Once Upon a Long Time Ago, in a land full of strange happenings, one of the strangest of all was about to take place.
A woman by the name of Drewsilla, who reigned as Queen with her husband, King Charles, was about to have a baby.
A little girl was born, but there was something different about her. Her eyes were so dark and large that they almost looked like black pits staring deeply, her skin was so pale it seemed nearly opaque, and her wide mouth was colored blood red as if the infant was wearing rouge on her lips. Her dark hair was long and curly, swirling around her face in a knotted mess. All in all, as far as babies come, she was not the prettiest, but there was in fact more of an ethereal, almost terrifying feel to her.
But unfortunately, not long after the odd child was birthed, her mother died from complications from the pregnancy. Although this had been somewhat expected, the King was unable to face the truth, and for many years after he often turned to his young daughter and spoke with her as though she was her mother, for sometimes they looked very much alike.
It was only sometimes however. The girls appearances seemed to change. Usually, she had a softer tone of color in her lips, her eyes seemed more brown than black, and her curly hair was easily tamed into respectable styles. But other times, usually during or after a traumatic or trying experience, she would change, reverting back to the horrifically vivid monster that her mother had seen before passing away.
For instance, when she was around seven years of age, she was on one of the royal horses when a rabbit ran across in front of them. Unable to contain her frenzy, the horse sped into a nearby forest, traveling for miles while the young girl screamed, trying desperately to hang on. They passed many truffle farms, and even a small cottage tucked away in a small grove of trees, but the horse never slowed.
A terrible change began to happen to the Princess, and suddenly the horse stopped dead in its tracks.
Of course the entire royal court was in uproar, searching high and low for Her Highness. It was her father that found her, and when he did, he briefly considered hiding for fear of his child.
She was dangerous and mad looking. Though there was no wind, her hair swirled up in every direction, and instead of her usual sweet smile she wore bloodied fangs. Her beloved horse lay dead at her feet, tiny bite marks penetrating arteries.
King Charles gagged, but rushed forwards as the girls black eyes rolled up into her head and she collapsed over her pets corpse.
Cradled in his arms, she opened her now normal eyes, mouth gaping slightly.
“What’s happened Daddy?” She coughed slightly, and blood spattered her fathers chest, but it was not hers.
Charles closed his eyes, and unable to tell her the truth, he responded with a lie. “Your horse was attacked by a wild beast. But it’s alright, I’ve got you, you’re safe.”
The Princess jerked her head up, tears welling in her eyes as she saw her dear friend lying dead across the grass, blood pooling from her and coloring the ground a filthy rust color.
“Penny!”The child’s voice strained and broke.
On their hands and knees the father and daughter mourned, and since that day, the little Princess Snow had an escort that kept her safe as best he could.
Three years later though, he too was killed by the wild beast, and it was his own son that found him. Strong for his age, Hunter took Snow by the arm and half-carried her back to the castle before allowing his emotions through.
He was her only true friend, the only one who wasn’t afraid, and also one of the only ones who knew her great secret yet didn’t care. In blissful ignorance they lived, until yet another tragedy hit and the country was left without a King, and Snow without a father.
King Charles had remarried, to a beautiful and kind woman by the name of Rinae. She had had a witch for a mother, and was searching for a cure for Snow White. As she beseeched her husband for information to help with the spell, he confided in her, explaining that the late Queen Drewsilla had been a vampire herself, and had passed away because her kind usually didn’t breed. Snow had gotten only part of her mother’s powers but it was enough that under trying circumstances she would turn, forgetting what had happened when she’d calmed and awoken.
It was as Rinae was in a hidden tower stirring together ingredients for the potion that Snow happened upon her, trying to find Hunter in a game of hide and seek.
“What are you doing, step-mother?” She asked quizzically.
“Nothing dear, run along.” King Charles stepped out from behind a bookcase full of spell books.
“Is she doing magic?” Snow’s eyes widened.
“Of course I’m not,” Rinae knelt in front of her. “Not yet, at least…see, I’m making something to help you.” Charles cleared his throat, and Rinae looked at him confusedly. “Does she not know?” The King shook his head slightly.
“Help me? What don’t I know?” Snow put her hands on her hips determinedly.
Rinae turned back to her step-daughter, ignoring her husbands pleading looks. “To help you for when you get…upset. It will make you more safe.”
Snow frowned, still confused. But then her eyes widened, darkening some. She sniffed, inhaling the fumes from the cauldron, and her limbs began to twitch involuntarily.
