Before the Repose

Author's Note: Spoilers through War and Pieces, including 1001 Nights of Snowfall. Prince Charming joked to Sinbad to tell all his former lovers that they were what he was thinking about in his last moments—but who was he really thinking about when the bomb went off? One sided PC/Snow; Snow/Bigby.

Disclaimer: Thank goodness I don't own Fables, because I couldn't hold a candle to Bill's brilliance, and I'd probably find an "Animal Farm" level rebellion on my hands from his faithful fans.

Before the Repose

As Prince Charming dragged the bomb away from his friend, he surprised himself with every step he took that he still had the strength left to move—let alone drag a bomb through the air. He would not let his mind wander and distract himself from the task at hand. Not because it took any particular concentration to transport the carpet and its contents, but because if he let his mind run free, he was sure he would have to recognize how horribly disfigured he now was. 'So much for Prince "Charming".' he thought bitterly, aware of the irony.

His whole existence had been defined through his exterior. He knew how to pursue a woman, of that he was certain. He loved the chase, and he thrived in his conquests. Prince charming was persistent, confident, intelligent, and wise to the whims and desires of women, having centuries to perfect his art, but above all else, he was handsome—almost "achingly" so, to quote his stories. Without his looks he held no attraction, without his attraction he could not pursue women. Without his women he had nothing, and he was no one. The realization was not painful because he would miss the meaningless sex with every woman he came across, but rather, he would miss the distraction it granted him.

It was not a fact that Prince Charming openly broadcasted, and only rarely did he allow himself time enough to dwell on it. However, the fact remained that Prince Charming was in love, and had been for many, many centuries. It was a pain that cut him deeper than any rapier, caused by the woman whom he realized with acute awareness, would forever elude him. The irony was not lost on him that the one woman he ever wanted was the one woman he could never have. It was of this woman he thought of when he set to work rigging the bomb to explode, and laying the fuse. Prince Charming would have liked to think in these crucial moments when he single handedly prepared the steps for the final attack that would end the war that had taken so many lives of good fables, his thoughts would be of the pride he felt for serving his land, and his people in their moment of need, but the only things running through Prince Charming's head were thoughts of Snow White, his first wife and his first and last love.

All at once he was flooded by memories that almost sent him reeling to the ground with their intensity. He remembered dreaming as a child of finding a woman intelligent, witty, creative, and exceptionally, breathtakingly beautiful. He could envision every aspect of her, her smell and her presence and her laugh and her voice and her mannerisms and the way she held herself, absolutely everything—except her appearance. Prince Charming could never manage to see more than a clouded blur in regard to her physical distinctions, but that did not deter him in the slightest from forever pining for the perfect woman he had yet to encounter.

He remembered the day he first saw her, when his breath caught in his throat, and he wondered to himself that one woman could be so beautiful, and all at once, he knew without a doubt that she was the woman whom he had been imagining. Suddenly he couldn't remember a time when her face hadn't been the center of his dreams in vivid detail and Technicolor, the fuzzy images of his "perfect woman" a distant blur. Everything else had happened so fast, and to this day Prince Charming swore to himself that he was running on automatic as he approached her.

When Prince Charming had gotten close enough to see that the woman he had assumed to be sleeping so peacefully was dead his heart stopped and his mind was spinning. This wasn't right. She wasn't supposed to be dead. She couldn't be dead. They had a future together. They were supposed to ride off into the sunset together. They were supposed to live happily ever after together. Slowly, Prince Charming had approached the dead woman and bent over her, placing a kiss against her cold lips as he shut his eyes and prayed to any god who would listen for a miracle. Sure enough, he soon felt her respond against his kiss, and not daring to believe it, he pulled away to watch as her eyes flickered open and she whispered her name: Snow White.

The following events transpired in a hurry. Prince Charming had asked her to marry him on the spot, and it took only a moment for her to agree. He whisked her away to his kingdom, and they promptly got married. Snow White had met the situation with far more grace and poise than anyone thought she would, having recently been rescued from the experience she had had with the dwarf brothers—not that she was willing to talk about it, for that implied the events were still having a hold on her life and effecting it, and Snow White was far too strong for that.

The wedding day arrived so quickly, it was a miracle everything was accomplished in time, but the day and its events went off without a hitch, much to the relief of Prince Charming's mother whom, Prince Charming noticed, seemed far more excited and involved in the actual planning of the wedding than his bride-to-be. However, Prince Charming didn't allow himself to dwell on the fact. He devoted himself to his wife completely and fully, having every desire to indeed live "happily ever after" with her by his side.

