Movie: Snow White and the Huntsman
Word Count: 2008
Characters, Pairings: The Huntsman/Snow White.
Summary: “I heard you while I was asleep,” she breathes ('asleep' sounds so much better than 'dead'), and he forgets his words, remembers his heartache and her stillness.
Warnings: Here be spoilers. Mild sensuality, and mild language.
Notes: This was a prompt requested by downjune at the Snow White and the Huntsman comment ficathon here. Prompt was: Snow White/Huntsman, I heard you while I slept . Enjoy!
He comes to her when she sends for him, because she is the queen and queens are not meant to be refused. If Ravenna were still on the throne, the punishment for refusal would be death, and although Snow White would never resort to such harshness, denying her would be naught but impossible. Not because it is unacceptable and unheard of, but because he truly believes himself physically incapable of it.
She does not order her guards to leave them alone when he arrives, but they do so without having to be told nonetheless—this is not the first time that she has called him to her; this is not the first time that he has knelt before her in a room full of the two of them and expensive, immaterial things.
“My Queen,” he greets, because she is and she was his queen even before she was theirs. His eyes are downcast, focused on the pattern of the tile beneath him.
“Rise,” she tells him softly, her fingers brushing against his shoulder. “You neither have to bow to me nor address me as such. We are alone here, and there are no subjects to criticize you for being anything less than formal with me.”
He lifts his head and straightens, and it is only then that he truly looks at her, notes the way her shoulders slump slightly as if they are weighed down, and the way her mouth is set in a thin line. She is beautiful still (always), but he can tell that she is troubled.
“What troubles you?” he asks her, and his concern is as genuine as her kindness. “Has this role become a burden?”
She offers him a half-smile then. “Yes and no. It is a burden that I bear with pride and with joy, but my duties as queen are not what have been keeping me awake at night.”
There are dark circles under her eyes—barely noticeable, but there all the same, and he wonders what it is that would bother her so much as to keep her from slumber. “Do you not feel safe?” he inquires. “Is there something that has been frightening you when you settle down for the night? Are there memories that plague you in the darkness?”
“This castle is well-guarded,” she replies, her eyes fully meeting his. “And it is not the darkness I fear, my huntsman.”
That she would address him as such sends a quick, forbidden thrill through him, and it is unfortunately not nearly as easy for him to dismiss as it is for her to call it into being.
“Then what?” he asks, and he is surprised to find that his mouth is somewhat dry.
“Myself,” she tells him. “My heart. At first I thought I had just been dreaming but lately, I am not so sure. The way you look at me at times... it slices though me, and it is the sweetest ache and the scariest thing that I have ever experienced, and some part of me knows that it was not a dream at all, but reality. I fear being wrong, and I fear being right.”
He is certain that his confusion shows on his face, in his eyes. “If I have offended you in any way, please--”
“You have not offended me in any way,” she interjects, shaking her head. “I just wish... I wish that you would be as honest with me standing before you as you were when all believed I was lost.”
His breath catches and he feels the beginnings of panic clawing at him, vision swimming for just a moment before coming into focus once more. “What are you saying?” He doesn't have to ask, though. He knows, and he knows that she knows, now.
She answers his question with a question: “I was not dreaming after all, was I?” She is looking up at him in something akin to wonder, and there is a tiny hitch in her voice. He cannot tell if the short laugh that comes after is due to actual amusement or disbelief.
He does not know what to tell her, but he knows that he cannot lie to her (she's always seen right through him from the start): “You did not dream it, Snow, but I did not foresee us having this conversation.” He also did not foresee losing his wife, or being propositioned by an evil queen, or falling in love with a princess and helping her take a throne that had always been rightfully hers.
“I heard you while I was asleep,” she breathes ('asleep' sounds so much better than 'dead'), and he forgets his words, remembers his heartache and her stillness.
“You were not supposed to be able to hear me,” he says, and he tries to look away from her but she will not let him. Her hand is on his cheek and her eyes are gazing into his, searching.
“So you regret what you said to me.” It is not a question, but a statement, and for a moment, there is hurt in her eyes and he refuses to allow himself to be the cause of it.
“Never,” he replies, and he means it—he will always mean it. “I only regret my cowardice and my inability to protect you in that moment.”
“We were all fooled.” She smiles, but it does not reach her eyes. “And I was just plain foolish.”
