The Other Side of the Story

The normal high school student, Raven, needs to analyse the famous fairy tale of Snow White. Thinking this as easy, she soon uncovers the truth about the perfect Snow White, and realizes it is much deeper, raw and tragic than the story we all know so "well".

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43. The Wake

 

The church bells rang solemnly as the citizens of Vercorin and other villages slowly made their way to the castle. All of them were dressed only in black, holding an assortment of flowers in their hands and had travelled long distances to be a part of the ceremony. The poor had found their best clothing, and had wandered determined from their homes. Nobody in the surrounding towns would miss that day, not for anything in the world. For they had lost their Queen. The same Queen who had been there for them through thick and thin, forever and always. Ever since Charles’ death, some of the citizens had turned against her, but even those people came to the funeral. Then there were those who secretly never believed the rumors about Ravenna. These people were crying already and padding each other’s backs with no words needed to be spoken, and sad glances being exchanged.

Her death had gathered them all in a silent bond that could not be broken. Whoever the new Queen would be, could never have such a mild heart as Ravenna, nor lead the country in the inspiring way that Ravenna had. Already they missed her and with a hole in their hearts, they prayed for her wellbeing on the other side. The bells stopped ringing and everyone attending stepped into the majestic church made only of wood, and took their seats in the hall. The walls were decorated with paintings of every color, with detailed images from the bible. The King sat in the front row accompanied by Rosa by his side and a certain maid on the other. Snow White could barely contain her glory or happiness as the priest began to speak. Ravenna’s casket laid open on the pedestal, her dressed in a white silk gown and her dark auburn hair curled. Her green eyes were not to be seen as they had been closed. She was beautiful even when she was dead.
When Snow White saw her body she felt fulfilled. She knew that her job had finally been done. Well, almost. Now she just needed to be crowned and she would have the power that she craved at last. A smile creeped up on her lips involuntarily as she bowed her head in prayer.

Everyone moved as one being. When the people were ordered to sing, they all sang louder than ever. It was so beautiful that it sounded like a choir of angels coming from the church. When they were ordered to be quiet, not a single sound was to be heard. The citizens wanted to pay their respects one last time. A few people walked to the front and spoke about the greatness of their deceased Queen, while others silently prayed in their own thoughts. No one, not even Snow White, dared to mention anything about Charles. If someone did that, they would disrespect not only their Queen but also their King.  

Rosa had tears in her eyes but she did not fully understand what was going on. Everyone seemed so unhappy so she could do nothing but feel the same. She wondered about her mom’s absence but gave it no other thought then that her dad was not feeling well. She missed her brother as well, and often thought about where he might be.

James could barely hold his feelings contained any longer. He hated himself. Only now did he understand how much Ravenna had done for him. Only now did he appreciate the fact that she had raised their children. Only now did he realize how much he loved her. And that he had not told her that in time.
But something was holding him back. He wanted to feel angry, for Ravenna had tried to kill a maid, and in self-defense Snow White had accidentally killed her. But he didn’t. He kept asking himself one question:
“Why would you do something like that Ravenna? Why?” Somehow he couldn’t bring himself to hate her even though he felt obliged to do so.
The King could not bring himself to think about Charles, for he had lost so much and so many people in so little time.

Tears rolled down his cheeks as he went up to the priest and prepared for his speech. His breaths were shaky and his throat was closing up. But James did not care. He wanted to tell everyone how much this grief was killing him and how much he missed his wife even though he did not understand her actions. He wore a big golden crown, engraved with his initials and set with many jewels, many of each color. It oozed of power, but he did not look selfish in it. He seemed to know not to let the power distract him. He was dressed in a red robe which was very fancy in its looks and made him look nothing other than royal. But even so, the man looked broken, no matter what he wore or did. And everyone could see that.

