Twisted

On her wedding day, Ella couldn't have wished for more. She had everything, a prince, a palace, jewels and riches beyond imagination. But a hole fills her heart, yet she doesn't quite know why. On the other hand, Snow White is trapped in a loveless marriage with her supposed 'prince charming.' Meanwhile, Lady Tremaine, Ella's evil step-mother, still holds a heart full of hatred for her step-daughter. So when Lady Tremaine decides to call up some family to help brew up a spell for revenge, will all of the fairytale characters happy endings be in jeopardy?

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8. Foundations- Snow White

The room suddenly had a black dome over it as it filled with tiny black spots that danced and teased Snow from the corner of her eyes as she absentmindedly wiped her now sweaty palms on her simple yellow dress, over and over again. The thrumming of Snow's heart filled her ears as blood rushed all around her making her suddenly feel very hot and feverish. Essie. She had been here, standing right in front of her, talking to her. The woman that had grown up with Snow, the woman who had been closer than a sister to her, the woman that was her only family. Esmerelda. 

Snow felt sick. 

She put her head into her hands and tried to concentrate on breathing, in and out, in and out. The world was spinning all around her and Snow knew she was on the verge of a black out but she had to stay strong, she had to do something. She hadn't seen Essie since she had poisoned her and it was never particularly pleasant seeing a sister who did that sort of thing again. When Snow had awaken from the curse, she had had nightmares for weeks afterwards only about Essie and because of this, Snow had locked herself in her room, not eating, sleeping or doing anything for that matter out of fear that Essie would return and kill her. The more she thought about her step-sister, the more her heart pounded. Hot tears ran down her face as her breath only became more ragged and shallow. 

"Stop." Snow whispered to herself aloud, she wouldn't let trauma over take her again, never would she let that happen. Snow remembered when she was very young about the day she had her first official ball. The day had been glorious, she had been pampered, bathed and dressed all afternoon in preparation for it and never had she felt so much like a princess. Her gown had been a subtle shade of pink (naturally) and her ebony black hair had been elegantly twisted into a beautiful bun. Everything was perfect. Though about twenty minutes before she was supposed to make her grand appearance to the whole of the royal court, she began to feel very nervous. So much in fact that she had nearly fainted when she looked at herself in the mirror dressed the way she was. Snow had gone running to her mother, begging and crying to not have to go to the ball. The Queen had just looked at her daughter with eyes full of love and sympathy for she remembered her first ball too and the way she had cried to her mother. She had lifted little Snow up into her arms and sat in an old wooden rocking chair inside her room, going back and forth, whispering words. Just words. They didn't even make sense, they were words that you wouldn't put together, like Poppy seeds, golden sunsets, farmer's hands. She had rubbed her hand on her little daughter's back and kissed her on her wet cheeks. 

As Snow thought of this memory, she started to calm down as she almost felt as if her mother's hands and voice were soothing her right there and then. The dancing black dots disappeared, the room stopped spinning and her heart beat and a steady pace. Her mind was suddenly crisp and clear as she tackled the thought of Essie with full force. Silently thanking her mother, she stood up and confidently brushed herself off, wiping the tears from her blotchy face. Breathing in once more, she instantly remembered about Ethel. Had she seen Essie? Had she heard what she said? Snow looked frantically around the room for her poor old ladies maid but she was no where to be found. Puzzled, Snow took one more glance at the now normal but oddly silent seamstress shop just before she opened the door, the little bell dinging happily behind her.

The streets were fairly busy, which was a good thing as it enabled Snow to blend in a bit more. Of course, she had been royalty all of her life but her mother had taught her well. She grew up like any other royal child, with tutors and beautiful bedrooms and gowns... but her mother, the Queen, had always made sure that Snow was never spoiled and always gave her share of money to the poor. Often she and her mother would go to the village just to walk around and mingle with the citizens of Goldfall. Those had always been her favorite days, just her and her mother, stopping at the bakery to pick up some fresh bread, going to the stables to brush the horses or even just sitting on a stone wall to observe the tiny stream that ran through the town. She loved commoners, they were all good, hard-working people who just lived as themselves. She wished she could be like that, have a loving family, work at the bakery, spend time at festivals... Its funny how Snow had everything and wanted for nothing but wished against that very life. 

