Queen

Battle may never end, for there chaos thrives;
And only in chaos can we live our lives.


After Snow takes the Assassin's curse, she leaves to rebuild the Four Kingdoms. But she finds the Beast impossible to control and will do anything to get rid of it and spare her kingdom carnage. Enter Rumplestiltskin, one of seven equally enigmatic and long-named dwarves. Their requirement for breaking the curse? Snow must live with them for a year. She leaves a serving girl in her place, who must lie to--and fall for--an unwitting Huntsman.

But curses can never be broken. Evil can never be killed. And Snow can never stop fighting.

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10. Chapter 10

 

The Huntsman had waited long enough. His middle was still in furious pain, but he had to see Snow. See her for himself.

He struggled to get to his feet. What he was preparing to do was no doubt childish, yet he had no choice. He had to rely on a legend or risk losing everything.

The Huntsman began a slow walk to the castle libraries. He passed a few of the castle staff. The woman, particularly the younger, looked away modestly.

"Guest of the Queen or not, s'right indecent," sniffed an older woman.

The Huntsman stopped for a moment, long enough to study the woman. She was a mother, judging by the figure, and a hard worker by the short nails and strong arms. She held a large basket of clothing like it was one dishrag. She had lived long and hard, and would continue to. Thankless and never-ending work, only adding to the shortness of her temper and length of her wrinkles.

He gave her a small smile and continued on his way.

The Huntsman entered the lore room. It was filled with stacks of books and scrolls, not to be navigated by a layman of literature such as himself.

"Hello?" he called. There was a thud, folllowed by a swear and ruffling pages. The Huntsman leaned against a table, grimacing at the tearing pain.

"Hello? Who would that be?" called a young oice. A boy emerged from the books.

"I require assistance."

The boy looked down at the blood-stained bandages on the nearly naked man. "Er, you'll be wanting a different room, sir. This is the library..."

"Yes," said the Huntsman. "I require a book."

"Are you sure about that?" The boy looked back up at the Huntsman's face. "Yeah, you're certain. What book?"

"Anything that you have concerning the legends of Rumplestiltskin," he replied.

"The dwarf?" asked the boy.

"Dwarf, gremlin, fairy," said the Huntsman. "Anything by that name."

"Yes sir," said the boy. "I'll find out what I can."

An hour later, the Huntsman was surrounded by several thick tomes. He thought books were endlessly frustrating. None of them could agree on any one thing.

One said that to summon the powerful creature, you had to perform complicated rites and chanting. Others claimed that just speaking his name could summon him. Some told that his price was gold, others impossible tasks, and some said he granted wishes out of the kindness of his heart.

"Any help to you, sir?" asked the boy. He had grown more and more antsy as time went on, as though he felt that the Huntsman had invaded his personal space.

"None at all," growled the Huntsman.

"What are you trying to do, exactly?" The boy's fingers lingered possessively on a book.

"Summon the damn thing. What else?"

The boy's eyes went wide. "You really want to risk that?" 

"Yes."

"Well, you don't need a book to tell you how. Anyone raised on superstition could have told you. It'd come with a warning, though."

"What warnings?"

"Two things. First off, it's forbidden by the Clergy. You could be excommunicated.'

"My family runs the Clergy. Next warning."

If possible. the boy's eyes went even wider at that statement.

"Uh... and he's a riddler. He traps people into bad promises. The last time I heard tell of a person trying to use Rumplestiltskin, he ended up losing his whole family."

"No one to lose. How do I summon him?"

"Uh, maybe we should ask-"

"How."

"Call on him."

The Huntsman stared. "That's it?"

"Well, you gotta be earnest. Not in play. But all the best magic is simple."

The Huntsman sighed. Magic. "Rumplestiltskin!"

"Here?" cried the boy. "In my library?"

The Huntsman looked at him flatly. "Yes."

Rude," said a voice. Both the Huntsman and the young librarian looked over a stack of books to see a very small man. "What do you want with me?

Rumplestiltskin was almost three free tall and built stoutly. He had a small beard and focused eyes. The little being had crossed his arms, studying the humans in front of him.

"What is your price?" asked the Huntsman. The dwarf grinned. Then the grin faded. Then the creature threw back his head and laughed a far deeper laugh than should have come out of his small frame.

"That," said Rumplestiltskin. "Comes after you tell me what you want."

"What can you do?" asked the Huntsman.

"Curses," said the dwarf. "What else? Which one do you want?"

"I don't want a curse," said the Huntsman. "I need healing."

"Ignorant idiot," said the dwarf, no change in his expression. "There's a curse for that." Both boy and Huntsman were surprised. "What? You thought they were all sleeping spells and turning someone into a frog?"

"Yes?" said the boy hesitantly, still frightened of speaking in Rumpelstiltskin's presence.

"A curse simply inflicted magic on an object until it's been shifted to another object. Or it just sits in a puddle of magic until it's inflicted via curse. Or- oh, never mind. You just want that hole closed up." The dwarf looked the Huntsman up and down.

"What will the price be?"

"When you become a parent for the first time, I will take your child away."

"My... what?"

"Your child. We need an apprentice. Dwarves aren't immortal, after all."

The Huntsman looked at Rumplestiltskin intently. "And if I never have a child?"

Rumplestiltskin shrugged. "Then you got this curse for no charge at all."

The Huntsman threw back his head and laughed, a violent laugh that tore at his stomach.

"It's a deal."

Rumplestiltskin's eyes narrowed further. Suddenly, the pain began to fade. The dwarf looked back up into the Huntsman's face. "You'll be perfectly healed by the hour." He tilted his head. "Interesting. Two calls in one day. First time that's happened in a century or two. I'll be going to the Red Kingdom now, so take care. I'd hate to take your second child too."

The Dwarf vanished.

The boy stood up. "Well that was... a show."

As the Huntsman was shooed from the boy's precious lore-room, he smiled to himself.

I'm coming, Snow. I'm coming. 

 
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