“Snow!” Her father reached out an arm to steady her, but her head leaned back, then snapped forwards and the transformation was complete. She snarled, fangs glinting in the greenish light of the room.
Gentle woman as she was, Rinae was barely able to catch herself before screaming, but the choked noise that escaped her lips caught the beast’s attention. Black eyes focused on blue, and the creature lunged, claw-like nails outstretched.
“NOOO!” Charles shoved his wife from harms way, his daughter landed on him instead, and screams could be heard throughout the castle.
Hunter came up the stairs but the door had fallen shut behind Snow and locked automatically.
Meanwhile, inside the small room, the potions table had been knocked over and the spell was spilling out the cracks of a small, barred window. Rinae was huddled in a corner sobbing, and Snow was waking up drenched in blood, lying hopelessly sprawled on the floor next to her father.
“Papa!” She caught his head, and now she was the one cradling him.
“Snow…it….Rinae…” His voice cracked, he coughed, and then was still.
Rinae was holding his other hand now, tears streaming down her beautiful face.
“What happened?” The Princess looked to her stepmother, “What did you do?”
“Me?” Rinae was shocked. “It wasn’t me! It was-” But the child had thrown herself back, and screaming, she scrambled to the door, falling almost on top of Hunter in her frantic escape.
She fled to the first place she could think of, and as she lay on her bed, bloody clothes leaving stains on her pillow, she cried, harder than she could ever remember crying before.
Charles had loved that woman, how could she have betrayed him? How could Rinae do this, she had seemed so kind? How could she kill Snow’s papa?
It was hours later before her step-mother entered the room, although many servants came and went, cleaning and redressing the princess, but it seemed all a blur to her.
“Love, I’m so sorry…” The Queen’s voice broke, and she sniffled quietly.
“You should be,” Snow managed to choke out, her voice cracked from little use.
A few minutes later Rinae whispered, “I brought you some tea…”
Snow glanced up and saw a tray in her step-mothers arms, with a plate holding cheese and bread and a cup of tea, steam curling off of it.
“Why is it steaming? Are you trying to poison me?” She pushed herself up with her back against the wall. “Get out! Leave me alone!”
Not wanting a fight, Rinae left the tray on a table and slipped quietly from the room.
Snow got up and dumped the tea into the trash, debated over the rest, and then threw it out too. She grabbed a satchel from her closet and stuffed it full of clothes. She looked at her rack of jewelry, and chose as single necklace, a silver collar-style locket that had belonged to her mother, and latched it around her neck.
Taking one last look at her room, she turned and followed her step-mothers path until the stairs, where she turned left, heading towards the kitchen.
Dodging in between cooks and chefs she managed to snag some bread, cheese, dried meat, and even a couple of cookies, which to her ten year old mind were very important.
And then she ran.
Through the woods, past farms, climbing over stumps and ducking under branches, daintily crossing a river using stones that protruded like steps, and finally she saw what she had been looking for. The place Penny, her horse, had died. She sat down on the bare spot of ground where her friend had breathed her last breath, and she wept once again.
Hours passed and she ended curled up in a cloak, tummy still grumbling after a small meal of bread and cheese. The meat and cookies she would save for later. Who knew when she would get to another meal?
Back at the castle, Hunter had been called in by a frantic Rinae. She was pacing her chambers, wringing her hands, her usually elegant dress was rumpled and her hair had strands sticking out at odd angles, making her look rather frightful.
She spun on her heel once again and saw the young boy standing at attention, waiting to be spoken to. She rushed over and caught him by the shoulders. “You must help me.”
And so it was Hunter, once again, who found his best friend, looking lost and forlorn, alone in a clearing. She was sleeping, but just to be sure that he was safe from the wild beast that Rinae had warned him of, the one that had now killed both his and Snow’s fathers, he held a short silver knife raised in a defensive position.
He approached carefully, and it was only when he accidentally tripped over a tree’s root and grunted that Snow stirred. Opening her eyes, she yelled, and for good reason. Hunter was hovering over her, a knife in his outstretched hand, and angled straight towards where her precious heart lay, beating fast in her chest.
“Oh. Hello, Snow.” He cleared his throat awkwardly, catching his balance, and moving the knife to a safer location on his belt. “Your um…Rinae, she sent me…”
Snow gasped. Surely, Rinae had sent someone Snow trusted, but to kill her! She had to run, she had to escape! Her breathing grew heavy, and she closed her eyes, trying to steady herself, for the world felt like it was shifting beneath her.
