Mirror, Mirror Chapters Three and Four, Part Two Chapter One
Note: I'd love some feedback on these chapters...they're sort of annoying me.
Five years later, King Florin’s health finally had deteriorated so much that he could not leave his bed.
In those five years, a very uneasy and strange atmosphere settled over the castle. Hazel became more obsessed than ever with her beauty, and even more unkind to Snow White. On several occasions, she openly threatened Snow White should she be anywhere near her. Finally, Snow just took to avoiding Hazel altogether, which, unfortunately, also meant being away from her father more often than not.
The King and Queen’s relationship took a beating, as well. They bickered constantly, mostly, Snow realized with great sadness, about her. She could tell it was putting even more undo strain on her father’s health.
Fearful of his daughter’s loneliness, when Snow turned twelve, he started inviting princes over to visit her.
That was when Snow White learned she was beautiful.
She’d always heard from her father and the castle workers that she was a very lovely girl, but these princes who were her new constant companions opened her eyes to the extent of her beauty.
The first prince was Prince Harvey, and he started the whole thing.
Snow hardly ever bothered with mirrors, especially after the incidents with Hazel and her mirror, but she knew she was unusual in that she had skin white as snow, hair black as ebony, and lips red as blood.
Harvey had more to say.
They had been walking alone in the castle gardens, when suddenly, Harvey pinched her neck.
“Ouch!” she said, shoving him playfully. “What did you do that for?”
He didn’t hesitate with his reply. “You’re so beautiful, it’s enough to drive me mad!” he said passionately.
Snow was puzzled. “I am not. My stepmother, the Queen…she’s beautiful!”
Harvey stared at her. “You’re ten times as lovely as she is, Princess Snow White! You have the most amazing…you! Your whole…self, is amazing!”
“Amazing?” Snow asked, liking the praise but not certain what it meant. “What do you mean?”
So he told her. He complimented her eyes…how sparkling and shockingly green they were. Her figure, so full and lovely despite her youth. Her skin, so clear and so white. Her hair, black as sin, so shiny and soft his hands yearned to touch it. Her lips, red as blood, and so full, just perfect for kissing. When he said this, he gave her a meaningful look.
“Won’t you kiss me, Princess Snow White?”
Snow, who had been sitting practically in his lap on a stone bench, quickly pulled away. “I…I don’t know, Prince Harvey. I’ve never…I mean…”
“You’ve never kissed anyone!?” Harvey cried. “How can that be? You’re so gorgeous! How can anyone resist you? Kiss me, Princess! Kiss me. I love you. You’re beautiful.”
Snow gazed at him, awed, a fragile hope growing in her heart. She’d been so lonely for so long, and the only one who loved her was her Papa. He was growing so weak and distant. She wanted so desperately to be loved. Harvey loved her.
“Oh…Prince Harvey!” she breathed. “You love me? Really?”
He nodded earnestly, leaning closer to her. “Kiss me!”
“Why? Why do you love me?” Snow asked. “We only just met, you know—”
“Because you’re beautiful!” Harvey practically shouted, grabbing her shoulders. “I want you to kiss me, Princess!”
Snow still hesitated. She had been taught all her life of modesty and virtue, and she believed she was a bit young for this ‘love’ and ‘kissing’ business.
But it was so glorious. Here sat a fairly handsome prince, dolling out praise and compliments like water, and begging her to kiss him.
The temptation was too great. Snow leaned into him and kissed him.
Not only was kissing fantastic, she was good at it.
They kissed and kissed for a very long time, till a gardener came by, startling them apart.
Snow suddenly felt so ashamed, she thought she would retch. She ran away from Harvey and hid in her room.
The next day, he left, taking his love, and her first kiss, with him.
He never returned.
But it happened again, several times, each with a new prince with new praise and new vows of devotion and love. Snow simply could not resist the promise of being loved, all in exchange for one simple kiss, no matter how nauseating the shame afterwards.
When King Florin heard of this, he assigned Snow White a bodyguard, just to be safe. Snow White was not very happy about this (neither was her latest prince friend, Prince Marco), until she found the bodyguard was just a tall, quiet boy with big hands and feet. He was seventeen, and needed work to provide for his widowed mother and his sisters. He left Snow alone for the most part. He just stood in the background, preventing any serious kissing. Snow found, after a while, that he was pleasant to talk to, though too polite and uninterested in kissing her to be much fun. After a while she got used to him, and was able to ignore him for the most part.
When Snow turned fifteen, her father called her to his room. This happened very rarely, as he was getting weaker and weaker. So Snow White hurried as fast as she could, anxious to see what he wanted.
