Author's note: So I saw Snow White and the Huntsman with a friend yesterday, and it was amazing. But, in my opinion, the ending was a bit weak, and the romance needed more of a foundation. So this is my take on the story. Enjoy! :)
Once upon a time, in deep winter, a queen was admiring the fallen snow, when she saw a rose gleaming, in defiance of the snow. Reaching for it, she pricked her finger, and watched as three drops of blood fell to the ground.
And because the red seemed so alive against the white, she thought, If only I had a child white as snow, with lips red as blood, hair as black as raven's wings, and with all the strength of that rose.
Soon after, a daughter was born to the queen, and was named Snow White. She was adored throughout the kingdom, as much for her defiant spirit as for her beauty.
When Snow White was seven years old, the winter was the harshest in anyone's memory, and Snow White's mother passed away. The king was inconsolable.
Taking advantage of his grief, a dark and mysterious army appeared, and lured him into battle. But this dark army was not what it seemed to be. When delivered a blow by a king's soldier, these dark soldiers shattered, like they were made of glass. Thus, the dark army was defeated, but what would soon come to pass was far darker.
The king's men were only able to capture one prisoner that seemed to be fully human. She was a woman, with long golden hair and large blue eyes. Ravenna, she said, was her name. So enchanted by her beauty was the king that he forgot, for the very first time, his broken heart. And the very next day, she would become his wife.
But alas, this Ravenna was not the scared, innocent maiden she pretended to be. And that night, while the kingdom and the castle slept, the new queen drove a knife through the king's chest, promising to take not only his life, but his kingdom as well.
She had tricked her way into the kingdom with the phantom army, but now she welcomed a very real one to help her rule it.
The new queen's army fought with the men who had once been the king's soldiers, and overpowered them. A few managed to escape with Duke Hammond, and unbeknownst to the queen, took refuge in a fortress far away. But they failed to bring Snow White along with them, and the queen sent her men to capture the young princess and imprison her in the North Tower.
So poisonous was the reign of Ravenna that nature turned on itself, and people turned on each other. The land died, and with it, hope.
And all that time, Snow White remained imprisoned, high up in the North Tower.
Snow White blew softly on the fire to make it grow. Even though summer had only just ended, it was already growing very cold.
Just the way Queen Ravenna liked it.
I should have known, Snow thought often, I should have known there was something wrong about her right from the start. Luring my father into marriage, and after only a day…
"I should have known," she said aloud.
She picked up two crudely-made figures that represented her dead parents, and hugged them to her chest. "Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name..." she recited. She prayed for her parents every day, to ensure that their souls would be blessed. She had to pray quickly though, and never louder than a whisper. If the guards saw her praying, she would be punished; food most likely taken away for a week. The prayers seemed to work against the queen's dark magic, and thus, uttered prayers had been forbidden, and all the churches in the kingdom been destroyed.
When she had said, "Amen," Snow placed the figures on the hearth and stood, walking over to the window. It was small, but was her only source of air and natural light in the dank, dark North Tower. Sometimes, if she was lucky, a bird would land on the windowsill and sing for a bit. But even they seemed to sense that the castle was home to something darker and more foreboding, and they never stayed very long.
As she let the sunlight bathe her face, Snow heard footsteps from the hall, and the rattling of keys. She tore herself away from the window and watched what was happening. A new prisoner was being brought in, to the cell directly across from her. It was a girl perhaps a few years younger than Snow White. She had orange hair, and despite a dirty face was very pretty.
Occasionally, a prisoner occupied the cell across from Snow, but they were usually men charged with treason, and did not like to talk much, no matter how desperate Snow was for human conversation. Now, Snow had someone who might talk, for a change. When the guards left, she called out, "Hello?"
The girl didn't respond.
"Hello?" Snow said again, louder this time.
Snow heard movement, and then the girl was there, staring through the small window in the heavy iron door of her cell, shaking slightly but looking Snow right in the eye.