Hunter coughed slightly. Her eyes snapped back open, and they were dark, but not as terrible as Rinae had described to Hunter. Not yet at least.
Then she spoke, and her voice was the same, but different. It seemed to growl, and it was almost sing song. He looked into her deep eyes and they seemed to envelope him, the blackness covering his senses until all he knew was that he needed to stay still….
Time passed and he stayed where he was, eyes blank on the outside but swirling with incredible patterns of every color, that seemed to almost breathe, twisting and changing like he was looking into a kaleidoscope. Then the colors stopped and he could see Snow again, still dark, and with more red in her mouth. She lifted her hand and he recoiled, for in her palm sat a dripping, bloody heart.
“Take this to the Queen. tell her it is mine. Go!” And Snow was gone, and Hunter was running, fleeing deeper into the forest, and in his hand was a moist organ from some poor creature, still warm from its previous owner.
Rinae bought the story, uneducated as she was in anatomy, she agreed that it was indeed Snow’s heart, and she mourned, for the dreadful story that Hunter told her of her step-daughter ripping out her own heart in her sorrow, was more than the new Queen could bear.
The kingdom fell into despair, and Rinae was left with the task of leading. Hunter was the only person who understood some of what had happened, and even he was having memory lapses, so that his adventure into the woods and his time with Snow was blurred and confusing.
Meanwhile, the former Princess fled again, leaving the spot she knew, and heading into a deeper part of the forest. After a while, she came upon a strangely familiar place. In a grove of light, happy looking trees, was a small cottage with roses and morning glories creeping up its sides. Having no other idea what to do, Snow went to the door, and after thinking for a moment, she knocked.
A small – very small – man answered. “Yes?” He looked up, adjusting his spectacles upon his nose.
“A dwarf!” She squealed. She had never gotten to meet a dwarf before. And then another came to the door, and another, until seven little men stood peering up at her.
“Yeah, we’re dwarfs, what about it?” One, with his arms folded, asked angrily, his strangely large ears and nose wiggling slightly as he drummed his foot against the floor.
“I’m dreafully sorry, I didn’t mean to say it that way, I’m- Well, I’m lost, see, and I was hoping maybe you guys might have an extra room…maybe I could stay the night…” She trailed off awkwardly.
“Absolutely not!” The angry dwarf retorted.
“Now, Grincheux, lets think about this…” Another spoke up.
“Joyeux, we can’t just let a stranger into our house!” Grincheux shouted.
The dwarf who had answered the door put his hands on the two of their’s shoulders. “Now then, you’re both right. We should help, but it’s true we don’t know her…yet.”
“Prof, I don’t like where this is going…” Grincheux glared up at Snow.
Prof shook his head and turned back to Snow. “What’s your name, girl?” He asked kindly.
“I’m Sn- Sebille.”She caught herself carefully, glancing down at her rumpled skirt and trying to straighten it with her sweaty hands.
“Like the faery?” A fourth dwarf asked, then tried to hide behind the door frame.
“Timide, come back out here.” Someone said, before sneezing loudly.
“Everyone quiet. Well, as we know your name, we are no longer strangers, so come on in!” Prof took her hand and pulled her into the cottage, shooing the others in front of him and on towards a surprisingly spacious living room. The ceiling suddenly arced upwards and seemed to be supported partly by a great, living tree that swayed slightly as though their was a breeze.
“Magic…” Snow-now-Sebille whispered to herself.
“Yes.” One of the seven said simply. “Have a seat so we can all introduce ourselves.” She sat in a seat near the window. “I’m Dormeur. These are my brothers, Grincheux and Prof you’ve met, this is Timide, he’s rather shy. Joyeux is the one who will help show you to your room if we decide to let you stay. This is Atchoum, keep your distance, he’s the dwarf of sickness. And then there’s Simplet. He’s a real sweet soul.”
Sebille nodded at each in turn, allowing Joyeux and Prof to kiss her hand lightly. Timide looked like he was about to, but then he turned and put his face into a pillow instead.
“It’s very good to meet you all, thank you very much.” And so they spoke, Sebille fabricating a careful story about being a traveling orphan looking for work and a place to stay. She also learned that the seven dwarfs each had a certain, well, skill. As their names implied, each had a certain emotion or action associated with them, and they expressed them strongly.
