Disclaimer: This fan fiction is not written for profit and no infringement of copyright is intended. Unbeta-ed, so all mistakes are mine. Takes place shortly after the movie, "Snow White and the Huntsman." And this is my first time playing in this universe so please, gentle readers, be kind...
She comes to him three weeks after her coronation, wearing her leather gown and a sword on her hip.
She looks wary, tired, unsure- In short, much as she has for all the time he's known her. Dark hair tumbling like a sheet down her back. Blue eyes serious and tender and grave. Erik can tell there's something else on her mind, something that's making her fret. It's in the frown which puckers her brow, the way she seems so uncomfortable meeting his eye. She all but scurries into his room as if she were a serving girl and not his just-crowned Queen and he can't help but wonder-Why is she here now? What does she want with him?
And why would she seek him out when she has a kingdom to run and- if he is not very much mistaken- a besotted childhood companion to make her husband?
Snow White sits down at his fireside, eyes on the flames, and Erik waits for her to explain.
She pulls off her gloves- leather, thick, the gloves of one who rides a great deal and carries a blade- and sets them on her lap. Her eyes still on the flames, the heat bringing a morsel of colour to her cheek. Fingers twisting together, every inch the young girl he remembers from the deep, dark forest. She was always pale as snow, he knows this, but he thinks that maybe her skin is different now, more translucent, dark circles under her eyes. He wants to ask what is bothering her but he knows it is not his place. Instead he reaches into a bowl on his table and hands her an apple. For a moment she looks at it distastefully but then she gamely takes a bite.
"I remember you liked them, lass," he says, taking one for himself.
"It's not so much that," she says softly, "Not anymore. But avoiding a thing that frightens you is unwise-" She gives him a brief, wan smile- "Though I suppose you already know that."
He has to smile in return, folding himself into the chair opposite her. "I've never been thought wise, your majesty," he points out.
This time her smile is wider. "I've seldom thought you anything else." And she finally meets his gaze, her pale cheek blushing scarlet in the heat. Something twists in Erik's chest, something which he resolutely refuses to name. "And please, call me Snow," she continues, "It's… It's what they called me when I was a child. I would like you to use it."
He raises his eyebrows in surprise. "You do not wish me to call you Your Majesty, or even Lady Snow White?"
She shakes her head, eyes dropping back to the flames. Turns the apple in her hands, apparently unwilling to take another bite. "No, just Snow," she says softly. "If it pleases you. I had so little time to regain that name, and now I am being asked to give it up again… I would be grateful if I could retain it while I am with you."
Erik thinks her request a strange one but he does not argue. She had so little for so long that he hasn't the heart to begrudge her a name, not when he's seen what she has faced. So he nods and munches on his apple, hoping his ease will set her at hers. Wondering again why she had come to him here in his dwelling, musing uneasily on the cast the court gossips might put on it since she is so young and lovely and unwed. Perhaps it finally occurs to her just how improper her presence is because she looks up at him, a determined glint in her eye. He knows that she is about to explain her visit, and he wonders whether he will be happy with what she has to say. But he still smiles at her encouragingly, trying for her sake to look every inch the man she remembers-
Her smile matches his, its beauty jarring in his broken-down hovel of a home.
"I suppose you're wondering why I came here," she begins softly then. "Why I came without an entourage, why I came to see you."
He looks at her shrewdly. "Aye, the thought had occurred, Snow."
Her smile widens at the name. "To tell you the truth I could think of nowhere else to go. Nobody will answer my questions."
"And you think I can?" That surprises him.
"Aye, I think you can. I think you will be honest." The light in her expression dims somewhat and he has to lean in closer to hear what she has to say. "I saw much when I was locked in the tower, it is long since I have been innocent," she tells him. "And yet most of the questions I ask the ladies at court seem to shock them, and their answers are so ridiculous they don't make any sense."
Something uncomfortable darts through Erik. "What questions have you asked them?"
"I don't know… Why men follow me wherever I go, even when they do not know that I am their Queen. Why their eyes are always on me even when they don't know who I am." At his surprised look she rushes to elaborate. "I have occasionally gone to the market at Firness with William, to move amongst the people. I was locked in a tower for a decade, I do not wish to be kept in isolation now."
Erik scratches his beard, unsure with where this is going. "And the men follow ye about?" he asks, trying to keep his voice even.
He is painfully aware that he doesn't succeed.
"Yes," Snow says, "They follow me, they stare at me- And I don't know why. It makes me uncomfortable." Her eyes flash up to his and suddenly he can see her vulnerabilities laid out there, making her look far more a maiden than a Queen with a throne. Without thinking he lays one hand on hers, giving it a squeeze. It is, he tells himself, a fatherly gesture but he cannot bring himself to believe it and he certainly doesn't think she will. "When you looked at me I did not feel uncomfortable," Snow is saying quietly. "I…I liked it, when you looked at me. It did not make me wish to hide, it made me want to be strong. To be seen." Her eyes go back to the fire. "I miss that," she says, her voice barely above a whisper. "I miss you. I wish you would come back to me."