"What is your name?" Snow asked gently.
"I am Greta."
"What happened to you?" This came out a bit more harshly than Snow had intended.
Greta answered nonetheless. "All the girls in our village were taken. I was trying to reach Duke Hammond's castle, and I was caught."
"Duke Hammond? Is he alive? Does he still fight in my father's name?"
"You're the king's daughter!" Greta exclaimed. "The night the king died, we were told that all in the castle were slain."
Snow brushed that off. "William, the duke's son... is he still alive?" William had been Snow's childhood friend, and he had escaped with his father the night the king was killed. Or at least, he had left the castle. She didn't know if he had survived beyond that.
"I don't know, Princess." Greta seemed truly sorry. Snow bit her lip and looked at the floor, disappointed. She thought the conversation had ended, but Greta spoke again. "Your Highness?"
Snow looked up. "Yes?"
Wide-eyed and trembling, Greta asked, "What will they do to me?" A few tears leaked out the corners of her eyes as she spoke.
Snow fiddled with the sleeve of her dress, unable to meet Greta's eyes. "I... I don't know."
Greta gave a solemn nod. "It's all right. I suppose I wouldn't want to know anyway." She looked Snow up and down. "If you don't mind my asking... how long have you been up here?"
"Since the night my father died. I was seven at the time."
"Fifteen years? Fifteen years alone, out of the sunlight, in these conditions?" Greta obviously could not imagine living that way. But, after a while, Snow had grown used to it. She nodded. "Yes. But I'd rather be alive in here than murdered by the queen."
"I suppose so."
Footsteps came from the corridor once again, and Snow stood her ground while Greta moved to the back of her cell.
The queen's own brother, Finn, strode towards Greta's cell, accompanied by two guards. "My sister needs you," he said. Snow could tell there was more to it than that. The guards entered Greta's cell and each grabbed her by one arm. "Why does she need me?" Greta asked, voice surprisingly steady. Finn smiled his slow, crooked smile, and Snow shuddered. "I believe the... company of one so youthful as yourself will do her good for today," Finn said.
Greta breathed heavily. "Merely the company, sir?" she asked.
"You'll see," he replied, and they left.
Snow White waited hours for Greta's return. For a while, she sat and stared through her cell bars, but eventually tired of it and moved to the window, looking out but still listening for any noise from the corridor. When a guard brought the usual stale bread and warm water for Snow's noon meal, she dared to ask when Greta would be returned to her cell. He only shrugged and gave a grunt, then left.
Obviously, the guards wouldn't be of much use.
She waited some more. The sun started to set, and Snow began to think that perhaps the queen had killed Greta. Maybe that was what Finn meant when he had said "do her good for today."
"Today, and today only, perhaps," Snow muttered.
She had her evening meal, more stale bread and warm water, and watched the hall. And then, finally, she heard the stomping of guards' boots, and Greta... was Greta crying? If so, why? For the second time that day, Snow pressed herself up against the bars to see what was happening. There were four guards this time, and they were completely surrounding Greta so that Snow couldn't see her at all. Harshly they threw Greta into her cell and slammed the door, laughing.
When they finally left, Snow called out to her. "Greta?"
No response, only weeping.
"What did she do to you?"
Again, weeping was the only response. All night, Snow was awake, listening to Greta. She couldn't sleep because of the noise, but she didn't want to anyway. Greta shouldn't have to suffer alone.
Snow knew that the queen had caused this. And the thought came to her that, if only she hadn't been so naive as a child, she might have seen through Ravenna, and been able to warn her father before it was too late. All of this... it's my fault. I could have prevented this darkness from consuming the land.
And the dark voice in the back of her mind said, You could have saved your father.
"He's in Heaven now," Snow whispered, trying to quiet the voice. "With Mother."
But she let a few tears fall, in spite of herself.
Thoughts? The faster you review, the faster I update! :)