After about an hour of enjoyable discussion that had allowed Snow to ignore what had happened earlier and immerse herself in this new character, Dormeur began yawning more often. Finally, Simplet requested dinner, and so the brothers showed Sebille into the kitchen.
It was filthy. Dishes were piled in the sink, mud stains from dirty boots and gloves were all over, leftover food sat on the table, flies buzzing around it. Sebille gagged slightly at the sight of an orange so covered in mold that it looked more like a large moth than a fruit.
Prof looked slightly ashamed. “You can tell we don’t have a brother named Propre.” Sebille laughed.
“Well, I used to, er, apprentice for a cook at a um, tavern, so if you help me get this all cleaned up I’ll be happy to help with dinner.” Snow had taken classes in what her father had jokingly called Common Sense. Courses on cooking, cleaning, drawing, strategy, reading, writing, animal care, first aid, and more.
Thinking about her father made the ache in her stomach grow, so instead she pushed him to the back of her mind and grabbed a grubby rag to start scrubbing away at the little wood stove.
After a much shorter time than she had expected, the kitchen was looking much more like a place that could be cooked in. And so, with everyone except for Grincheux’s help, a lovely stew and bread rolls was made, for though they may be dirty, the dwarfs were not lacking in good food.
Unbeknownst to them all, just outside a window covered by a rose bush sat another hungry little soul. Hunter had tracked her, using skills his father had taught him. Now he saw her humming a merry little tune, surrounded by a bunch of bearded midgets, and eating from a pot of soup that looked so good he had to keep his own stomach from growling to loudly.
For the next three years he kept an eye on her. She never did leave the dwarfs home, and instead acted as housemaid in exchange for food and a place to sleep. They treated her very well, and soon even Timide was comfortable talking to her about nearly anything.
The dwarfs were miners and worked not to far from the cottage, near the little village of LillyBrook. They often brought back little treasures for their new friend, usually things like pencils and paper for her to draw, sometimes paints, once a new dress. Then, on her first birthday with them, they brought her a necklace, with a tiny gem from each one of them.
In return she used the items they gave her to turn their grimy little bachelor cottage into a cozy, beautiful, home. She cleaned every corner, screamed in terror at every spider, and made each little bed in the mornings.
In four years, as you can expect, she had grown quite a bit. But the magic of the house itself seemed to realize that, and seemed to stretch to fit her.
After about a year she realized that without the help of servants, the one ‘Common Sense’ course she had missed out on was how to take care of her long hair. She usually tried to tie it up with some yarn, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to handle. Finally, on the third year anniversary of her moving in, she went into the bathroom with some scissors. When she came out it was with a short, simple yet cute bob. Her curly black hair framed her face sweetly.
And as she was living in conditions away from the troubles of the world and safe from practically all danger because of enchantments around the large property, she didn’t have any kind of episode the whole time she was there.
Meanwhile, Hunter had seemed to age ten year sin the four. He was keeping a great secret from his Queen, and he couldn’t even bring himself to face his friend, who now went by Sebille. Until one day, as he walked back onto the castle grounds, he was accosted by two large men who caught his arms, and, ignoring his angry questions, took him up to the Queen’s chambers.
She was no longer the delicate, sweet woman that King Charles had fallen in love with. Her pastels had been long abandoned and she now wore deep blood-red almost always. Her hair now longer danced about her laughing smile, but stayed tight under crown that seemed to bear all the weight in the world upon her head.
“You have been lying to me.” Queen Rinae had her back to Hunter as she stared out a window at her courtyard below. In the corner of the room was a row of many bottles, some filled with strange-looking fluids. One was uncorked and giving off a strong garlic-like scent.
“I beg pardon, your Highness. What have I been lying to you about?” Hunter asked warily.
“Every week you leave. You take varying paths, but they always lead in similar directions. There is something you do that you aren’t telling me about.” She turned around, looking disappointed.
“I swear it’s nothing.” He maintained his argument, but she wasn’t buying it.
“Tell me where you are going. Tell me now, or have your title removed.” She threatened.
Hunter straightened up. “I can’t.”
Shaking her head, the Dark Queen walked to her rack of potions and extracted one that swirled blue-green. “I’m sorry it’s come to this.” She walked over, and with the help of her guards, forced some down his throat.
It was cool, yet warm at the same time. Then Hunter realized his mouth was moving of his own accord. Then the whole story spilled out, as he explained that he had been having flashes through his memory lapses, that he had realized he’d been hypnotized, followed her path into the glade, and found her about a week after she had ended up at the dwarfs home. He explained that he was monitoring her to make sure she didn’t hurt anyone else, but wasn’t sure how to explain it to his Queen.