Snow breathed in the crisp, cold air, hearing the various chatter of the townsfolk. Her mind instantly began to wander to what happened at the seamstress shop. Esmerelda was going to get her revenge on Snow at some point, she had always known that but that didn't mean that she had to give up the fight. Snow began to run back over the dreaded conversation, hearing Essie's silky, vengeful voice play back in her head. Immediately, she picked out the words 'travel voucher' and 'Goldfall.' Snow had had many lessons about curses, dark magic, the fates, light magic and much, much more when she was younger for it was one of the necessary classes her tutor had thought she should take. Dusting off old memories like unpacking old boxes, she searched for any knowledge of a traveling curse. Of course, she had been taught about abandonment curses, that had been one of her first lessons, but Snow knew that Essie wouldn't perform a curse on Snow that small. After all, she had stolen her true love.

Snow grimaced as she racked her brains for something, anything about a dark curse but nothing came to surface. She kicked the ground with frustration, causing a mini dust tornado to arise. Snow was so preoccupied with her thoughts that she nearly walked straight past the musty old book shop. Almost. The smell of knowledge wafted so strongly from the ancient store that her head snapped up straight away. Before her mother's death, she used to sneak off to this little place and sit herself among the towers and kingdoms of books. She would read for hours on end, learning about philosophy, literature and magic. Then her mother would find her when it was nearly supper time but she wouldn't scold Snow, in fact, she would plop down right next to her daughter and read in silence with her, the only sound to be heard was the rustling of pages as they turned. Snow hadn't gone back there since her mother had passed, it brought up too many painful memories, but Snow knew she had to go in there and search for something that could mean life or death.

Straightening her back and setting her chin, she marched right into the store, the door creaking grumpily behind her and as much as she wanted to keep level-headed, her cool and collected demeanor left the minute she stepped in. 

Books.

Towers and towers of wisdom and stories, words written in inky black, the smell of rain on the roof and candlelight on a cold winters day. 

Snow was in heaven.

She looked up in wonder at the beauty of it all; how the sunlight lit up the tattered covers and highlighted the yellowing pages, how the dustiness of the room swirled up and around her ankles... The trance broke as she saw a familiar young man grinning amusedly out of the corner of her eye. A smile broke out like a wild blizzard on her face as she cried out his name.

"Drew!" She yelled, running into his arms, his dusty apron whitening her clothes. Drew had not only been an apprentice to the original book binder (his father) but had also been one of James's close childhood friends when they were younger. He had always been in here when Snow came to read and sometimes they would even sit together on the windowsill, immersed in a good story or two, sharing the love of literature.

He ruffled her hair playfully. "Long time no see Apple, what on Earth have you been up to?" Snow loved how he still called her that childish nickname. The day they had met was when Snow had brought an apple to eat as she read and Drew had told her that food was not aloud in the store. She had thrown the apple at his face saying "I'd challenge you to a battle of wits, but I see you are unarmed." 

"Oh this and that, really. Where's your dad?" She asked, her eyes diverting from him as she tried to scope out the kind old book binder.

Drew's silence made Snow realize what had happened. Her hand flew up to her mouth as she stifled a little cry. She had loved Drew's father so very much, he had always been so kind to her, helping her find all the good stories, reading to her, teaching her about writing...

Snow's voice lowered to a whisper. "Drew," she began, but she didn't know what to say.

He smiled sadly. "Don't worry about it Snow, it happened over a year ago, anyways. He lived a long, happy life and it was the best decision I ever made, taking over the book store. But let me not bore you with that. What are you looking for?" He asked now curious. "I'm sure you didn't come here to see me." He said jokingly but Snow saw the hint of betrayal in his eyes. 

"Drew, I really wished I could've come down to see you, I should've been there when your father died, I should've been here regardless, actually. I've missed you, truly, it's just..." 

