely confused.
Blaise clicked her tongue. "Hermione and I reached an agreement that since you don't have the chance of being captured by the enchantress, you should hold all the gold and the presents that Sno gave us."
Draco looked at Hermione. "You sure you trust me, mud-blood?"
Hermione glared up at him from her seat on the floor. "I know I don't trust you, Malfoy, but I don't really have much of a choice, do I?"
Draco smirked. "That's the way it should be." He held out his hand.
Grudgingly, Hermione handed him her satchel, and Blaise gave him the bag of Galleons and the bread. He pocketed them, seemingly pleased with himself.
"Well," Hermione said, "should we formulate a plan on how we're going to go about this saving-the-kingdom business?"
"We don't know where the castle is," commented Blaise. "I think the first thing we should do in the morning is ask around, try to find out how to get there. Maybe we can find a map of the kingdom."
"I think we should get horses," added Draco. "I am not going to be trudging about in the forests anymore."
Hermione sighed. "As much as I hate to agree with him, I'm afraid I do. All the walking is really tiring…if we had horses, we might be able to get around faster, and get home faster."
Blaise shrugged. "That's fine, I guess."
"We should also get swords!" Draco piped in again.
Hermione and Blaise both gave him skeptic looks.
"If we're going to be saving this place, we need swords. We're going to have to battle things and the like," he said, nodding his head to himself. "And I can't be a proper knight without a sword."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Sorry, but you're never going to be a 'proper knight.'"
Draco glared at her. "I'm just saying, it might be better for our safety if we have swords. Or do you not think our safety is important?"
Hermione crossed her arms. "I'm not saying that I don't think our safety is important, Malfoy," she said, her voice rising in volume. "I'm just saying that—"
"Children," Blaise warned good-naturedly. "No arguing!"
Hermione and Draco both fell silent, and Blaise started talking again. "I think getting swords is a good idea, too. But I also think that it's getting pretty late, and since we're probably going to have a big day tomorrow, we should go to bed."
Since the sun had set, and they all were tired, they agreed. Malfoy pulled out the matchbox, and set each piece of cloth on the ground, creating three cots. He quickly got into his, leaving Blaise and Hermione alone.
"Er…Blaise?" Hermione said meekly.
Blaise turned towards Hermione. "Yeah?"
"How are we going to get these dresses off? I don't really want to sleep in mine."
Blaise's eyes got very wide. "Oh, shit, I forgot about that. Well, let's first take our headdresses off and…oh, there's a zipper!" Blaise exclaimed, pulling at the back of her own dress. "That makes things rather easy. And I guess we can just sleep in our school robes."
Hermione smiled, and the girls helped each other out of their dresses.
"G'night, Blaise," Hermione said groggily, climbing into her cot and throwing the covers over her head.
"Night," was the mumbled reply.
Hermione's eyes flashed open at the sound of a nearby scream reverberating from the treetops, accompanied by the rustling of leaves, and cackling laughter. That sounds like a woman, she thought, sitting up quickly in bed. Her quick eyes took in the seat of their makeshift campground. Draco was sleeping soundly in his cot, but Blaise's bed was suspiciously empty.
"Blaise?" she called up, getting out of her cot. There was no answer.
Hermione's thoughts darted quickly around in her head. Could Blaise have been…?
She got up and started looking around the campsite, searching for any evidence of a struggle. Then she saw Blaise's shoes sitting at the foot of her bed.
If Blaise was going to go on a walk, she would have worn her shoes, Hermione's head screamed. She rushed to Draco's cot, and shook him awake.
"Gnngh?" was his tired response to her shakes, as he rubbed his eyes.
"Malfoy, I think Blaise has been captured," Hermione said breathlessly.
Draco's catlike blue eyes shot open in surprise. "What?" he gasped.
"I was woken up by a scream and the sound of a struggle, and Blaise isn't in her cot, and if she had taken a walk, don't you think she would have worn her shoes?" Hermione cried, holding up a worn pair of gym shoes.
"Shit," Draco said, bewildered, as he ran a hand through his hair. "Are you sure she's been captured?"
Hermione nodded. "Pretty sure. There doesn't seem to be any other explanation, does there?"
Draco shook his head. "No, but we have to hope there is one. Let's go look around her bed and see if we can find anything else."
The two walked solemnly to Blaise's bed, both hoping severely that they could find some sort of clue to where she was.
They looked around her bed for a few minutes when Hermione pushed back the covers on the cot, and pulled out a beautiful blue feather. She held it up silently for Draco to see.
"Just like she had been turned into a bird," Hermione said, fighting back tears.
"Well, there's no other answer then." Draco's voice was full of sorrow. "Blaise has been turned into a bird and kidnapped by the evil enchantress."
They sat down together on Blaise's bed, for once not arguing.
A/N: Next chapter: More appearances, lots of bickering, maybe the D/H action everyone's been waiting for, and Hermione's a man?! :D
I'm so sorry for the long wait on this chapter! *bites off tongue* I've been so busy with school, studying for finals and end of term projects, as well as all my extra-curricular crap. But as winter breaks are coming up, I shall have lots of time to write!! So expect one or two chapters coming up then. :D Also, sorry about taking Blaise out of the picture. _ I know, she's probably well liked. I think she's my favorite character in this story so far. But she'll be back, don't worry! Thanks to Thalia, who pointed out that Blaise's last name was Zabini, not "Zambini," as I had been writing it. *winces* I'm kinda embarrassed bout that…but I always just read it as Zambini. :P
Thanks once again to my wonderful beta, D'arcy (Tinkerbell). I've once again posted a chapter without her reading it first, so all mistakes are my fault. Also, thank you to all my recent reviewers: ljp, PracticalPrincess, Adelaine, Draco Lover, K-chan, Rebecca, Darcel, Happy little Rin-chan, Thalia, Shivohnsongbreeze, fyrechild, Tinkerbell, Emma, blue-strawberry52, dragon eyes, Blanca-Nieve, Rikku, and blinky86. I love you all!
So what are you still reading this author's note for? Review! (I've made it possible for anonymous reviews now! :D) -Suli