Then the day came when Snow White decided to cash in on a promise that Prince Charming had given her on the day of their wedding. Prince Charming was by no means unwise to the whims and desires of women, and was perfectly capable of giving his new bride a wedding gift she would love and cherish. It would be some sweeping romantic gesture typical of him, and he would accomplish it with ease. However, Prince Charming didn't want to gift the woman he loved something typical of him. He wanted to go outside his comfort zone, and acknowledge that she was unique and independent. So he did something he asked only once of a woman: he asked her to choose what she wanted for a gift. It failed to surprise him that she did not wish to tell him right away what her wish was, for he had found a wife who was thoughtful, intelligent, and articulate. She didn't act on whims, and he loved her for it. The night she came to him asking him to teach her to swordfight was the night that for the first time, Prince Charming got a brief insight into the mind of Snow White.

This beautiful, intelligent woman before him was not nearly as naive and as innocent as Prince Charming had found himself to believe. For the briefest of moments she seemed manipulating, calculating, and capable of playing a role foreign to her true personality. Retrospectively, Prince Charming would acknowledge that this insight should have discouraged his affections for the woman, but the prince had fallen too in love with the woman and this revelation of her underlying disposition intrigued him and excited him, resulting in loving her just a bit more than he had the day before.

So he agreed to help his bride learn to fight and as he watched her progress he learned of her determination, her concentration, and her passion. Night after night, when Prince Charming would learn something new of his wife he was thankful for it, for every glimpse into her persona just gave him more to love about her.

Then the killings started. The first dwarf was nothing, just some routine crazy that was causing a stir in the underground kingdom. Still, it caused uneasiness in the prince that he could neither explain nor could he rid himself of. The second killing did little to ease his mind, and the coincidences seemed far too overwhelming. Still, denial is a powerful thing, and while he knew the truth somewhere in the recesses of his mind, his heart would not accept that the woman he married was vindictive and murderous. However, the third killing cemented the truth for Prince Charming, and removed the last shred of doubt. Still, he stood by the woman he loved with all his heart, unable to turn back how much he cared for her as he waited patiently, begging her silently to confide her actions in him. He watched as his kingdom prepared for a war, and his heart ached as still, his most beloved wife mentioned nothing to him. When the final killings happened, his need to protect her outweighed any other ramifications, even the life of another man whom he knew to be innocent of the charges. Finally, when the whole debacle was finished, the prince approached his wife, giving her one final opportunity to confess to him her crimes, beg his forgiveness, and cry her apologies. Snow White gave him no such reaction. It was then, in that moment of clarity, Prince Charming realized the most painful truth he would ever know: his wife whom he loved so much neither trusted him as he trusted her, nor needed him as he needed her, and she would never love him as he loved her.

It was that revelation that motivated Prince Charming to sleep with Rose Red. As Snow's twin, the girl was pretty enough, but that wasn't Prince Charming's reasoning. As low as he knew it was, he wanted to hurt Snow White as she had hurt him, and show his wife that he needed her just as little as she needed him, but most of all, he wanted an excuse to end the marriage on his terms, before she could beat him to it, as he knew she was bound to with or without his infidelity. The truth was that he didn't know how well he could handle losing her knowing he had done nothing wrong.

It took Charming every fiber of his being not to cry out to Snow White how much he loved her and how he would fall apart without her, but instead he said nothing as she signed the divorce papers and packed her bags, exiting their kingdom, but never his heart. Frantically, he sought to bed every woman he came into contact with, looking to fill the gap in his heart, or at least to distract him from the pain he felt. Red heads, brunettes, and blondes all shared his bed, sometimes all at once, but always after one after the other, and never any with raven hair. The pattern continued for years, and Charming never stayed with a woman for more than a single night, with only two exceptions: Briar Rose and Cinderella.

Briar Rose was his second wife, and he actually believed he had found the solution to the absence of Snow White when he saw her lying on a bed, so beautiful and serene, in a fashion heavily reminiscent of Snow White when she had been in her tomb. So, remembering how he had awoken his first wife, and somewhere hoping inside this woman could take Snow White's place, he kissed her, and she had awoken. The marriage had gone well enough at first, but it was painfully obvious to Prince Charming that his new bride was nothing like his first apart from her lavish beginnings that had somehow turned out poorly and beauty (to which in the depths of his mind the prince would swear Briar Rose couldn't hold a candle to his former wife). The disappointment he had felt at the realization that Briar Rose could not take the place of his Snow had driven him to the point of desperation, and so, he set the wheels in motion to end his second marriage in the same manner as his first—this time with Briar Rose's lady in waiting.