His face softened. "I know, this place is full of memories." He whispered mournfully. Shaking his head and breaking his thoughts he asked again. "Now, what can I help you find?"

Snow was about to tell him but she snapped her mouth shut. If she told him she was looking for a book about curses, she would have to explain all about what happened to Essie. It's not like she could just walk in to any place and ask if anyone knew anything about dark magic. It just wasn't aloud. Of course he deserved to know, he had been Essie's friend to, but Snow wasn't quite ready to talk about that. 

Her eyes danced with excitement. "You know, Drew, I think I'd rather look for it myself. It had been so painfully long, after all, since I've gotten to spend time with the written word." 

He nodded, understanding her wish. It was easy for him to get what she meant as they both shared a love for literature beyond definition.

"Let me know if you need anything." He grinned. Just as Snow turned and began running her fingers over the leathery spines of the books, Drew places a hand on her shoulder, spinning her around to meet his eyes. They were a brilliant blue, alive with passion and life. She had always loved that about his eyes.

"Oh and Snow, it really is so wonderful to see you again." He murmured wistfully. She simply nodded, not trusting herself to say anything meaningful without crying.

Snow turned back to her work of finding anything out about dark curses. Running her hands along the dusty shelves, her heart filled with longing to open up all of these books and just devour their words; she was hungry for stories, hungry for adventures and intelligence. But she knew she had to stay on task. Weaving her way back into the back of the store, the light became dimmer as the stories became older. She knew that some of these books dated all the way back to The Beginning, when magic had just come to be and Snow had to stop herself from looking at them. As she twisted between the shelves, she came across books such as the History of Magic: A Condensed Guide for Beginners or The Ogre Wars: Black Magic Versus The Fae but nothing on dark curses. Snow started to pull books out of their homes and flick through their pages, skimming through the information it held. She sat on the hard wooden floor where little dust bunnies sat on her lap and ragged books piled up around her. Hours passed but it only seemed like minutes, the quiet ticking of the clock mixed with the rustling of pages and as more time flew by, Snow became increasingly agitated. She had gone through almost every book that even mentioned magic and she had found virtually nothing. 

Eventually, she stood up, feeling terribly disappointed and worried. Essie said the curse would come tonight and it was looking like Snow had finally lost; there was simply no way she could win this time. Her heart felt heavy as she breathed in through her nose deeply and closed her eyes. Images of death, sadness and misery played around teasingly in her head she needed support. Leaning against a shelf of books about how to become a fairy godmother, she nearly shrieked as it began to move. She stumbled to the ground, loosing her balance instantly. Scraping her hands, she peered up to see what had happened and to her great surprise, the shelf had opened up, revealing a stone stairwell leading into blackness. A tug on her gut suggested that this was right, that this was exactly where she needed to go. Pulling herself back up onto her feet, she looked to the front of the store, trying to see if Drew had seen her but he was fully engaged in a book already, chewing an apple. Grinning to herself, she knew that there was no way he had heard the calamity if he was reading. 

Looking once more over her shoulder to double check the coast was clear, she descended down into the pitiless blackness. A dimly lit torch had been mounted on the wall beside her as she took it into her sweaty hands, anticipating the journey before her. She had always wanted to be a daring character in one of her stories that faced conflicts full on and now was her chance. Her footsteps echoed eerily down the pit, bouncing off the walls along with a subtle dripping of water. The decent smelled moldy and moist but part of it was almost nice as Snow could smell the bottled up scent of secrets. 

The stairs became narrower and narrower the deeper she went and Snow thought she might be squeezed to death before she found anything useful when suddenly the descent opened up into a room. It was tiny, but she at least she could move about. She mounted her torch once more against a wall as it casted a muted light around the room, creating shadows and little corners of darkness. There was nothing much down here other than a wooden table that was slowly rotting and lone chair. Snow was about to give up as she saw nothing useful when something caught her eye. A small, unguarded book shelf stood mysteriously in the corner, beckoning to her.

