Once Upon A Time

Everyone thinks they know the classic fairytale characters - Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella. No one ever thought to delve beneath the surface and uncover the fact that Snow White was the estranged sister of Red Riding Hood. Or that Cinderella and Rapunzel had been childhood friends until secrets got in the way. Or even that Sleeping Beauty had once struck up a deal with the ominous Rumpelstiltskin.
Read all about it.


1. My Dear, Dear Snow White

This time of year, the forest was dappled in weak morning light that filtered through the canopy of white-dusted, rich green leaves. Hazy light illuminated each blossom that fell daintily to the ground, laying in a blanket of the purest dew until Snow came along. 

A cracking of a twig in the distance ricocheted around the circle of tall, knobbly trees enclosing the clearing dotted with iridescent birds. As soon as the crackling and moaning of a girl approached, the birds took flight and flitted into the distance, shrouded in sleepy, winter light. The splendor of the tranquil forest was disrupted by each foolish, raucous step taken by Snow, as she stumbled further through the mass of pines and prickly bushes that threatened to rip her new dress.

"This can't be happening," she moaned dolefully to herself, "I knew it was around here somewhere."

Ignoring a twig that was hooked in a large weave in her skirt, Snow pulled further on and was soon collapsed on the downy, grassy floor of the clearing. Panting and sweating ungraciously, she heaved herself into a sitting position and checked her pulse. It was racing irregularly. No wonder, she thought miserably, I've been traipsing hopelessly through a forest at five o'clock in the morning.

Her eyes were glinting with the pearly light from the sun steadily climbing through the weak sky, alert and wary of anything that jumped into her line of vision. A rabbit here and there, scuttling bravely into the clearing to inspect the newcomer that had disturbed the pleasant silence.

Snow leaped to her feet as another rabbit joined its friend, who was standing rigidly in a gap in the overgrown bushes concealing the clearing from outer view. She knelt in front of the rabbit teasingly, placed a mocking smile on her face and rubbed its ears. With a shiver of nerves the rabbit scampered off, leaving a rustling and scattering of leaves in its wake. Its friend was soon to follow, sending a gaggle of birds rippling from the wafting trees out onto the horizon.

Sighing, Snow collapsed dramatically on the grass again, running her slender fingers through the thin blades bowed like servants at her touch. 

"Oh where, where is my prince to come and rescue me now," she called in a sing-song voice, giggling to herself.The only way the Prince would want you was is if you weren't the daughter of a poor farmer who can barely make money to pay the King's men who ride around this place like its their domain.

Snow backtracked in her muddled thoughts. Well, it is their domain, but ...

Accepting her discussion as a lost cause, she shook out her hair and sat up again, pulling a stray thorn from the bottom of her fresh linen dress. 

"It was around here somewhere," she resolved, chanting it to herself like a charm. "Dad said that it was through the clearing, past the old stump of a tree and to the left of the pool - what pool?"

Snow sighed hopelessly. She didn't even know why her father had chosen her out of his two daughters to come looking for his fishing rod that had been discarded recklessly in the forest. Red was much better at this sort of thing. She actually had her bearings about her and knew her way around these parts of the forest - she spent most of her time in here collecting baskets of lovely plants and edible berries to be carried off to some distant relative in a bid for money once the relative died. Snow smirked. Like a few snacks of muesli and a daisy were going to help her get closer to the only surviving rich relatives they had.They all wrote their will years ago, and I doubt a few hasty baskets are going to send them reeling towards the pen and paper now.

Shaking more thoughts from her head, Snow hiked up her dress and jumped without very much dignity over a mass of sprawling, incessant vines that, even though she had sprung from the ground as high as she  could, still managed to wind themselves greedily around her ankle. Cursing, Snow White unwound the  vicious thorns that threatened to prick her skin and continued on her journey.

So far she had gone through the clearing ... but where was the tree stump?

Almost as soon as the thought passed through her hapless head, a desolate, moldy tree stump loomed into view, shrunken sadly into the mass of bushes that were closely clinging to it. If the stump is there, I'm supposed to continue past it and left of the pool...

Snow continued her hazardous trek, cursing and making a fuss out of each leaf that touched her pale forehead, until she found the pool that her father had instructed her to go left of.

It was a small, exactly circular, enchanting pool, a glimmering mass of inky blackness and spiraling seaweed coaxing dangerously to her to join them in their ominous lives. The reflection of the pale sky was fragmented into a million shards of distorted color that glittered all around the overhanging trees dipping their gnarled fingers lightly into glassy surface, sending wonderful ripples dancing.

Snow allowed herself one intake of awed breath before she continued her journey, only pausing to move an annoyingly large boulder to let herself get through a small cranny the way she wanted to go. She may be the thinner out of the two White sisters, but even she couldn't have squeezed her way through the inch's gap between a shaded tree and the boulder. 

As Snow White passed, her reflection was sent shimmering onto the leering surface - as pallid as complexions could be, dewy and graceful, with a heart-shaped face framed by luscious, wavy hair  black as night. The contrast was uncanny, with the addition of her wide, innocent dark eyes, and full red lips, which never ceased to be pouting in annoyance at something or another. She was remarked upon by every farmer within tradings' distance of her father's small excuse  for a farmland, but never admired by anyone above the rank of a blacksmith. If she was of a higher wealth, eligible men would come flocking to her door, her mother had always assured her, but Snow wished just once that she  could test the theory. Everyone loved receiving compliments, and the image of a queue of gorgeous knights riding miles to see her was invigorating. 

"One, two, three, four ..." resolved to counting her steps to pass the time, Snow shook out her hair and arched an eyebrow as the path left of the inky black pool took her winding further. 

At some point during her journey, Snow thought she heard men's voices in the distance, approaching her, or the way that she was headed. Her ears pricked again some twenty minutes later at the same deep voices, but she brushed the thoughts aside, pinning them down to the echoes that were sent from birds chirping or just a harmless woodcutter about his daily business (her father had many woodcutting friends too). At one point she thought she heard a twig snap behind her, and whipped around with her heart hammering, despite telling herself even as she glanced around warily that it was a stupid notion that anyone would even want to capture her. She was a farmer's daughter, the only interesting thing about her was her looks, and she had no money or belongings with her. 

But then a rough, callous hand clamped around her mouth and she wasn't even given time to protest before she was heaved into darkness.

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