Promise Kept

Disclaimer: I do not own any version of Snow White.

The first time it had happened it had taken him awhile to realize that it had even happened. Snow White had been dead and he had failed and was back to trying to drown himself in a vat of ale (though at a much nicer establishment than the local tavern he regularly got thrown out of). So he kissed her. Kissing the dead as a goodbye wasn't that weird even if he had kissed her on the lips. It wasn't like he had been making out with her or anything.

And then afterwards she was alive again and he was just so blown away, so completely bewildered at how this had come to be but thrilled all the same. Death didn't count if it didn't last, right? He hadn't failed her after all. There hadn't been any time to really talk before they were all following Snow White into battle. Everyone had waited ten years for this day and had never really believed that it would come. Once it was clear that it was going to happen everyone just sort of wanted to get it over with, including him.

It was only afterwards when William was telling anyone who would listen that it was his true love's kiss which had brought Snow White back to life that the Huntsman began to wonder.

He had watched William kiss the fallen princess, that was true, but he had done it practically before she'd finished dying and a full week before she had come back to life. Surely a true love's kiss wouldn't take so long to kick in.

But he knew very little about the subject and so he sought out Snow White herself to help him figure it out.

"Is it true," he asked her, "that true love's kiss can bring back the dead?"

She had smiled wryly then. "You've been talking to William, I take it."

"Not so much talking," he replied. "But he has been quite vocal about it."

"He would be," Snow White said, sighing. "I keep telling him that him bringing me back to life – if that happened – is not a good reason for us to get married now and I don't even want to think of dating for at least six months. I've got to figure out how to run a kingdom, after all."

"Probably a good idea," the Huntsman said, having very little idea of how to run a kingdom but having seen a wonderful example in Ravenna of how not to. Snow White would have seen even more living in the palace with her, he could only assume. Then again, she had spent most of that time locked up. "Where did he get that true love's kiss thing?"

"There are stories as old as time," Snow White confided. "Stories of legendary figures from so long ago that no one is sure if they're even real or not. Stories of Aurora and Ariel and Belle…stories where true love's kiss will break any curse and even bring back the dead."

"So do you believe that it was true love's kiss that did it?" the Huntsman asked her.

Snow White just shrugged. "I don't know. I wouldn't have believed it before it happened but…I really don't have any better explanation for what happened. You all say that I was dead for an entire week and I believe you. I just don't know why true love's kiss would take a week to kick in."

The Huntsman looked away. "About that…"

"Yes?" Snow White said encouragingly.

"I kissed you as well," he admitted.

Snow White's eyes went wide. "You did? When did this happen?"

"Less than five minutes before I heard you giving a speech to everyone and saw that you had returned to life. You move fast," the Huntsman told her.

Snow White smiled. "Thanks. I had already wasted a week sleeping so I figured that that was no more time to waste." Her gaze turned speculative. "If it had been less than five minutes…I took a few minutes to reorient myself and to try to process what was going on. I really don't think anyone had a chance to come into my room after you left."

"I would agree," the Huntsman told her, nodding.

"So…" Snow White trailed off.

"So what?" the Huntsman asked blankly.

"True love's kiss?" she prompted.

The Huntsman blinked. "Oh. That. I don't know."

"How can you not know?" Snow White demanded. "I was dead, you kissed me, and now I'm alive again."

"You make a compelling argument," the Huntsman admitted. "I just don't believe that I love you."

Snow White rolled her eyes. "Thanks for that."

The Huntsman winced. "That sounded better in my head. I just…we haven't known each other that long, really, even if we did have some very intense times together. And I was mostly thinking about my dead wife and how much you remind me of her. I guess maybe in time I could love you and I certainly like you. And then there was what the queen said. Ravenna."

Snow White frowned at the mention of her stepmother. "What did she say?"

"She promised me that if I led her brother to you then she would bring back my wife," the Huntsman told her.

Snow White's eyes scrunched up. "I remember that. And then Finn admitted that it was impossible. What does that have to do with anything?"

"Was it, though? Was it really impossible?" the Huntsman asked urgently.

"I…think so," Snow White said slowly. "And you must have thought so, too, or you wouldn't have helped me."

"I did think so then," the Huntsman agreed. "But lately I really have to wonder…"

"Magic can't bring back the dead," Snow White said, softly but confidently.

"And yet somehow I brought you back," the Huntsman countered. "Or somebody else did. And even if it was true love's kiss then that's a form of magic."

"What are you saying?" Snow White asked uncertainly.

"Is it possible, not likely mind you, but possible that Ravenna could keep her word and what's more did?" the Huntsman asked her, sounding almost desperate.

Snow White smiled sadly. "If she did then wouldn't your wife be here now? Why would she bother to keep her promise and then keep her hidden from you?"

The Huntsman slumped slightly. "Yes…you do have a point. My wife remains dead, I'm sure. But what if she kept her promise in a different way?"

Snow White absent-mindedly tugged at her hair. "I don't understand. How many ways are there to keep your promise of bringing somebody back from the dead?"

"What if instead of doing it directly she made it so that my kiss can revive the dead?" the Huntsman asked.

Snow White took a moment to respond to that. "You really don't like the idea of being in love with me, do you?"

The Huntsman shook his head. "It's not that and I'm sure that you'd be very pleasant to be in love with. I just have this theory."

"The queen's own brother said that she was not capable of that," Snow White pointed out. "And wouldn't he know better than anyone?"

The Huntsman shrugged. "Maybe. I don't know. Perhaps she didn't tell him and he assumed, as you did, that that was impossible. Or maybe he knew full well and decided to lie to me."