The haze faded away and his words were under his control again. Rinae had collapsed onto her couch, hands buried in her hair, sobs wracking her body.
“Too many tears have been shed over your step-daughter. Rejoice, because now I suppose you will see her again.” Hunter tried to comfort her, but empathy wasn’t really his strong suit when interacting with most people.
Rinae looked up. “Can she still be cured? Can I bring her home?” The pleading in her eyes was so real, Hunter’s heart ached. He hadn’t seen such human emotion in his Queen for at least the last three years.
“I believe she can.” He replied gently.
“Then you must help me.”
And so for the next six months they worked tirelessly on a cure. Potions and the garlic-juice and shattered mirrors were all mixed and melted, magicked together and finally it was nearly done.
Hunter left as he always did on Saturdays, and went to visit the cottage. He went past his usual hiding place in a large tree and instead crouched behind the rose bush that he had used the first time he found her.
There she was, sweeping her short hair up out of the way with a ribbon, apron on, obviously about to cook something. On the counter in front of her were the makings for pecan pie.
Atchoum and Simplet joined her, their beards and hair braided up to keep it out of the food. Together, they made a pie, while Hunter watched, knowing that this may be the last pie she made with her friends. It was both heartbreaking and exhilarating, sitting so close, yet so far.
Would she even remember him? Would she ever forgive him?
Suddenly he was pulled form his thoughts as the front door to the cottage opened. He must have drifted off, because the sun was much farther along in the sky and the dwarfs were marching out the door to pick truffles for dinner.
Hunter scrambled up into his tree before they came around the corner and found him. It wasn’t until they were far enough away he could no longer hear their cheery whistling that he climbed down. On his way back to the rosebush he saw something so shocking he tripped and almost landing on the pointy thorns in front of him.
There, walking towards the cottage, stood Rinae, wearing an ugly disguise, as though she was an old witch on her way to buy ogre toenails or some other disgusting thing.
Glancing around, she pulled down her hood and withdrew a vial from the covered basket she was carrying. Drinking it, she doubled over in pain, and when she stood again, she was a much shorter, wrinkled, twisted version of herself. In fact, if Hunter hadn’t witnessed the transformation himself he would never have known it was her.
She hobbled up to the cottage door and knocked. While she waited she pulled back the cover on her basket, revealing a dozen beautiful apples.
Snow answered the door, looking surprised to see a visitor. “Well hello! How may I help you?”
Rinae was frozen for a moment, looking her long lost daughter over carefully. Hunter could see her itching to reach out and embrace her. But she refrained from doing so, instead holding out her basket of apples. “I’m selling these. Money for a new coat for winter. Please?”
Snow melted kindly. “Well of course. Let me just grab some coins. Won’t you come inside?” And together they walked back inside.
Hunter crouched down and looked into the kitchen. The two were in the room right next to it, but he could just make out a gnarled hand offering one of the apples and Snow taking it, lifting to her mouth…she took a bit…swallowed….Hunter didn’t even dare breathe, he was so afraid of what could happen next.
At first nothing did, but then, right as Hunter’s pounding heart started to slow, he saw Snow collapse. Rinae was screaming, he could hear her. She was on her knees next to Snow, trying desperately to get her to wake up. She was calling, “Please, please, I can;t lose you again, please…” but it was no use.
Hunter and Rinae heard it at the same time. Whistling. The dwarfs were coming home. Rinae panicked, grabbed her things and fled. She ran in completely the wrong direction through the woods but Hunter didn’t try following to correct her mistake.
Grincheux was leading the way, and he was the first to notice something was wrong. Rinae had left the front door open. He held up a hand, stopping the others. Silence fell, and Grincheux stepped inside. Hunter heard an anguished bellow, the others rushed after, and the reactions of the seven brothers who had loved the girl so much were more than Hunter could bear. His own emotions encompassed him, and he sat, face in his arms, feeling emptier than he could remember ever feeling.
Simplet ran outside, trying to escape the tragedy around him. Timide and Prof followed, And Joyeux came outside, but their was no joy in his face. Despair encased him like a cloud. Atchoum and Dormeur were leaning against each other for support. And Grincheux came out last, holding the lifeless girl in his arms.
