Author's Note: This is a short break from my Holmes and Poirot mystery, which is totally kicking my butt. Sorry, authors of the Holmes fandom. I'll get it done before 2019... maybe.
Anyway, this is sarcastic, but more tame than my Jack and the Giant Cornstalk fic (by the way: if you're into Monty Python, you'll love that). I think it's good, at least. Enjoy!
ONCE upon a time, in a far-away land, there lived a beautiful queen and a beautiful princess. Their comparative beauty was the cause of much debate, drama, and plotline. The Queen had been twisted by jealousy, for the Princess had lips as red as blood, hair as black as ebony, and skin as white as snow.
It is always best to start from the beginning, but this story will instead begin on one spring morning at breakfast. The Queen, Abigail, sat at one end of the huge table in the dining hall, while the Princess sat at the other. This was hardly practical, but it looked too impressive for Queen Abigail to pass up.
"It's too bad that Prince Daniel had to leave so soon," she shouted sweetly. "He couldn't even stay long enough to tell you goodbye." The Princess did not appear to hear her stepmother; she concentrated on arranging her cutlery. Honestly, when would the servants learn that these things had to be placed at right angles? "He was so handsome – but not very bright. Why, I had to convince him that you were the one he was to court, not me!" The Queen laughed shrilly. The Princess moved on to her goblet, shifting it so that it was exactly two inches from her perfectly aligned plate. She was then able to finally pay attention to Abigail. "And it's no wonder," the Queen said nastily. "Snow White, I know it's the fashion to be pale – better than most – but you really are too pallid."
"That was not Prince Daniel's opinion," the Princess said calmly but loudly.
Abigail scowled in a most undignified manner and fiddled with her eggs. After a few moments, she threw down her fork. "I'm going to my room," she muttered. Snow White, of course, could not hear her from across the dining hall, but she could guess. Abigail was going to consult with her mirror.
Abigail tried to sweep into her room, but the effect was ruined by the fact that she was pouting. She stomped over to the large, elaborate mirror on the back wall. She took a moment to check that her teeth were clean, and then tried to look queenly, sticking her chin up in the air and staring at her reflection under half-closed eyelids. "Mirror, mirror, on the wall," she intoned, "who is the fairest of them all?"
Her reflection smiled faintly. "You are."
She sniffed. "Of course I am. How fair is that wretch of a stepdaughter, Snow White?" She turned away from the mirror, and then looked back anxiously.
"She is far too pale, Your Majesty," she heard her reflection say. "She cannot compare to your beauty." Abigail smirked, as did her reflection.
"Go on," she commanded semi-regally. She paused. "Snow White is just a girl. She might be pretty, but she can never be truly gorgeous, as you are. You are the fairest of all, Your Majesty." She smiled fondly at her reflection. "Yes, I know. Thank you. No, the pleasure is all mine, Your Majesty. It ought to be. Now, tell me once more, mirror: who is the fairest of them all?" Her reflection hesitated, lip trembling. Suddenly, she burst into tears. "Snow White is the fairest, Your Majesty!" she howled. "It's not fair! She can't be prettier than I am! She can't!" She looked at the mirror, sniffling. "You're absolutely right, Your Majesty! I have to do something about it. I have to… get rid of her! That's an excellent idea, my beautiful Queen. First I have to get cleaned up, though. I can't order guards around looking like this. That's all right, Queen Abigail. You're beautiful anyway. Thank you, but I'd rather clean up. It is as you say, Your Majesty." With that, Queen Abigail left her mirror alone.
After breakfast, Snow White left to make sure that her bedroom was in order. As she put everything away and made the bed (habits which exasperated the servants to no end), she sang. She had perfect pitch and a pleasant voice. Unfortunately, birds of that era were prone to harmonizing with any handy female voice. The birds chirped along with Snow White's tune and flew into her open bedroom window, only to be met with the business end of a broom. An explosion of feathers marked their exit. "Don't come back!" Snow White shouted as she slammed the window shut. She despised the outdoors; it was much too untidy for her tastes. With a sigh, she began to pick each and every feather off her bedroom floor.
Someone knocked on the door. Snow White waited until she had gathered all the feathers and thrown them out the window before calling out, "Enter."
A guard slipped inside. "Princess Snow White? If you would come with me?"
Captain George was somewhat confused about the orders he had received. Killing the Princess made no sense. In his opinion, Queen Abigail (long life and good fortune to Her Majesty and her reign) had gone barmy.
"Where are we going?" Princess Snow White demanded. She did not understand why she had to go out into the woods, of all places.