Prince Charming continued to seduce women with as much reckless abandon as he had after his first marriage, until he met Cinderella. The circumstances of his meeting with Cinderella were entirely unique from his encounter with his first two wives, but he could swear in Cinderella's mystery and defiance she would prove an excellent replacement to his first wife. How wrong he was. She was exciting enough in the beginning, as all women are, but the novelty faded fast, and Prince Charming was left congratulating himself that he had been able to hold out almost an entire month before yelling "Snow!" in bed—a new record. Realizing Cinderella could in no way fill the void in his heart left by Snow White, Prince Charming yet again set about to give his wife a means to divorce him—this time with a peasant girl Cinderella had befriended as a child. They stayed together just long enough for the two of them to get to the mundane world together before they divorced.

Convinced now, that marriage was not the answer to his problem (particularly with something in the mundy world called "alimony") Charming was content to continue to use women all throughout the mundane world, in the hopes of forgetting his wife, learning that even after his money had run out, his charms were more than enough to get him everything he needed from women. One day, Prince Charming realized he would never fully satisfy his need for Snow White with another woman, and decided to win her back. It was with that intent that he set out for Fabletown.

As soon as he was in Fabletown he contacted Snow White, hoping that she had been pining for him for as long as he had missed her. Charming hoped he need only show up, and his former wife would jump into his arms, content to get back together and live happily ever after. His disappointment was evident when after their encounter it seemed Snow had no intent of getting back with him at all, and instead of missing him for all these years, had held a bitter grudge against him. Oops.

Not to be stopped by such a miniscule setback, Prince Charming set about forming a new plan to woo his love. Although he would be lying to say that he had not enjoyed working closely with his first wife on his plan to sell his princely title, he had ulterior motives, mostly to gain enough money to impress her with lavish gifts and gestures. He paid no attention to the large, scruffy man she kept company with frequently, knowing from experience that this gruff man would fail to meet her standards. On the night of the annual remembrance day ball, as he saw the same man lead her out onto the dance floor, his heart sunk, and he had to excuse himself quickly at the risk of becoming violently ill. The man's interest in Snow was evident, but he refused to allow himself to believe that she would entertain the company of this strange man in any romantic sense.

Shortly after the ball, a lad Prince Charming knew to be named Boy Blue approached him in a state of panic asking for his help in rescuing Snow White and Rose Red who were in a great deal of danger up at the farm. It took a total of a fraction of a millisecond before Prince Charming was sprinting to grab his gear and meet the rescue team outside of the Woodland Buildings. Despite the severity of the circumstances, Charming took great satisfaction at noticing the absence of the man he had come to know as Bigby in the rescue team. The drive seemed to drag, as Prince Charming willed the car to go faster, afraid he wouldn't arrive in time to save the woman he loved. It shouldn't have surprised him to see that she hadn't needed his help after all, and had managed to save herself with great efficiency, but it stung nonetheless. His heart leapt out of his stomach and dropped to the floor as he suddenly watched half her head get blown away, and he was the first to run to her aid and scoop her up in his arms, whisking Snow away to Bluebeard's car and leaving the rest of the containment of the rebels to the others.

He had been hesitant to leave her side in the hospital, especially when he learned one of the people who would be taking turns staying with her was Bigby. His first encounter with Bigby had been when he was questioned by the man before being allowed to sign the Fabletown Compact. The questioning had started out innocently enough, asking about any information regarding the Homelands, but when Prince Charming mentioned his marriage to Snow White, he could see Bigby visibly tighten and knew he had struck a nerve with the larger man. The line of questioning soon turned to Charming's relationship with Snow White. Charming was stunned at the nature of the questions, but regained his composure quickly enough to tell in sordid detail his sex life with his first wife. He had watched as Bigby's eyes darkened and he clearly was using every ounce of self restraint he possessed to not punch Prince Charming in the face. Still, unflinching Charming continued, stopping only when he watched in panic as Bigby began turning into a wolf before his eyes. Grunting heavily with great breaths, Bigby managed to calm himself down enough to revert back into human form, as Prince Charming could do little but gulp. In a voice of forced calm, Bigby told the scared man never to talk that way about Snow in front of him, and if he did, he wouldn't be alive long enough to regret it. Charming couldn't help himself as he challenged the man before him, asking him what right Bigby had over Snow to tell Charming what he could and could not say about the woman he had been married to. Bigby looked him in the eye and told him that he had no claim over her, but cared for her enough to defend her honor.

"Listen, dog, I care about her too—"

"I think you gave up that right the day you slept with her sister and ruined her," Bigby cut in, his eyes fixed menacingly on the man before him.

