[A/N] Simple SnowCharm fluff. :) Beta'd by the wonderful VampyrycPinapple!
"Are you ready, Snow?"
Am I ready? The love of my life is waiting for me behind these doors.
Snow White grins at her bridesmaids—Red, Aurora, Belle, all beautiful in pale silver. "Of course. I'm just a little nervous."
Belle grins and embraces her friend. "It was the exact same with me and Adam. He'll be there, Snow. He loves you with all his heart."
I love you, Snow White.
Snow wipes at her eyes and lets out a small chuckle. "Don't make me cry, Belle. Please."
"Sorry," she apologizes. Aurora walks forward and hands Snow her bouquet, smiling softly.
"Leopold would be so proud," she whispers. Snow's face crumples and Belle rushes toward her and gives her friend another tight hug. Soon she is surrounded by her bridesmaids and tears are streaming down her face.
The door opens and Thomas saunters into the room, taking a moment to glance over Snow White. "James will love it," he says, grinning.
Snow White sniffs and embraces him. "Oh Thomas! Maybe—maybe you'll feel what we're feeling someday."
Thomas snorts, making Red roll her eyes. "Me? Married? You must be joking." He pulls away and offers her his arm, giving her a reassuring smile. "It's time, Snow."
Of James—of her father—of the dwarves—of everyone she's ever loved. The little baby brother in her arms. The native girl who taught her how to hunt. The King George threatening her and her beloved.
The dreams turn to nightmares, sometimes. She sees the Queen laughing over James' dead body, over her. She sees the dwarves dead and the huntsman killing her friends. Rumplestiltskin is there as well, standing alone in a battlefield where all others are dead.
And sometimes she doesn't dream at all. Most of the time she doesn't dream at all. It's always darkness where she is, and even James can't bring the light back to her world.
She dreams, and feels nothing.
Until, one day—a brush of lips against something. Herself?
The dawn breaks through the fog and her eyes fly open. The first thing she sees is James, mouth open and smiling in ecstatic disbelief. "You," she whispers, not sure whether this was a dream or not. She reaches up and cups his face. "You found me."
James leans into her touch and chuckles. "Did you doubt I ever would?"
She hesitates and smiles, sitting up and reaching for his hand. "Truthfully? The glass coffin made me pause."
James laughs and strokes her hair—she can feel again, thank God—whispering, "Well, you never have to worry again because I will always find you."
"Do you promise?" she says.
"Let's go," whispers Thomas under his breath. She wraps her hand on his arm, noticing how she is trembling as they walk. Flora, Fauna and Merriweather smile at them in the hall. Flora waves her wand and the doors fly open, revealing James and the crowd.
It takes her breath away.
Thomas smiles and takes a step forward. Snow follows him, unable to take her eyes off of James.
One step closer . . .
"Good, Snow, you're here," he says, cupping her face. "I thought you wouldn't come."
"When have I ever not come when you asked me to?" she replied, smiling. He shakes his head, a small smile on his face, and takes her hand, leading her to the balcony in his bedroom.
The sun is setting, throwing purple, orange, red and pink light as a colorful canvas over the forest and ocean. Snow sees the contemplative expression on James' face and grows perturbed. "James? Is something wrong?"
He shakes his head and takes her to the very edge of the balcony, putting his hands on the guardrail. "Look at the sunset, Snow. Isn't it beautiful?"
"Yeah, of course it is," she says, wondering where he's going with this.
He clenches his jaw, closes his eyes, and hangs his head. "I've been thinking this over for a while, Snow. And I've finally come to a decision."
Oh no. She knows what he will do, and she doesn't like it. She turns away, not trusting herself to speak, hoping that he will not break her heart like she broke his so long ago.
"Snow White, I want to live with you for the rest of my life. Will you do me the honor of being my wife?"
His words register in her head and she turns back to him, confused. "What?" she whispered, staring at the ring in his hands. It's gold, with an emerald as its single jewel.
"Marry me, Snow," he says, and it's all she can do not to throw herself into his arms.
"Yes," she breathes. "Yes, of course."
He slides the ring onto her finger delicately, as if she's a porcelain doll. She stretches her hand out, examining it in the fading light, and decides that the ring is definitely her.
"One day, Thomas, you will be standing in James' place, and there will be a beautiful girl walking down the aisle and you will be happier than you've ever known," says Snow under her breath.
