~x~X~x~

A/N: I saw Snow White & the Huntsman yesterday for my fifteenth birthday, and let me just say, I knew immediately that I needed to write some fanfic. This is my first SWATH story, but it is unlikely to be the last; I've grown especially attached to Ravenna's character, so expect some angst or emotional drabbles regarding her.

This here is a one-shot, canon, the start of the battle between Ravenna and Snow White at Tabor Castle in the climax of the film. It's in Snow's POV. It also includes the lyrics from one of the songs on the official movie soundtrack: "Breath of Life" by Florence + the Machine. I just fell in love with the song, and I think it really fits this scene.

Please review. After all, first SWATH fanfic here, and I feed on feedback like Ravenna feeds on youth. Okay, that sounded a little creepy… Just saying I really appreciate reviews, okay? *hugs anyone who reviews*

Mirror, mirror, on the wall… why don't readers review at all? *laughter*

Now, to the story! Thanks for reading.

~x~X~x~

I was looking for a breath of life
For a little touch of heavenly light
But all the choirs in my head say, no, oh oh
To get a dream of life again
A little vision of the sight at the end
But all the choirs in my head say, no, oh oh

~x~X~x~

Ascending the stairs of Tabor Castle should have been difficult, but the primal adrenaline that coursed through my veins now prevented me from acknowledging exhaustion.

My heart beat out a broken rhythm, keeping tempo for the scattered clatter of the horses' hooves at the gate. My palms were sweaty. The tip of my sword danced, quivered with tension and fatigue. My head reeled blindly, scattered thoughts caught up in a hurricane, yet I had disconnected my mind from my body. I drew towards the staircase of the Castle without even consciously willing myself to move, only half-aware that movement was happening at all.

~x~X~x~

But I would need one more touch
Another taste of heavenly rush
And I believe, I believe it so, oh oh oh
~x~X~x~

It was all a tidal wave now. I had leapt into the rush and now the battle itself bore me on, like the crest of a frothing white wave that swept above the clamor and tumult in the courtyard.

Everything seemed to fall away – the slicing screech of sword on sword, the grating of the gate as it struggled to rise, the shrieking fire as it rained from above, the shouts of my allies, the whinnying cries of the horses, the hiss of our enemies' arrows as they arced through the air.

~x~X~x~

And I would need one more touch
Another taste of divine rush
And I believe, I believe it so, oh oh oh
~x~X~x~

I was moving and I wasn't totally in control of it, but now I was ducking under the gate, now vaulting over the threshold, now sprinting up the stairs. The chaos of the battle died away behind me.

Clack. Click. Clack.

I felt like I couldn't breathe. I tried a deep inhale, but the more air I took in the more my lungs seemed to contract. Maybe Ravenna, my… my stepmother… wouldn't even have to cut me open to get my heart. It felt like it might pound its way out of my chest at any moment.

Then it hit me what was wrong, why it didn't feel right: it was so quiet. My own footsteps, amplified by the metal armor of Duke Hammond's forces, reverberated off of the Castle's ancient walls. Clack. Click. Clack. Even if Ravenna had not already seen my approach, I would still have betrayed my presence by my very footsteps.

Turn back, forewarned the voice in my head, and a chorus seemed to echo it. Turn back, Snow White, daughter of the dead king, and save yourself.

But another voice, softer, cooler – it did to my mind what a chill winter wind does to the skin. Save your kingdom, Snow White, it entreated, and the hair on my arms and the back of my neck stood on end. End the darkness, daughter of King Magnus, and reclaim your rightful throne, for this is your destiny.

And the voices shuddered through me, every fiber of me joining their song. But it was so quiet. Deathly quiet.

Would I die in a silence like this? Gasping out an agonized scream that no one would ever hear? Pleading for my life at the witch's feet? Closing my eyes so that I wouldn't have to watch while she tore my still-beating heart from my chest, dripping warm red blood?

