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.


6. Chapter 6

The Huntsman was not searching for Snow for very long. He had the feeling she had known he was there.

He had been on horseback all day, his torso screaming in agony. Why did horseback riding use the stomach muscles so much? He wasn't used to the sport either.

The Huntsman had arrived late at night, when the ball at the White Palace was well under way. There were guests, rich and poor alike, all across the grounds. They had given him strange looks as he walked unevenly past. 

He went through s side-entrance of the castle, wandering from room to room, a dazed and wounded look about him. 

Suddenly, Snow was blocking his path. 

She was no longer in armor; she didn't even appear to have a weapon on her. But even in that blue gown, bedazzled in jewels and face painted like another woman's, she looked intimidating. She looked strong. She looked like a queen. 

"You're Majesty," said the Huntsman, straightening up and attempting to look like he hadn't been pierced clean through. 

"We," said Snow. "Need to talk." The people all around them fell silent, watching Snow and the strange arrival closely. This smelled of scandal. 

"Yes," said the Huntsman. The hints of a smile danced over his scarred face. 

Snow looked around her, head tilted, as though she were seizing up the people around them while someone whispered in her ear. A smile curled the blood-red lips. 

"Here and now is as good a place and time as any. Seat?" She offered a chair to him, sitting in the one beside it. A few people moved back, and others leaned in. 

The Huntsman sat, face not even twitching at the pain in his middle. He'd had plenty of timeto practice not showing what he felt. he faced the Queen, a stark contrast. He was ruddy and built solidly, whereas Snow was as pale as her name. She was dressed in colored silk and gems, and the Huntsman was dressed in brown and grey furs. Yet their expressions could have been a mirror image. One stony, unchanging face inspected the other. 

"You never worked for Malif." The statement was a question, one that drew looks of confusion from the onlookers. The Huntsman contemplated how best to answer. 

"I had my own plans, which included following her orders fro some time." 

"But you were on our side?"? The tacticians' eyes never left the Huntsman's. 

"I never served anyone but you in the end." There were murmurs from the crowd. 

"Why?" Snow's word cut like a blade, demanding a straight answer. This woman was no politician; she was a general, a warrior through and through. 

"Malif was evil and sought the like. You are her opposite in every way. I chose to serve you, My Queen. And I will continue doing so," said the Huntsman. 

The rocky, unemotional voice had given way to feeling. It may have gone past Snow, but some present heard the chance. Those with an ear for gossip, with an interest in voices would not miss the different in intonation. The earnestness was evident. 

"You died to save us. Or were willing to, anyways," Snow said. She wanted proof that she could rust him, that it wasn't Malif's trick after death. 

"I would die again." I would die a thousand times. 

"Then," said Snow. "We should tend to your wounds to ensure it's even an option." 

The Huntsman was surprised. he showed no blood, he had acted well. How could she know he'd not been healed by magic? He started to protest. He had to- 

Her eyes went wide. "I- I must go." 

She mumbled thank you's and goodnight's to the guests as she left hastily, just as the bell struck the hour of midnight. 

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