Legends on Loan: The House of Charming
The first of an intended series retelling classic fairy tales
Once there lived a nobleman who had a beautiful wife.
The nobleman however was hideous, both inside and out. Every night would find him bringing home a different harlot from the local pub. Often he would make his beautiful, black haired wife sleep on the floor while he and whatever stranger he brought home that night would sleep on the bed.
One would think the nobleman didn't love his wife. This couldn't be farther from the truth, for the nobleman loved his wife more than anything in the world. He did however have cravings that he could not control.
Finally, one night he returned from the pub to find his wife was gone. All that remained was a red rose, which was an important symbol on her family's coat of arms.
The nobleman's wife traveled across the sea to a great kingdom and there she met a good king and fell in love.
The nobleman's wife lived with the king for a few months before dying in child birth. The midwife carried the baby girl out to the king who was waiting patiently in the hallway.
Observing that the baby had the same pale skin as her mother, he called her Snow White. He made a vow that day to raise Snow White as his own.
Snow White grew and was educated by the finest tutors in the kingdom.
When she was yet very young, the king died and his sister, Queen Meridia succeeded him on his throne.
Snow White's adopted aunt was nothing like the good king. She was cruel and petty. She shaved off Snow White's hair and forced her to dress in a monk's robe, for fear that Snow White's beauty would overshadow her own. Beatings were almost a daily event for the young Snow White. The wicked queen would have killed her if her two sons had not taken a liking to her.
The oldest prince was Rodderick. He was a hunter, who always brought back large deer to be prepared by the royal chef.
The youngest was Prince Howard. Howard was a sickly child and often Snow White would hear the queen in Howard's room, weeping and praying for his health.
When Snow White was sixteen, she began to feel attraction to Rodderick. He felt the same. It wasn't long before they were hiding from Queen Meridia to kiss and tell each other the dreams they had of running away together.
One day, Queen Meridia discovered Snow White and Prince Rodderick together in the stables and in an insane and jealous rage, the queen ordered her personal guard to restrain Rodderick.
Queen Meridia handed Snow White a dagger.
"Castrate him!" the Queen shouted.
"Your majesty?" Snow white gasped. She was taken aback by the Queen's mad request.
"You heard me!" said Queen Meridia.
Snow White hesitated and the queen grabbed the knife from her hand.
Quickly removing her son's trousers as he struggled to get free from the rope, Queen Meridia cut her son.
Blood seemed to cover the ground like a red blanket. Snow White screamed and ran out from the stable and didn't stop running until she reached the woods.
Snow White leaned against a tree and wept. She knew that once the queen calmed down, she would blame Snow White for her son's mutilation.
A friendly dwarf named Borgenshade heard the young woman weeping and decided to check on her.
"Are you okay?" said the dwarf, tilting his head to see her face, which was covered by her hands.
"I'm fine," said Snow White, "now please go to."
"My, you're a rather pale lass," said Borgenshade. "Was your mother frightened by a polar bear?"
Snow White ignored him and continued to weep.
Borgenshade pulled a yo-yo from his pocket.
"Want to see some tricks?" he said.
"Go away!" Snow White insisted.
But the little man continued. He did tricks with his yo-yo. He danced and sang. He even did cartwheels, trying to cheer up Snow White.
Finally the dwarf offered to tell a joke.
"No jokes, you little nut," said Snow White, who by this time had stopped sobbing and was sitting against the tree watching the rather energetic dwarf.
"Very well," said Borgenshade. "But you must answer this: How many horses does it take to pull a boulder?"
"Why would horses pull a boulder?" said Snow White.
"It doesn't matter," said Borgenshade. " Its a joke."
"Fine," said Snow White. "How many horses?"
Borgenshade stomped his right foot several times.
"I don't get it," said Snow White.
"Horses count by stomping their feet," said Borgenshade.
Snow White rolled her eyes.
"Very well," said Borgenshade. "How about this one. Why did the albino girl lean against a random tree and cry like a baby?"
"Why?" said Snow White.
"I don't know," said Borgenshade. "The little bitch won't tell me."
Somehow this struck Snow White as funny and the dwarf, satisfied in his success sat down beside her.
Snow White told Borgenshade about the abuses she suffered at the hands of her aunt, the queen. She told him of how she was so happy when the King was still alive and how she never knew her real mother and father.
Borgenshade invited Snow White to stay with him and his brothers until she could feel safe enough to go home. Snow White, having seen Queen Meridia castrate her own son was in no hurry to return and doubted she would ever feel safe again.
