I got a Tweet invite from the lovely Alana Garrigues to participate in her new weekend writing challenge, #WeekendWritercize. Here is the prompt:
writercize: Enough with “they lived happily ever after” fairy tale endings. Pick a familiar fairy tale, throw out the happily ever after, and tell us what really happened!
And here is my story:
One Last Kiss
“I never should have insisted on one last kiss.”
The whispered words had become my mantra of sorts. I never said them where she could hear, of course, but I found plenty of moments to softly mutter unnoticed.
At first I’d been too overjoyed to have her back. Snow was alive! How could I have been expected to notice she was also different? But the sweet, good natured princess I’d fallen head over heels for had gone. In her place, somehow looking exactly like her yet acting nothing like her, an insidious evil now stood.
My parents—who worshipped each other as true loves should—had begun fighting. Openly and often. Backbiting at the court had escalated into attempted murders of several prominent members. The doctors still couldn’t say if everyone would pull through.
My valet, Piers, helped me dress for the wedding, a moment I’d come to dread. I’d lost sleep—and weight.
“You’ve lost at least a stone, Highness,” Piers tsked. “I’ll have the tailor sent in right away.”
“It doesn’t matter, Piers. I doubt anyone will care as long as I show up and marry her.”
“You could—cry off.” The mild suggestion came as Piers tugged a boot over my stockinged foot.
Cry off? Could I? Given Snow’s treatment of me lately, I had to assume if I went through with the marriage it would be in name only. I would be like so many royals, visiting my wife long enough to get the requisite heir and then running for the first woman who looked at me with affection and desire instead of calculated loathing.
“The scandal,” I began.
“Would arguably be better than continuing to live with the foul humours invading this castle, Highness,” Piers finished.
A clamor of armor marching in step preceded the arrival of Snow’s personal guardsmen. She’d brought them in shortly after her arrival, claiming the need to feel safe after her stepmother’s attempts to kill her. The hulking brutes had to have ogre or troll ancestry.
“May I help you, Captain?”
“Her Highness insisted we escort you to the chapel,” the Captain said, his eyes focused somewhere just over my shoulder. “For your protection.”
“I have guards,” I said.
“There seems to have been an incident with your guards, Highness.”
“What kind of incident?”
“The kind that ended with them dead.”
“All of them?” I gaped at the Captain. “You cannot be serious. My entire guard is dead?”
“I’m afraid so, Highness. Now if you are prepared, we should leave for the chapel.”
I shot a look at Piers. He nodded in understanding. I had one sword to draw against a dozen. There would be no crying off for anyone now.
The guardsmen surrounded us, feeling more like a gallows escort than anything else.
When the chapel doors opened, the men formed a wall at our backs, preventing any sort of retreat. We walked in and the doors closed behind us with a sturdy thump.
“The guards have stayed without, Highness,” Piers said softly.
“But they will be waiting for me to make an escape,” I sighed. “I am truly doomed now, Piers.”
A cloaked woman walked up to us.
“A moment, your Highness?”
She pushed back her hood, revealing the face of Snow’s hated Queen stepmother.
“You,” I hissed, drawing my sword.
“Charming, wait,” she gasped. “Please. I must tell you—”
The words ended on a pained gurgle. I yanked my sword free and she slumped to the floor, the courtiers nearest us shrieking and shouting.
“You deserve worse for what you’ve done,” I snarled, kneeling and wiping my blade clean on her robes.
Her fingers clutched at my boot. The deep brown eyes that found mine looked on me with understanding. With—love?
She lifted her other hand to me, her fist opening. A scrap of paper and a small vial rested within.
“Love you,” she whispered.
I took the paper and vial.
“What does it say?” Piers asked.
I smoothed the missive open.
I am Snow White.
“That’s not possible,” I rasped.
“I’m afraid it is, darling,” a cool voice purred. Quick fingers plucked the vial from my palm. “Poor thing. She only wanted to set the story straight. This nasty bit of business would have done it, too.”
I lurched to my feet, sword still bared. Snow stood before me, a victorious sneer on her face.
“One last kiss, dear Charming? I trusted you couldn’t resist. My final spell swapped our souls. Snow became me, while I—” She ran appreciative hands down her sides. “I am once more the fairest of them all.”
What do you think? Comments and feedback are always appreciated.
Check out the challenge here.