"Why would he do that?" Snow White asked.

"Because he is a miserable little worm who raped and killed my wife," the Huntsman growled.

Snow White unconsciously took a step back. "He…I'm sorry."

"He said she wasn't the only one," the Huntsman continued.

"I can imagine," Snow White said distantly and for a moment the Huntsman had to wonder. "He didn't. But I think he wanted to. He always used to watch me."

The Huntsman nodded slowly and shook himself. "If we're talking about 'whys' then why didn't he wait to tell me until after I gave you to them, maybe made up some story about my wife being waiting for me in the palace?"

"He never struck me as all that bright," Snow White offered.

The Huntsman managed a smile. "No, he did not."

"So how are you supposed to know which it is? You would have used up your 'bringing someone back to life' kiss with me. And I am sorry," Snow White actually apologized that he had brought her back from the dead. That girl was something else.

The Huntsman raised an eyebrow. "Who's to say that I only had one?"

Snow White frowned. "Well, you only needed one and Ravenna only promised you one."

"That doesn't mean that I don't have an infinite number and should spend the rest of my life acting as though I don't without bothering to even investigate," the Huntsman said reasonably.

Snow White laughed. "Well, fine then. How do you propose to investigate?"

"First, I need to find a dead thing to kiss," the Huntsman told her. "Any ideas?"

As it happened, she did have several ideas.

They found a dead mouse in the kitchen and took it outside so that nobody would ask them why he was kissing a dead mouse. Or, as the case might be, why his kissing a dead mouse brought it back to life.

"Well," Snow White said, gesturing towards the mouse, "have at it."

The Huntsman glared down at her. "I'm getting there."

"I can see that," Snow White said, amused.

Making a face, the Huntsman gingerly brought the mouse closer to his lips.

"You know, if you're going to be this squeamish then it won't even matter if you can bring people back from the dead because you'll never actually do it," Snow White said helpfully.

Resolutely ignoring her, the Huntsman kissed the top of the mouse's head.

"You didn't kiss the lips," Snow White pointed out.

"I don't even know if mice have lips," the Huntsman began heatedly, "and I am certainly not going to-"

Something in his hand twitched. The Huntsman quickly dropped the mouse and it just lay on the ground for a moment before scurrying away.

"Well," Snow White said after a long silence. "I guess that answers that question."

"I want you to know that despite her evil brother and the way she threatened to kill me and basically destroyed everything that she touched, I'm suddenly remembering your stepmother with a lot more fondness," the Huntsman informed her.

"Duly noted," Snow White said dryly. "But I really don't think she counts as much of a stepmother."

"Because of the whole 'killing your father and imprisoning you for ten years before trying to kill you and actually succeeding at one point' thing?" the Huntsman asked.

"That certainly didn't help," Snow White agreed. "But it was mostly because she killed my father on their wedding night so she was my stepmother for less than a day and probably didn't even consummate the marriage."

The Huntsman winced. "Your father did not get a good deal out of that one."

"No he did not," Snow White agreed. "So what now? You can apparently bring dead people back to life. Are you going to go find your wife or do you think too much time has passed?"

The Huntsman shook his head. "She was cremated. I can't."

"Gus?" Snow White asked hopefully.

The Huntsman shrugged. "If someone else is willing to dig him up for me and bring him here."

Snow White laughed again. "That's nice!"

"I just feel that if I'm the one doing all the brining back from the dead then other people should try and meet me halfway," the Huntsman claimed.

"I'm sure the other dwarves will be happy to," Snow White told him. "Or possibly complain about the fact you're not doing it yourself but they'll do it. But what about after that?"

"I never did get that reward," the Huntsman said thoughtfully.

Snow White rolled her eyes. "I'll get you those hundred gold pieces."

"I'm be satisfied with thirty," the Huntsman told her. "Friend discount, you understand, and that's all I need to clear my debts."

"How very sweet," Snow White said, grinning. "How did you ever manage to rack up such expensive debts?"

"I'll have you know that I have expensive tastes," the Huntsman said, sticking his nose up in the air.

For a few seconds they just stared at each other before they burst out laughing.

"To answer your question, princess, I'm thinking of going into business for myself," the Huntsman replied. "Do you think your court could use a royal bringing people back from the dead man?"

Snow White tilted her head back and gazed up at him. "My court would love a royal bringing people back from the dead man. I might have to think of a better title, though."

The Huntsman shook his head. "Oh no! The name's the best part!"

Snow White rolled her eyes. "Coming from someone named 'the Huntsman.'"

The Huntsman frowned. "My name isn't actually 'the Huntsman', you know."

Snow White's eyes went wide. "It isn't?"

"No. Why would that be my name?" the Huntsman asked her.

"I don't know!" Snow White cried out. "My name is Snow White!"

"And I was wondering about that but I figured that you were royalty and royalty worked differently," the Huntsman explained.

"That's what I was thinking!" Snow White exclaimed. "Except, well, not the part about being royalty. But what do I know about the common people?"

"My name is Eric," the Huntsman introduced.

"Eric," Snow White said slowly. "Huh."

"Did I really never tell you that?" the Huntsman asked incredulously.

"You never did," Snow White confirmed. "I think I'm going to keep calling you 'the Huntsman.'"

The Huntsman shrugged. "As long as I'm the royal Huntsman."

"That is an improvement over your previous idea," Snow White conceded. "Alright. The Royal Huntsman it is."

"No, actually I was thinking the Royal Bringing People Back From the Dead Huntsman," the Huntsman said seriously.

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