“You can’t have my heart.”
See in MY version, Snow White didn’t say that. She was about to, but when she finally met Ravenna face to face again, she didn’t see the cruel, terrible tyrant the kingdom feared and hated. She saw a woman fighting to survive in a world that would take everything from a person in the blink of an eye. And because Snow was good, and pure, and wanted to heal and not kill, she told Ravenna to take her heart.
In that small, cold tower room, the young warrior dropped her sword, and her shield fell with a great clang. She removed her armor piece by piece until Snow White stood, alone and defenseless before the Queen, and offered herself as sacrifice.
Ravenna stalked across that space and took her by the throat, but Snow didn’t struggle or cry. There was no fear in her eyes. No hatred. No blame. Only a terrible understanding.
“Take it,” Snow White whispered.
Ravenna’s other hand shot forward, fingers clawed with their metal tips gleaming.
Needle sharp they slid through the flimsy fabric of Snow’s shirt and pricked her flawless pale skin. Red drops of blood bloomed, like roses against a snowy garden.
Just a few inches more and Ravenna would have what she desired, what she needed: eternal youth and power.
Just a few inches…so slight a distance. She could feel the heat, the warmth, the life beneath her hands, literally within her grasp.
The Queen’s hand fell away.
The blood-tipped metal claws slipped from her fingers, one by one, each striking the stone with a sound like bell that reverberated through the air with a pulse of magic.
Feathers and fabric rustled and sighed. Ravenna fell to her knees, releasing Snow White.
She could feel it even now, Death’s cold hand wrapping around her. Ravenna had stayed it’s power for far too long and it was coming to collect it’s due. The Queen looked up at her would-be sacrifice, tears clouding her sight. The tower blurred and ran but somehow Snow White remained clear and bright, her beauty almost painful even now. As darkness began to claim Ravenna, Snow White shone brighter and brighter, a beacon in the night.
And at last, far too late, the Queen understood. This was not a mere mortal child perhaps more lovely than the rest, but part of the land itself; not flesh and blood but magic.
Life Ravenna had nearly taken. As it had been taken from her so long ago.
“I’m sorry,” the dying Queen whispered brokenly. The coldness of Death made her breath frost in the still air. ”I’m so sorry.”
“I know,” Snow White replied, and there was infinite compassion in her voice. Because she was not mortal, and she did understand: Death could not beget life, and suffering could not be erased with violence.
“You will heal what I have done?”
The knowledge that the scars she had left upon the world would fade was a last tiny spot of warmth that Ravenna embraced in the gathering darkness. And for the first time since a strange man unmade her world and her mother cast a spell that she might live…The Queen stopped fighting and surrendered to her fate.
But just as the frigid blackness inside her claimed the last of her sight, there was a light. A light so bright and hot it was like staring directly into the sun. It burned eyes that had since ceased to see, it seared through her mind and her heart until her soul itself was set aflame. And Ravenna tried to scream, but she had no voice, she had no body. She was unmade, and yet more alive than she had ever been.
This was Power beyond anything she had ever dreampt of that would shatter her into a million pieces…then just as suddenly as it started, it stopped. And the Queen was herself again: whole, alive, kneeling in her ruined tower and Snow White…
For the space of a few heartbeats, the mortal shell was cast aside and Ravenna beheld the burning figure within.
Lips red as blood. Hair black as night. Eyes like glowing embers.
This was Snow White.
Then the mask was replaced and there was only a young woman, tears like diamonds slipping down her cheeks as she stepped forward, cupped Ravena’s cheeks with infinite tenderness and bent to kiss her.
So soft her lips where they pressed gently against the Queen’s! And her taste like the first breath of Spring after a long winter, like forgiveness, like hope, like being reborn. For one perfect instant, Ravenna knew peace. And then she knew nothing.
Snow White’s forces celebrated victory that day, and the Evil Queen’s armies were driven from the kingdom forever. Snow White was crowned Queen and once again, the land began to bloom.
The years that followed saw life and beauty and peace return to Snow White’s land. Her people prospered and the land itself flourished. The Dark Forest shrank and withered without the fear and despair of the people to nourish it.
The laughter of children rang once again from the stones of the palace.
And through it all, Snow White ruled with compassion and grace, and mercy. She was ferocious to her enemies, and kind to her allies and her people adored her. The servants of the palace lived their days in proud joy at being close to her. Though perhaps none so much as Snow White’s most trusted companion. A gentle, lovely woman with golden hair and a soft smile who was known only as Vena, she had come from nowhere, and yet everyone seemed to remember she had simply always been there. She was the Queen’s eyes and ears, often traveling the land alone on a white horse who needed no bridle nor saddle. She visited the people’s that the Queen could not, listening to their tales and hearing their needs. Those she reported back to Snow White, that the Queen might better help those she ruled.
Wherever good might be done in the kingdom, Vena was sure to be found. Even old age slowed her little and she could still be seen riding the length of the nation, the wind playing with her silvered hair though she sat her steed like a girl of 20.
The Queen herself married The Huntsman and raised a beautiful daughter and son. Vena was their nursemaid and protector and the children treated her as their grandmother. When the daughter took her mother’s place as Queen, Vena was seen to cry tears of joy along with the rest of the kingdom.
And when Snow White, now herself a grandmother, finally passed from this life, the Palace servants were not surprised to find her body laid in state with hair combed and hands clasped over her chest and Vena dead by her side, a look of peace on both their faces.
And THAT’S how it should have ended.