When she arrived at the royal bedchamber…the first time she’d been there since she was seven, she found her dear, poor, sick Papa laying on his bed, propped up with many pillows.
Snow noticed the mirror frame was gone from the wall.
“S-Snow White?” King Florin murmured weakly, squinting at her like he couldn’t quite see.
She hurried to his side. “Yes…yes, Papa! Its me, its me, Snow White. I’m here. What is it, Papa?” She clasped his hands in hers. His were icy cold and shaking.
“I…I have…something to give you,” he gasped.
“It’s your birthday. I have a present,” he breathed.
“Oh, Papa…” Snow White said, sighing shakily. “I don’t need a present. You love me. That’s enough,”
“I have something…you…you need,” he insisted. And from under his mound of pillows, he painstakingly brought a large box wrapped in midnight blue paper.
Snow took it in her hands anxiously, glancing up at her father.
“Open it,” he gasped.
Inside the box was a mirror. A large, ornate hand mirror, with a silver frame engraved with doves and roses and apple blossoms. Only one half of the mirror was filled with glass. It was broken jaggedly in half.
Snow inhaled sharply. “P-Papa…”
“Don’t…d-don’t…ever let…Hazel…know, Snow White,” he wheezed weakly, his hands slipping from hers, his eyes drooping closed. Than they flew open again, and gazed intensely at her.
“Snow White! S-Snow White!”
Tears streamed down her face. “Papa, what is it? Oh…oh, Papa…”
He raised his hand weakly, than let it drop back to his side. He stared at her, his eyes wide and filled with desperation. “Th-the t-truth will…will…s-set…you…free…”
And with that, King Florin of Lara, Snow White’s dear Papa, died. And that is when our story really begins.
Hunter loved. Maybe that was Hunter’s greatest weakness. Love is just that; the ultimate weakness, but also the ultimate strength. But, anyway, Hunter loved. This started his whole predicament.
First, he loved his mother. Well…love is not a strong enough word. He absolutely adored his mother. Second, he loved his four sisters, Fiona, Felicity, Faustina, and Flora. He’d been working to support them all ever since his father’s death, and had been lucky enough to get a job as a guard in the castle, since he was too young to enter military service at the time.
Oh dear…trouble from the very start.
The princess of Castle Lara was just gorgeous. Hunter hated to admit it, but not even beautiful Faustina could touch what this princess had. But, unfortunately, Hunter was rather immune to her loveliness. Of course, the first time he saw her he’d gaped a little, but, unlike most people, Hunter could look at something, accept it for what it was, and than easily get over it when it didn’t concern him too terribly.
This landed him another job. He was chosen for it especially by the King himself.
Personal Guard to the Princess Snow White.
The pay was very good, and the work was easy (stand around while the lovely but silly princess canoodled with princes, guard her door, keep her safe, escort her, and so on and so forth). It seemed a much better job that Personal Poison Checker, which Hunter knew posed much more risk than simply guarding a bombshell royalty.
That is…until King Florin died.
That’s when Queen Hazel pounced.
Hazel was not happy.
That wasn’t so terribly surprising. She hadn’t been happy at all in the past nine years.
But today she was particularly incensed.
She had just spent nearly an eighth of the castle treasury on a spell to remove every last wrinkle on her face. It worked (she felt like her face had been stretched over a bedframe), and yet, when she had climbed to the very top of the tallest tower in the castle and removed the Mirror from its vault, the answer was the same as it had been nine years ago.
“Mirror, mirror, on the wall,
Who is fairest of us all?”
The Mirror replied,
“Queen, you are full-fair, tis ttrue,
But Snow White is fairer than you.”
The Queen was in a rage, to say the least.
“Enough!” she bellowed to the silence of the tower. “The King is dead a year now, and I am tired of this! No matter what I do, Snow White is always fairer! And you can’t lie, can you!?”
The Mirror, only half a face, but a stern one at that, shook its head. “I am the half that knows no deceit. All I say is the essence of truth.”
“Yes, I know,” Hazel snarled. She paced the vault, which was all that was in the top of the tower. It was huge on the outside, but rather small inside, as it was five feet thick. So she could only pace so far.
“Enough fooling myself and fooling around,” she growled to herself. “I deserve to be fairest in the land! Me! Snow White must…Snow White will die!”
Not much had happened in the year since Papa died. Snow White had grown a little taller, and a lot lovelier. She hadn’t thought it was possible, but, indeed, her beauty seemed to grow with her. That was not so important to Snow…what was important was that the sea of sorrow she’d feared for some time she might drown in had ebbed enough for her to turn from its shores.