Instantly Snow could tell that this shelf hadn't been touched in years and an uneasy feeling spread around her body, making her shiver. The odd thing was, though, was that Snow knew she was where she was supposed to be, or at least that was what she kept telling herself as she made her way warily towards it. There were seven books, all covered in raven black leather as if the dark words inside of them had blackened their very souls. The contrast of Snows pale white skin and midnight black books was almost blinding as she reached her shaking, delicate hand out to one. Touching its scaly ebony spine, her teeth chattered involuntarily. Never had she come across a book so dark. She ran her hands along them when she came across the one in the very middle. There was a difference about his book. It was chained, the silvery links winking evilly. Snow's hand tingled with electricity as she knew this was the one but when she reached out to grab it, she had to bite back a cry. She studied her hand almost curiously and noticed an angry red flower blossoming where she had touched the story. it had burned her. Eyes widening, she thought frantically of how she would remove it when suddenly, she heard the slightest sound from up above. A bell ringing and a door closing. Someone was here. 

The voice was muffled but to Snow, it couldn't be clearer of who it belonged to. The prim, nasally voice traveled down the stairwell to her beating heart. Ethel was here to collect her and if she knew her ladies maid, she would stop at nothing to find her.

Snow started panicking as she heard footsteps coming closer and closer to where she was supposed to be sitting up above and she knew they would find the stairwell. Thinking rashly and desperately, she removed her cloak and draped it around the book as she yanked it forcefully from the shelf. Tears stung her eyes as the she still felt her hand burning as she held it but she didn't have tim to care as she raced back up the stairs. She could clearly hear Drew trying to stall the irritating woman but he was basically unsuccessful. Winded, Snow raced up and up and up, winding around and around and just as she heard Ethel making her way to the back of the store and Drew practically begging her to let Snow read a bit longer, she emerged from the top stair, her face flushed with crimson. The shelf instantly closed behind her as if it knew she had come up and Snow tried to look as casual as possible as she stooped down and started replacing the books on their shelves that she had looked at earlier. 

Ethel gasped when she saw Snow cleaning up her own mess. "M'lady, it is not your place to be kissing the floor, now rise immediately, we must get home to dress you for the ball." 

Snow didn't even argue, she was too full of triumph as she had found EXACTLY what she was looking for. 

"Of course Ethel, please forgive me for my imprudence." Snow replied, still ever so slightly breathless. "Drew, I would love to see you again soon." She waved formally when she thought that he should know about the stairwell. It was his bookshop after all and Snow had already kept so many secrets from him. "Drew, make sure to check out the books about becoming a fairy godmother, they are quite intriguing." 

He looked at her extremely curiously but before he could say another word, Ethel had whisked Snow out of the door of her kingdom.