Thomas smiles. "Believe what you want, Snow. I'll never settle down."
She can't look away from James. One step closer. One step closer . . .
They finally reach the base of the platform where the bishop and James are waiting. "Who gives this woman to this man?" asks the bishop, his eyes twinkling.
She can't bear it. Grumpy's words ring in her mind, but she isn't as strong as him. She's not used to heartbreak.
She stares at the ceiling blankly before making her decision. She sits up and reaches for the potion on the end table. "I'm sorry," she whispers under her breath before uncorking the vial and putting it up to her lips.
A wonderful feeling of lightheadedness fills her and she puts the vial back down on the table. She lays back on the bed and resumes staring at the ceiling. Only, she can't remember what she was thinking about earlier.
Suddenly Grumpy runs into her room, a large smile on his face, which is unusual for Grumpy. Usually Grumpy is, well, grumpy. "Snow! The wedding's been called off! Your Prince Charming's coming for you right now! What are you waiting for? Get ready!"
Snow White smiles at Grumpy and tilts her head. "Who?" she asks.
The grin melts off his face and he looks at the vial in horror. "What's wrong, Grumpy?"
"Snow, you didn't," he hisses with a groan.
A man runs in then—a man that rings a tiny little bell in her mind but she can't quite seem to place who he is. His face is flushed and he beams when he sees her. He kneels by her side and draws her into his arms.
"I should have known the king put you up to that," he breathes into her hair. She's too bewildered to reply and pulls him away, staring at him with wide eyes.
"Who are you?"
"King Leopold and Queen Gina," replies Thomas. She blinks the tears away and smiles at her husband-to-be.
Snow turns to her dear friend and pulls away, ascending the platform and taking her place across from James. He reaches for her hands and smoothes the pads of his thumbs across her knuckles.
"You look beautiful," he whispers, making her chuckle.
"Charming as ever," she replies.
Aren't you a real Prince Charming?
James sets out to win her heart all over again, then, and succeeds remarkably. She had no memory of their original encounter—but the tales he tells her make it worthwhile.
They're riding on horseback down a road, now, and he's running his thumb over her knuckles and she's never felt so at ease. "This road is where we first met," he tells her. "I was engaged in an arranged marriage. You'd felled a tree as a distraction. Then, when I was with the knights, you stole a pouch filled with jewels from the carriage."
"Me?" she laughs. "A thief? I can almost imagine it."
"It's true, believe it or not. I captured you after that and demanded to know what you'd done with the jewels. You told me that you'd sold them and took me on an adventure of a lifetime." He directs the horse off of the road and leads them to a river.
Something is stirring in her brain, but she doesn't know what. "This must've been where my escape attempt was," she says, pointing to the jagged scar on his chin. "Did I give that to you?"
He rubs his chin and nods. "Yes, but that was back at the road when we first met. You pushed me into the river here."
The idea—James is at least a half a foot taller than her and much stronger—makes her laugh outright. "Really? And did you catch up with me?"
"Well, yes and no. The queen's soldiers found you before I did."
She clutches at her heart instinctively. "And you saved me," she whispers, snapping her head up to stare at him. "James, you saved me!"
"You saved me too," he reminds her, dismounting. "Walk with me, Snow."
She gets off her horse and places her hand in his. Together they walk side-by-side along the riverbed. James comes to a stop and faces her. He takes a deep breath and says, "Snow, I love you. And I know you might not remember loving me, but you did. And I want you to love me again like I love you."
She inhales sharply and looks away. He tucks a strand of hair behind her ear, cupping her chin and turning her face back to his. "Snow White, I can't get you out of my head. You're the one for me. And that's why I want to court you properly, like a beautiful woman like you ought to be courted."
Snow almost feels like crying. "I wish I could love you like you love me," she murmurs.
He cups her face. "But you can, Snow," he says. "And you will."
Before she can respond, he kisses her, and, well, that's the end of that.
"Do you, James, take Snow White as your wife, to love and treasure for all eternity?" boomed the bishop.
A small smile blossoms on James's face, and he runs his thumbs over her knuckles one more time. "I do."
"And do you, Snow White, take James as your husband, to love and treasure for all eternity?"
She shakes her head, openly grinning. "I do," she said, making sure he could hear her.
"Then I now pronounce you husband and wife."