The Mirror had helped.
She’d come to no real peace about her father’s absence, but time, and a listening ear, had healed her broken heart enough for her to stretch it out a little again.
Prince Derric, her latest visitor, was only too happy to comply.
Unfortunately, there was Hunter, always behind them, not really watching them, but clearly doing his job.
“Can’t we ditch your guard?” Prince Derric whispered irritably to Snow as they walked through the garden, Hunter a few feet behind.
Snow glanced over at him. He was handsome. Blonde curls and intense blue eyes. She grinned a little. “We can try,”
It took some doing, but they had a plan. Prince Derric pretended he needed to leave, and went one direction. Snow waited a little while, than informed her guard she desperately needed to use a chamber pot, and went the other way very quickly. By turning a few sharp corners, she lost Hunter and circled back to where Derric was waiting in impatient anticipation.
Snow hurried towards him, smiling the smile she knew made boys happy.
The Mirror had told her. The Mirror talked a lot, and everything he said, Snow White appreciated so much. It had been six months before she could take the Mirror out of the box, and see if it still worked.
She had remembered the words perfectly, and over time, had modified them and found they still worked:
“Mirror, Mirror, in my hand,
Who is fairest in the land?”
The Mirror would smile his wide, friendly smile, in spite of the sloppy crack that reminded Snow that this Mirror was truly precious and powerful. Every single time, the answer was the same:
“You are, Snow White.”
But the Mirror said other things. He praised Snow White, and answered all her questions, as he could see everything. At first, she had been a little frightened by it, but over time, the Mirror began to feel like an extension of herself. He understood her perfectly. Best of all, after she’d started consulting the Mirror on a regular basis (though in secret, remembering her father’s warning about Hazel), the shame that followed a prince’s visit had gone away.
Just that morning, the Mirror had promised that Prince Derric would be something special for Snow White. She longed for those kisses, for the love he would surely confess to her.
He grabbed her in his arms, but he disappointed her. He kissed her, but the kisses were not beautiful and magical. They were flat and ordinary. Lip against lip. Ho hum. He may as well have been a million other princes.
So few kisses really dazzled Snow anymore. She was a little sad about this, and wondered why.
So Snow asked if they could kiss a little less. She felt better the longer they sat and talked, and then kissed, learning about Derric’s favorite things and the people in his life.
“You’d love Mother,” he told her, kissing her cheek. “She’s got the nicest smile…besides yours, of course. She’d love you. I love you. Everyone loves you. How could they not?”
Snow wondered this, herself, and gave Derric a particularly coy smile. “Oh, Derric…I’d love to meet her someday, I would!”
“That would be so nice,” he said, nodding. “Can we kiss some more?”
“You know,” Snow said, feeling truly coy then. “Um…I’m sixteen now, you know,”
“Mm…” Derric was a tad preoccupied by a lock of her hair he was tucking behind her shapely ear.
“And, well…you’ve said you love me, Derric,”
“Oh, oh…I do,” he said eagerly, kissing her ear.
Snow got the distinctive feeling he was not paying attention. She turned and stared at him hard. “Derric, please, listen! Do you love me?”
“Of course I do,” Derric replied, leaning in for another kiss.
She sighed. “Than…why are you here? Why are we sitting behind this bush, kissing?”
“What else would we do?” he asked.
She blinked, confused. Propose, you simpleton! She thought. Don’t you love me? Oh…please love me. I just want to be loved.
“Well…I could stand up. And you could kneel.”
“That would make kissing rather difficult,” Derric said slowly, like she was being stupid.
“I don’t want to kiss,” Snow said, surprising herself.
Yes I do. I do. Don’t I?
Derric stared at her like she’d grown a second head. “Huh?”
“Oh…never mind,” Snow said, giving up.
“Good,” Derric took her face in his hands and leaned in.
They started away from each other.
Hunter stood just outside of the cluster of bushes, looking confused and worried and angry.
“Hunter,” Snow said, hurrying to her feet and brushing the grass off her skirt. “Nothing happened. We were just kissing. And talking. Derric’s mother has a wonderful smile,”
“It’s true,” Derric said, jumping up and taking Snow’s hand.
Hunter just looked at Snow.
She looked away. “I’m sorry, Derric. I think you’d best…go. Now.”
“Oh. Well…alright than. It was absolutely lovely to meet you, Princess Snow White. Goodbye,”
He walked away. Just…walked away.
Don’t you love me?
Snow watched him go, than followed Hunter back into the garden.