                                                           ****

"M'lady, sit still, please for the love of God, stop moving!" Ethel hissed as she tried to pin Snow's hair up into an elaborate twist. Ethel's bony hands scraped her scalp and it wasn't exactly comfortable. That was part of the reason Snow was so fidgety but it was also that she had hidden her cloak and book back in her room and she needed to look at it for her very life was at stake. 
"Ethel, it looks fine, can I go now?" She whined impatiently. Usually she put up with Ethel's game of dress up the princess but not today. 
Her ladies maid yanked harshly on a lock of Snow's ebony black hair, causing her to wince. 
"No, you are not going anywhere, m'lady, not until we finish your hair, do your makeup and get your dressed." She scolded, pulling her lips into a tight line. 
Snow looked longingly towards the door and Ethel smiled smugly. "Don't even think about it, girl, I double locked it."
Snow slumped in her chair, determined not to be helpful. It was childish but at that point, she couldn't care less about her behavior. Ethel just sighed exasperated as Snow sank deeper and deeper into her seat. Looking at herself in the mirror, she wondered to herself if this was the last time she would see her appearance. Would she die tonight? Would Essie finally kill her off? Snow shook off the thought. She had to be at least a little optimistic that that 'gift' that Essie had been talking about wasn't a travel voucher to the underworld. Anyways, Snow knew as well as Essie did that there are things much worse than death and as gloomy as it may seem, Snow held on to that little piece of silver lining, it was her lifeline, after all.
Ethel's face suddenly softened. "Oh m'lady, I am so happy that you picked out that gown today at Vera's place, it is simply magnificent. It made me think that maybe you weren't so clueless after all."
Snow dismissed her insult as she realized Ethel hadn't seen Essie or anything, she had thought that Snow really did pick out a dress from Vera. 
"Wait, Ethel, you mean you didn't see someone attack me?" She questioned.
Ethel just shook her head at Snow. "What are you going on about girl? Now come, let's get you dressed and ready for the ball." 
"Or my funeral." Snow muttered the two unlikely friends made their way over to the dress rack. Ethel carefully sifted through Snow's many gowns to find the one that they had supposedly bought that day. Ethel finally stopped and pulled out a midnight purple dress that was floor length and fairly tight fitting. 
Snow's breath caught in her throat. 
"I...Ethel... I can't..." She stuttered. The dress Ethel was holding up to Snow was the one she had bought for Essie on her sixteenth birthday. She remembered how she had spent all day trying to find a gown that could match her sisters beauty and when she finally gifted her, Essie had actually looked at Snow with eyes full of love. 
She couldn't wear it.
"Snow, don't even start with me. I'm not in the mood after I had to chase you around all day today in the village." She snapped, glowering. Ethel really must be mad at Snow, she rarely used her name like that; it was un polite. 
Snow stared her ladies maid right in the eye and used her I-Am-Superior card that she had promised her mother she would never use, but desperate times called for desperate measures.
Snow automatically stood up straighter which instantly made her taller than Ethel. "You may not like it, Ethel, but I am the royal princess of Goldfall and I will not allow someone like you to speak to me like that."
Ethel became silent, diverting her eyes to the floor. 
"Now, I would like to wear my saffron yellow dress with the blue puff sleeves, please." Snow added as Ethel went hurriedly back to the dress rack, her tail in between her legs.
"Please, m'lady, you've worn that dress so many times-" Ethel began but Snow shut her up with a single glare. Snow hadn't really realized how much power she actually possessed until that very moment and it scared her to realize how much influence she had on people.
Begrudgingly, Ethel pulled out Snow's favorite gown. She had had it since she was five years of age and had gotten it constantly tailored and lengthened just so it could fit her.
She slipped it over her undergarments like a layer of skin, that's how familiar it was to her. She loved the feeling of the soft silk making little waves down her body and the feeling of lightness and air with the puffed sleeves. Tying a single red ribbon in her hair she glanced at herself in the mirror, feeling very satisfied. 
"You are dismissed, Ethel, I thank you kindly for your help." Snow practically whispered. She couldn't bring herself to look at the woman she had just hurt, probably very deeply, as she scurried out of the dressing room. 
Snow took a deep breath as she emerged and made her way back to her bed chambers, feeling a nervous tingling bone dee for the want to read her book. She knelt down and pulled the cloak quickly out from under the bed, being careful not ti burn herself. Unwrapping it as delicate as if it were a baby, her eyes devoured the sight of the chained writing. The lock on the front cover was heavy and bold but Snow was not concerned in the least. Surprisingly, the lock was a basic one and James had taught her many years ago how to pick one. She smiled a little to herself, remembering the day when he taught her to pick the lock to the goat cage and when she did it successfully how the goats came bleating and running after them. 
Pulling the pin out of her detailed up-do, she let her hair fall in loose, glossy waves down her back as she stuck the golden pin in the silver lock, jiggling it with expertise. To her contentedness, it opened with ease and it fell to the floor with a loud 'clank.' For a moment, Snow just stared at this book, this forbidden knowledge; she good feel the evil rolling of it in gusts of wind, chilling her pure heart but she knew what she had to do. Reaching her hand down tentatively, she ripped the front cover open as she burned her hand doing it but the second the book was open, horrible, lonely, empty screams filled the room, desperate and mourning sounds. They were so terrible, Snow felt tears come to her eyes as she clamped her ears shut and pushed the book closed, her heart beating rapidly. This book was much darker than she thought it was and suddenly a fish of a memory swam through her mind and she just caught it before she slipped away. Her tutors voice filled her head as he spoke of books that were never created to be read.
"There are some books, Snow, that were created by the hands of pure evil itself, by the blood of innocent, by the misery of the damned. You must promise never to touch or read these books as they will fill you and your very core with darkness."