George came to a decision. His loyalty was better off with an eccentric princess than with a psychotic queen. He stopped, nearly causing Snow White to run into him. "Queen Abigail (long life and good fortune to Her Majesty and her reign) ordered me to kill you. She's off her rocker; you're not safe near her."
Snow White wasn't as surprised as she felt she ought to be. "Where am I supposed to go, exactly?" She was not staying here any longer. The urge to sweep up every leaf and straighten every vine would drive her insane.
George shrugged. "Anywhere that you're not likely to die is fine. If you'll excuse me, I have to go tell Her Majesty that I've slain you and all."
Snow White glared at him as he left, but soon common sense overruled her annoyance. She had to begin searching for a place to stay. Unfortunately, getting through a forest is a messy business, especially when you count the trees as you pass them. She was forced to wind her way around every obstacle. "Haven't you ever heard of a straight line?" she yelled at nature in general.
After a couple of extremely irksome hours, she broke free of the underbrush and found herself in a large clearing. Oddly enough, there was a short house in the middle of it. Confused, yet grateful, she went inside – and froze. She started to hyperventilate. This was bad. This was worse than the forest.
The entire surface of the low ceiling was layered in cobwebs. Dirty dishes, half-filled cups, and bits of leftovers were strewn over the counters. Some of the wood floor peeked out from underneath the dirt and laundry. An axe was stuck into the door of one of the cabinets, which were empty but for more cobwebs and the odd bit of china.
Snow White was going to faint. There was nothing for it; she had to fix this.
The cottage was a sort of extreme bachelor pad owned by seven dwarves. Being all male, they were more than accustomed to finding their belongings in the oddest places. Socks turning up in the sink didn't faze them in the least. However, as they returned home from their mining, they found everything in the one place that they never expected it to be.
"What's going on? Where are the plates and stuff?" one asked, bewildered.
The oldest looked around thoughtfully. "I think they're in the cupboard."
Another scoffed. "And I suppose our clothes are in our wardrobes, too?" No one answered. They were wondering why they could see the floor.
Someone spotted something at the table. "I know that's not where that goes!" he exclaimed, pointing. There was a girl slumped over the table, fast asleep. The dwarves shuffled over curiously; it had been some time since they had seen a human or a female.
"Are people supposed to be that white?" one asked. His question, or possibly the smell of multiple dwarves after a hard day's work, woke Snow White. She stared groggily at her unwilling hosts.
"Who are you? What are you doing here?" one of them asked.
"I'm Snow White. I cleaned your house," she answered sleepily.
"What kind of a name is that?" asked a dwarf in the back. Everyone ignored him.
"Who are you?" Snow White inquired.
"I'm Jolly," one growled.
"My name is Moronic," another said, adjusting his glasses.
"I'm Drowsy," the shortest one said brightly.
The dwarf closest to her stuck out a filthy hand. "I'm Timid," he declared. She shook his hand reluctantly.
"I'm Infirmed," the one in the back shouted clearly.
"My name's Disgruntled!" another exclaimed.
The oldest dwarf ended with, "You can call me Doc."
Snow White blinked. That didn't fit with the otherwise consistent, albeit absurd, list of adjectives. "Doc?" she repeated. Doc nodded.
"Who asked you to clean our cottage?" Jolly barked. There was a general chorus of agreement.
Doc held up his hands. "Wait a minute, men. This could be a beneficial arrangement."
Five dwarves stared blankly. Moronic cleared his throat. "There might be something in it for us," he translated. The sound of dawning comprehension filled the room.
"You don't have anywhere else to go, do you?" Doc asked Snow White. She shook her head. "If you can cook, wash, and continue to tidy up around here, we'll give you food and shelter." He turned to the dwarves. "Think about it." They made a valiant effort, and agreed. They all turned to her.
Snow White thought that the whole thing was ridiculous. She was making a deal with seven vertically and hygienically challenged men to organize their house, which was sure to be a full-time job, just so she could sleep on a cot, at best. It sounded better than dying, though. "Okay," she consented.
"Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all? Why, you are, Your Majesty. Snow White is dead! She has been dead for three months! I love it when you remind me of that. Say it again. Yes, my Queen. Snow White is dead. She's gone. She kicked the bucket! Thank you. However, I heard a tale of a maiden in the woods. Could that be her? It cannot be, Your Grace. You had her killed. That's true. What if the Captain didn't do the deed, though? His absolute loyalty to you makes that impossible. That is so. However, perhaps I had better go make sure. Whatever you say is best, my beautiful Queen. Yes, I know. I'll disguise myself with magic and take poison with me. That's an excellent idea, Your Majesty. Thank you; I know. Farewell, mirror!"
