Spoilers within this fanfiction:
-Fables events related to Kay (up to War and Pieces events),
-some of the War against the Adversary events (though not the identity of the Adversary)
-the end of Jack of Fables.
Copyright: While many characters in this fanfiction are from the Fables series by Willingham/Vertigo, Gerda is from the original Snow Queen fable by Hans Christian Andersen (and never made it into Fables) and other characters will be identified as they appear.
The house on Pleasant Street had all the creature comforts and none of the memories. It belonged to a German-immigrant family who had enough money to support a live-in nanny, and buy a piece of real estate in not-quite-New-York. Gerda had been living there ever since she came through, celebrating their Mundy birthday and Christmases and vacations. It was that type of job.
She'd come to them on her own, not through an agency, so there hadn't been a background check, which was good. Her crossing hadn't been strictly planned and she didn't have anything she needed to be 'American'. The family got this, accepted it, and she went about her business for them discreetly. No trouble about her past. If that was what it was.
Soon after she started living here, she had made up the term 'fringe Fable'—a Fable who just merged with the Mundys and forgot the Homelands they lost. There were reasons: they had never been very important anyway, or had failed their stories—their quest now was to forget. And Gerda was doing just fine with that. Sometimes there was a twinge, like when she got red flats for Christmas or had to read the kids her own happy ending'd fairy tale. But just fine, overall.
Until she walked into the kids' bedroom one night to tuck them in, promising their parents would be in after a moment to say goodnight to them. She was straightening from picking up Marnie's teddy bear when the mirror above the bureau exploded.
"GERD!" Stefan shouted, already half out of bed, his bare seven-year-old's feet almost touching the floor.
"Stay there!" She snapped at him, already picking her way towards the closet and the mess of glass, glad she had on her flats. From the wreckage, the mirror had shattered from within. Pressure, maybe? She wondered as she opened the closet door and examined the kids' shoes. What would put such pressure on the mirror? The frame had no sign of sudden wear or stress. There were no projectiles lying on the floor and this wasn't the type of neighborhood where people got shot. She headed back to the beds, shoes in hand.
"Stay in bed, Stefan, there's glass on the floor. And don't let Marnie up." She set the shoes on the bed. "I don't want to see you unless it's an emergency. I'm going to get your parents. Don't let Marnie off the bed."
" 'kay," Stefan said mildly as Gerda stepped out into the hall. She made it no further than the first decorative mirror. There were several of them spread around the hall, most small. They made up for their smallness by exploding, throwing their shards at her as people thought porcupines threw their quills. Shielding her face as they went off, she heard them continue as she ran, one after another. Was someone shooting?
When she reached the end and looked down the hall, every single mirror had gone off. When 'Dad' opened the door to the master bedroom, one hand was cloaked in gun-filled darkness, the other holding a power flashlight.
The mirror directly across from him did nothing.
"Don't come in the hall!" she babbled. He wore shoes, but remained obediently where he was, waiting for an explanation.
"The mirrors are exploding. The kids are all right but you should really go to them."
"The one in our room is fine. Do you need some help cleaning up? Have you heard someone break in?"
She started walking towards him, running a hand through her hair to check for glass. The flashlight in his hand caught the mirror face and she saw it tremble.
"No, I haven't heard anyone."
It kept quivering but she chalked it up to reflections and kept walking until it snapped and threw itself like a great blanket over 'Dad.'
He ducked, an arm over his head, and shot the ceiling, but he had not shot the mirror. Gerda stumbled back on her feet, hearing the little rain of glass particles, and knew with a certain numb clarity that this was a Fable thing. Unexplained things happened around Fables. All the mirrors in the house exploding unexplainably when you passed—when you had grown up in the shadow of a mirror? Of a curse? There was a private little fear in her, always had been, that what happened to Kay could have happened to her just as easily… so she trembled when she stepped forward. Spotted the blood on his face and the mirrors glimmering further down the hall.
Retreat. You can't let Mundys know Fable things and this is a Fable thing.
"Gerda, what's going on?" Mrs. Arnold was at the door, one hand self-consciously clutching at her nightdress front. She spotted her husband. "Nathan!"
"I-I'm… excuse me please."
-and she ran. The mirror over the coat rack popped like a dramatic effect as she fled into the street. The effect didn't extend to windows, street lights, or glass in general, so her flight down the street was strangely silent. She kept expecting to hear the roar of a motorcycle, like in a movie the kids had wanted to see a couple of years before, or a wizard to come along dousing the streetlights. But that was magic, not Fables. Fables had to take care of themselves. She kept seeing a spray of shards in her mind; falling all over the life she'd tried to make. Remembering everything but especially Kay—
Okay. Breathe. Stop running. Slowly, she did. You just left everything behind but your silly red shoes; you're going to need to go back in the morning and get everything anyway. Right now they probably think you broke all the mirrors so you could take off with their game consoles and GPS's.
She called 911 and reported the incident, then spent the night on a park bench, her heart thudding against her chest too fast to go home.
When she turned up in the morning, they had her things ready. Dad had needed three stitches, but it didn't look like there would be a scar. They were confused, not angry— and asked, not begged or demanded, for an explanation. She got the feeling they would have let her stay, if she had wanted or asked for such a privilege. The kids would be upset but she wasn't safe for them. Even in the confines of the park, she had broken four public bathroom mirrors, various rearview mirrors, and the compact in her own purse. Mirrors just broke.
It continued into New York City, three months later, when she was up to her knees in unemployment. She had tried being a waitress and promptly realized how popular décor mirrors were. Four broken mirrors defied coincidence and she had decided to leave. A brief stint in retail followed that—nine breakages in her first shift. Even freelancing with a make-up company—no one wanted pieces of glass in their eyeshadow.
Before long, she didn't have enough money to make the next month's rent.
That's when she started looking for Fabletown.
This is a (completed) multi-chapter story, updated with 3 chapters on Mondays until completion.
Explanation: I wrote it because it feels like Kay gets royally screwed over in the series and because I like the Snow Queen story too much to leave it at that.