Snow didn't think much of it back then: Who would create such a beautiful thing such as a book for evil? But as she looked down as this thing before her, she knew that this was a pure example.
Suddenly, she heard a voice behind her. 
"Snow, what are you doing down there?" James chuckled as he made his way over to her. Frantically she bundled the book back up and slid it under the bed.
"Oh, uh, just looking for this, umm, dust bunny, yes, this flint of dust. You know how much dirty rooms annoy me." She lied. She was horrendous at lying.
James looked at her suspiciously but said no more. Then, a grin broke out on his face. "Don't I just look ravishing?" He asked, bowing gallantly for Snow, his hair falling in front of his face.
"Yes, you look stunning." She rambled, dismissing him. She was still slightly shaken from the experience with the book. Also, it was hard not to be gloomy when her life could possibly be ending in less than a hour.
James face morphed into mock horror. "What, I don't look beautiful? Really Snow, you are damaging my ego here, you know how fragile I am." He poked her in the arm jokingly and generally Snow would probably punch him back but she wasn't in the mood.
"Just, give me some space, James, please."
"No can do, princess, we have to go down and celebrate our endless love and devotion to each other." James mimicked. He really wasn't getting the message than Snow wanted to be alone.
He grabbed her arm gently, though. "Come on, everything will be fine." He sighed, yanking her down the steps. 
Nearly loosing her balance, she stumbled after him, trying to stop her tears from coming down her face. Would this be the last time she would see her beloved friend? Her very soul twisted at the though of it, the thought of loosing the one person who had always stood by her. 
As they made their way down to the ballroom entrance, she could hear trumpets playing, announcing the arrival of all the royal folk. They would be last, at least, as they were the most important.
James stood boredly outside the door as he twiddled his hands. Snow went up to him and hugged him from behind, feeling utterly lost. He turned around and hugged her back but almost immediately pulled away, searching her eyes. 
"Snow, what's going on, your not yourself." He stated worriedly. 
She breathed in and out shakily. "It's just, well...James please know that I love you so much and you have been the closest thing I have had to family, other than the dwarfs, of course, after all these years."
He looked puzzled than concerned. It was rare for them to ever be serious together. 
"Snow-" He began, but he was interrupted by the announcers booming voice saying that he would like to welcome the royal prince and princess of Goldfall.
Snow grabbed James's arm and leaded him out, wiping away her tears. She smiled and waved to the sea of people called the royal court as they all called out their many congratulation-it was their anniversary after all. What a perfect night for Essie's revenge.
Snow laughed carelessly at the court and pretended to be the girl that the royals loved and adored. Once they finished their grand walk, James and her made their way over to the center of the grand ball room where they would lead the opening dance- their wedding song. The ballroom was magnificent as usual; the stain glass windows lit up from the light of the hanging chandeliers, the spotless wooden floor glassy and smooth, the painting of ladies and gentlemen hanging colorfully from the wall.... Everything was perfect. The band members stood professionally at the front of the giant room, playing their flutes and lyres in front of a huge wall of water that sparkled and glistened as it landed silently in the little pool bellow. The only thing that was cold in this room was the looming clock that was mooted on the wall, designed to have golden vines and leaves twisting all around it. It ticked, slowly and loudly, its very movements exaggerated, just for Snow's misery.
The band began to play a slow, sad, love song called 'The Midnight Maiden' which Snow laughed bitterly at the though of how cruel it was. For when the clock struck midnight, well Snow just didn't know. For now, though, she just decided to spend her last moments in happiness so she nestled her head on James's shoulder. She received a quiet sigh from the crowd; they all thought that Snow and him were desperately in love. 
They danced slowly together until other couples started joining them. That's when James pulled her away, off the dance floor to small, uncrowded corner. He tilted Snow's chin up and cupped her face in his hands.
"What in the world is happening, Snow?" He inquired softly, eyes brimming with worry.
Snow looked frantically up at the clock behind her. She only had about five minutes left before the clock single handedly ended her life as she knew it. James and her must've been dancing for a lot longer than she thought.
"James, I... I can't say, I can't hurt you, please, you have to understand that."
He his arms to his side. "No, I really can't Snow." He said flatly. "We've never kept secrets between us."
She looked over her shoulder. One minute to go.
"Why do you keep looking at the clock, Snow? What's going on?" James demanded. A mental countdown chimed in her head. 10, 9, 8...
"Please, one day, try to forgive me." She murmured as tears ran down her face, soaking her dress like they had so many times before.
"Snow-" James cried exasperatedly but he didn't finish what he was saying before the ground started to rumble and a dearly cold wind broke a red stain glass window, shattering the pieces like drops of blood splattering the ground.
A couple of people screamed out as the glass cut them but most were to horrified about what was happening up front. The band members were suddenly morphing, melting into someone else entirely. Some one with raven black hair to match Snow, with emerald eyes that could slice through your very soul. Someone who Snow knew was coming.
"Esmerelda." James breathed, his legs giving way as he fell to the floor, his face white with disbelief.
"Snow, what the hell-" He stammered but Essie spoke over him.
"Silence!" She yelled and Snow felt her throat constricting as Essie sent the wordless curse through the crowd, smiling sinfully as she did.
"That's better." She cooed happily, then she seemed to start to search the crowd, her eyes roaming lazily across the sea of silent courtiers. Then she stopped and for a moments, Snow thought she saw a glimmer of the real Essie, someone who was still good, who still loved... but it quickly passed before a grin spread across her face. 