Hunter couldn’t move. And so he sat there, as the dwarfs worked. For the next two days he stayed on the property, hidden in trees and bushes. He had some food he’d packed for dinner, but he could only bring himself to eat a little bit of it.
The dwarfs used their many building skills and fashioned a beautiful coffin, keeping Snow wrapped carefully on the couch. They used glass from their windows, instead of the traditional wood. They inlaid it with jewels and were done surprisingly fast.
They laid Snow in it, and Hunter joined them from afar, standing behind a tree, watching the funeral procession. There Snow lay, and there she would, forever. The dwarfs grabbed their things and left for their mine, were they planned to work away their sorrows.
Now alone, Hunter walked up to the coffin, looking down at Snow’s pale face. He’d seen dead people before, and they never quite looked like themselves, they were just too empty. But Snow didn’t seem to have changed at all. Hunter couldn’t help himself, he had to say a proper goodbye. He lifted the coffin lid carefully, and cradled her in his arms, hugging her one last time.
As his tears slipped onto her dress, a thought occurred to him.
Weren’t vampires immortal? Wasn’t that what Rinae had said she was, a vampire? Well, only half, but would it be enough?
He set Snow back down and stared at her, wondering. It had already been a couple of days… it probably wouldn’t work, but he had to try.
And so he remembered the first aid training his father had taught him, half his life ago. And he performed CPR on his best friend, hoping with all his heart that she would live. Then he remembered the chunk of apple. And so he did the Heimlich maneuver, feeling incredibly stupid.
Snow White coughed, Hunter screamed, dropped her, and then apologized while trying to help her back into a sitting position on the coffin.
They both turned, and saw Rinae standing at the edge of the clearing. She had finally found her way back.
Snow looked wary. “Step-mother?”
Rinae ran forwards, finally able to hug her daughter that she had missed for so long. Snow let her, but didn’t return the favor. Hunter then realized she still did’t know the whole story, still blamed Rinae for her fathers death.
This was going to take quite a bit more explaining than Hunter was ready for.
Suddenly, their were seven more little voices yelling, “Sebille! Sebille!” The dwarfs had come back, probably when their keen senses heard Hunter scream…
Prof, Grincheux, Dormeur, Timide, Joyeux, Atchoum and Simplet were all hugging Snow and she was hugging them back.
“Sebille?” Rinae asked, confused.
“Yes, this is Sebille. Who did you think you were hugging, huh?” Grinchceux snorted.
“Snow White! My step-daughter!” Rinae straightened up.
Joyeux chuckled. “I’m afraid you are mistaken, m’lady. This is our dear friend, Sibel-”
“No she’s right. I am Snow White. Princess, that is.” The dwarfs gaped at Snow as she tried to apologize with her eyes. “And now, I’m sorry, but I need to talk to Hunter and the Queen.”
The dwarfs trooped back inside, and the three humans stood awkwardly, until Hunter broke the silence, and explained everything.
It took a long time to process all the information, for everyone, but eventually they came to the conclusion that they all should return to the palace together and Princess Snow should assume her place next to Rinae as Heir to the throne.
“But what about the dwarfs?” Snow looked sadly towards the cottage, where seven little faces could be seen peeking out from behind the window curtains.
Rinae thought for a moment. “Remind me, what do they do for a living?” She asked carefully.
“They’re miners. Extremely talented ones too.” Hunter responded before Snow could.
The Queen nodded thoughtfully. “We will contract them as Royal Miners, and they may have a wing of the palace.” She smiled at the gleeful look on her daughter’s face. “It’s the least I can do to repay them for taking such good care of my beautiful girl all these years.”
And so not three, but ten people trooped back to the palace, humming the whole way, and even Hunter reluctantly joined in, and Rinae let her hair down, fingering it and admiring Snow’s short style.
For the next thirty years Rinae ruled, Snow as Heir, and then Princess became both Queen and Wife and Hunter acted as Adviser, refusing to take the title of King.
The dwarfs stayed, building and creating masterpieces until soon the entire castle was full of treasures from them.
Nearly four hundred years later, all except for one of the seven brothers have passed on into whatever world comes next, and the one who is still left behind , though he is old and his memory may fail him sometimes, often tells their story and the tale of the Dark Queen, Snow White, Hunter and the Seven Dwarfs.
How much is true is up to the readers and listeners to decide.
And up in the highest tower there stands one relic that has remained untouched. A simple, beautiful, coffin. With a glass lid and rubies and emeralds, diamonds and sapphires, and the memory of a strange story of a young girl.