I don't own anything SWATH, just this fic.
Everyone's paths are predestined, determined the moment they are born and draw first breath. The way we are given the illusion of free will from the Fates is by those small, seemingly unimportant moments that have no impact. But the truth of it all is that it is those moments which truly lead us down the roads to our destinies.
Nothing Snow White could have done, no decision her father could have made instead, could have stopped Ravenna's descent upon the kingdom and the poison that she pumped into the earth's veins. Finding the nail by her window, her only connection to the outside world, sooner would not have gotten her out of her tower years before, nor would have Finn's desperation for a loving touch in human flesh, if he'd acted on it sooner and disobeyed his sister.
It was the what ifs and buts that kept Snow White's mind buzzing for the years that she was kept in the shadows. She treated each scenario as a fine thread, her mind filled with a tapestry of worlds that did not exist, that could not ever. Her tapestry of wishes and dreams and chilling nightmares was awash of rich colors and tightly woven to keep her mind alive.
It also protected her from that echoing loss each time she watched a young girl come into the cell across from hers and come back an old girl, weathered and aged without the accompanying wisdom and acceptance. The number of girls was lost on her nowadays.
So when she found herself at the marsh, the horse that rode her to the beginnings of her journey sinking into the thick mire, she saw her choices. Stay at the edge, trying to save it and being caught and dragged back so that she may die slowly on a stone floor and watch as her stepmother dined on her heart. Or run and hope something less sinister awaited her in the Dark Forest.
And again facing the blade of the huntsman at her throat or being handed over to Finn and the queen's dogs.
Her mind's eye could see once more her lifeless body discarded as Ravenna bathed in her blood. And Finn hovering in the shadows, waiting for her to forget about the corpse so he could take it away and have his own desire come true.
Or keep telling him the truth; that Ravenna was a liar and that he would be murdered, soul sucked out to prolong her evil life. If the dogs in front of them didn't do it first. And at best, he could take her somewhere where she could disappear. At worst, he would leave her to the forest. Which was still better than going back to her father's castle.
It seemed with each step that lead her to her freedom, she was choosing the correct thread, the correct footpath leading her to her destiny. Or whatever she was supposed to do. For there was definitely something. As she made her arrangement with the huntsman guardedly, for there was bound to be a faulty decision. Something that would make it all extremely difficult to bear.
Their journey to the Duke's fortress brought many thoughts to Snow White. She wondered if people were conscious of their decisions, if they took extra seconds to ponder and choose the what ifs that they preferred. She mourned over the loss of the river village, grateful that most of the women had managed to make it out and into the canoes. Doubly grateful that Ravenna's men and Finn seemed only interested in her and her beating heart.
What kind of plan did Fate have in mind when they brought William back to her? The handsome, infuriating, brave boy—no, man—who stormed back into her life and joined Eric and the dwarfs in protecting her. The one who was supposed to marry her, once upon a time.
Which led her to their parade, herself, Eric and William in the front, and Nion and Coll in the rear. If she wasn't walking and conversing with Eric, William would pick up. Talking with William, being next to him didn't hold the same the way hit had fifteen years before. The chasm of time was large. Definitely too large to handle while trying to gather an army and kill Ravenna. The thought that made Snow White bite her lip what that it was too big. That they could never get what they had. That thread in the tapestry had been singed.
When they came across the small river, she could see that Eric crossed ahead first and had waited at the other side for her. She stopped a moment and realized. She was at another one of those moments that could define her path. She had a decision to weigh out, one would make the fight flow smooth, and the other stilted and foster doubt and unease.
Let William take her hand as they crossed the slippery rocks.
Or cross on her own to meet Eric. And hoping William would follow closely behind.
Her mind drew out that, should she chose to go on her own, William was a loyal man and stay by her until the end, knowing he wasn't wanted, but needed by her and her kingdom. And if she took the hand of William, Eric would feel as if a die had been cast and would try to pull away once more, like he had as the river village burned into the weeds. The wounds across his psyche were to fresh to handle even the suggestion of denial.
But even as she made her choice, watching her step and reaching out, she knew there hadn't been much to think on. And while it hadn't been a moment where she truly acted on impulse, it seemed more natural to forge ahead than wait for someone to help her. This was the thread that felt the strongest, the one ready to use as an anchor.
It was nearly as strong as Eric's hand as he closed it around her own, squeezing gently before letting go, after assuring that she was on solid ground.
She stayed close to the huntsman, continuing the path. She didn't look back, Fate whispered in her ear that the prince would always be right behind her should she need him.
A/N: Reviews are loved and appreciated.