Time seemed to pass quickly in the simple life Snow White found with the dwarves. In the five years since she met Borgenshade, she had learned both logging and carpentry, which were the primary trades of the dwarven brothers. Sometimes she would even help out at the sawmill where logs were cut into lumber for customers.
One day, she saw a familiar looking man placing an order for lumber with Borgenshade. In curiosity, she approached.
"Snow White!" the man called out. It was only then that she recognized him.
"Prince Howard?" Snow White turned and was about to run away.
"Wait!" said Howard, "I'm not going to hurt you. My mother is very ill, and my father is coming here from the northlands to rule in her stead."
"I didn't even know your father was still alive," said Snow White.
"He likes to live up north with his mistresses," said Howard. "He is Lord Ivan Charming of Atorthine. Please come and meet him."
Snow White reluctantly agreed and she rode with Prince Howard back home to the castle.
"Welcome home, Prince Charming!" said the butler, as they entered the drawing room of the castle.
"It's Prince Howard!" replied the prince.
As Snow White and Prince Howard sat in the drawing room, sipping wine and catching up on all that happened in the five years they hadn't seen each other, a withered looking lady entered the room.
The lady was hunched over. Her skin was grey with patches that were lighter or darker than the rest of her skin. Her hair was white and her nose was elongated in an unnatural shape.
Snow White stood up.
"I don't look like I did five years ago," said the woman. "I am Queen Meridia."
Snow White began to tremble.
"I suffer from a rare hereditary condition," said Queen Meridia. "I'm dying."
"I'm sorry, your majesty," said Snow White.
"Please, let me show you around," said Howard. "We've made quite a few changes to the castle in the last five years."
Howard took Snow White by the hand and led her down the hallway.
"I'm sorry about how my mother treated you," said Howard. "Please have compassion on her. Insanity is one symptom of her illness."
As they walked, they saw Prince Rodderick. Like his mother, he looked older than he was.
"Looks like you get to have her," said Rodderick. He looked at Snow White and tears began to fill his eyes but he simply shook his head and walked away.
"Rodderick wishes he could experience being with a woman, but mother saw to it that he would never be able," said Howard.
"I know," said Snow White. "I was there."
"We both loved you so much, Snow White," said Prince Howard.
The two talked for the remnant of the day, and when it was night, Prince Howard led Snow White to her room. There was a basket of apples on a nightstand.
"Don't eat those," said Howard. "We poisoned them to kill roaches. We seem to have an infestation. Hopefully, they will be attracted to the apples and die from the poison."
Snow White sat on the bed.
"I don't blame you for being uncomfortable here," said Howard.
"I was miserable after my adopted father died," said Snow White.
Howard took Snow White by the hand and kissed her.
"One night?" said Howard.
"One night," said Snow White. "Tomorrow, after I meet your father I return to my home with the dwarves."
The next morning, Snow White and Prince Howard were awakened by the butler knocking on the door.
"Prince Charming," said the butler, "your Father, Lord Charming has arrived with two of his lady friends."
Howard and Snow White embraced once more before getting out of bed.
"Was that your first time?" asked Howard.
"No," Said Snow White. "There was a man last year. He was a friend of the dwarves, but we decided to part ways. You and I must do the same."
"Agreed." Prince Howard nodded.
They dressed and went to the dining hall. When Lord Charming entered the room, they stood and bowed.
"This is my father, Lord Ivan Charming," said Howard.
"Such a beautiful young woman," said Ivan as he kissed Snow White on the hand.
"This is Snow White," said Howard, "she was adopted by the king a few years before he died."
"I see," said Ivan. " Did you know your parents at all?"
"No," said Snow White. "I was told my mother was from the Northlands. Her coat of arms had a red rose on it."
Ivan's mouth dropped open.
"I didn't think it possible," said Ivan.
"What is it, father?" asked Howard.
"This is my daughter with Elizabeth, the woman I was married to when I met your mother," said Howard.
"That can't be true," said Snow White.
"It is," said Ivan. "I fathered Rodderick and Howard while still married to your mother. When she left, I was given a divorce by the arch bishop and I married Meridia."
"Give me a minute alone," said Snow White as she retreated into the room that she and Howard had shared the night before.
Howard and Ivan stood in the hallway. Neither of them knew what to say. Then they heard a thump and knew Snow White had fallen.
When they opened the door, they found the beautiful princess Snow White lying on the floor dead. In her hand was one of the poison apples that Howard had warned her about.
Snow White's body was returned to the Northlands where she was laid rest among her ancestors, and the family she never knew.