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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14. Chapter 3

Ella felt like a Queen.

She was dressed in a stunning black gown and matching jewelry, her hair braided up in an elaborate yet elegant style. With her striking features and a tiara twisting along her brow, Ella had never felt less like herself. Shew atched the other person in the mirror, fascinated, until it was time for the ball.

"Are you ready, Ella?" asked jehanne. Ella turned from the reflection, nodding.

The past two days had been full of all manner of lessons. While they didn't worry too much about etiquette--Snow didn't know much anyways--they were very concerned about Ella's grasp of history, warfare, political relations and horsemanship.

While Oudin and Jehanne had been schooling Ella in information, Casin had been teaching her to act like Snow. She still wasn't certain if he actually wanted her to retain all his 'rules,' or if they were merely his way of showing agitation. Either way, by the night of the ball, I was very confident.

Jehanne lead Ella out into the main room of the Blue Palace. Unlike the stark White Palace or the intimidating Red Castle, the Blue Palace seemed to be more recreational. There were no real defenses to speak of, and most of the rooms were filled with blue stained glass. It was gorgeous, if not defendable.

"Isn't it beautiful?" Ella said, looking around her in wonder. Jehanne said nothing. But then, she doubted a woman who looked like did wanted to contemplate beauty.

"Snow wouldn't recognize beauty if it hung her by her toes," snapped Casin.

"But she would note that this palace is a hazard," Ella said, hoping to impress Casin.

"I noticed this palace was a hazard," Casin sniffed. He let in the musicians, giving Ella a look to let her know it was time for her to put on the act for the night.

She sat at the throne to await people coming in, holding herself in a stiff position, purposefully looking uncomfortable. The music swelled, the sun dipped below the mountains and the guests entered.

Before long, there was a dizzying array of colors to break up the blue monotone. Gowns swirled in time to the music, and feet soared or stumbled accordingly. Ella saw maidens not unlike herself, and noble girls of far higher rank than her, only my lesser for a few eventful nights.

Once the size of the guests had grown to spill over into the other rooms, Ella began to mingle. She was nearly curt, but never unkind, and masculine without losing a 'natural elegance of a queen.' She managed a conversation with a soldier who had fought with Snow without stumbling too badly.

"Do you remember Pierre?" she inquired, giving him the look old friends give when they know the other will understand what instance they are referencing.

The soldier grinned so widely that Ella fancied his teeth might fall out. "Pierre! Wasn't he the one that tried to take your clothes? He'd figured the whole thing out first."

"None of you believed him," she giggled. Everyone knows a Pierre, she thought, happy the ruse had worked.

The only time she nearly stumbled was when a group of crusty generals asked Ella for her opinion on a particular formation for a particular setting, if the enemy were encamped just so. Either everything Oudin had taught her vanished instantly, or they simply hadn't covered enough to deal with such a situation.

"That would leave a weak flank," she said deliberately. Confidence, she chided myself. They all murmured in agreement. Ella wasn't sure whether it was the right flank, the left flank, our flank or the enemy flank, but one of them must have been weak. She was glad when the topic steered towards telling stories on other generals.

In fact, the night progressed more smoothly than even the Red Kingdom had appeared to be going when Ella had arrived. That was, until Ella's time nearly drew to a close.

She had been talking to a noble woman who insisted that Snow never wear men's clothing 'like those coastal heathens' ever again.

"I believe Queen Snow will wear whatever makes her most comfortable and keeps her most safe in battle," said a deep voice. "Unless the safety of your Queen is of no concern to you, of course." The woman blushed, her eyes widening frightfully.

Ella turned to see the Huntsman, properly dressed this time, and looking far less wan.

"Huntsman? Are you not ill?" In the shock, she nearly sounded more like Ella than Snow.

"I am healed, Snow," he said. Ella was stricken.

Does Snow love him back? Should I romance him? Should I pay him any mind at all? Ella lost her grip on the act.

"Did you get the message that I sent you?" asked the Huntsman. Ella was horrified. She had no idea what was in the message that he had given to her to give to Snow. For all she knew, the romance had been a lie to her so that she could deliver a message of true importance.

"Should we take this into another room?" Ella asked, grasping at a stony voice.

The Huntsman nodded. Avoiding Jehanne, Oudin and Casin's inquiring gazes, Ella lead the Huntsman through several busy rooms to a quiet corridor.

"That girl you sent," Ella said. "She managed to lose the note between the White Palace and the Red Castle." She tried to work in a tone of irritation. Foolish serving girls. Can't be trusted, can they? "Although she did tell me of a certain... feeling you professed." I cocked an eyebrow.

Either the Huntsman will profess his love and I can tell him to wait as I think--meaning until Snow comes back--or he can inform me with a smirk that his ruse had worked perfectly, Ella thought.

She didn't expect him to kiss her.

He pressed one hand to Ella's waist, the other curling under her chin. She was against the wall, feeling his weight against her body, his lips against hers.

She didn't expect fireworks.

But there they were, exploding in her belly, racing down her back. Her heart ran a race against her mind, and it beat faster than the thoughts could keep up.

He stepped away and Ella couldn't read his face. But then, she could barely breathe.

"H-Huntsma-man..." she gasped. This had not been covered in her training.

"I had to, Snow," he said, voice ragged. "I had to try."

At the name Snow, her mind jolted back into place. Snow would have stabbed him. Snow would have driven a knew between his legs and sent him head-first through the wall. Snow would be livid.

"And just what were you trying to do?" Ella demanded, voice cold. She fought back the smile of excitement that the kiss had caused, even if it wasn't truly meant for her.

"To see if you loved me," he said.

Ella drew herself up to her full height, which was now quite impressive for a woman, but still beneath his massive frame. "You of all people should know I-"

DONG.

What?

DONG.

Oh no.

DONG.

"We will discuss this tomorrow," Ella said.

DONG.

"Snow!"

DONG.

She swept past him, walking as quickly as she dared down the halls.

DONG.

"Snow!"

DONG.

What will people think, queen disappearing with him all night? Ella wondered.

DONG.

Snow, please!" said the Huntsman.

DONG.

Footsteps.

DONG.

"We will discuss this tomorrow," she said.

DONG.

She shut the door.

DONG.

There Ella was in the mirror, all of Snow's life about her. 

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