~x~X~x~

Whose side am I on? Whose side am I?
Whose side am I on? Whose side am I?
And the feel of it rushes through me
From my heart down to my legs
But the room is so quiet, oh oh oh
~x~X~x~

I caught my first glimpse of her when I was halfway up the stairs.

Against the pale orange glow of her fire, the silhouette of Queen Ravenna shimmered like a spirit. I had expected her to turn to me – to threaten me, perhaps, or even simply to challenge me, to taunt me, to mock me. Ravenna did none of these things. She simply stood erect, watching the dance of the flames, as though she saw my death reflected there.

She could kill me now. Here, I thought. Without even looking me in the eyes.

It took all my willpower to take another step, but I did. Clack. And another, and another. Click. Clack.

As my foot touched down on the final step, Ravenna finally turned to me. It was a slow, almost casual movement, as though she were simply acknowledging the arrival of her beloved stepdaughter, not plotting to devour her heart. A smile played on her lips. Black fire rebelled in her eyes.

I waited for the threats. They didn't come.

I heard them anyway, in my head: Go on, princess. Draw your sword. I killed your father with his own dagger.

I looked back for a moment, feeling sick. I didn't feel in the least bit brave or heroic or destined, but that had no bearing on what I had promised… or on what I had to do.

~x~X~x~

And although I was losing my mind
It was a call that was so sublime
But the room is so quiet, oh oh oh

~x~X~x~

A rattle of armor and weapons, a whinnying of the horses, and the army moved up at the foot of the staircase.

Ravenna granted me a ghost of a smile. She nodded slowly, almost to herself, as though she were granting Death permission to reap my soul.

A horrible crack sounded from behind me. My heart in my throat, I wheeled with a start. The ceiling. She hadn't even moved, and the ceiling –

Jagged shards of black glass shattered and fell, pelting the army below me. The soldiers raised their shields to guard themselves. I saw a few fall, wounded or killed, in sprays of hot, wet blood.

I looked at Ravenna. I looked at my friends, biting my lip on a shriek. I looked back at Ravenna.

Then it happened.

~x~X~x~

I was looking for a breath of life
A little touch of heavenly light
But all the choirs in my head say, no, oh oh
To get a dream of life again
A little vision of the sight at the end
But all the choirs in my head say, no, oh oh

~x~X~x~

The tiles of the ceiling which littered the floor began to whirl as though caught in a tempest, coming together like pieces of bone into skeletal wraiths. Their forms were like men, but they had no faces, they wielded no weapons – their fingers, if they could be called fingers, were bared as dark glass claws. Their cries were the shrieks of glass against glass, a near-demonic serenade that echoed off of the Castle's walls. As one they reared and assaulted the Duke's forces.

Had I brought them here to die? Eric? William? The last of those who were willing to fight for my father's name?

But I had to fight.

~x~X~x~

It's a long way and it's come from paper
And I always say, we should be together
I can see the look, because this song has ended
And if you are gone, I will not be long
(Be long, be long, be long)
~x~X~x~

I faced Ravenna. The sword in my hand felt like the weight of the world.

~x~X~x~
And I started to hear it again but this time it wasn't you
And the room is so quiet, oh oh oh
~x~X~x~

I could feel my heart speeding up, and I almost was glad to hear its uneven gallop in my chest. For a precious second, I tried to memorize the sound, wondering how much longer I would get to hear it, and if that heart would still be beating when she cut it out, when she spilled my fairest blood here in Tabor Castle, as she had spilled my father's.

"Come," Ravenna beckoned, "and avenge your father, who was too weak to raise a sword."

~x~X~x~

And my heart is the heart of a life
For the devil to dance again
And the room is too quiet
~x~X~x~

There came a flash of hatred red as blood, a veil of night-black across my vision, a white noise inside my head – a cry that ripped from the blackest depths of my own heart – and I felt my body snap into a lunge.

~x~X~x~

I was looking for the breath of a life
A little touch of a heavenly life
But all the choirs in my head say no, oh oh

~x~X~x~