"Snow, James, how lovely to see my two favorite people in the world," She hissed, acid coursing through her voice. "I have not come to be hostile and threaten you though, so don't worry about that. I have simply come to take what is mine. A happy ending." Smiling, she walked casually across the stage and leaned against the wall, which now had cracks in it like little veins. "I should really be thanking you all. If you hadn't done what you did, I might never have realized how cruel you all are and therefore wouldn't have come to restore justice to this little dump we call home." Essie spat, pretending to dust off something. "Anyways, I have needed, well entertainment and I think its about time we do some traveling so, my sister Irena and I were like, hey, why don't we break down our foundations, our magical barriers that prevent realms from mixing, that make sure all of the good guys happy endings come true. And that my friends, is precisely what we are doing. Take a look for yourself." She gestured towards the water and suddenly in blackened and crackled, as if searching for a connection. The room shuddered severely and Snow felt herself loose a slight bit of balance. The water opened up into a scene almost identical to the one Snow was in right now. A grand ball room was full of terrified people that was cracking and shaking everywhere. But instead of Essie standing at the front, a woman with violent red hair stood smugly at the front, looking down at a girl with a sea blue dress and hair that was as blond and bright as the sun. As if fate willed it, Snow and the mysterious girl met eyes, Snows dark brown eyes contradicting the girls bright blue ones. Unlike Snow's fearful expression, the girl with sunny hair looked brave and full of rage and Snow felt a sliver of confidence wiggle through her. 

"This, my friends, are my sisters Irena Tremaine and Cinderella. One day, you might meet them, but I highly doubt it. Enjoy your flight." She cackled just before a plume of black mist encircled her, leaving the room deathly silent.

But the silence didn't last.

The whole castle quivered, its very foundations shaking with fear, turmoils of chaos rippled through the halls as screams of terror erupted everywhere. Snow ran over to James, her heart pumping with anticipation. Guilt weighed like the world atop her shoulders; Essie's hate for her had not only caused her pain but a whole kingdoms, too. She ran into his arms and he grasped her when a great marble column tumbled down, crushing half of the room, turning it into a bottomless pit. The wind howled and yelled, trees crashed angrily together as the moon casted a pearly white glow on the scene. 

"I'm so sorry, James, I'm so sorry!" Snow cried, trying to yell above the uproar. He just held her tighter as the world as they knew it crashed into oblivion.

 

 

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