Instantly Erik is on his feet: He cannot have her saying that, not with who she is, who he is.
She is his Queen and he her subject; A huntsman can know no other place in her life than that.
And she has a good man, her William, her boyhood companion. He is calf-sick with love of the girl, anyone can see it, and he will make her a fine, steady husband. A fine, steady king. But though he knows it is madness Erik does not walk away from her, does not tell her to cease her foolish cant. He knows it can lead nowhere but he still sets himself before her at his hearth, his hands reaching up to touch her shoulders, his heart beating like a drum in his chest. She looks at him as if she's expecting him to say something- anything- but with her so close he finds he cannot utter a word to her.
The only thing he can conjure to do is kiss her and he knows he cannot permit himself to do that.
"Do not meddle with me, girl," he says softly instead, almost desperately. Almost hopelessly.
She is so close and she is his Queen but all she wants him to do is call her Snow...
She frowns, perplexed. "They keep using that word at court," she tells him. Her fingers have found their way down to his face, her thumb tracing across his cheek. It is the most… innocent touch he has ever known. "They keep asking me whether you meddled with me. I believe you did, though not in the way they mean." And the blue eyes are probing as they stare down at him. Suddenly she looks like a woman and not a maid. "They mean the loss of my maidenhead when they say meddle, don't they Erik?" she murmurs.
"Aye, I imagine they do."
"And they think you and I-"
His voice is fierce. "Don't let them think that," he tells her. "You cannot let them believe that, it will be trouble for you."
He can tell she doesn't understand. "But my maidenhead is mine, like my heart. Why ever should I answer to another about where I have bestowed it?"
He shakes his head; Sometimes he forgets how little she has known of the world. She is not stupid, but she is naïve. "They wish you to guard your virtue until you are married," he says. "That way they can be sure that your husband is the father of your child. Royal blood marries royal blood, that's the way of it. Did your mother never explain this to you girl?"
She shakes her head.
"Did nobody else ever tell you while you were stuck in that cell?"
She shakes her head at that too. "I was alone," she whispers. Her gaze has dropped to a point somewhere on his throat and he can hear from the strain in her voice that she is now speaking past a lump in her throat. He wonders whether any of her so-called ladies in waiting have tried to speak to her of what she suffered in that tower; He tries not to think about why the idea that they haven't enrages him so. "I used to dream of escaping," she murmurs. "I used to dream of a little house just like this one, of a home and children and a man to love..."
"You did not dream of a castle?" That Erik finds hard to believe.
But she shakes her head. "The crown cost my father his life. Pursuit of it cost Ravenna her soul. I never wanted the throne, not until I understood that I had to take it to help my people. I became Queen and I welcome it, but it was not what I used to dream."
"And what do you dream of now?"
Erik asks it, and he can hear the longing in his own voice, the arousal.
The sane part of him prays she will not give answer; His sanity is about to be sorely disappointed though.
"I dream of you," she whispers, her breath brushing across his skin. Her hands come up to tangle in the hair at the back of his neck and he realises that he is lost to everything. He is staring at his Queen as if she is the young maid he found in the dark wood and he no longer has the strength to care. "I dream of the kiss that woke me," she is saying, "I dream of your hands on me. I dream of you though I know I should dream of William, but I cannot stop it and I no longer wish to try." And she takes his face in her hands, her gaze pleading. She sounds like her words are tumbling one over the other, and Erik understands because his feel the same way. "Tell me what you want," she says. "Tell me what you want from me…"
"I want nothing from you, Snow, except what you want to give."