A great cheering erupts in the crowd. Snow beams and leans forward, closing her eyes.
The double doors in the back of the room slam open.
A knock on the door echoes throughout the little house.
Don't answer the door when we're not home, says Doc's voice in her head. Snow White shakes her head and peers out of the second-story window. An old woman—the farmer's wife, someone she's seen before—is standing at the door. She looks up at Snow and cracks a yellow-toothed smile, waving slightly.
Snow smiles in relief and rushes down the stairs, opening the door. "Greda," she says warmly. "How's Kai?"
"Kai is wonderful, thank you," greets Greda, smiling. "May I come in, dear Snow?"
"Of course," replies Snow, stepping aside. "Please. What can I do for you?"
"Oh, nothing special," says Greda, holding up a basket of apples. "Kai and I had an excess of apples this harvest period, and were wondering if you would like them."
"Oh." Snow blinks and stares at the old woman. "Um. I'm not sure if I should . . ."
They've reached the kitchen by now, and Greda takes an apple from the basket, rubs it on her cloak, and bites into it. She takes another one and offers it to Snow. "I've heard about those other incidents, dear me, so I can understand if you're suspicious. Would you like one?"
Snow hesitates another second before taking the proffered apple. Nothing had happened to Greda, so maybe . . .
She bites into the apple and staggers. Greda cackles and starts to shift. "Finally," the old woman—now the Queen—hisses. "Finally!"
The apple falls to the floor and Snow trips over her skirts, collapsing onto the floor. "James—" she manages, convulsing and fighting as hard as she can against the spell, "James will find me!"
The queen kneels at her side and bares her teeth. "He's not going to find you, my dear," replies the witch. "Because you'll be dead."
Snow's eyes roll into the back of her head and she falls still.
The queen stalks forward. Someone tells her to run, but Snow White has come too far to be intimidated by the likes of her.
"She's not a queen anymore!" she shouts, reaching for James's sword and unsheathes it. The queen eyes the sword pointed at her chest with unsettling ease. "She's nothing more than an evil witch."
James grabs her hand and forces her to lower his sword, taking the weapon from her hands. "Nonono, don't stoop to her level, there's no need," he murmurs into her ear. Then he faces the queen, steps in front of Snow, and says, "You're wasting your time. You've already lost! And I will not allow you to ruin this wedding."
"Oh, I haven't come here to ruin anything," says the queen innocently. A cruel smirk plays around her lips. "On the contrary, dear, I've come to give you a gift."
"We want nothing from you," spits Snow, fisting her hands in James's tunic.
"But you shall have it," the witch snarls. She glances around the hushed room and starts to pace. "My gift to you . . . is this happy, happy day. But tomorrow my real work begins. You've made your vows, now I make mine.
"Soon, everything you love—everything all of you love—will be taken from you forever," declares the queen. "And out of your suffering will rise my victory."
She pauses and turns around to face the couple once more.
"I shall destroy your happiness . . . if it is the last thing I do."
The recess bell rings and the kids get up, nearly running out the door. "We'll continue this discussion after recess," calls Mary Margaret at the children's backs. No one acknowledges her, and she collapses in her chair, clutching her forehead. A pounding headache has been wearing her down all day.
"You know what," she whispers to herself, "I'm gonna go get an Advil."
When she returns from the nurse's office, the two people she least expected are waiting for her. David Nolan turns around and his face lights up when he sees her. "Mary."
"David? Emma? What are you two doing here?"
Emma distinctly looks like she's sucking on lemons. "This guy was looking for you on the streets. I took him here and we talked. Sorry if we're bothering you, I can make him leave—"
"No, no, it's fine," she says, rushing forward and hugging them both. "You've just saved me the hassle of introducing you two to each other properly."
She feels Emma and David's arms wrap around her and then—her headache explodes into a burning sensation in her head. She pulls away, groaning, and David reaches for her. "Mary?"
She looks up and David disappears—he's replaced with an identical twin of him, wearing silver and black and beaming, surrounded by light and colors.
—everything you love will be taken from you—
—nah I like Charming better—
—good can't lose not when we have each other—
—you really are the fairest of them all—
—I will always find you—
Her migraine disappears, just like that, and David is standing before her once more—except he's not David and she's not Mary, and Red isn't Ruby and Jiminy isn't Dr. Hopper and the nag with the bad attitude isn't Kathryn.