“Thank you all for coming in such troubling times. I know that many of you have travelled many distances, and I thank you for your support. As you all know, we lost a very special person a few days ago. Your Queen, my wife, a mother, and a friend. Why? We don’t know.” His deep and authoritative voice boomed in the big hall, magnifying its intensity.
“This is a great loss, a loss so terrible it defeats me to explain to you. I cannot describe how much sorrow pumps through my veins at this moment and how much sadness goes through yours. Every one of us has had our relations with Ravenna, and it troubles me to know that her kindness and gentle heart is not among us anymore.”
Why was he saying this? She had killed their son and attempted to murder a maid. But for some reason he could not stop. He wasn’t thinking about the words coming out of his mouth, they just kept coming. They seemed to come from the most secret parts of him.  And he let them flow.
“She helped me lead this country through one of its darkest periods, all the while helping everyone else with their problems. How, I do not know. To have so many tasks, yet still think of everyone else’s need’s first… It amazes me.
“Ravenna has always had the kindest heart, the wittiest jokes and the best sense of unselfishness. This is a gift only few obtain, and she was one of them.” He took a deep breath and continued.
“That is why I must tell you all this. When my son…died, I honestly believed that Ravenna had done it. I don’t know why.” His voice broke when he spoke and he could not keep the tears from falling.
“She had no motive, no reasons. Therefore I think she was falsely accused because only now do I realize that she is the best person I have ever known. I know you may not believe me, I wouldn’t either, but as your King, friend and companion I ask you to trust me. I want an investigation to go through, and I will do whatever I can to clear her name so we all can remember her as the person I just described.”
He sent an apologetic glance to Snow White who was clearly outraged by this new revelation. He knew she would talk to him afterwards, but he would not let her stop him from saying what he felt.
“My only regret is to not have shown her how much I cared about her. I never should have believed anything with no proof of it, and I should have taken better care of her. Therefore, citizens of Vercorin and elsewhere, I ask of you one simple thing.
His voice was barely audible now.
“Love each other.”

The King waited while the audience clapped, tears streaming down his face. He stepped down from the pedestal and returned to his seat, avoiding eye contact with Snow White. Rosa sat in his lap, her big round eyes filled with tears. Somehow she understood now that her mother was lost.

When the ceremony was near done everyone stood from their seats. One by one, each and every person present stepped up to the pedestal to lay their flowers and take one last look at their Queen. A little girl with blond curly hair, about eight years old, walked with her mother who was sobbing and put her lilies by the end of the casket. The girl knew it was a sad time and she knew that she would miss her beloved Queen. All around her people were crying and hugging each other. It made her feel a sense of community and unity, since all were mourning together as one. The King’s speech had really touched everyone and they were already obeying it. The only thing to be heard in the hall was the sound of sadness and grief, except for the one person who was not crying, but hid it surprisingly well.

The King, Rosa and Snow White were the last ones to pay their respects to Ravenna. By this time everyone was seated and looking only at them. James put a flower next to her hands, and went completely silent as he looked at her. With no one hearing it he solemnly whispered:
“I love you. And I’m sorry.” He stepped back.

Rosa put her hands on the edge of the casket for she was not tall enough to see. The King held her up high.
“Is there anything you would like to say to your mother?” he asked caringly.
“Yes.” She looked at Ravenna’s peaceful face and managed to say four words.
“I will miss you.” Rosa buried her face in the King’s robes and hugged him tight. He held her and she knew that he would never let her fall. He walked slowly back to their seats.

The last one standing was Snow White. By now everyone had settled down and was looking only at the pedestal. Snow White towered over Ravenna’s dead body with her back to the crowd and smiled. The priest was reading in the Bible so he did not see her. Between breaths she spoke slowly but powerfully to the Queen.
“You almost ruined my plan. You do not deserve to be Queen. You never loved the King nor cared for your children. But still you have died a saint you selfish heathen. Never have I met such a raging monster as you. You nearly spoiled everything that I stand for and wanted to achieve. Therefore, my dear Queen, I send you away with a message.” Her teeth were bared and her lips pulled back in a vicious snarl.
“Burn in Hell for that is what you deserve.”   
 
Snow White waited a moment, laid her flower and let the tears in her eyes fall. She was not sad. She was happy. They were tears of joy. She turned around, faking a sob and a cough and returned to her seat next to the King
. She was very angry with him. His speech had unsettled her to her very core. He still took Ravenna’s side! After everything she had gone through, why wouldn’t the King believe her? She had gotten the evidence of Charles’ murder and Ravenna nearly killed her. Twice! And it was first now he wanted to make an investigation? Even though Ravenna was dead, Snow White’s plan was falling apart. Maybe it was better when she was alive, since the King still didn’t trust her then. She calmed herself by remembering the fight. It had either been the Queens life or her own. There was nothing she could have done other than save herself.
While the priest talked about eternal salvation and the great loss, Snow White momentarily slipped away from reality and into a dream of a kind. She reminisced of what had happened after she left Ravenna to die.