Snow White cleaned while the dwarves were away. To be fair, she cleaned while the dwarves were there, too, but the cleaning went much more quickly when you didn't have to worry whether you had stepped on a something or a someone. She had learned to enjoy straightening the cottage up. She was absorbed in rearranging the order of the cups in the cupboard when someone knocked on the door. That was unusual enough by itself, but Snow White was beyond shocked when she saw who was standing on the other side.
"Hello?" was all she could think to say. When your jealous stepmother who tried to have you killed is standing on the threshold of your refuge, twitching like a maniac and holding a basket of apples, there is really no correct response.
"Hello, little girl," Abigail wheezed in a truly pathetic attempt to disguise her voice. "Please buy an apple. I need the money to… help my two sick children!"
Snow White stared. "I don't like apples." She shut the door, but pressed her ear against it.
"She doesn't like apples!" she heard from the other side. "What do I do now? Be persistent, my Queen. Force her to eat the apple. You can do it, Your Majesty! Did you see that she has a tan now? Yes, I did, Your Majesty. I told you that you are the fairest. You did, and you were right. Still, I must kill her. Do you think that she recognized me? She couldn't have, Your Majesty. You are magically disguised!"
Thoroughly disturbed, Snow White threw the door open just in time to see Abigail stuff a hand mirror in her cloak. "Who were you talking to?" she asked suspiciously.
Abigail smiled distantly. "I wasn't talking to anyone, my dear. Would you like an apple?" She shoved a bright red fruit in Snow White's face.
Snow White shoved it back. "No, thank you," she said politely, though through gritted teeth. As they struggled, Abigail screamed in frustration. Snow White gave an extra push, and the apple landed right in Abigail's open mouth. Abigail gasped and collapsed on the ground.
Mere moments later, the dwarves returned from their mining. "What happened here?" Doc inquired.
"My stepmother showed up at the door. She thought I didn't recognize her and held a conversation with herself. She was trying to kill me with an apple somehow," Snow White explained, attempting to convey Abigail's psychosis without laughing maniacally for illustration.
Infirmed sniffed the apple cautiously. "There's nothing wrong with it," he declared. "There's no poison."
"She tried to kill Snow White with a plain apple?" Drowsy asked, bemused.
"Mere intentions are good enough for me," roared Jolly. "I say we display her corpse to warn away our enemies!"
"That sounds good to me," Timid said. He went down into the cellar and emerged carrying a glass coffin. Snow White decided not to ask why they had one.
Just as they got the Queen into the coffin, a noble-looking young man on a horse burst into the clearing. "I am Prince Lawrence," he announced, while everyone was still silent with shock. "I seek a fair princess that is said to live in these woods." He looked over the party. He hadn't been told about any dwarves, but that wasn't important. There were only two women present. One looked like a peasant, tanned and unimpressed with his nobility. The other lay in a coffin. She was pale and beautiful. He turned his attention to the latter. "That must be the Princess!" he exclaimed, dismounting and kneeling beside her. "I love her."
"You can have her," Snow White interjected quickly. "You have but to kiss her."
"I know," he said. That had been one of his first lessons: when in doubt, kiss her. He leaned over and kissed Queen Abigail.
Her eyelids fluttered as she awoke (for she was physically, if not mentally, healthy). "Where am I?" she asked in a dainty voice. She knew perfectly well where she was, but it seemed like the right thing to ask.
"You are with me," the Prince intoned. "I am Prince Lawrence. I love you. Will you marry me?"
"Yes!" she shrieked, throwing her arms around him. "I love you, too! When can we be wed?" He picked her up and leapt onto his horse, which snorted indignantly. They rode off into the sunset together, leaving Snow White and the Dwarves to laugh over the ludicrousness of the last five or six paragraphs.
Prince Lawrence and Queen Abigail were married in three days. Three days after that, all the mirrors were removed from the castle. Three days after that, the mirrors were put back and Abigail was relocated to the nearest insane asylum.
Snow White never regained her famed pallid skin tone. She continued to systematize and clean the dwarves' house until Captain George found her, two years later. The kingdom was in dire need of a leader. By convincing her that it would be no more difficult than organizing a bachelor pad, he persuaded her to take the throne. She continued to visit the dwarves, though she was not there often enough to prevent the occasional use of a stew pot as a laundry hamper. During Queen Snow White's reign, no tax collectors took a roundabout route, no roads curved to a vague angle, and no celebration was ever held in an asymmetrical room. Everyone but Prince Lawrence lived happily ever after.
Review. Tell me whether you liked it and how I can make it better.