She is close—closer than she should be and he knows that he should probably take a step back because this is not at all what would be considered proper. Just because his thoughts of her are not always the purest does not mean that his actions towards her should be anything but.
He should step back, place some distance between them, but he doesn't. She should stop looking at him like that, but she doesn't.
“I am not your wife,” she says gently, and it stings, yes... but it is not the pain of a fresh wound. It is the ache of an old one—a scar that will not fade.
He knows that she is not his Sara—is not even rightfully his at all, and he does not know why she feels the need to remind him, unless she requires some distinction herself.
“You aren't,” he agrees. “But you are no less beautiful, no less kind, no less pure. You remind me of her in many ways, but I know that you are not her, and I am not trying to turn you into her.” He pauses, clearing his throat and contemplating whether he should tell her the next part or not, but she brushes her thumb against his face and all doubts are temporarily banished. “When I think of you, Snow, I think of you.”
This time, her smile is a real one. “You also need to know that you did not fail me.”
He did not know how badly he needed to hear those words, and he releases a breath that he hadn't known he'd been holding. He leans into her touch, closing his eyes. “I feel as if I did.”
“You helped me to regain my kingdom. You fought by my side. That is no failure, Eric.” The way she says his name is something precious, something to be treasured. He knows that he will not forget the sound of it on her lips.
She forges ahead: “I would... I would very much like it if you would continue to stay by my side. I would like to see what this can become.”
He opens his eyes, remembering his place and re-informing himself (for at least the thousandth time) that she is the queen now—a forbidden fruit that should always remain just outside of his reach, no matter how badly he may wish otherwise. “Status dictates that this cannot become anything, my Queen,” he tells her, even though he knows that it is not the response she wishes to hear. It is also not the response that he wishes to give.
He draws back, placing a little distance between them, regaining some sense of clarity. It is dangerous to stand too close—not because he fears getting burned, but because he fears doing the burning. He is not a good man (though she makes him want to be a much better one), and there is no way in hell that he will ever be good enough for her, romantically or otherwise. He does not deserve what she is offering, no matter how badly he may want it.
She looks shocked and hurt (the look of rejection does not suit her), and her hand trembles as she lets it drop back to her side. “I should think that matters of the heart are more important than status,” she says, head held high, chin jutted out just slightly.
She is a stubborn one, and that is one of the many reasons why he fell in love with her.
“William would make a fine king for you,” he says without knowing why, and just because he doesn't want it to be true doesn't mean that it is false. “William is a good man, a prince, and he loves you.”
“William is a good man,” she agrees smoothly. “But he is not the one who woke me from that spell. He is not the one that I feel so strongly for. He is not the one who has been keeping me awake at night with thoughts of him.”
If Eric were the type to blush, he probably would be doing so right now. However, he isn't, and so he doesn't. Instead, he tries again to speak some sense into her, to tell her what would be best for her (because that is what he wants for her even as he wants her for himself), but she makes it fairly clear before he can even get a complete sentence out that she wants nothing of it.
“I am not a little girl, and I can decide what's best for me, just as I can decide what I want,” she informs him in a tone that brooks no argument, and when she moves close to him again, this time he does not try to step away.
She reaches for him, and even though he knows that he shouldn't, he takes her in his arms. He pulls her tight against him and can feel the way she shivers, can hear her quiet gasp. Holding her like this feels good—feels right, even though it shouldn't.
She leans up and he remains very still as she kisses him, soft and sweet and full of longing. Her lips part just so, and he ignores the small voice in his head that tells him not to take advantage of it. His tongue darts forward, slipping past her lips, tasting her fully, and she makes a small sound, pressing herself closer to him.
The inexpert movements of her tongue against his own sparks a fire within him—makes him want more than he should take from her right now (ever, really, but clearly she has other plans). He is the one to break the kiss, and he nearly begins it again when he sees her flushed face, her red lips, that look in her eyes....
“This isn't going to be easy, you know,” he tells her, and he knows it's true, but he grins at her like a madman all the same.
“It doesn't have to be easy,” she answers, and her smile is wide, full of joy and affection. “It just has to be.”
In her eyes, he doesn't see himself—he sees the man that he could be (can be, will be). Not for her, but because of her.
And he rather likes what he sees.
I really didn't know what I was doing but this demanded to be written. Feel free to toss garbage at me if it's really awful.