Her jaw hurt like nothing she had ever experienced before. It was clearly dislocated. Her white patient dress had been splattered with blood, some of it her own and some of it her enemy’s. The room had been highly disheveled and all within it ruined. She limped slowly away crying for help, wondering where everyone was. She got only to the next room, fell down on the bed and went to sleep instantly. She was afraid of having nightmares but slowly drifted off to unconsciousness anyway.

She was in a white room with nothing in it. No windows, no bed, no light. Except she could see everything clearly. The bright shining light seemed to come from above. She looked up and saw nothing but clear whiteness. As she took in her surroundings, a voice boomed from below.


Skin white as snow. Lips red as blood. Hair black as night. Find me my dear, dear Snow White. But you have already been found haven’t you? You are supposed to be dead. You are filled with evil and hate. Ravenna should have survived and you should have died. Don’t you understand that?”

Snow White recognized the voice. It was the mirror. The silky dark voice sent chills up her spine and before she could interrupt it, it continued.

“I sent her a message. That is why she took you to the mirror. There you saw your true form. What was it?”

Snow White had no interest in answering but she felt as if the words were being pulled out of her, like an unseen force was grabbing them from her throat.

“Old. Fragile. Ugly. Like my mother.”

The voice laughed.

“Do you fear your mother Snow White? Wouldn’t want to turn out just like her would you? Dead and alone. Well, my revenge will be taken somehow. No matter what you do, I will haunt you forever.”

The ground shook and a chasm erupted in the perfect white floor. Fire licked the edges of the tiles and Snow White could not run far before she fell into the hot red flames.


She had woken with a start, screaming at the top of her lungs. The King had been looking at her and a crowd had gathered before her. She did not understand where she was for a few seconds before it all came crashing back. He had worried look in his eyes. A nurse was right behind him, mixing some pills in a glass and writing notes.

“Are you all right?” James had asked sincerely. Snow White pressed out fake tears before answering.
“My head hurts. My jaw is broken. And…” she had answered.
“And what?”
“Ravenna is dead.” She had replied after a moment of hesitation.


Silence filled the room like water spilling out of a broken glass. Nobody said a word, not even breathed. The King could not understand this at all. His wife…was dead?

“What do you mean? Tell me exactly what happened!” James had yelled with tears in his eyes.
“I woke up from my hospital bed and after walking around for a bit she just entered. She lunged and I… I couldn’t…” she sobbed and choked, making her seem very believable.
“You couldn’t what, Snow White? Please, just tell me! I need to know.” He had asked with desperation in his voice.
“I couldn’t do it. She lunged and we fought and I… she died. It was self-defense James; I swear I couldn’t have done anything.”
The King had nodded, hugged her and left. “Take care of her. The funeral will be in a few days.” The nurses set to work.

Snow White snapped back to reality and stared at the priest once again.

Meanwhile, James had had a flashback of his own. When he realized Ravenna had died, a depression so deep that he could hardly breathe had hit him and he couldn’t cope. For days he lay in his bed just to mourn. It was the same with Charles. He didn’t think he could sink deeper than that. His wife had killed their son. He had pushed her away, but now he realized there was no motive. He didn’t understand why Ravenna would attack Snow White, but he knew he didn’t trust her. She had after all killed his wife, even if it was self-defense. James couldn’t stand the thought of having any other lover than Ravenna, and only now did he grasp on to the hope that Ravenna was innocent. He would do anything in his power to clear her name, and find the real guilty murderer. A hate so pure filled within him in the church that hardly could be explained. The King only had one member of his family left, and he could definitely not take care of Snow White any longer. Now he couldn’t look at her without seeing his dead wife’s body before him, even though she was innocent.

For once in his life, the King had no idea who would back him up in his case. A sense of loneliness crept inside him and he knew he would never find peace until he knew what had happened.  

When the ceremony was over everyone returned to their homes and found comfort in the heat of the fire in the hearth in their homes. All except one, slept that night with tears in their eyes.

 

End of chapter twenty eight
Next chapter --->

A/N:

I hope you like the new chapter. I have been trying to make the chapters longer so they fill more pages on a word document. The end of this novel is not yet near, but I just wanted to address something. All of this that I have written, is only a draft if you can say it like that. Once I finish the book, I will begin editing it from grammar, to descriptions, to characters and surroundings. Of course nothing vital will change, but once all of it has been written it will be edited. Therefore I wanted to ask you guys for a favor. If you have any constructive critism or any changes you would like to make, or something that annoys you or anything at all, please do tell me in the comments below. It would help me so much to both improve my writing, but also the happiness of you reading it. Thank you all so much for having been here from the very start. I could not have done this without you. Remember that. 

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