The words had cut Charming deep, but he was not about to let Bigby know that, although he highly suspected Bigby somehow knew.

"I'll win her back, you know, dog. You have nothing to offer her that I can't give her tenfold."

"I haven't broken her heart."

"She'll forgive me. You have to know at the end of the day she'll always choose me."

"That's her right, but at the end of the day I'll be there to pick up the pieces you brake."

And so he was. Prince Charming had killed Bluebeard to defend Snow White's honor, but Bigby had saved her life. Prince Charming had earned the prestige of mayor, but Snow quit her position to raise Bigby's children. He thought his moment had finally come to win Snow back when it had been Bigby to break her heart and leave her. However, Prince Charming could only watch heartbroken as the woman he loved who clearly loved someone else mourned the father of her children's absence, falling heavily into a depression. Although he didn't fully understand the way Snow and Bigby were intertwined, he did conceit grudgingly that Snow was happier with Bigby, and that the two had shared a connection he had never been privy to when he was with her. Somewhere inside of him, Prince Charming knew that while he would never be given access to all the levels and facets of Snow White, Bigby Wolf was, and accepted them all without any doubt or regret.

It was then that Prince Charming had for the first time in his life, made a sacrifice of himself, and had placed someone else's happiness before his own, losing a challenge for the first time in his life and not getting his conquest. He arranged a way to get Bigby back to Snow White, and to give the two the happily ever after he would never know. The day of the wedding, Prince Charming approached Bigby privately before the ceremony, and shook his hand for the first time.

"I'm not sure she doesn't deserve better; someone who wouldn't leave her, but she does trust you, and need you, and love you."

"I'm not sure she doesn't deserve better either, but I know I trust her, and need her, and love her just as much."

"That's all I needed to hear. I really do love her you know."

"I can't imagine how much it must hurt losing her, but I'm not about to give her up."

"Just promise me from now on, you'll always be there for her, and never leave her wanting for anything. Let her know just how much you trust, need and love her every day."

"I promise."

With that, Prince Charming was gone, and although he would forever remain bitter with Bigby, he knew he had lost her once and for all, and couldn't have lost her to a better man.

Knowing he would never be able to compete with Bigby and knowing he would never be complete again without her, and now finding himself unable to even try to distract himself with other women with his newly deformed features, Prince Charming began winding the fuse back up until he stood mere feet from the bomb. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and whispered a message to Bigby, confident that somehow the winds would get it to him. Picturing Snow White's face one last time he pushed a button, thus ending his life along with the war.

Fables Fables Fables

Bigby silenced the young soldier standing next to him nervously rambling in his ear and stiffened as he listened to the winds that had begun to blow towards the camp. As he heard the message, his eyes closed in understanding of the fate of the man who had spoken the message and bowed his head, finding himself immersed in the extent of the love the man had for Bigby's wife.

He had long been made to feel insecure about Snow's relationship with her ex husband, especially given the intensity he sensed with which Charming loved Snow. He knew rationally, given the nature of the bond he had with her, they were soul mates, and she really did love him as much as he loved her, as hard as it was to fathom the depths of such a love. However, despite the rationality of his heart, his head often worried how Snow could love a beast like himself, when she had been raised in a world of princes and kingdoms. Bigby often wondered what she could see in him when she had first fallen for a man like Charming.

The final words of Prince Charming played over and over again in his head as he tried to sleep that night, reminding him just how lucky he was to have Snow White in his life, and just how hard he would work to make sure she knew just how lucky he felt.

The message was the last thing on his mind as he fell into a deep sleep.

"She really chose you Bigby. Remember your promise."

Fables Fables Fables

As Bigby stood hand in hand with Snow White in front of the giant bronze likeness of her first husband, he breathed in her scent, eager to know her emotions, and offer his support.

"What are you thinking about, Snow?"

"I think after all his shortcomings, he really knew when to step up and be a hero, and I think at some point he really did love me."

"I know he did."

Snow White didn't dwell on Bigby's response, or ask him how he knew. Instead she wrapped her arms around her husband and told him she was ready to go to the next grave.

Before they moved, Bigby put a finger under her chin and pulled her face up to meet his eyes.

"I love you, you know." Bigby said, his face earnest and his eyes pleading with her to understand as he held her close to him. After all, he had a promise to keep.


Author's Note: I hoped everyone enjoyed this. Please never doubt my loyalty to the Bigby/Snow ship, I was just letting out a thought that was bouncing around in my head since PC said to Sinbad to tell every woman he ever had an encounter with that she was the last thing he thought of as he died. Please review.