And he knows that is true, so takes her face in his hands and kisses her, hard and long, as he has wished to do ever since the moment he saw her face the bridge troll. Ever since the moment he saw her lead the Duke's men into battle, looking every inch a warrior and a winter-maiden Queen. For a second she is unsure, unused to the contact but then her mouth opens beneath his, her tongue slanting to search his out. Native ingenuity mixes with naïve desire as she wraps her arms around him and pulls him tightly to her, her hands moving against the rough fabric of his shirt to caress him, a soft moan escaping her mouth- And his. The heat of the fire reaches out to both of them, the flames dancing across her skin, turning its snow-cast beauty golden. She blushes as she pulls his shirt from his body, her hands tracing the bruises and cuts which have not yet healed, her gaze frankly curious and innocently aroused. Erik is gentle when he pulls the gown from her, when she bares her skin to him for the first time. It has been a long while since he has bedded a woman whose trade wasn't flesh but he swears he will do right by this one-Come Hell or high water he will do right by his Snow-
So he lays her down in front of the fire and kisses every inch of her. Lets her take her leisure in doing the same to him, her hands roaming everywhere on his body, her curiosity like a balm on his conscience. The die is cast now, he will not fight it. If her troops or her William arrive tomorrow he will defend himself, but he will not give up the here and now. He rolls onto his back, pulling her on top of him. She hisses in pain when he first pushes inside her but he soothes her. Forces himself to lie still until she adjusts to him. Forces himself to maintain a pace which is gentle and teasing and slow. Snow rides astride, her face a mask of honest happiness, her mouth open. She comes for him beautifully, head thrown back, eyes closed and she is the most lovely creature he has ever seen. His name is on her lips as completion washes over her and for the first time in years Erik's cold and ashen heart feels glad; His own moment arriving on the heels of hers, his body shuddering with the pleasure of it, his teeth bitten nearly bloody with the effort of not screaming her name into her ear. She holds him close through it, legs wrapped around his hips, mouth planting tiny kisses against his throat, his ear. His chest. Her soft voice whispering that she wants him as he folds her into his arms and lets her rest. They fall asleep like that, her smaller frame tucked against his larger one-
And just for that one moment everything is right in Erik's world.
He wakes as Snow is putting her gown on.
She feels his gaze raking across her from where they slept in his hearth's ashes, his eyes serious and unhappy. Hands tucked behind his head in an attempt at nonchalance that she doesn't quite believe. She feels sore this morning, her bones melted and then thawed, her skin raw as if she were wearing it inside out. Neither sensation is unpleasant but she knows that she should not mention to anyone what happened here last night. What happened between her and him. It is for the best, she tells herself, that she does not implicate him. For the best that nobody thinks he might be where her heart truly lies. Politics and court intrigue can be cut-throat, that she does remember, and she fears what William's men might do to him if they find she has taken a lover-
She may be Queen but she is too wise to think that she can keep Erik safe.
She has lost everyone she has ever loved; She will not risk losing him too.
"So you got what you came for," his voice sounds suddenly, making her jump.
She can hear its roughness- his upset- but she knows better than to point that out.
Instead she walks over to him, her gown tied, her expression rueful. Trying to show him without having to say it what this separation will do to her. "I have meddled with you," she says softly, brushing the hair back from his face. "I did not mean to. But I will not allow harm to come to you because of it."
The smile he shoots her is almost feral. There is pain beneath it, the pain of again experiencing a loss from which he thought he had healed. "You leave like this and you will harm me, lass: Do not think to delude yourself about that."
"Then what would you have me do?" she retorts. "Marry you? Bring you to the court to be my husband? Come here to be your wife?" She sees the horror in his face at the notion and she shakes her head, willing him to understand. "In people's eyes I will always be Queen-"
"And I will always be a huntsman." He takes her hand, presses a kiss to her palm. The ache of it goes straight to her heart. "But I cannot let you simply walk away, not for my safety. I cannot give up this man I am right here, right now, for the sake of other people and their meddling, judging ways."
She sighs. "What else can we do?"
Erik pulls himself into standing, not caring that he is stark naked. The sight is far more welcome than it should be to any modest maid- But then, as Snow proved last night, modesty is not her natural state. He wraps a lazy arm around her waist as if to trap her forever at his side, that rare smile of his forming on his lips and she knows she is in trouble. "I propose an amnesty," he says softly.
"An amnesty?" She must have sounded disbelieving because his grin is amused.
"Aye," he says softly, "An amnesty. Whenever you are within these walls you are no longer a Queen and I am no longer a huntsman. We will just be Snow and Erik, and we will meddle with one another in any way we wish."
She shakes her head. "But I will be wed soon, and you have been wedded. What about Sarah?" She forces herself to look up at him. "What about your wife?"
He places a silencing finger on her lips, his eyes serious. His gaze makes her stomach squirm into knots. "When you are here with me, you will be the girl you were last night, I swear it. And I will be that man. Outside of here I don't care what you do- so long as you keep yourself out of trouble- But within these four walls I'm yours, and you are mine entirely." He reaches down and kisses her softly. "I do not believe Sarah would object to that."
Snow knows she really shouldn't agree but she finds herself nodding. It's not a perfect solution but she cannot think of another, just as she must admit she cannot let him go. She knows without being told that this arrangement will bring heartache but in the coming years she knows it will bring joy too- Like so much else in life.
So she kisses him softly and turns to leave, wiping the soot from her lips as she does so. Humming a happier tune as she walks out the door and into the rest of her life...
Snow White married William and lived to a ripe old age guarded by her huntsman.
But then every child in this kingdom already knew that.
A.N There now, hope you enjoyed it. My first time playing with those characters so be kind. Thanks for reading this far and hobbits away, hey!